The Rev. David Gunderson’s Commentary for Sunday, May 25, 2014


The Lessons and Commentary for the Sixth Sunday After Easter

Morning Prayer, Sunday, May 25, 2014

Acts 17:22-31

Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, `To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him– though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For `In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, `For we too are his offspring.’  Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

1 Peter 3:13-22

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you– not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

John 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

A Commentary for the Sixth Sunday After Easter

By the Rev. David Gunderson

In today’s lesson from the Book of Acts, we hear a phrase that I use in almost every worship service: In God we live, and move, and have our being. The essential point of this phrase is that God is not a being who is “out there” somewhere, separated from us, but that God is the reality or presence which contains us. Paul is asking us to think about ourselves, and all creation, as being within the reality of God.

Here, as elsewhere, Paul insists that God’s presence is obvious to anyone who pays attention. All we have to do is let ourselves become aware of the simple mystery of existence—that we are here at all, that there is something rather than nothing—and this will be enough to awaken feelings of wonder and awe. This is at least the beginning of an intuitive knowledge of God. Creation itself announces the presence of the Mind who brings all things forth into existence.

Moses came to much the same awareness on the mountaintop when the divine name was revealed to him as pure being: I Am Who I Am. Again, we are reminded that God is not a being, but Being itself, a reality which has been described as an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere.

The central point of this brief commentary is to plant the idea that we are inside the reality of God, that God is the reality within which we live. This is not an idea that one can grasp and be done with it. Instead, I hope that it can be for you an image that appeals mostly to your imagination.

For me, it sometimes seems as if the Universe is the Bod of God—or the Body of Christ—with an unimaginable Mind guiding the emergence of ongoing Creation.

Or it can seem that we are like children within the womb of their mother, and that we depend on the sustaining presence of God in the same way an unborn infant depends on the life of its mother.

The idea that all Creation is already within God also gives rise to the idea of a sacramental universe in which every created thing points beyond itself to the creative power which is its source. In this universe, everything is holy because it shines with the Creator’s presence.

The image of being inside the reality of God is also an antidote to one of our great human temptations, which is our tendency to domesticate the wild mystery of everyday life. Do we really believe that life on this planet is only a matter of shopping for groceries and buying insurance? What about that presence that shimmers just beyond the reach of our vision, at the edge of our awareness? Let our daily practice be to remember who we are, and where we are, and we will find that we live and move and have our being within the deepest mystery of all.

Categories Uncategorized | Tags: | Posted on May 29, 2014

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