October 11, 2015 Gathering
Encountering the holy You we call God can be a tricky thing. First, it can often seem easier to experience God as an It, than a You. When we talk about God instead of talking to God, when we seek God out only as a means for help, when we forget that we can affect God as much as God affects us – in all these ways, we create an I-It relationship with God.
But we can enter directly into relationship with God through things like prayer and discernment. When we spend time with God, whether the time is joy-filled or filled with upset, we rekindle the I-You relationship with the Eternal You.
And scripture reminds us that we hold relationship with God by holding relationship with others. As Martin Buber says in our worship from last week, “In every You we address the Eternal You….” When we meet people and have a positive experience (when they’re happy and joyful, messing up but remorseful, or even angry but humble), it’s easier to encounter God in them.
When we meet someone and have a negative experience, it can be much harder to encounter God in them. With these people, whatever we might understand as the holiness of God in them seems so covered by the muck of the world, it can be hard to remember that God is still there. It’s in these moments, especially, that we have to use what Krasner and Joyce call our “Ethical Imagination” – our capacity to imagine life as that person, with all their thoughts, feelings, hopes, and insecurities – to remember that we are just as human as they are, and that God is equally in us all.
Whatever we can ascribe to the Great I Am, we can ascribe to the God that exists in each of us. And whatever we can see of the God in ourselves and others, can teach us more about the God of All Creation. Still greater, whenever we move past ascribing and seeing God to a place of meeting (or encountering) God, whether directly or through another person, we are spending time in relationship with the God of Love.
We asked each other questions designed to help us think about how we relate to God, as the Eternal You, directly, and through others. Here are some examples we used, though the possibilities are limitless:
- When do you find it most difficult to see God in someone?
- When is it difficult to be yourself with someone?
- What’s the hardest “truth” you “know” about God?
- What’s a favorite story you have about a time you spent with God?
- Is approaching strangers hard or easy for you? What makes it that way?
- When did you see God’s real presence in someone?