"I am a waste and because God is God, a glorious waste at that. It seems I've been in this moment for a while. That is to say that I am learning to begin with and keep thinking in terms of God's continuing presence with us as more informative than any other truth of our lives. (Me, last week)I started down this path when I sat with several diocesan friends and others to hear Martin Smith talk about Jesus as an "aroused arouser."
Smith was looking for a placed shared by the "Marys and the Marthas," the contemplatives and the proselytizers, worshippers and the workers. He saw the contemporary church as bifurcated and by way of that split undone as a means to the larger end given to it by God.
A close examination of what "turned on" Jesus or of that thing in which Jesus seemed to be most interested became for Smith the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God. Smith included in his remarks the important reminder that because of its nearness and the places from where the kingdom arrives we can never "talk behind Jesus' back."
He is with us as we wash the sojourner's feet and as we pray, as we stock the soup kitchen and as we sing old metrical hymns, as we live and as we die.
It took a while for the first followers to understand this. Paul's letter to the Romans is stuffed full with this concern and his attempts to share its pervasive wonder. Paul says,So I'm good with it. God is with us and is seeing to God's proximity with us because God is God. Said another more "Smithian" way, "the Kingdom of heaven is near."
"I'm good with it" but none of this kingdom glory is settling for me. Yes, I have my anxieties and Paul's words are reassuring but the overall effect for me is more up than down, more warmed than cooled, more awakened than rested.
Here's where I want to go with this new (renewed?) arousal. I want to go wide and deep. I want to ask again and again the question "what is God calling me/us to become?"
I am confident that God's proximity allows the question to become a constant refrain for us. Because God is with us we can always be asking and answering this question. God's presence is NOT contingent on our getting the answer right.
But when it hits us that God is with us and nothing can separate us from that love aren't we encouraged to do all sorts of things that previously would have seemed too daunting, too risky? Beyond the refrain are answers that we may have refused in the fears and doubts of our past. Whose responses we may have deferred because we thought God wasn't already in the room.
There's so much to do! Thanks be that God is with us!