Sunday after Sunday we heard stories of those first believers struggling with the new information as it bumped into or even contradicted what they had spent years expecting differently.
Another lesson in the Sunday lectionary has been the "high theological" one of showing God-with-us but with us in raising us from the dead, and with us now in a spiritually gifted fellowship of love, proclamation and sharing.
Much of our study has been drawn to lofty titles and theological distinctions that take our risen Lord through ascension to a heavenly throne to be transcendent and to rule over all.
But there is another place or level through which we can understand God as with us. The mid-20th century German Paul Tillich said it this way,
“We must abandon the external height images in which the theistic God has historically been perceived and replace them with internal depth images of a deity who is not apart from us, but who is the very core and ground of all that is.”Tillich is opposed to the loftiness and is particularly cautious that we will leave a part of our own lives out of that formulation of "God with us" if our picture misses also understanding the continuing presence of God as the "ground of our being."
Thank goodness we took our time -- at least a Sunday -- to consider the nature of God as three-in-one and saw in our examination the presence of God down here as much as up there. The story of a God who creates, redeems and sustains us and is with us "down here" is a constant refrain of scripture:
- God is with us down here, fashioning a "mudling" to become human by the breath of God,
- and down here with Moses and the pilgrim masses wandering for a generation to find the waiting promise of a homeland,
- and down here with Jeremiah in a cistern inciting a renewal of faith to sustain soon-to-be exiles,
- and down here in a den of lions with Daniel to change the mind of Darius,
- and down here with Jesus in weeping for his dead friend Lazarus,
- and down here in His suffering to death on the cross and to repose in the tomb,
- and down here with Paul blinded and convalescing to be healed by help of one of those he sought to persecute.
It behooves us then to think of our lives of faith as called into a groundedness as much as any lofted holiness or above-it-all purity. We needn't reject our recent learning about God as Trinity or of Jesus as died AND raised AND ascended. All of that is true. But because we are still here traversing Morgan County's fields and pathways we include the understanding that God is with us down here, indeed is the very ground of our being.