Practicing Being #human #paris

Tonight, I’m going to look at the stars. I’ll look and wonder and remember how big the world is, how small I am, I’ll remember beauty and joy and hope, I will count the countless, remember small things and think wispy thoughts.

I will look at the stars and think of Paris and Japan, of Syria and the Middle East.
I will look at the stars to practice my humanity, I will do it, because I need to pray, and I don’t know what to do, except to respond by remembering what it means to be human.

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Tonight I’ll be one small human being looking at the stars, and I invite you to do the same.

The #God #Experience or Why do we do that #church thing?

Epiphany is a realization that changes you…

that’s what the Magi had…it changed them Matthew 2:1-12

Then they were brave…

Why? Because they experienced God….Experiencing God is like experiencing the stars.

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We can define the stars…but the experience of these burning masses of gas, is beyond a description.

We can define God as this fully human, fully divine, who was born in a manger, and died to save us all…

but the experience of God is more than that…that is why we gather together each week…each Sunday we come together to share where we see God working in our lives!

And to try not to be-little it…not to make it small…but to magnify it. To proclaim it, to call attention to the good news of God in our lives, one who is present and active.

wings“I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.” Madeline L’engle

Bad things happen, and we are not told to ignore them(heck 2/3rds of the Psalms are people crying out to/yelling at God), but what we are meant to realize, and share, and embrace, is God’s work in & through us.

People asking about a clothing exchange that closed over a year ago is evidence of God’s power.

The church making budget every year for 3yrs even though not everyone gives what they thought they would is pure miracle.

Having a ceiling and roof repair in one year, and having an estate come through the works for a quarter of the cost…..that has been in probate for 30 years…is God at work

Every person who has heard God’s voice, every one who feels God’s work, every one who comes through the farmer’s market or the playgroup, the fact that we are getting more calls for help in a month than what we used to get in a year.

These are all God-experiences…..

They are amazing…

and its is this reason we journey together…we see God’s star in the East, we may get lost, we may need to ask for directions, we may have to go back a different way…but we are doing it because we are experiencing God.

Together!

I don’t know what I believe….

When I worked at the Psychiatric Hospital as a chaplain, one of the things I would do as often as possible was a Spiritual Assessment: Basically to get a feel of someone, their faith, and how it may or may not support them.

 

 

One of the questions was “Do you feel hope?”

 

And more than once the answer I got was, “no, not really, maybe someday I will.”

 

i.e. I’m hoping for hope

 

To me, this is the essence of the Christian question….

 

When a father brings his son in Mark 9 to be healed, Jesus says he can only be healed by belief, and the father says “I believe, help my unbelief”

 

 

 

In PCUSA we have a great deal of rules and order. We have systemized theology so that we have a complete (well complete as humans get get) picture–we put all our information about God out on the table, and we desperately try to leave nothing out. Why? 

 

 

Because we don’t know everything, so we hang on tightly to those things we do know.

 

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Two things about this

 

1. Church is for unbelievers: Its for those who don’t know whats going on, and the more we make church for unbelievers the more successful church will be 

 

2. Church is for faith: Faith is not something you can hang onto–one minute you are walking on water, the next you are sinking fast. However, Church is a place to hold onto faith when you yourself don’t have any. We don’t have to believe all the time, because Jesus does. And we can both believe in Christ and not believe at the same time–>I don’t know what I believe

 

 

What an honest statement. I don’t know what I believe….

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I believe in love

 

I believe that bad things happen in the world

 

I believe in discipline

 

I believe in human brokenness

 

 

I believe in being a good person

 

 

I believe I can’t do it alone

I believe life is a miracle, every single time

 

 

I believe in relationships

 

I believe in science, math and the order of the world

 

I believe that someone is behind the ordering of it (most of the time)

 

I believe that there are intangibles that are as important as tangibles

 

I believe there are connections that are beyond desciption

 

I believe that humans have a purpose

 

I believe in God

 

I believe that good and evil both exist, and there is a struggle between them

 

I believe that I can’t understand that struggle

 

and I believe that God would never leave us hanging and alone ie I believe in Christ and the Holy Spirit

 

I believe that God is a particular person, not a nameless entity, I believe that we have complete free will and that God controls everything

 

I believe in auxi morons

 

I believe that God is timeless, and that often we mess things up by trying to constrain God with time (time travel anyone?)

 

I believe that most of the time I believe all this, and I believe the the church helps me when I believe…and when I don’t….

 

But I believe in hope, and if you don’t have hope, I believe you should hope for it! (Isn’t that what waiting for Christ is? Hoping for Hope!)

 
Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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