I was watching a youtube video of the Volcano in Kilauea and happened to notice a comment below the video that read, “Watching a bubbling cauldron of lava is soothing when compared to watching the insanity of politics.” I did not find the volcanic image soothing, but I appreciated the analogy.
Watching lava finding its way out of the rock from the center of the earth made me very aware of how small this time in history is compared to the earth’s age. Scientists estimate that the earth’s age is 4.5 billion years old, and its estimated lifespan is 7.6 billion years. In contrast, the estimated lifespan of humans is 78.9 years. Our current difficulties, like our lives, are just a blip on the timeline of the earth. And yet, today’s scriptures tell us how very significant we are.
We hear in Psalm 139 how important we are by the message of how well God knows us.
God discerns our thoughts.
God is acquainted with all our ways.
God’s hand is upon us.
God knew us even before our formation in the womb.
I am blown away. As I read the words,
“How deep I find your thoughts, O God! * how great is the sum of them! To count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.” Book of Common Prayer
We do not have enough years on earth to come even close to knowing God the way he knows us.
The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible says, ” It is not beneath God’s dignity to get involved in ordinary history and national politics.” “The aim of God in history is the creation of an inclusive community of loving persons with God himself at the very center of this community as its prime Sustainer and most glorious Inhabitant.”
Yes, there is a great deal of disturbance in our nation at this time. The LIturgical readings for 2 Epiphany do not necessarily address politics. However, it is evident in them; we have a God who gets involved.
In the Old Testament Book of 1 Samuel 3:1-10(11-20), we read how deeply God is involved in the house of Eli. Eli knows God, but his faith seems to be dimming as it has been quite some time without direct communication. Samuel, who does not recognize God’s call, mistakes it for Eli’s. But God is persistent and eager to be heard.
There is an eagerness about Samuel as well, as he listens and tries to respond to the call, first with Eli and then under Eli’s direction, he eagerly responds to God. Eli is aware that he has failed to build a loving community within his household. He did not know God as God wished to be known. Eli’s eagerness to hear the message though it would be disagreeable, and his acceptance of God’s judgment as righteous indicates that he is seeking a closer relationship with God.
In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, we are told that anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him. We belong to God. We are of great value to God, so much that we are the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. We are not alone. God is deeply involved. He wants us to recognize Him as He reveals himself to us.
In John 1:43-51, we are given a beautiful image of that recognition. Jesus is building his loving community. As the apostles are drawn to him and recognizing him as the Christ, his community begins to form. Jesus isn’t selecting perfect people or specific skillsets; he is choosing those who are seeking him. Jesus saw Nathanael under the fig tree. One commentary says that it was a shaded place to study. Nathanael would likely have been studying scripture when Jesus, the Word, saw him. As Jesus tells Nathaniel how he recognized him, Nathaniel recognizes Jesus, and in that instant, a relationship grows.
Nathanael’s relationship is significant, But Jesus goes on to say, we will see more extraordinary things, “heaven will be opened.” Our relationship with Jesus is both small and intimate and vast and glorious.
Our lives are a tiny part of the 7.6 billion years of the earth’s expected life. And yet, each of us is individually, intimately, and entirely known by God. We are valued beyond our comprehension.
As we are united in spirit, God’s aim in history to create an inclusive community of loving persons becomes our aim.
As co-creators, we must
Be like Samuel, eager to listen to and share Truth.
Be like Eli, eager to hear even Truth, which makes us uncomfortable.
We must be like Nathanael, seeking Truth and eager to have it be recognized in us.
And we must be like Jesus, inviting others into His beloved community.
God has billions of years to bring his people closer together and closer to him. We have a small piece of that time to do our part.