Sunday, August 23, 2015

In a Universe So Vast, How Can God Be Truly Omnipresent?

We live about half way between the perimeter and center of this relatively small galaxy some 100,000 light years in diameter
“What wonder is it that you do not understand? If you do understand, then it is not God.”   – St. Augustine
In Biblical times, God was thought of as inhabiting a space somewhere high above and beyond the great dome or firmament known as the sky, or the heavens. That's where the sun, moon and all of the stars appear to orbit from east to west, beautifully displaying the wonders and glories of their Creator.

Since the time of Galileo, Copernicus and others, our concept of the universe has expanded exponentially. We now know our earth is but a speck in the cosmos, one small planet in orbit around a single star we call the sun. That sun, we have learned, is only one of billions of similar stars in our galaxy. And our Milky Way galaxy, over 100,000 light years in diameter, is but one of countless others, some far more vast.

In what way can God be seen as sovereign over all of this? Need we think of God inhabiting all parts of the created universe in the same way we have come to believe its Creator does in ours? Or is God most present in those places inhabited by God’s people, made in God’s image, filled with God’s Spirit?

These are mind-boggling questions we can only attempt to answer, and only in the context of a faith that is shaped by mystery, wonder and deep humility. We can never claim to know or understand things so unimaginable and so beyond our comprehension. We can only be amazed and awed. 

Our house church reflected on the following lectionary texts today, focusing on the kind of people God might choose to equip to represent and extend God's presence on earth today:

Joshua 24:14-18 Joshua’s challenge to God’s people at Shechem

We extend God's presence as we “serve” God in an unwavering and faithful way, as a committed and enlisted host of people who seek to march to the heartbeat of a divine drummer.

2. I Kings 8:22-30, 41-43 Solomon’s call to God’s people at the temple dedication

We extend God's presence as we become a living temple dedicated to God’s “Name”, e.g., that emulates God's character. According to this text, former aliens and outsiders are invited to join together in a life of humble service and worship.

3. John 6:56-69 Jesus’ invitation to his followers to ingest his very body and life blood 

We extend God's presence as we celebrate the life-giving bread and wine of Jesus and experience and exhibit the God-like qualities of Jesus himself.

4. Ephesians 6:10-20 Paul’s challenge to believers to be fully armed and empowered

We extend God's presence as we “stand” against the aggressive powers of evil in the world and offer life and hope to all who need God's salvation and deliverance from the forces that bind and blind them.

Here's a link to an amazing and humbling view of our place in the universe
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