Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Monday, September 29, 2008

"God" again...

I want to share some thoughts on God, which is an impossible task really. On the cover of Marcus Borg edited book "God at 2000" he writes that the contributors basically agreed that "God, or the 'sacred,' is ineffable, beyond all words and concepts." So ... why try? Anyway I was encouraged to read recently of Matthew Fox and his thinking on the subject. He is quoted ... "We are in divinity and divinity is in us. That is panentheism. It's perfectly orthodox. It's mysticism. Mysticism is the experience of divinity around us and within us."

Marcus Borg writes... "God is a nonmaterial reality around us and within us. This form of theism is commonly called panentheism. Panentheism (with its middle syllable en) is very different from Pantheism, with which it is often confused. Its Greek roots indicate the meaning of panentheism. The first syllable pan means 'all' or 'everything'. The middle syllable en is a greek preposition meaning 'in'. Theism, of course, is from the Greek word for God, theos. So panentheism means "everything is in God".

My understanding of God then is this panentheism. Everything is in God, he is in everything, but he is more than here. With apologies to Bette Middler, he is NOT a god who watches us "from a distance".

Twenty plus years ago I ministered part time and we lived in an old house on an acre of ground. We kept chooks, milked goats and raised fruit and vegetables. I realised how out of touch with nature I had become. There is something very mystical, sacred and divine about sitting with your head against a rumbling goats tummy and sqeezing beautiful milk out of her udder. You sense the miracle of life. Dock leaves, blackberry and grass are turned into milk we could drink, make yogurt and cheese out of! I have killed goats, sheep and hens for meat and again that mystical feeling of the sacred... a brother or sister is being sacrificed so that I can feed my family! I have chopped down big trees and small trees and with each one felt the tinge of sadness of ending a life. God, "the sacred" I see in the processes of nature. I have spent time with firefighters, elderly people, mental health patients, brewery workers and ambulance staff and have found the sacred in their friendship, their experiences of life, their pain and their laughter. Again and again I discover, that I do not take God into these places, but discover him already there. I have worked with people in Habitat for Humanity, the Night Shelter Trust, in our Drop-in centre and in the community and discovered this sacred current of life, love and purpose. I have discovered to my surprise, that just by being me in a caring, open and responsible way, the "sacred" works through me to make a difference. For me life is infused with the sacred and so much of life is a "miracle", though not in the sense of a God "out there" intervening in life.

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