Saturday, July 28, 2012
God is Near
God is Near
Of all the issues that the Church can consider, contend for, fight over, present, or defend, the one issue above all others and at the heart of the matter is this; “God is near”.
The expression comes to us from the Psalmist. But it was there in the Beginning even before there was light and there was only a formless void. The Spirit brooded over the nothingness that was there when God spoke and The Light caused Being to come into Existence. Time and Space began their ascent into the vast expanse of Interstellar Space.
All of Existence, all of the Life of the world and humanity itself came into being and God was there in the heart of it all.
Abraham and Sarah’s childless despair came before God so God made them laugh in their old age and they had a child whose name Isaac means “laughter”, and they became the Father and Mother of countless numbers like the stars of the sky or grains of sand upon the earth.
God noticed the hardships of the Children of Israel in slavery and called Moses from the Burning Bush to go down to Pharaoh and say; “Let my people go!” And God brought the people into the Promised Land.
God then began to move in the heart of Moses and the Word that was there in the Beginning that Word that Brooded upon the waters was then engraved upon the Tablets of Stone and we learned the Law of God.
There came then a period of Judges and Kings. God had hoped we could learn to live by the Law that was written into our hearts. God had hoped we could live without politicians. But we insisted. So he gave us King David. It has been the way of politicians since.
The Prophets warned us to return to God when we strayed from God’s ways. We often broke The Law. We played the Harlot with other gods especially that Golden Calf that keeps cropping up in history. Whether its a Bull or a Calf its still the same thing and we worship it. The Prophets warned and taught us about Justice and we often ignored them. And when we did, there was a National Catastrophe.
The warnings are still there as are the Prophets and mark my words, God is near! God will not be mocked and if the people suffer, God will remember.
So many sneer like Serpents and they tell us to go ahead and eat that Big Apple. God won’t do anything about that. You’ll be like gods. You can decide what’s right and wrong. In fact you can write your own laws, and ignore that inconvenient Truth about Justice. That works out fine until we recognize our nakedness and we run and hide from what we recognize all too late was there from the beginning. It is wrong to make so many suffer. We recognize the Truth that has also been there from the beginning. Because, God is Near!
Then in the middle of history, Gabriel spoke to Mary and there was then this Story above all stories and a Child was born. His Mother mild loved him so as did Joseph and the animals and the Shepherds! Kings came to worship him and brought him gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Not only was God near then, but God became Flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his Glory, the Glory as of the Only Begotten of God.
He taught us on the Hillsides of Galilee and made us sit down in a lovely grassy spot and he fed us with the bread of angels. It was the Passover and never was there such a meal. Such an abundance of love that day as has never been seen before or since. Those five loaves symbolic, I’m sure, of the Five Books of Moses, and those two fish making us mindful, I’m also sure, of the Law and the Prophets. It meant that not only did Jesus feed us with the Bread of Heaven, he fed us with every single word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Everyone’s heart opened that day and the world have never been the same since.
You will remember what he said to us. “Blessed are the poor, the meek, the ones who mourn and those who seek peace, and justice and those too who must suffer persecution in order to see the right prevail”. He told us we were the Light of the Word, the Salt of the Earth, and taught us to pray “Our Father”, to love our enemies, to love ourselves as we do our neighbors as we do our God.
And in these everyday kinds of things; in the learnings of love, forgiveness and the ministry of reconciliation, Jesus taught us that, of course, God is near.
Turn around, he said, repent, look there, see? The Kingdom is near, it is at hand, God is closer to you than even the next breath you take!
Not only then but when the going is so hard, and stormy winds arise and we drive hard against high and perilous seas. Our hearts melt like wax within us and we are stricken with fear and terror, and then look, walking on the waters of all life’s perils there is this Jesus, unafraid, reassuring with words that contradict our reality and experience he says; “It is I; do not be afraid”.
And immediately the boat comes to shore and we are safe. When we recognize the Truth that is in all this, we join the crowd and follow him because there is so much to learn, much to be healed, and so much more to be forgiven.
It all looked so good. We were on a spiritual roll, weren’t we, when he then told us about the business of going up to Jerusalem. He was going to die there and we kept trying to change the subject or telling him not to think such thoughts.
But no sooner than he got there that he caused a commotion in the Temple Precincts, overturned the tables of those money changers. Money changers can be problematic, can’t they! Well Jesus threw all that into a tizzy and that, as the saying goes, was that.
Things escalated in a whole hurry up and by the end of the week, there was this trial, there was this crucifixion, then there was this Death.
We all ran away and resigned our posts; all except the women. They did their thing and with the help of Joseph of Arimathea and laid Jesus to rest.
We mourned his death and our own and God seemed not to be there then. It was as if God died. We were inconsolable, stricken with utter despair and grief.
Until that Third Day. You all know what happened then. We discovered that God had been there all along.
We began to remember what Jesus had taught us and how he healed us, and forgave us. Now we know that we have work to do to bring the Nearness of God to ourselves and others.
So Jesus Baptized us and Fed us in this Sacred Passover Meal. Not now by the thousands but by the Billions.
I pray as my namesake Paul would pray that Christ may dwell in your hearts, that you may be rooted and grounded in love so that you too may be filled with all the fullness of God.
You see, God is near!
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.