devozine

Spiritual Practice

Everyday Theology

Craig Mitchell

I dreamed that I had a pair of contact lenses
that let me see God working in the world.
Night Sky Ftr TSP 466685727 copyI watched as God whispered the wind.
I marveled as God spun the earth on it axis
and sparkled light from the stars.
I wondered as God sprouted seeds and blossomed buds.
I wept as God heaved with a mother, giving birth.
I glimpsed God’s healing
through people’s kind, forgiving words.
I sensed God’s touch with their gentle and strong hands.

I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established.
               —Psalm 8:3 (NRSV)

kingdom of God Ftr TSP 124618482I am easily awed by God’s creation: a blood-red sunset, a glistening lake, a hatching bird. Yet to see and hear God at work in the world requires eyes and ears that are trained to discern the purposes of God, the presence of Christ, the moving of the Spirit. As a guitarist, I often hear a song and think, That’s my guitar! The sound of a Fender Telecaster has a familiar ring. Graffiti artists identify one another’s work by their personal tags. Expert chefs are known by signature dishes.

We know that the Bible speaks of God. So do Christian teachings. But how does life speak of God?

In his book, The Alphabet of Grace, Frederick Buechner says that life is like an alphabet that speaks of God’s grace; we spend our lives learning to read it. God’s alphabet is hope, joy, peace,and love, written through the diary of our days. God’s rhythm of seeking freedom and establishing justice sings through hip hop, soul, pop, and country music. The more we know God, the more likely we are to see and to hear the Spirit’s stirrings.

But recognizing God, even in creation, is not always easy. A bushfire or a tsunami makes us question whether God is in control. The horror of a mass shooting makes us cry, “Why, Lord? Don’t you care?” The plight of refugees forces us to ask what God wants us to do. To doubt, to ask questions, to wonder, and to discern are all part of wrestling with what we believe and what difference it makes.

Wildflowers FF ID-10032005To help his followers understand God, faith, and the life they were called to live, Jesus often used images and stories from everyday life. He described the kingdom of God as a tiny seed, a lost coin, a lost sheep. He encouraged his followers to look at the flowers in the field or to imagine a farmer sowing seeds. He began with ordinary events, common symbols, and familiar objects, then told a story to connect them with scripture. His gift for linking everyday life with the scripture people knew so well helped them to see both in a new light. Their eyes and ears of faith were opened.

 

DIG DEEPER

How does life speak to you of God? You are doing theology when you

  • see glimpses and hear whispers of God throughout the day
  • ask a question about God
  • write or speak a prayer
  • write a poem or create a song that expresses faith
  • try to connect the Bible with life
  • reflect on the words of a Christian writer
  • try to explain to someone what you believe
  • put a memorable faith experience into words
  • struggle to understand what God is doing in the world
  • talk about faith with teachers or friends
  • remain open to what God might say to you.

Don’t let God moments remain hidden. Uncover them. Question them. Test them. Interpret them. Learn from them. Celebrate them.

Craig Mitchell is National Director for Formation, Education and Discipleship, Uniting Church in Australia.

—from devozine (January/February 2015). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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