This past week, while at continuing education in Los Angeles (training for transitions ministry) I had the privilege of attending the midweek (Thursday night) service at Holy Spirit in Silver Lake.  This is a small, emergent congregation that started in someone’s home and now meets in a couple of rooms for Eucharist on Thursday nights.  They describe themselves as a meal in three courses, gathered around the altar.  And there is intentionality about being open and welcoming to the GLTBI community.

One of the things they do differently is the sermon.

Someone (usually, I believe, not ordained) begins with some opening reflections to get the process started.  Then everyone present contributes insights and thoughts.  I would guess the opening reflections last week were 5 or 10 minutes long.  And I would guess the continuing reflections were at least another 15 minutes long.  I didn’t time it.

I did find that some of the continuing reflections were at least marginally unaccepting of people who were different (i.e. not open and inclusive).  Ironic in this context.  But the opening reflections were on the gospel for Proper 7 (Year C) and the healing of the “Garasene demoniac.”  She took a systems approach, which along with my continuing ed and the Daily Office reading from Numbers for Saturday, gave me the direction of my sermon last Sunday (which is, of course, posted on St. George’s Home Page).

But what really had me thinking was her question about how each of us, personally, boxes God.

And as I reflected, I started thinking about what is often called “higher biblical criticism.”  Which unblocked me, and enabled me to begin reading the Bible as a book that carried authority in my life (rather than as a book from which I simply, uncritically, picked and chose those parts that I already liked).  So for me, this was really salvific.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that God is bigger than this approach (or any approach) to God.  So it was really just another way to package and box God.  With our limitations as people, I’m not sure we have any other way of understanding God.  We have to package this somehow to think about God.  But every package is smaller than God.

Ultimately, however, it’s not about thinking about and understanding God — which we can never really do anyway.  It’s about being in a relationship and turning to God.  I think that’s what I’m left with.  Turning to God.  Embracing God.  Opening my life to God.  Beginning to know God as a “person.”

Knowing God trumps knowing about God any day.

However important it is for me, personally, to think I also know something about God.

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