This post is the last in a multi-post series unpacking a snapshot of my current theological understanding. For a refresher, see the introductory post about how I would be blogging about my insights about the Discourse series. The most recent post in the series was “God Heals.” So without further delay, here are my reflections related to “God Relates.”
God relates because God is in relationship with God’s self (the community of the Trinity) and also in relationship with Creation.
God is in relationship with all creation, though this might be in different ways, at least according to our finite perception.
God is active and engaged in the world through prayer, calling, the service of and to others in God’s name, and good works.
Way back at the beginning of this series, I explained that I really think that “God is True Community.” If God is True Community, I believe this implies the idea that “God Relates” and that God wants to be in relationship. I believe that the Triune God, and the very idea of the Trinity means that God is first of all in community with God self, the three persons. From that Triune and perfect community, God relates and is in relationship with the Creation which God created and continues to create and co-create.
The relationship with creation varies and can be mysterious. I believe that God is and wants to be in relationship with all creation. Though I believe this relationship may vary based on experience, context, etc. What doesn’t change is the constant that God wants to be in relationship and will do whatever God can do to open our eyes to God’s presence and calling and leading to be in that relationship. However, God will not force us to be in that relationship because God limits God’s self, in an effort to meet us as we are and to allow for a relationship that has more depth and authenticity then the idea of an all-powerful, omnipotent God ruling over a bunch of ants.
The notion of relationship also means that God is alive, active, present and engaged in the world. The ways of God being active are limitless. But if pressed to name a few I would point to the way God can act in response to and through prayer, in the way God calls people into service, love, relationship, etc., and through the acting, serving, and doing of good works. God’s relationship can also be seen in the way we act toward one another.
In light of this, a question comes to mind. Do you think you have ever seen a glimpse of God? I am not sure I have. But there are times I wonder. Once I was in Hawaii, and I was having a “grumpy” day as I was enduring the minor discomfort of sunburn and related things. And as I was a little down and gloomy, a man nearby sitting on the bench directly and to the point said, “How can you be so gloomy in the most perfect place, on the beach with this gorgeous water with your family?” I felt taken a back at the time, but I also instantly felt like I had appropriately been called out. Sometimes it takes one of those tough reminders to remember how blessed we are. Needless to say, the rest of the day and vacation were fantastic and I enjoyed them immensely. I don’t know who that man was, but I believe God was speaking that day through him to wake me up, to make me aware of myself, to confess, be forgiven, and to be more fully present.
In thinking about “God Relates,” a few hymns come to mind. First of all, there is John Ylvisaker’s “Borning Cry.” The text of the hymn spans one’s life and speaks it seems from the perspective of God who is in relationship with the one being sung about. I love this hymn for the way its fitting for baptisms, confirmation, weddings, and even funerals. It is so moving and the text and melody are rich. It begins as it ends with the words, “I was there to hear your borning cry, I’ll be there when you are old. I rejoiced the day you were baptized to see your life unfold.” In addition to the idea of relationship then, is the presence and reminder in the hymn of God’s promises. The other hymn that comes to mind is Henry Lyte and William Monk’s “Abide with Me.” The hymn to me reminds of our hope, prayer, and desire to be in relationship with God, and for God to be in relationship with us. Allow me to share the first and fifth verses with you.
“Abide with me, fast falls the even tide. The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, help of the helpless, oh, abide with me…Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes, shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies; heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”
So, what do you think? Do you believe God relates? If so, how do you think, see, or sense God relating in your life and to others?
More broadly, as this is the last post in the series, what do you make of this series? Obviously, I greatly appreciate the potential and open-endedness of the Discourse series to allow for questioning and self-discovery. To me its built on the idea and importance of being open to question. For my understanding that is a very Christian thing to do, and especially a very Lutheran thing to do. What do you think?
“Abide with Me,” Henry F. Lyte & William H. Monk, Public Domain, found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 629.
“Borning Cry,” John C. Ylvisaker, (Waverly, IA: John C. Ylvisaker, 1985), LicenSing, found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 732.