Finding God

flowersAsking the Question

What if someone asked you, not about your ideology, religious history or practices, but simply who is God to you? We as Christians have an amazing ability to express our faith and love through praise, worship, prayer, service, and in community but what may get lost in translation is why we do it. Would our church camps, reunions, and Spectacular be as amazing if not for the divine spirit that draws us together and unites us as one? Take a minute or so and jot down just some initial thoughts on “Who Is God to me?”

Scripture

So often throughout the Bible, God is described by many names Jehovah, Yawae, Father, Holy One, Alpha and Omega, and the list goes on and on. People have been trying to conceptualize God from beginning of time. Our scripture this week comes to us from 1 John 4:8-16:

Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Focus Moment

Last week we touched briefly on not always feeling God’s presence with the reading of the Footprints in The Sand poem. This week’s video is one that you may be familiar with as it is a few years old, but I find that despite not being your typical “worship” song, it is very profound because it asks the tough question. In Lamentations and some of the Psalms, God’s people lament, cry out, sometimes even complain to God about not finding him in their lives. It is an important practice to try to find God in everything that we do. But when we can’t, we tend to wonder why.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFg_8u87zT0

Enduring Principles

Over the next few weeks we will be exploring Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles.

Our Enduring Principles define the essence, heart, and soul of our faith community. They describe the personality of our church as expressed throughout the world.

The Foundation: God, Christ, Holy SpiritGod’s revelation in Jesus Christ and continuing presence through the Holy Spirit, as proclaimed by scripture, is the foundation of our faith, identity, mission, message, and beliefs.

We do our best to uphold these principles (values, concepts, themes) as a faithful response to our heritage and our continuing experience with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

  • Enduring Principles
  • Grace and Generosity
  • Sacredness of Creation
  • Continuing Revelation
  • Worth of All Persons
  • All Are Called
  • Responsible Choices
  • Pursuit of Peace (Shalom)
  • Unity in Diversity
  • Blessings of Community

Each principle includes statements that help explain its meaning. These statements are not meant to be limiting or comprehensive.

Grace and Generosity

  • God’s grace, especially as revealed in Jesus Christ, is generous and unconditional.
  • Having received God’s generous grace, we respond generously and graciously receive the generosity of others.
  • We offer all we are and have to God’s purposes as revealed in Jesus Christ.
  • We generously share our witness, resources, ministries, and sacraments according to our true capacity.

Sacredness of Creation

  • In the beginning, God created and called it all good.
  • Spirit and material, seen and unseen, are related.
  • Creation’s power to create or destroy reminds us of our vulnerability in this life.
  • God is still creating to fulfill divine purpose.
  • We join with God as stewards of care and hope for all creation.

Continuing Revelation

  • Scripture is an inspired and indispensable witness of human response to God’s revelation of divine nature.
  • God graciously reveals divine will today as in the past.
  • The Holy Spirit inspires and provides witness to divine truth.
  • In humility, individually and in community, we prayerfully listen to understand God’s will for our lives, the church, and creation more completely.

Worth of All Persons

  • God views all people as having inestimable and equal worth.
  • God wants all people to experience wholeness of body, mind, spirit, and relationships.
  • We seek to uphold and restore the worth of all people individually and in community, challenging unjust systems that diminish human worth.
  • We join with Jesus Christ in bringing good news to the poor, sick, captive, and oppressed.

All Are Called

  • God graciously gives people gifts and opportunities to do good and to share in God’s purposes.
  • Jesus Christ invites people to follow him by becoming disciples who share his life and ministry.
  • Some disciples are called and ordained to particular priesthood responsibilities and ministries for the sake of the community, the congregation, and the world.
  • We respond faithfully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to our best understanding of God’s call.

Responsible Choices

  • God gives humans the ability to make choices about whom or what they will serve. Some people experience conditions that diminish their ability to make choices.
  • Human choices contribute to good or evil in our lives and in the world.
  • Many aspects of creation need redemption because of irresponsible and sinful human choices.
  • We are called to make responsible choices within the circumstances of our lives that contribute to the purposes of God.

Pursuit of Peace (Shalom)

  • God wants shalom (justice, reconciliation, well-being, wholeness, and peace) for all of creation.
  • Jesus Christ, the embodiment of God’s shalom (peace), reveals the meaning of God’s peace in all aspects of life.
  • The vision of Zion is to promote God’s reign on earth, as proclaimed by Jesus Christ, through the leavening influence of just and peaceful communities.
  • We courageously and generously share the peace of Jesus Christ with others.
  • Led by the Holy Spirit, we work with God and others to restore peace (shalom) to creation.
  • We celebrate God’s peace wherever it appears or is being pursued by people of good will.

