November 14, 2019
Updated: Jan 27, 2020
When we are children we tend to think the world is as it has ever been. Our frame of reference is limited, so we imagine that every household is more or less like ours. Soon we become aware of gradual variations. Some people have bigger homes, some people are better at math or languages than we are. Soon we discover that some people are dishonest and others just plain mean. All of these things strike us as initially strange and sometimes disturbing.
Even as we get older we do our best to keep a steady course, but here too we find the one thing that is consistently reliable is change. We can resist it, we can ignore it but pretty soon we are caught up in a world that is beyond our control and beyond our ability to imagine how it got to be this way and wondering what might be coming next.
In our liturgy we are used to hearing things like God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. This seems to represent a hope that we have for stability and continuity. But behind this phrase is the profound teaching that there are, in fact, always two realities co-existing. One transient reality is marked by impermanence. It is world marked by time and metrics. The other world exists in a sense beneath this world, it is what we often refer to as spiritual. In this realm there is timeless presence where the eternal flame of creative energy illuminates and animates all.
The church that we grew up with is changing, our culture is changing, social mores are changing, our very bodies are changing. For those who find themselves as citizens in this transient realm, these changes can feel like their world is being wrenched away from them. I have heard many say things, like, “It’s all going to hell in a hand-basket.” Anxiety, nostalgia and depression seem to rule the day.
But for those who find their center and their core in the eternal presence, that place symbolized by the story of Moses at the burning bush, these changes are expected, examined and received with a gentle curiosity. What surprises does God and or the universe have for me/us now? How can I/we contribute to making this world more compassionate and just?
Our faith is not in the church as it was, but in the spirit that is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. This was the experience of Jesus and is the experience who place themselves in the living, life-giving stream that eternally flows under and through all of creation.