I actually love church. I meet with God at church. But when you think you need to be somewhere big and sacred and out of the ordinary to meet with God, you are missing something essential.
“The God of biblical faith is the God who meets us at those moments in which for better or worse we are being most human, most ourselves, and if we lose touch with those moments, if we don’t stop from time to time to notice what is happening to us and around us and inside us, we run the risk of losing touch with God too.”
I love this quote (and basically everything else that Buechner has written) because it cuts through the noise and clatter, and offers an immediate choice: Will I meet God here, in the ordinariness of now? Or will I keep believing that there is a better, more holy way to meet with God? What does it mean to stop from time to time to notice what is happening to us and around us and inside of us? What does it mean to believe that God meets us in those moments?
Have you laughed until your face hurt lately?
Have you wept bitter tears of disappointment?
Have you gotten angry?
Have you lost track of time, swept up in the joy of the moment?
Have you embarrassed yourself lately?
Have you lost it in frustration, saying or doing something that you later regretted?
Have you solved a problem that brought you great satisfaction?
Can you believe that it is in those moments that God meets us – not to condemn or chastise or strategize or straighten out — but to give you what you need, in that moment.
Think of a friend who loves you and is good to you. Can you believe that God is at least that good?
One of the lectionary readings this week begins as a very ordinary moment. It’s morning, and Peter and his friends have had a horrible night, fishing but catching nothing. (Which, incidentally, is exactly how life goes when things aren’t going well anyway). But there on the beach, cooking breakfast, is Peter’s Friend. The Friend that Peter betrayed, abandoned. There He is, cooking fish and shouting some nonsense to Peter about throwing his nets on the other side of the boat, as if He ever knew anything about fishing for fish.
But it’s Him. In the ordinariness of a disappointing morning, and a devastating week, there He is. And so Peter does what you and I mostly don’t do; he dives in and swims the rest of the way, because he can’t wait to see those eyes and hear that voice. And to get from Him what Peter needs, after that disappointing morning, and devastating week.
We look for God in the big and holy, and God is there. But I think God is mostly experienced in the small and ordinary. The invitation is simple: Dive in and swim towards this Person who is with you and for you, right in the middle of your actual life.