May 14

Rev Gav

Where can God be found?

When thinking about God there is this ancient concept that God is ‘in’ everything. This week Rev Gav explores what this means for us.

I sometimes wonder if us Christians have missed a trick? We like to think that our well-defined and immutable doctrines and beliefs were established some 2000 years ago when Christ walked the earth, yet with only a little historical digging we discover that some ideas are relatively new to Christianity, and this is especially true when it comes to the separation of the physical and the spiritual. This commonly held belief within Christianity asserts that God is a spiritual deity and completely distinct from the physical God-created universe, however, this was not always the case, and in our theological excavations, drawing on new technologies, Christians are literally ‘unearthing’ profound truths that have remained hidden for centuries.

If I am honest, Christians, including me, have been vehemently protective of our doctrines. Each doctrine feels like a brick in the wall of our faith, therefore to attack a brick in this wall feels like an attack on our faith, and we fear the whole wall will collapse taking our faith with it. However, we fail to see that the wall has been knocked down and rebuilt many times, that some of those bricks do not belong there, and besides, perhaps we should not have a wall at all but a hedge or rose garden?

One of the doctrinal bricks is the separation of spirituality and physicality, yet this concept came about with the dualism of the middle ages (where the body was considered ‘bad’ and the ‘soul’ considered good) and was then further cemented into our consciousness by the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries. Prior to this time, Christians understood that the body and spirit could not be separated, that humans are holistic beings, and that God is in all.

Check out this prayer from St. Patrick, dating to the fifth century:

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Now, before I get berated as being heretical, I am not talking about pantheism, where God ‘is’ everything, but something called panentheism where God is ‘in’ everything. The two concepts are similar but different.

Today, some Christians are challenging the idea that a spiritual God can only be found in spiritual places, in churches, or in fervent prayer or acts of praise. Instead we assert that God can be found in creation, in the world around us and in each other. The theological affirmation of the book of Genesis affirms the inherent goodness of that which God has created, and over and over again in scripture we read that the author of creation is inherently bound with that creation, and the idea of spirituality and physicality being bound is no longer inconsistent with science.

Quantum physicists are discovering how subatomic particles come in and out of existence billions of times every second and the psalmist wrote:

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.”

On his way into Jerusalem, Jesus said that if his disciples did not sing that, “the stones will cry out,” and, of course, Jesus was bodily resurrected β€” no separation of the physical and spiritual there!

God holds together the very fabric of our being, and our physicality and spirituality are intertwined and inseparable. God’s fingerprints can be found everywhere and on everything. God can be found in everything.

This doctrine is important because when we adopt this perspective, we respect the sanctity of all creation β€” living and inanimate. Everything in creation is a masterpiece not only created but continuously sustained by the Maker β€” as my Anglican liturgy reminds me β€” “Through Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory are yours, O loving Father, for ever and ever.”

When we think of the world we live in, the way we treat our environment and the way we treat each other, we could do with a dose of respecting the sanctity of God’s creation.

Whether our global dependence on oil, the monstrous disregard for human life in Gaza and Ukraine, or our local and personal consumerism and lack of empathy for our neighbours, we could do with a dose of respecting the sanctity of creation.

This is why theology matters.

As the Apostle Paul wrote about Christ in his letter to the church in Colossae, “all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Therefore, for those of us seeking God, the good news is that we can find God right here and right now, for all creation points to Christ, whether sitting on a beach and admiring the expanse of the ocean, observing nature on a macro or microscopic scale, the taste of a ripe cherry, or when a friend smiles and you see that special sparkle in his eyes.

All creation has the potential to draw us to the Maker, the one through whom all things were made and have their being, and so my prayer is simple, that you might be drawn to Christ, for there is an even bigger and better gift waiting for you, one the church celebrates at Pentecost, and it is a doorway to a whole nother world.

Amen.

Lisa-Dawn Johnston May 14 13:29pm

Let it be so πŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎ
Amen πŸ™πŸΎ Amen πŸ™πŸΎ Amen πŸ™πŸΎ

Your message, and the prayer by St Patrick, reminded me of the Four Directions ceremony practiced by many Native American people, who believe that everything in the universe is connected, and that all life is sacred. They pray to the spirits in the north, south, east, and west, seeking harmony. I love that prayer. I love your message and prayer. God is everywhere, including inside of us. So when I look at the world, I’m going to try and remember to pray that I may walk through that doorway to Christ, see the world- and everything/everyone in it, through God’s eyes, and through God’s thoughts. And ask for forgiveness and inspiration in the same breath. May my behaviour and actions be a blessing everywhere, and to everyone.

Rev Gav May 17 11:28am

Lisa-Dawn Johnston wrote:

Let it be so πŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎ Amen πŸ™πŸΎ Amen πŸ™πŸΎ Amen πŸ™πŸΎ Your message, and the prayer by St Patrick, reminded me of the Four Directions ceremony practiced by many Native American people, who believe that everything in the universe is…

Check out the article, Dreaming of a Harmonious Earth on cac.org - I think you might like it.

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