It’s Monday January 18

Let me begin with a few of my assumptions about the biblical narrative:

  • The biblical narrative is an evolution of thought rather than a static rendering of what God is about in all times and in all places.
  • Some who were “out” in the early portions of the narrative are “in” by the end of the written story.
  • The kingdom of God, in fits and spurts, continues to expand and be open to the new throughout the narrative, not contract and default to the old.
  • The end of the scriptural story is not the end of God’s expansive kingdom work. Each generation must ask itself, “How will God be known today, through whom, and whom else can we invite into the vision of this expansive kingdom?”
  • One of the consistent themes throughout the scriptures is that the people of God were frequently surprised, dare I say offended, by who was invited to the sacred dance of grace.

I lay these assumptions out for you to give you a sense of why I have given up trying to control God (by deciding for God who is in and out) and, instead, have decided to let God surprise me with the unorthodox and unpredictable ways God can be known and experienced in the world.

I need to tell you how freeing it is to not take out the yardstick of judgment and constantly measure my own motivations or the motivations and/or behaviors of others.

How did I get there? Through painful years of never feeling like I measured up to my parents, my siblings, and a cloud of witnesses that I now call my mentors and peers. Through painful circumstances when my righteous actions caused harm, sometimes irreparable harm, to others in relationship. Through painful introspection where my image of God was challenged, deconstructed, then reconstructed again.

Even through the pain of it all, spiritual growth is an exhilarating journey.

The next step on the journey we are taking together is to ask the question, “How does my image of God affect the way I see the world, others, my own life?”

For those of you who are reflecting on the next layer of questions with a friend or small group, here they are:

  • Comparison fatigue is the experience of being overwhelmed by the constant comparisons we make with others. Can you describe specific circumstances when you are more susceptible to the negative effects of comparison? 
 What does that do to your sense of self?
  • How would you like others to see God’s presence in you, in your life? If you feel bold enough, ask a friend or family member to share how they see God’s presence in your life.
  • What kinds of people do you have the hardest time seeing God’s presence in? How could you learn more about “those people,” whoever those people are for you?
  • What would it be like to imagine them through the eyes of God’s grace, just as God sees you?

It’s Monday? Put on the lenses of God’s grace this week. What do you see? Peace. Kai

It’s Monday January 11

In my sermon yesterday, I mentioned my deepening appreciation for the insights of Fr. Richard Rohr. In his Sunday meditation this week, he told a story of how a chance encounter with a recluse affirmed his vision of how God is present in our world.

I was walking down a little trail when I saw this recluse coming toward me. Not wanting to interfere, I bowed my head and moved to the side of the path, intending to walk past him. But as we neared each other, he said, “Richard!” That surprised me. He was supposed to be a recluse. How did he know I was there? Or who I was?

 He said, “Richard, you get chances to preach and I don’t. When you’re preaching, just tell the people one thing: God is not ‘out there’! God bless you.” And he abruptly continued down the path. Now I have just told you what he ordered me to do. God is not out there!

 As we launched our series focusing on Essential Life Questions we turned our attention to the question What is your image of God? 

What I believe is this: Our image of God creates the kind of relationship we can or choose not to have with God. The kind of relationship we have with God, elicits how we live our lives in response. Put simply, Our image of God creates our relationship. Our relationship elicits our response. That’s why this question is so essential.

This week, we invite you to reflect on multiple layers of this one question at home, at work, over coffee or beer, with friends, small groups, wherever and with whomever you can create the time and space to thoughtfully ponder your image of God.

What is your image of God?

  • What pictures (if any) of God did you have in your mind when you were growing up? What phrases would you use to describe God? Where do you think those pictures/phrases came from?
  • How has that image changed? What circumstances in your life caused you to re-examine you image of God?
  • If you were able to imagine a God of grace and love, how would that change how you see yourself, your life—imperfections and failures included?

I believe, as does Fr. Rohr, that our God is not “out there.” Our God is both as vast as the expanding universe and as intimate as each breath we take. Our energy for living, our confidence in dying, our capacity for creating, our need for re-creation, our hope for the day, our days when we feel hopeless, are synchronous with the life of God. And in the end, we have simply one call, to co-create a more loving world.

In short, that’s what I think about God. What about you?

It’s Monday. Don’t miss the chance to wonder about your image of God with a friend this week.  Peace. Kai