Today we continue our series, sharing and unpacking my snapshot of my current theological understandings. So far to recap, I provided you an overview of this process and explanation about Discourse. And previously in the series, I shared reflections on the ideas of “God is” and “God creates.” Today we move into unpacking the conception of “God Reveals.” We’ll begin, as is the practice in the series with me sharing what I came up with for the class (indented below), and then after that I will reflect further for purposes of this blog.
God reveals God’s self to all creation.
I believe that God reveals God’s self in different ways and through different means.
God is revealed to humans I believe in any way possible, believing that God can use anything as a means to communicate and reveal with us. These include: the Bible; our faith; creation; through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection; relationships; music; prayer, etc., there is no limit to what God can do or use.
However, there is a need for community and others together to discern what God is up to and might be up to. The community plays an imperative role in discerning what God might be revealing about God’s callings, purposes and vision.
Now to unpack this a bit. I believe God wants to be in relationship with creation, and part of this desire for relationship comes in the way God may reveal God’s self to it. If God created all, then I also believe God is just as likely to reveal God’s self to all as well, though likely in unique ways and through different and unique means. Within the notions of “God reveals” I believe there are questions and conceptions of God’s agency among other things. For me, to believe that God is all powerful and all capable, it only makes sense that God can potentially use any means as a way to reveal or potentially reveal what God is up to.
Returning to my overarching sense from my previous posts in this series that “God is true community” I think there is an important role that the community can serve in regard to discernment. Some times God may reveal God’s self to one person or prophet. But I also think that there are just as many times when someone may claim that they have discerned what God is up to (or the Spirit is up to) but could really be out in left-field so to speak. This is where the community comes in. Together as people in community and communities I believe there is an ability to discern together what God might be up to. Communities certainly aren’t always right or perfect in this process, but I also think when they are open and honest and willing to wrestle with these questions and to wonder and sense together what God might be up to, there is greater likelihood of being richer and perhaps closer to what God might be calling us to do. This idea is really built out of personal experience for me.
I came to seminary, entering as a Masters of Divinity student. Within two months of my first semester I knew something was wrong. I woke up in the morning at 3:00 am for straight days for what seemed like two weeks. This led me to meet and talk with a number of professors, friends, family, mentors, and supporters. Through these conversations in community I discerned that the M.Div. wasn’t perhaps the best route for me in my own discerned calling, and thus I gradually switched to the MA in Congregational Mission and Leadership. (I slept normal after this too, for what that’s worth.)
I admit, that the larger community and majority may not always be right. (There are plenty of examples of this in history, of where the dominant ethnicity has oppressed others, for example.) But, I do believe that when trying to discern through the multitude of means God might reveal through, we have a better likelihood of doing this together than we do alone.
Musically, the ideas and images of God revealing bring many hymns and songs to mind. Two that really stand out though are “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,” and “O Day Full of Grace.” I’m sure you know and have heard countless arrangements of the first. Imagine a beautiful organ and string section helping lead through the first couple verses, and then transitioning into a change in the rhythm and feel and instrumentation to jazz piano kind of like in “Sister Act.” The variety of that hymn (and any hymn really that can be done in new and unique ways) just symbolizes for me how God’s revealing can be done in new and different ways, ways we might like or ways we might actually find even somewhat disturbing and uncomfortable (but sometimes we really need to be jarred from our comfort back into action). The other hymn, “O Day Full of Grace,” is definitely in my top 10 favorite hymns of all time. It was my Grandpa T.’s favorite. The text is beautiful, and the tune is magnificent as it speaks to themes of: Pentecost and God’s action and revelation in the world; life, death, and resurrection; as well as the movement and fulfillment of the kingdom. F. Melius Christiansen’s arrangement of this, might be even more beautiful then his arrangement of “Beautiful Savior” and that is saying something.
So what do you think? How have you seen or sensed God revealing in the world?
As we continue our conversation and journey reflecting on this, our next reflection will be on “God Guides.” Until then, thanks for being part of the conversation and I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, questions, etc., that you have when hearing and reacting to mine.