DAY 2: God’s transforming presence – Offering Christ to a hurting worldPosted: April 25, 2013 Filed under: 40 Day Walk With God, Bishop's Blog | Tags: annual conference, bishop, bishop mcalilly, mcalilly, memphis, Methodist, nashville, Prayer, tennessee, UMC 6 Comments
“Where could I go to get away from your Spirit? Where could I go to escape your Presence?”
One Sunday afternoon I had just finished preaching my third sermon for the day. I was completely exhausted and drained of energy as I was driving the thirty-five miles back home. Then suddenly there it was right before my eyes. I stopped the car and got out, only to behold the glory of God’s beautiful creation.
The majestic mountains rolled on both sides of me. Just below the dark-green and waxy leaves of the trees reflected the glow of the sunlit sky. There were tiny buds covering the ruby-leaf plum trees. The porches and lawns of the houses were filled with colorful flowers. The vines covering the walls and porches splashed of bright orange, yellow and red colors. It was a magnificent sight!
As I beheld the beauty of God’s creation that summer day, suddenly I felt the Holy Presence surrounding me, filling me with little whispers of peace and love. My tired and worn body was completely transformed into a ray of energy, joy and new life. God’s presence hushed my sighs of weariness, bringing a breath of cheer and ease to my troubled soul.
I am convinced that we can discover God’s presence in all, yes all, of our daily lives; not only in the beauty of the earth, but in the faces of all our brothers and sisters. We can know God’s presence when we serve others living with poverty and injustice; when we stand up for truth, justice and righteousness, when we protect the least, the lost and lonely, when we reach out to the poor, the homeless and imprisoned. How many times have we looked back over our lives only to realize that God’s presence was there with us all the time: in the close encounter of an accident, the reconciliation of a family member, in caressing a new born child.
When was the last time you felt bathed in God’s majestic presence? When was the last time you recognized God’s presence in the ordinary, mundane circumstances of day-to-day living?
Prayer: Loving God, open our hearts to see your Holy Presence in all of our daily lives. May your closeness burst forth in the purity of the dawn and in the glowing ray of sunset, speaking your words of hope, joy and new life. May we always know your Holy Presence as we offer Christ to a hurting world. AMEN.
The Rev. Bettye P. Lewis
Director of Connectional Ministries-TN Conference
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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY | Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?
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While a constant focus of Jesus’ life was directed toward the “least” among us all, how seldom is it directly and forcefully preached from our pulpits.
I do so agree with you that God’s grandeur is all around us and no person can be unaware of His presence. God speaks to us through the sweetest, most unassuming ways. I work shift work and when I go to and from work, I almost always take the back roads which winds around the river in one place. I have actually stopped on top of the bluff just to take in the splendor of God’s creation. The fog rising off the river, the sun peeping through the leaves of the trees, the sunlight or moonlight dancing off the water. God has truly blessed us with just a glimpse of His awesome glory, it always makes me smile. Thank you so much for a reminder of His wonder and beauty. God Bless, lisa vaughn
ah, Bettye, my friend. . .I chewed on your thoughtful questions during an a.m. meeting and ‘second’ Jay’s comment about awareness of God’s presence in the midst of ‘normal’ life. As a former hospital chaplain I am remembering the many family members who quietly told me of feeling God’s presence while they waited, wiggled, prayed, and occasionally fell into an exhausted sleep in the hard chairs located in hospital waiting rooms. They would return to the hospital and wander back into those “ordinary places” and, [if I was quiet enough] they would tell their stories of earlier times spent in the waiting areas – times when they gave extemporaneous expression to both great lament or unbelievable joy. Invariably persons would thank me for being with them. My role was minimal – as Gerald May puts it, “they were supported by the life-breath of God”. . . and a God from whom there is no escape ~~!
Thanks! I was reminded of the time I was on my way to attend a reunion for Interpreters House at Lake Junaluska and stopped on the mountain drive between Knoxville and Junaluska to behold changing colors.
While Bettye’s reflection focuses on seeing God in the grandeur, I think the most important question is how we experience God’s presence in the “ordinary, mundane circumstances of everyday living.” For too often I am looking for mountaintop experiences of God when God is more often experienced in the gentle breeze, the still small voice, and the loving touch. Taking the time and effort needed to be aware of God’s presence in the midst of “normal” life doesn’t come easy for many of us, and requires an intentional attention to the manifestations of God where we least expect them. As a person who often gets caught up in the rush from one activity to another, I know that I need to slow down and pay attention, for when we look intently, we can see sings of God everywhere.