(Once again, more random thoughts I'm processing for Sunday's Contemplative Service)
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else...
For in him we live and move and have our being."
Acts 17:24, 25, 28a
Why is it some places feel more holy than others? If we take Paul at his word where he says God does not live in temples, why is it we can walk in a place like the Villa De Matel and be aware of God, more than we can at Memorial City Mall? If, as Paul says, in him (God) we live, and move and have our being, why do I not connect with God when I'm doing my grocery shopping?
Even in church we use language that suggests that God is not always present. We label certain experiences as ones in which 'God showed up' or 'God moved powerfully' where what we are really labeling are our own emotional responses. We equate God's presence with a feeling of goose bumps, with the unspoken corollary that if there is no emotional reaction God is not present.
If Paul is speaking Truth here, then how do I experience God at Kroger?
I think the key here is expectancy. We 'expect' God to be in certain places, consequently we have our 'receptors' on looking. In other places God is present but we may not be listening. I wonder what would happen if we went through our days looking for signs of God. Would we know what we should be looking for?
Step 11 in the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out
Improving our conscious contact takes a conscious effort. It is very easy to sit in church, and still not be attentive. Being present in worship does not mean that you are present in worship. There are times when I am sitting at the piano leading, and my brain is far away trying to remember the contents of my pantry so I can make a mental shopping list for when I leave church.
It is difficult for us to sit still and focus on God, even in church. We scan our bulletins looking to see what is ahead in the service. We read through sections of the bible - I spent many a happy hour in church with my children's bible looking at the maps of Paul's Missionary Journeys and putting in imaginary pirate attacks and sea monsters!
Just for a few moments, do nothing. Sit still, close your eyes, be attentive to the present moment. Say to yourself 'In God, I live, move, and have my being.'