Joining God at Work in the World
by Louise Westfall
The Word in Scripture
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:7
And Jesus said to his followers, Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. Mark 16:15
Reflect on the Word
From Jewish tradition comes the story of a student who challenged his Teacher: I will give you a gold coin if you can tell me where God is. The wise old Teacher smiled as he responded, And I will give you a gold coin if you can tell me where God is not. Judeo-Christian faith has always affirmed God’s presence everywhere. There is no human place — be it of sorrow or joy, suffering or celebration, death-dealing or life-creating — in which God is not present and active.
We express our faith through engagement with the world. Followers of Jesus are called outside the sanctuary (the “house of God”) and into the places where God already is: into the world God made and loves so well. We go there to meet our neighbors and in their stories discover the ways God is working. We go there to hear their pain, their questions, their perspectives and through active listening, walk in their shoes and learn what’s true in their lives. We go there to immerse ourselves in the great spinning world and marvel at God’s creativity and redemptive purposes.
Here are some ideas to expand our understanding of community engagement. Try these as you go about your daily activities. Most simply tweak the way we do these things now, and may open us a little more to God’s presence in the ordinary, the routine. [some of these suggestions are from a Richard Rohr blog post “Cultivating Curiosity”]
- Take a different route or use public transportation to a familiar place, or visit a new place such as a farmer’s market, café, grocery store, library, park;
- When you hear a siren in the distance, silently offer a prayer for the first responders, and the people they will attend to.
- Change the way you take in news and explore other sources and perspectives. Listen, read, or watch news from a different political persuasion than your own.
- Make a plan to do something you’ve never done before. Prepare by reading about it, determine what equipment or ingredients are needed, and choose a time/date to do it.
- In a situation that seems boring or mundane — such as waiting in line or in slow traffic — pay closer attention to your surroundings, using all your senses.
Gracious God, thank you for opening me to the mingled mystery and miracle of your presence in the world. May I see you everywhere, and may others see you in me. Amen
Make an Intention
Try one or more of the practices suggested above. Notice what kind of reactions they produce in you. What did you see differently? How did these practices increase your mindfulness of God’s presence in the world?