Unity in Diversity

  • Community of Christ is a diverse, international family of disciples, seekers, and congregations.
  • Local and worldwide ministries are interdependent and important to the church’s mission.
  • The church embraces diversity and unity through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • We seek agreement or common consent in important matters. If we cannot achieve agreement, we commit to ongoing dialogue and lovingly uphold our common faith in Jesus Christ and the mission of the church.
  • We confess that our lack of agreement on certain matters is hurtful to some of God’s beloved children and creation.

Blessings of Community

  • The gospel of Jesus Christ is expressed best in community life where people become vulnerable to God’s grace and each other.
  • True community includes compassion for and solidarity with the poor, marginalized, and oppressed.
  • True community upholds the worth of persons while providing a healthy alternative to self-centeredness, isolation, and conformity.
  • Sacred community provides nurture and growth opportunities for all people, especially those who cannot fully care for themselves.
  • We value our connections and share a strong sense of trust in and belonging with one another—even if we never have met.
  • Some disciples are called and ordained to particular priesthood responsibilities and ministries for the sake of the community, the congregation, and the world.
  • We are called to create communities of Christ’s peace in our families and congregations and across villages, tribes, nations, and throughout creation.

Which principle speaks to you the most or do you feel you are most drawn to? Why? Should we all value each principle equally?

Worth of All Persons

As we learned last week from the Skit Guys video, God doesn’t make junk. This week while we are exploring who God is, and what God means in our lives, we’ll explore the Worth of All Persons. We are told love others as we love ourselves, and as we love God. Matthew 25: 31-46 tells us how we are to treat those who are poor, helpless and have fallen on hard times. Even Matthew 5:44 tells us to pray for those who do wrong toward us. By living and loving as God wants us to, we are able to understand who God is.

But this unconditional love isn’t always easy to extend. As humans, when we get hurt, sometimes we seek to hurt each other. We lie to those we love, we betray trust, and don’t reconcile. Is it always easy to love as God would? When can it be difficult to express unconditional love? How can understanding who God is help to express love to those who have hurt us, or lied to us, or betrayed us?

Open Eyes

“I found myself a couple of years ago on a young adult retreat in Washington D.C. Young adults from the mission center gathered together for a weekend of community building and fellowship. This particular weekend we were greeted by an organization who works with homeless people in the Washington D.C. area. We heard amazing stories from people who had been previously homeless. The struggles they encounter, the drastic changes that their lives underwent in such a short span of time and most importantly how they were able to overcome those struggles. We were given the opportunity to serve the homeless in the local area. If you’ve never been to Washington D.C., much like other major cities, it’s often divided by the more affluent side, that attracts tourist, and then there is the side that has “fallen on hard times” the side that isn’t promoted. DuPont circle is one of the more affluent areas in the city. It is geographically close to the monuments, museums, and other well-known attractions that the nation’s capital is known for.  Much to my surprise, the area we went to serve was not the broken down parts of the city where I had expected to see homeless people, but instead we went to DuPont circle. My entire paradigm was shifted. I walked through the part of the city with my group, observing other tourist in the area shopping, having picnics, taking photos, and noticed, for the first time in my life in plain sight, people in great need all around. Lying on benches, perched up against trees, setting next to trashcans. We began to engage these people, passing out bag lunches, and hearing their stories. Each person was unique in their experiences, and in who they were. As our time came to a close, I came across a woman sitting on a street corner. In 90 degree heat she was sitting with heavy clothing on, surrounded by several large black trash bags. When I encounter those who are without housing, or other basic needs, many of them have signs, explaining their situations or expressing need, but this particular sign that the woman held was profound in its simplicity. It simply read, “I’m Hungry”. I was blown away by the situation that I found myself in, kneeling beside this woman, in the moment of community. Fast asleep, she was never aware that I was there. I placed the bag lunch by her side, and went on my way.”

Give Me Your Eyes

In that experience I had a couple of years ago, I was blind to the need of others until I decided to be vulnerable in those moments.  When we open ourselves to express God’s love, we are able to see through God’s eyes. Affirming the Worth of All Persons is understanding that all of our journeys, struggles, gifts, talents are different and unique, but are of equal important.

Can you think of a time where you affirmed the worth of another person? What about a time when you failed to do so? Have you ever felt that someone has not lifted you up as an equal? How did that make you feel?

Who is God? God is love.

Sending Forth

As we close this week’s devotion, keep in mind that God loves us all no matter who we are. See others in the world as God sees us. Amen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5AkNqLuVgY

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