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Friend or Lord, Thunder or Whisper, Which God will I hear?

Devotional Thought for the Day:

3  The voice of the LORD is heard on the seas; the glorious God thunders, and his voice echoes over the ocean. 4  The voice of the LORD is heard in all its might and majesty. 5  The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, even the cedars of Lebanon. 6  He makes the mountains of Lebanon jump like calves and makes Mount Hermon leap like a young bull. 7  The voice of the LORD makes the lightning flash. 8  His voice makes the desert shake; he shakes the desert of Kadesh. Psalm 29:3-8 (TEV)

11  “Go out and stand before me on top of the mountain,” the LORD said to him. Then the LORD passed by and sent a furious wind that split the hills and shattered the rocks—but the LORD was not in the wind. The wind stopped blowing, and then there was an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12  After the earthquake there was a fire—but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the soft whisper of a voice. 13  When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?1 Kings 19:11-13 (TEV)

The heart is like a home. There are houses that are open because they are at peace; they are welcoming because they have warmth. They are “not so tidy” as to make people afraid even to sit down neither so untidy as to become an embarrassment. The same goes for the heart: the heart that has room for the Lord also has space for others.

I look at the two Bible passages above, and they seem to contradict.

One reveals the Lord who is majestic, to whom all honor and glory is given. The God we are in awe, and if realistic, we should fear. The God who speaks commands and things become reality, where there was no reality.

The other reveals God who is our friend, the God who comforts the broken, who brings healing to them, who will wipe away every tear from our eyes. The God who we are in awe of, because He comes to us, invading our lives with His compassion and mercy. This is our Friend, our Abba, Father.

It is the same God, not two different gods. Not the first is the Old Testament God, the second the New. This isn’t a description of Father in the first paragraph, and the second describes Jesus. Both descriptions equally describe the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

So which God will I encounter?

This may sound odd, or perhaps awkward, but it doesn’t really matter. You can’t control which, and the response should be the same.

Yes, you read that correctly, the response to God is the same, whether He comes as your King, the Father who disciplines you, or your Deliverer, or your Comforter.

In each case, the initial response of awe should come naturally. But what happens next? How will we hear Him? Will we shudder and cower in fear? Will we embrace Him? Will we pour out our pain, and let Him begin to wash our feet? Will we adore Him, will we immediately enter into worship?

We cannot know, but we should have this happen. We should move from awe to gratitude. We should become grateful we find ourselves in His presence. For whether He comes in majesty, or comes as the suffering servant, He is here. He has come to dwell with us, to make our lives His home. And like the church that weeps and laughs and loves in Romans 12, He does all those things in our lives in resonance with us, being the God we need, even desperately need.

The Lord is with you.. and He loves you..

Rejoice and be glad, you are no longer alone…

Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 312.

The Church’s Answer to Post-modern thought…. Word and Sacrament

Devotional Thought of the Day.

 26 Whenever you eat this bread, then, and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Therefore anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily is answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone is to examine himself and only then eat of the bread or drink from the cup; 29 because a person who eats and drinks without recognising the body is eating and drinking his own condemnation.  1 Corinthians 11:26-29 (NJB)

In these dire cultural circumstances, the social and political effects of which are sometimes masked by material prosperity, it was providential indeed that the deep reform of Catholicism initiated in the late nineteenth century by Leo XIII should have passed through a recovery of Word and Sacrament as the two pillars of the life of Christian discipleship. The life-transforming power of the Word of God in the words of the Bible is the Church’s countercultural riposte to the postmodern deprecation of the human capacity to know the deep truths of the human condition. The sacraments are Evangelical Catholicism’s countercultural antidote to the regnant Gnosticism of later modernity and postmodernity, because the Church’s sacramental system takes the stuff of the world and of human relationships with utmost seriousness, seeing in them the vehicles of divine grace.(1)

For about the past ten years professors and theologians have been advising pastors that since we now live in a “post-modern” and “post denominational” culture, that we need to change our ministry to address these new outlook on lfe – and indeed, change how we minister to others.  Some of this has resulted in things like the two movements that have dominated conversation – the emergent and emerging churches. ( I highly recommend Jim Belcher’s book “Deep Church” to clarify what the differences are.

For those outside of the conversation – postmodernism is that outlook on life that is basically skeptical, that questions not only our institutions and ways of doing things – but questions the reasons we have developed that way.  It is not a organized thought, for postmmodernists even question each other, but is often portrayed as the idea that there is no objective reality – and no objective truth.  Personally, as a post-modernist, I wonder if it is not just the opposite.  That we have found so many things wanting, when we question their presuppositions, that we long for something to grasp onto, to hold onto – to find that there is something solid – and that there is… hope.

I think that rather than doing battle with such, or mocking them, we have a much better approach – a very very Biblical one.  We give them the reason we have hope – and rather than dealing with faulty reason or logic – we through the arts, through our simplicity, and with great humility, we share with them why we do have hope.   We share with them a relationship that is real, and transcendent/incarnate.  We let them experience the God who comes to us.

Put in terms a Lutheran or Catholic can understand – the answer to postmodern thought is not an engagement in debate where we provide there is an objective reality.  The answer is word and sacrament. We introduce them to Him, to the Objective Reality who really desires to be with them, to show them great love, to reveal Himself to them, as the Holy Spirit as they hear the word of God – as they hear of His love and mercy and presence and grace,   As we share with them the promises, the things they can expect because God loves them. We share with them what it means to “commune with God”, simply at first, from scripture.  We use stories and modern music and art – the kind which captivates the senses, even as those things did in the middle ages. We engage them at a level where there skepticism and unbelief is put aside, and where they know this is more than what our minds can take in, and that it is real…

But this will require one thing of us, that we know what we are revealing – that church becomes more than an intellectually stimulating and entertaining time.  That we realize that walking with God is a sacred thing. That we walk in the relationship with the God who comes to us, and cleanses us, and heals our brokenness.

That we experience Him, as He reveals Himself to us, in the very word ans sacraments which we will share with them.

As we do what the psalmist begs us to do…. to “be still – and (intimately) know that I am God.”

 

 

(1)  Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 47). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

 

 

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