Experiencing & Encountering


At our July 7th gathering, we talked about the difference between “experiencing” and “encountering.”

We drew from Martin Buber’s idea that, when we “experience” a person, a group of people, God, or a thing, we remain at a disconnected distance, simply observing them. When we “encounter” a person, a group of people, God, or a thing, we make a real connection with them. We talk *to and with,* instead of about. We allow ourselves to enter personally into the relationship with them – affecting and being affected by one another. We used the reading from the gospel of Matthew as an example of how Jesus moved what he said from the realm of idea (experience) to a concrete engagement in relationship with others (i.e. – “Don’t talk about them and how they should get food. Feed them.”)

When we stop talking *about* others (including God), to talking *to and with* them, we move from the realm of simply experiencing others to true encounter with them, as the Christ seems to have prioritized and taught in his own ministry.

Encounter

Experiencing and Encountering

Matthew 14:13-16

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” 

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 


“God is present when I confront You.  But if I look away from You, I ignore him.  As long as I merely experience or use you, I deny God.  But when I encounter You I encounter him.”

~ I and You, Walter Kaufmann

“The world as experience belongs to the basic word I-It.  The basic word I-You establishes the world of relation.”

~ “I and Thou,” Martin Buber

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