I am always amazed by how the spirit moves when I am in the pulpit. This past Sunday, during a sermon about the religious thought of Albert Einstein, I was moved to do several “drop-ins”, or to say a few things in the moment that were not in my text. I find that the more comfortable I get in the pulpit, the more likely I am to do such impromptu changes.
In a section about Einstein’s belief that God “does not play dice with the universe”, I added the thought that it is possible to have a personal relationship with God, even if you believe that God does not have a personal relationship with you. Occasionally such a drop-in will become the center around which someone in the congregation will build their “inner-sermon”, and several members yesterday focused on this one simple, but complex idea…
It is possible to have a personal relationship with a God that does not know that you, individually, exist. Such a God may not even be capable of “knowing” in the human sense at all. Yet, you can feel a deep and abiding personal connection with God, with the divine that surrounds us all.
One of the greatest tragedies for many who begin moving towards a liberal faith is the sense of loss that can occur when they lose the ability to accept the idea of an interactive, personally aware, and responsive God. There is a sense of being special, a sense of wholeness that many have found in a relationship with a God who responds to prayer, who could be walking beside you, or carrying you down the beach, who is intimately involved in the daily minutia of your life. I remember feeling special as a young boy, because I knew that Jesus was living in my heart. I remember looking in my science text of what my heart looked like on the inside, trying to find the part where Jesus hung out.
I am a “Unitarian of the Holy Spirit”. I believe that God is all around us, God is in us, God is us. God exists in the smallest atom and in the largest galaxy, in the movement of ants and in the relationships of humans. God is in the connections between us, the ties that bind us. God is in both the beautiful and good, as well as the ugly and bad. There is no division in God, no dualism. Good and Evil, Us and Them, Right and Wrong, Left and Right… all bound together, all a part of the grandness that is the Holy Spirit of God.
Peter Mayer, a folk singer, said it when he sang:
“This morning outside I stood,
And saw a little red-winged bird.
Shining like a burning bush,
Singing like a scripture verse,
It made me want to bow my head,
I remember when church let out.
How things have changed since then,
Because everything is Holy Now.”
My personal relationship with God is as intimate as a relationship can be. I walk with God, each and every day. I talk with God, each and every day. At times, God carries me, at times God helps me fly. I see the hand of God in the flight of birds, or in the caring glance of a friend. I see the works of God in those who work for justice, and in a life transformed in a moment’s flash of awareness. The Holy Spirit of God reminds me to be my better self, for it rests in the person who cut me off in traffic, in the person playing petty power games, in the war criminal and the murderer, just as it does in all.
The Holy Spirit of God surrounds me always, and I am in deep and abiding personal relationship with it… and yet… it has no individual and personal idea that I even exist… even though I am a part of it. It probably has no way to even conceive of individual existence.
This is what it means, to me, to be able to have a personal relationship with a God that does not have a personal relationship with you. It is the acceptance that God is intimately involved with us, every day, and yet it does not “know” us in the human sense. It is simply there, and we both participate with and are a part of it. The Holy Spirit that I call God flows through existence, and binds all together…
It is enough for me to know it is there, to see it and recognize it and interact with it. I do not need God to do the same for me. The presence of the transforming, powerful spirit of life is enough… more than enough… and I stand in awe of it.
Yours in Faith,