What would you do if you had an encounter with God?
Like Moses, Peter, James or John from the readings this week?
Like I mentioned yesterday,
I would be terrified.
To be in the presence of the Divine.
To experience pure Holiness.
Not sure I would hold up very well.
And I feel like I am in good company.
When I read through the Old Testament
and see the reactions of the different people in these stories,
I can’t believe that I would act any differently.
It wasn’t a normal encounter.
It was something that inspired awe.
I was something that caused confusion.
It made people react.
The prophet Isaiah had this to say of his encounter with the Divine,
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”Isaiah 6:5
it was interesting to see in the readings this week how people reacted to an encounter with God.
Moses was rather nonchalant.
He had been with God before.
It seemed old hat to him.
But even the glow of his face from having been with God
was too much for the children of Israel around him.
Just the glow.
Peter, James and John knew that something holy was happening and wanted to do the respectful thing and show honor to the visitors at the transfiguration of Jesus.
After hearing the voice of the Father speak of the Son,
the interaction ends with these words,
“When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.”Luke 9:36
Which is why I posed the question,
“What would you do if you encountered God?”
The encounters that were seen in the readings this week
are rare occurrences.
It is not common.
But encountering God is not.
We experience God through the leading of the Spirit.
We experience God when we’ve realized the plans that have been set up for us.
We experience God through His provision.
We experience God in the Scriptures.
And maybe you have not experienced God in these ways,
or it is a rare thing for you,
but God is always present in the lives of those He loves.
Also, there is one area that I didn’t mention yesterday and was reminded of by Heather Certik:
The place we see God most commonly in our lives (and maybe we don’t realize it) is in the person in the pew beside us, in the lives of those around us, in the lives of the beloved.
John says it this way,
“Dear friends, since God so loved us,
we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another,
God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”1 John 4:11-12
We see God in acts of true love done for others.
In the parable of the sheep and Goats, Jesus says it this way,
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’Matthew 25:34-40
In the community of the beloved,
we encounter God in the love shown others.
· In the serving of meals to those who are hungry.
· In the time spent with those who are struggling.
· In the care given to build intimate relationships.
· In the recognition and welcoming of guests.
· In the seeking out of others.
· In the bringing of kindness to our community.
I challenge all of us to write down our encounters with God this week.
Ask God and look for how God responds.
And give praise when God shows up.