Welcome to the Presence!

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Where / how do you experience the Presence — of God, of Deep Reality, of Mystery, …?

John 10:1-2, 6

1 I assure you that whoever doesn’t enter into the sheep pen through the gate but climbs over the wall is a thief and an outlaw. 2 The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. … 6 Those who heard Jesus use this analogy didn’t understand what he was saying. (CEB)

[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Reflections

Shepherd is a metaphor without much substance for me. I have preached and taught about shepherds and about the Good Shepherd. But I have no direct, personal experience of shepherds… or sheep (except for wool sweaters, etc.)

I do know, however, about gates and doors. As a child I periodically heard, “Close the door. were you born in a barn?” Open doors let in pests, like flies and mosquitoes. We lock our doors to keep out potential thieves.. On the other hand, an open door invites us in out of the elements. An open door is an encouragement to enter; a captivating enticement; a “welcome home.” What does it mean to be invited, welcomed into God’s presence? If “God does not exist” where would you expect to encounter that presence.

God’s presence is experienced
whenever someone suffers along with another.
Welcome to the Presence.

God’s presence is experienced
whenever true community happens.
Welcome to the Presence.

God’s presence is experienced
whenever someone is called
to extend compassionate care through solidarity
with the poor and marginalized —
the least, last, lost, and left out.
Welcome to the presence.

God’s presence is experienced
whenever someone stands up
for the priorities and practices
of the Commonwealth of Peace and Justice.
Welcome to the Presence.

God’s presence is experienced
whenever individuals and/or communities

befriend the environment.
Welcome to the Presence.

God’s presence is experienced
whenever anyone follows in the Way
lived and taught by Yeshua.
Welcome to the Presence.

God’s presence is experienced
whenever and wherever
love, care, compassion, and justice
are practiced together.
Welcome to the Presence.

Let’s not throw in the wolf to scare people into the Presence. If they get there at all because of scare tactics, there is a good chance that they will leave as soon as the anxiety subsides and there will be no connection with the Presence.

The Presence doesn’t come with a denominational label. It is not Presbyterian, Baptist, mega-church; not Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, or Jew; neither Christian, Moslem, Hindu, nor Buddhist. The Presence is just presence (with or without a capital “p”).

That Presence is most often experienced either as an inner calling / insistence or as one or more persons who are responding to such an inner calling / insistence. You can probably tell who those people are who are responding to such an inner call by the fact that they are investing part of themselves to find solidarity with the poor and marginalized of society and/or are challenging The institutional power structures that are keeping people poor and marginalized. And, as you may already have noted, such insurrectional behavior is often treated as either seditious or heretical.

 

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