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Where is God?

IMG_0170This week’s readings

It is good to be back at The Preacher’s Table. For the past 8 months my parish experimented with another lectionary and, while it had its benefits, we have now returned to the Revised Common Lectionary. I always dreamt that PT would be a collaborative effort so thanks to Tay, Dell and Landon for carrying it forward, and thanks for graciously letting me back at the table.

This week I will be down in our Great Hall for our monthly youth service, so I came to the readings this week looking for some fairly concrete inspiration to use with children.

Many years ago I was responsible for a 2 year old named Meaghan, and I took her to the daily, ecumenical, Holy Week services at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Charlottetown. Her family is Christian, and she was used to attending Church. She knew Church as the place where God was. Meaghan had never been in St. Peter’s and was very excited. She pointed at the exquisite stained glass and, when seeing one of the saints barefoot and slightly elevated, pointed and delightfully squealed, “Piggies!“, her word for toes.

As the Rev. Peter Harris, rector of the Cathedral, stepped into the pulpit, she pointed at him, pulled my head down and, in her toddler shout whisper, asked, “Is that God?”

I then spent the next few months, taking Meaghan out on walks, asking her, “Where is God?” It was like an I-Spy game. She always proclaimed God was not in the ugly things, like garbage bins, but was ok with God being in snow, trees and blue sky. That’s about as much as I was able to teach her about God, and I have no idea if it ever stuck.

As we move closer to Pentecost we begin to hear more about this elusive and curious Advocate, the One who will dwell with us forever. We are reminded that God is not to be contained in the images we have constructed, or in old traditions and understandings.

Paul is looking for a new way to describe the God of Jesus Christ to the Greeks at the Areopagus. He reminds them of their “Unknown God”, one who has not been contained and understood through their myriad of idols, and of their openness to the possibility that there may be gods who they do not know. Christians can easily fall into the trap of imagining God one way, and any other description of God becomes a threat. Paul continues on to describe our God, and our relationship with God, as beyond definition, and only really known within the heart.

In the second reading and the Gospel we see that there is only one Way to know peace through God, and that is in seeing God in and through all things. In our suffering, we are urged to lean on our faith and understanding, promised that, through the Advocate, Christ is present in all things.

With the kids this Sunday, I want to talk about the omnipresence of God and then lead them into meditation, helping them find a way to that connection with God that is possible for all of us.

How will you make real the connection with the Holy Spirit for your people this Sunday?

Dawn Leger

About Dawn Leger

I am a priest in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, having served in Stouffville, Ontario. I think preaching is a profound and great privilege granted to us by God and our Church. I love the reading, the writing, the proclaiming, the dissecting and the dialogue. I also love to cook, sing, read and laugh, in no particular order.
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2 Responses to Where is God?

  1. I admit to wanting to stay away from preaching on the Spirit – as I don’t want to give a Pentecost Sermon before the day of Pentecost. So I find myself drawn to the reading from Peter – in particular about setting apart Christ as Lord.

    What I love is that this reading is less about suffering and more about holiness and Christian living. We give up fear and fright (vs. 14) only when our lives are immersed in love for Jesus as the one whom exerts Lordship over our lives.

    Of course the question is – if we are to ‘set apart’ Christ as Lord, what is in our hearts/life that we need to set Christ apart from?

  2. Dawn, Thanks for coming back to your place around the preachers table. It is great to have you.
    I wonder, if Don Richardson is right in Eternity in Their Hearts, (dramatic license aside) and the altar Paul noticed to an unknown God was actually a remnant of the plague stopping sacrifices superintended by Epimenides, (http://classicpersuasion.org/pw/diogenes/dlepimenides.htm) then perhaps the Athenians remembered that the God in question was one who already had some “salvation history” with them. Richardson’s point is that everyone (pagans included) is likely to already have some history with the God, who as Paul says, is the one “in whom we live and move and have our being”. Paul’s evangelism includes looking for that history, perception, conception or even direct experience of God in the lives of those who, as you say, have an “openness to the possibility that there may be gods who they do not know”. Perhaps a bit wiser than presuming my God has had nothing to do with you until I arrive.

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