My belief is tentative, incomplete, ever changing, open to revision as I seek to listen to life in order to experience the presence of the sacred in all that surrounds me.
When I am asked whether I believe in God, I offer my current, tentative understanding. When in the biblical story Moses pleads with God to reveal his name, the answer comes, “I am who I am.” Those words derive from the Hebrew verb, “to be.” That is, God is not a being, but being itself.
That implies, for me, that God does not act to intervene in this world. God is a spirit, behind and before us, below and above us, dwelling in each of us, and out beyond us. God is the mystery of the sacred within all creation, healing our hurts, comforting our anxieties, challenging our complacencies and encouraging us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly through the world in which we find ourselves.
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God is present where good friends and family members love one another, where two people, same or opposite sex, enter into the bond of marriage, where the energy and exuberance of the young is allowed to soar, and in the quiet, constant companionship of two people who have loved for many years.
The sacred intersects our lives in the midst of quiet meditation, in the pleasantries of daily discourse, in the glory of a Mozart horn concerto or Bob Dylan’s music, in the scientist in the lab who produces a vaccine for Ebola or malaria, in the right word found by the poet.
Wherever compassion calls us to reach out to those who need acceptance, a hug, a touch, perhaps a kiss; wherever we work to change laws that divide and cast out those who are different from us, there God is present. That means speaking truth to power, offering comfort and healing, celebrating the ordinary, speaking peace, demanding justice.
Whenever you and I look at this seemingly hopeless world in which we live, and still find hope and the courage and energy to practice it, God is present. When we are knocked to the floor by our own doing or by life in general, and still rise up with determination and a smile, God is present.
Pruyne (1929-2019) was a campus minister at ISU for 40-plus years, and the founding pastor of New Covenant Community, a congregation in Normal. This “statement of faith” was excerpted from two of his sermons, and shared at his recent memorial service.