God works in us as God works through us
most of us like to look for God in all the usual places: Cathedrals, Sunsets, the smile of a baby or even the playfulness of a puppy. Put cute kids together with puppies? We are over the moon! Of course, God is in that!
But what about the places that make the angels weep? Is God in the places of sorrow, grief, fear and loneliness? Isn't there a reason we call those places "God-forsaken"?
Luke 24 tells the story of how Jesus walks and talks with the disciples but somehow, they didn't recognize him. Is it because they were so disheartened and discouraged, so heartbroken and afraid, that they couldn' conceive that Jesus would be there?
I contend that there are two blind spots that keep us from recognizing and responding to God in ur lives.
Blind Spot #1: Our God is Too Small
Any time we decide that some places are sacred and others are secular. we make God too small. We say God is in "this place", and that is true enough unless we decide that means there are places where God is not. There is no place on earth for which Christ didn't come, live, toil and die. There is no person in the world for whom Christ did not die and rise again. If that is true, then how can any place NOT be sacred?
Consider this from Pierre de Chardin:
This world, this palpable world, which we are wont to treat with the boredom and disrespect with which we habitually regard places with no sacred association for us, is in truth a holy place, and we did not know it.
Blind Spot #2: Our Holiness is Too Big
We tend to think of holiness as doing the big things for God. We build cathedrals or change our lives. We try to become something we are not- or at least hide our true selves from others. We think to be Holy is to be Perfect or Unblemished, but that misses the point. The word 'Holy" literally means to be "set aside for the purpose of God." The Communion Cup is Holy not because it possesses special spiritual power, but because it is set aside for the work of worship. A people is Holy not because they are better or more favored than others, but because they have offered themselves to God for the sake of God's work.
The Disciples didn't recognize Jesus until they offered him simple hospitality that was expected of all those people who have been set aside for the work of God. Holiness can be something "big" like offering your life as a missionary, but it also consists of the multitude of ways we offer ordinary holiness: Hospitality, talking to a neighbor, visiting a friend in the hospital, writing a card of encouragement, tending a garden or tending a family.
If God is big enough to be in all things then there is nothing too small for the work of holiness.
Consider this quote from Frerderick Buechner:
Taking your children to school
and kissing your wife goodbye.
Eating lunch with a friend.
Trying to do a decent day's work.
Hearing the rain patter against the window.
There is no event so commonplace
but that God is present within it,
always leaving you room to recognize him
or not recognize him,
but all the more fascinatingly because of that,
all the more compellingly and hauntingly...
Listen to your life.
See it for the fathomless mystery that it is.
In the boredom and pain of it
no less than in the excitement and gladness:
touch, taste, smell your way
to the holy and hidden heart of it
because in the last analysis all moments are key moments,
and life itself is grace.
The benediction we used this morning will be used throughout this series and is adapted from William Sloan Coffin:
May God give you the grace
never to sell yourself short;
grace to risk something big for something good;
grace to remember that the world
is too dangerous for anything but truth
And too small for anything but love.
May God take your minds and think through them;
May God take your lips and speak through them;
May God take your hearts and set them on fire!