Here are my thoughts for 17 May 2020 – 6th Sunday of Easter (Year A)
In our first reading for this Sunday, Luke notes that there was a monument to an unknown god; a simple statement that even the people of Athens had a “god of the gaps:”, the god they could turn to when none of their regular gods was available or could solve the problem at hand.
Some years ago, one of my students suggested that as humankind became more intectually capable, it eliminated the need for gods. Unitl Abraham, society had always had created gods to deal with the problems of the world. If rain was needed to water the crops, we prayed to the god of rain. We prayed to a goddess of fertility if we wanted things to grow (or if we wanted to have children). There was gods for the wind and rain and it was clear that we, humankind, had to have done something wrong when our society was beset by a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or some other natural disaster.
But as we began to understand the world in which we live, the needs for these gods diminished and ultimately disappeared. But, as I suggested, to my student then, this approach could not provide an adequate explanation for why there is good and evil in this world. And despite the suggestions of some, a better understanding of science does provide answers for the “why” questions of life. Science cannot explain why mankind is created or even why there is good or evil in this world?
It could be that we have a gene that determines whether we will be good or evil but that begs the question of what we will do if this is the case. We have seen what has happened when society has sought to remove those deemed less desirable.
So if good and/or evil are not an integral part of our lives, then there must be something else. Throughout the history of mankind, we have sensed the presence of another God, one above all the minor gods, the gods that we can explain through our experience in this world (from https://heartontheleft.wordpress.com/2008/03/01/a-particular-moment-in-time/)
I have sensed the presence of God in my life many times and in many ways. It is that same sense that allowed Isaiah to know that God knew him before he was born; it was the same sense that allowed John Newton to write “I once was loss but now I am found.”
These are times when we might feel lost. Our daily lives have been interrupted and there is a sense that we will never return to that routine. It is a time when we might feel lost or at least confused.
It is at times like these when we remember that Jesus said that He would not leae us, that we would not be alone.
Thomas Paine wrote of the times that tried our souls. They were times where the struggles of the world were clear and the choices to be made perhaps clearer. These are the times that try our spiritual souls; our struggles are not perhaps as clear.
But in these times, in our moments of solitude, we have the opportunity to reconnect with Christ. We are not bothered by outside noise so we can, in this earthly peace, find the moments to reconnect with Christ. And in this time with Christ we can begin to think of those moments when we will again be a part of this world.
Poet, novelist, and environmentalist Wendell Berry writes in What are People For?:
“We enter into solitude, in which we also lose loneliness.
True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation.
In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives. …
After having returned from the woods, we remember with regret its restfulness. For all creatures there are in place, hence at rest.
In their most strenuous striving, sleeping and waking, dead and living, they are at rest.”
This season we can cultivate a healthy practice of solitude in creation and recover our humble place in the communion of all creatures. A solitude practice can be especially challenging when you already may feel isolated. But remember, solitude is not a lack of connection; it is a deliberate spiritual discipline that allows us to become fully attentive to other lives – to God’s voice, to the voices of other beings. (from Sojourners e-mail, 15 May 2020)
The thing is the world in which we will go tomorrow is not the world we left behind yesterday. Which means that the way we may have connected with Christ may not be there when we go back out into the world. But in these times of solitude and contemplation, we will find ways we never knew to be better disciples of Christ.