God Is Here
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
1 Isaiah 52: 7-10
“I am worried about my grandson leaving for college. He’s young and immature. He doesn’t think. Anybody can talk him into anything. I’m afraid for him and so is his mother. I constantly pray that God will watch over him. I just never feel I’ve prayed enough.” This is one of countless conversations I’ve had with people worried that their prayers weren’t sufficient to turn God’s attention from heaven to earth.
Why do we speak of God as being out there? For thousands of years people have spoken of God existing in another realm. God may occasionally break into our realm to take care of some situation or other but this isn’t his natural milieu. Even though our faith teaches that God is constantly involved with us, creating our entire universe, we continue to speak of him as external to us. This assumption is so deeply woven into Christian cosmology that it seems inextricable from the faith. But Is it?
What happens if we don’t posit a unique sphere for God? What if we view God existing within our realm, giving it life and direction rather than entering our world from the outside? Are we reducing God to the stuff around us? Certainly not. Our faith is that the universe is meaningful, destined for fulfillment. Everything that exists is good and purposeful. From black holes to kitty cats, with us in that continuum, we give ourselves neither existence nor promise. God alone gives goodness and promise to creation.
Can we speak of God as independent of but inseparable from creation?
Isn’t this the underlying revelation of the Incarnation? Doesn’t this illuminate the enormity of God’s becoming human? Christians have a chronic problem: we’re prone to envisioning God as creating us and sitting back to see if we’ll achieve our destiny. We sometimes speak even of the Incarnation as though it were merely an exception in which God visited our world to straighten us out then returned to his “out there” to observe the results. This isn’t our faith.
We need to know that God is closer to human life than our breath, more involved with material creation than gravity. God is not “out there” somewhere; God is not and refuses to be separate from our lives. We celebrate that every Christmas.