-Rev Melissa Fain-
13 But Moses said to God, “If I now come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they are going to ask me, ‘What’s this God’s name?’ What am I supposed to say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.So say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’”
Exodus 3:13-14 CEB
Where is God?
We force this question into an answer, because contemplating it too long scares us. We yearn to know, but only if the answer suits our needs.It seems our collective wonder only dives to a surface level testimony. Beyond that, we quickly push any ideas aside until it’s too late. God’s fine because we are fine. We’re fine. I’m fine. It’s all fine.
In reality, there is no way to fully understand God. Either we pull out so much there is nothing we can say that doesn’t go beyond generalities, or we focus to the point where we fail in our explanations. It’s like a child drawing a picture of her parents. As humans we know there is no way a child could correctly capture the truth of her parent, and in that context we understand. Her abstract stick person is a beautiful parent in the eyes of her loving mom. We can’t extend the same grace when our fellow brothers and sisters try to do the same thing with God.
A few years back I ripped into the art of Thomas Kinkade. In my mind his art was too perfect. I wanted to see the slushy snow, the dying leaves, and the dust.
I kept this view until I heard he committed suicide. He was living with crippling depression. His painting was a desire to find perfection even when everything looked dark and lost everywhere else. My naive desire to see God my way, failed to see God his way. I wanted to take it back. We weren’t fine. It wasn’t fine. We’re not all fine.
God is everything. God is. The radical notion of God telling Moses, “Tell them ‘I Am’ has sent me to you.” allows us to look beyond ourselves to something greater. Whenever someone declares who they are, we can see a piece of the Divine. I am a minister. On a deeper level, God is a minister. I am a sister, mother, daughter, and friend. On a real level, God is our sister, mother, daughter and friend. We say this not because I’m God, because I am completely and utterly am not. We say this because God calls us to see the Light within each other. Draw us to the greater need, because that which we did not do for the least of these, we did not do for God. God is, I Am.
I couldn’t see God in a Thomas Kinkade painting, but God was in a Thomas Kinkade painting the whole time, even if I was too naive or arrogant to see it. God was crying out for us to find perfection in a broken world. How foolish I was.
We spend countless hours trying to understand how we were made in the image of God. There is something beautiful in that endeavor. I’m not going to tell you to stop. It’s just, it’s Lent. Lent is the forty days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. It exists for a very simple reason: To prepare the Body of Christ for a Risen Christ. It’s a preparatory time. We should push ourselves and ask tough questions. Who is God?
God is. God is what? God is. In the places we like to go to most. God is. In the places we like to go to least. God is. And those difficult dark places are the places we are called to during this time. The least of these. That’s where God is. Today we prepare for preparing. Today we set our course. To find God on a broken tree, we must first look at our communal failings. Where those find their loss, God is.
Pray with me:
Dear Lord, prepare us. Draw us close enough to see, while not getting burned. Help us see you in new ways. Amen.