The many different traditions of Christianity reflect diverse understandings of how we might apprehend God in our journey of faith. The selections of Scripture in the Revised Common Lectionary for the Second Sunday after Epiphany give us glimpses of four different ways God approaches us.
The story in 1 Samuel 3 of God calling the young lad Samuel show us an example of God approaching us in silence. Our modern world cannot cope with silence. We fill silence with all sorts of noise. I smile at people walking along the beach with ear pods in their ears - obviously listening to something, but ignoring the joyous noise of the seaside surrounding them. But there are times when we need to relax into silence. Samuel had no problem with silence. It was part of his world. It was in his night-times of silence that God spoke to him, not in the busy routines of temple life in the daytime.
Silence is one of the ways in which God can approach us, address us, soothe us, stir us, call us, and renovate us. In the silence the Word can speak. Because silence does not come readily in our noisy, frenetic world, it takes self-discipline to create space and silence in our lives. If we are not inclined towards self-discipline, then let us not complain about the apparent absence of God. Silence cannot be found without some effort on our part. - Bruce Prewer.
The Psalms often give voice to the presence of God in creation. Psalm 139 is perhaps a supreme example. In this Psalm we are reminded that there is nowhere on earth that will remove us from the presence of God. God is found not just in sacred places but everywhere. It celebrates the intimacy of God's involvement in our own creation and God's knowledge of our innermost thoughts.
Psalm 139 does not argue the case. It celebrates it. It is like a grand creed of delight in God’s willingness to seek us out everywhere. Whether we recognise it or not, God will always be with us. Nowhere is too far, no place is too humble, no situation too dark, no circumstance too secular. God approaches us everywhere. - Bruce Prewer.
One of the consequences of the incarnation is explored by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians in the 6th chapter. He describes our bodies as "a temple of the Holy Spirit." This metaphor suggests that as gods dwell in temples, here we see that our God dwells within us.
In this Christianity diverges from those religions and religious practices that encourage us to dissociate ourselves from our bodies in order to experience God fully.
God does not scorn our human flesh and blood. God approaches us through our bodily lives, chooses to reside there. Treat bodies charitably, with respect and love. If we want to find where God approaches, take a look within that personal temple where light and darkness wrestle for supremacy, and where light refuses to give up. - Bruce Prewer.
IN CHRIST JESUS
The Apostle John opens his Gospel with rich metaphorical language that seeks to express the unique way that God has approached humanity in the person of Jesus. He tells some stories after this prologue in his first chapter which declare in no uncertain terms that in this man, God has come among us. The gathering disciples encourage their friends to "come and see!" Jesus' encounter with Nathanael is perhaps most striking for the explicit language given in the voice of Nathanael, declaring Jesus to be the presence of God among them.
For Christians, God’s incomparable approach is through Jesus. Nothing equals this. Nothing is more certain, or more reliable. The words and deeds, and the unique person of Jesus, have been for many generations a veritable highway for the coming of God into human experience. - Bruce Prewer.
God does approach us in this world and in this life. The most important work of our Journey of Faith is perhaps cultivating eyes and ears, hearts and minds that we open and receptive this recognizing these approaches of God and responding to them.
These thoughts were distilled from a sermon by Bruce Prewer for this Sunday, the second after Epiphany in Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary.