|8/11/2016 9:00:00 AM|
Jesus, our savior
BY BISHOP EDWARD B. SCHARFENBERGERBefore I write my weekly column, I always pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit, that I will be able to offer something that is of value to whomever will be reading it.
My first concern is not to talk about what happens to be on my mind, so much as what all of us together are dealing with at this particular time and whatever perspective the light of our faith may bring to the moment.
I have never felt more certain of God's presence in our lives in this world than I do at this moment. It seems to me that, wherever we go, near or far, every moment is a moment of grace that God is using, transforming and redeeming so to bring us to a deeper awareness of His love.
Yet, I have the impression (I may be wrong) that many people feel overburdened, frustrated, confused and maybe even irritated that God is not revealing Himself enough in the world in general and in our personal lives in particular.
That leads me to the point at which I find myself now as I write. What can I say to convey the conviction that this just is not so?
It comes to me what might be part of the difficulty: All too often, our faith is thought of as something that we do, someplace we go. The assumption is that God is really closer to people who pray more, do more good deeds, go to church and/or read the Bible more.
There is no question that doing any or all of these things are more likely to put one in contact with God than just going through the daily chores and routines of life mindlessly, but there is a reason for that. The reason is this: prayer, Scripture reading, churchgoing and doing good works consciously have the advantage of giving us a focus.
Not that they always do this, if our minds are somewhere else, but by their very nature they are directed toward listening to God. Not all of our other activity is -- but it need not be that way.
There is no reason why sharing a meal with friends, having a conversation with a neighbor, riding in a subway train, waiting on a toll or shopping line or, for that matter, putting out the garbage cannot be a moment of grace. What we need to realize is that God is with us in everything that we do.
So many times in our lives, we may find ourselves giving no thought that God is always in us and around us! Yet, Jesus always knocks at the door of our minds and hearts. The feelings that well up inside of us when we see or read something disturbing, even the things that frustrate us and may make us mad, are not just signs that something is wrong, but invitations from God to want something better and to turn to Him for help.
If we find ourselves unsatisfied, critical or even judgmental, this may well be because God is inviting us not to rely on certain things or people to fulfill the longings of our souls, which are made -- "hard-wired," so to speak -- for being filled by God.
Enough is never enough because we are made for eternity, not for those ephemeral, passing pleasures that will never completely satisfy us. Bringing more "God awareness" into our lives will change the way we look at our routines, especially those that are the most seemingly routine, repetitive and, at times, boring and monotonous.
To put it another way, our faith invites us to be reflective about our lives: to look at what we are doing and thinking while we are actually doing it, not just to live as slaves to routine or to anyone's expectations from us.
Jesus promised that those who live in Him and for Him would really be free. If it seems at times that church is "boring," it may be because daily life itself has become that way: that we have forgotten or neglected to allow God's presence to enter those moments.
Jesus is never boring, but life will become so without Him.
(Follow the Bishop at www.facebook.com/AlbanyBishopEd and on Twitter @AlbBishopEd.)
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