Pastors weigh in about how people get a greater sense of God as a reality in their lives.
• From the Rev. Pat Rush, pastor, Visitation Catholic Church, Kansas City, Mo.:
One way to meet God is to journey to the Holy Land and pray at the sacred shrines.
Still, even there we would need to repeatedly surrender our expectations, defenses and presuppositions in order to know the true God and not just the magician who turns traffic lights green for us and blesses our picnics with good weather.
Few of us can make such a pilgrimage, so we need to look for God closer to home.
God is present to us through scripture, community worship and the life of discipleship. Here as well, for God to become real to us, we must continuously let go of our preconceived notions of who God is and how God should act as we surrender to the mystery of love-almighty.
God becomes more real as we prayerfully surrender the agenda and expectations we impose on God.
Generally we have to be pushed into this surrender through some suffering, loss or deprivation. Such surrender requires us to replace the trust we invest in those people, familiar ideas and things to which we cling for our security with trust invested in the Word of God who is infinite and barely knowable.
It is through that lifelong journey of stripping away and letting go of all our false gods that the true God, who is the fullness of life and light eternal, becomes real to us.
• The Rev. Duke Tufty, Unity Temple on the Plaza, offers this view:
God is the great mystery that surrounds us all.
Although thousands of books have been written on the subject, nobody knows all that God is. God is indefinable, beyond mental comprehension, far beyond an old man with a long white beard sitting on a throne somewhere in the far reaches of space.
Yet, at the same time, I believe it is essential for every person to have a relationship with God, also known as one’s “higher power.”
This relationship cannot be constructed with words, thoughts and theories but, rather, with intuition and deep emotion.
We all know the special feeling that comes over us when we are in the midst of beauty, purity and love, such as holding a baby, losing ourselves in a sunset, listening to a superb musical presentation. During these times we “lose” ourselves; self-consciousness disappears; we become one with that with which we are engaged. In those moments there is only bliss.
God is “it all.” Not only the creator of all that is but the essence of all that is.
The more we can decrease our worry, anxiety and fear from the difficult situations and circumstances in our life, decrease conflict with other people and feel at home in our world, the more we will increase our sense of unity with “it all,” which leads to an incredible experience of God.