First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Divine nearness.

February 20, 2017

I appreciate the subtle (and not so subtle) reminders of God's nearness.  Whether it is a broad beautiful landscape or a fragile blossom, I see God's handiwork and marvel.  Is some imagination involved? Maybe. Is it seeing the divine in the mundane? Perhaps. Is it me seeking to be near God and realizing how aware my soul is to divine nearness? Probably.  It is much like knowing there are thousands of radio waves and TV signals hovering all around us and having the correct receiver to capture them.  These invisible wonders can only be seen and heard when the receiver is tuned to the correct frequency. Everyday is another opportunity for me to glimpse the divine and so I look and listen intently.

    I remember the first time a former church mentioned they would celebrate Christmas in July. I did a double take and asked, "What?" The explanation was founded in their support of a mission and the Christmas tree in July was covered with little satchels to be filled with monetary support. Ah, I see! 

    A while back, I shared of our flourishing poinsettia that likes the sunny warm location it's in. Well, I have another reminder of the nearness of God in the blooms of our Christmas cactus. I'm no horticulturalist and have no idea if a Christmas cactus blooming in February is ordinary. I noticed it was blooming and decided there must be some significance in it.

    "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 
because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11, NIV)

    God as creator is the beginning of all things. God offers so much variety in nature and in the human race. God offers us the possibility of relationship and does so through His Son Jesus.  There is never coercion on God's part to make us see or accept this hospitality. It is extended to us and we choose up or down to receive it or not. Jesus is God manifest in the flesh and so Jesus literally is God with us, near us, and for us. 

    The question then is not whether God is near, but whether we are tuned into His signal. Are we looking with eyes sensitive to the holiness of God? Are we listening with ears that filter out worldly noise in order to hear God's still small voice? Are we scanning the world around us to identify God's image in creation, in humanity, and in ourselves?

    God is as near as your next glance in any direction. God seeks to be near us and has demonstrated that desire in a billion ways. We only need to catch one of them to know how loved we are. As you live and move today, keep aware of your world and it's likely you'll experience the nearness of the divine. 

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