God is Near
This morning I preached a sermon that has developed out of some spiritual awareness I have had recently. I have been thinking a lot about God’s nearness. God has been much nearer than I have known and felt. As I was preparing my sermon, I began tracing God’s presence throughout history in the Bible. I worked my thoughts into my sermon and thought I would share them here.
When God created the world. His desire for intimacy with his creation is seen as God walks in the garden in the cool of the day. God is near his People and now we claim that nearness as our own.
When Abraham feels as though the Covenant God made with him is being threatened by a command to sacrifice the very son promised to him. God’s story shows us a God that is so close He can halt a dagger as it pierces the air before it pierces the son of a covenant.
As a half million former slaves leave Egypt for a land promised to them, God’s presence leads them by fire at night and by smoke during the day, only to marvel this baby nation by paving the way through a mighty river.
As two rebellious nations make Israelites choose sides, God’s story brings us “in your face messages” ending with “thus saith the Lord” from reluctant prophets.
God’s story takes us into a foreign land where Jews mourn the loss of a Holy City. Other prophets emerge to help them know that while they are in a distant land they worship a not so distant God who shuts lion’s mouths and visits friends in a fiery furnace.
From the least likely places God shows just how involved he is by moving the heart of King Cyrus to deliver his people back to the promised land. His involvement guides prophets to expect an even more incredible deliverance from a coming Messiah.
Here God’s story takes the most exciting turn yet. Limiting the distance more than ever, God comes down to dwell in one man. Emanuel, God with us. The very God of creation walking and talking, breathing and hurting among those he created.
Just as quickly as God makes his dwelling on Earth, it appears that he makes an about face and leaves his own Son to die. In reality his ultimate attachment to you and to me is shown by attaching his own son to a cross.
When we think that God couldn’t get any closer to showing his love for us than a nail splitting wood, God’s own spirit splits our hearts and once again God’s dwelling place is not just among his people but now inside his people.
As we join God’s story we remember Jesus words before leaving his disciples. That as we go out into the entire world Jesus says, “Surely I am with you always.”
God is near.