“Awe is the gateway to compassion. It is a deep awareness that we are creators, creators who work with the Creator, in an ongoing project of crafting a world. If we do not like the world or are afraid of it, we have had a hand in that. And if we made a mess, we can clean it up and do better. We are what we make.”
― Diana Butler Bass,
We are creators. We are at work with THE Creator. This is a point lost on most of us. Lost because we do not see ourselves as creators or conversely lost because we see ourselves as THE creator of our own success, status, place in life etc. This leads us to often lament the world around us, point the finger at those that we see responsible, or even worse, we become apathetic, throw our hands in the air and declare that it’s all too much for me to do anything about. Thank God for people like Diana Butler Bass who challenge us to a deeper honesty about our own role in making the world around us.
At St Aidan’s we are using Diana Butler Bass’ book Grounded: Finding God in the World-A Spiritual Revolution as a Lenten study. As her webpage says, the book argues “…that what appears to be a decline actually signals a major transformation in how people understand and experience God. The distant God of conventional religion has given way to a more intimate sense of the sacred that is with us in the world. This shift, from a vertical understanding of God to a God found on the horizons of nature and human community, is at the heart of a spiritual revolution that surrounds us—and that is challenging not only religious institutions but political and social ones as well.” This book challenges the idea of a faraway God whom we long to one day meet, and suggests an ever present God who is grounded in the place that is home, a God who is with us, in the earth, the air, the water, and our neighbours and our community. This emphasis on a Incarnational God is a powerful call to the church, and to all of us who work in it, to stop pandering to a hermeneutic that places God outside of the realm of our daily lives and become mindful of how God is at work in our lived environment, and in our relationships. It’s a great book.
In Lent we often focus on repentance. In Scripture, when we read the word repent the word most often used is the Greek μετάνοια – metanoia. It’s at the heart of the Christian message. In another of her books, Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith, Butler Bass insists that
“The whole message of the Christian scripture is based in the idea of metanoia, the change of heart that happens when we meet God face-to-face. Even a cursory knowledge of history reveals that Christianity is a religion about change. The Christian faith always changes–even when some of its adherents claim that it does not.”
So this Lenten season let us take seriously our ability to be a people who can and should change. A people who, meeting God face-to-face in our lived environment and in our neighbours, would care to know that we are indeed creating and co-creating with God who is with us. Let us then look at the mess around us and get busy cleaning it us. “We are what we make.” Today, think about which relationship needs mending. Today, think about which self serving behaviour needs changing. Today, think about which contributions we have made to damaging God’s home – the earth, the sea, the sky, our neighbour. Let us repent — put differently — let us have a change of heart. We have some messes we need to clean up.
Our book group meets on Wednesday evenings at St Aidan’s at 730 pm. you are welcomed to join us You can read more about Grounded here .
As is always the case, I welcome your feedback …..