Practicing the Presence of God

This past Sunday one of the things we talked about are ways we practice remembering and noticing the presence of God every day. This practice is foundational for a growing faith life. God is a deep mystery, at the same time closer than the closest friend, and so much more. We don’t come to a perfect relationship with God all at once; that relationship is a lifetime work. God is with us, eager to deepen our experience and trust. Daily practices are simple ways to do our part. They help us get below thinking about God and into the habit of feeling God’s presence always.

Many of us are used to the ideas of daily Bible reading, using a devotional guide like Upper Room, saying grace at meals. These are wonderful practices. Here are a few more that might be a bit different than what you’ve tried before:

  • Every morning, as you rise from bed, say out loud the words of the psalm “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
  • Set aside, in advance, one meal per week that you’ll eat in holy silence—no conversation, no TV, radio, computer, phone, no reading the paper—only full concentration on the blessing of the meal you are eating: noticing the taste and texture, remembering that all we have is God’s gift, offering thanks with each bite.
  • Here’s a somewhat hard habit to start, but amazing when you remember: every doorway is a threshold; every moment is a threshold into new becoming in God’s ongoing creation. Every time you go through a door, any door, every door, take one intentional breath thinking “I breath in God’s blessing” and as you exhale thinking “I thank God for new life opening before me.”
  • Try to reframe questions to be less about ourselves and more about God. Instead of “What do I want?” perhaps “What will deepen connections with God today?”

If you try any of these, let me know how it goes. I’ll just confess up front that I try all kinds of faith practices. Some of them I maintain well for years, others never quite take hold in my life, often my practices are spotty. It’s all good. No need to worry about feeling guilty. Just try something. God’s grace will find its way though even the smallest cracks in our too self-centered ways. Indeed, God is already closer to you than your own skin.

Blessings,
Pastor David

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Why I Love the Bible

It’s full of contradictions, terrible behavior, implausible stories, and is a complete hodge-podge of differences all lumped together. Just like human life. Through it all flows hope, devotion, liberation. Just like human life.

I love the Bible precisely because it is a very human creation. It’s the testimony of people just like us who are trying their best to express how God is at work in their lives. They didn’t have all the answers any more than we do. They didn’t live perfect lives any more than we do. They did look for and find God’s transforming power at work right in the midst of their difficult humanity. Reading the Bible, we can look at our own lives the same way.

I love the Bible because it insists that we continue to interpret it in conversation with God’s working in our own times, in our lives as individuals and communities. If the Bible were one clean consistent set of doctrines and rules for life, we could claim we have it all figured out, nothing more to worry or wonder about. We could claim that we fully understood God’s way for us. We don’t. We are limited, fallible, small parts of creation. We don’t have the Creator in our pocket, understood, tame. God remains a wild mystery. The sprawling, wildly varied texts of the Bible invite, even demand, an ongoing openness to God still speaking to us in new ways through all these stories, sermons, songs—all that the Bible offers us.

I love the Bible because it challenges and sustains me. Often enough the call from scripture feels uncomfortably clear. Always the words of scripture offer me assurance of God’s complete love and faithfulness.

Pastor David