Inner Reality Trinity Sunday, May 22 Kitchissippi United Church
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
GOSPEL John16: 12 -15
The Rev. Dr. George Hermanson
We are faced with many crucial issues that undermine our wellbeing. Our society is polarized. There seems to be a lack of desire to engage others in fellowship.
This has created difficult issues for the church in how to speak to our society. We have a history of calling upon individuals and society to do justice and compassion. The problem is, it is often phrased “do the will of God.” Or some have said, “What would Jesus do?” Those words fall flat in our secular society and often do not resonate even with those in the faith. Simple phrases do not deal with the complexity of action and we have been searching for ways that are faithful to our insights and are not demands or self righteous views. Projection is another name for we know the truth attitude. It is to believe that the other is an empty reality. This allows us to use the ‘other’ for our own ends or we can fix them. The drastic outcome of such views is that it gives us permission to impose our perspective on the other.
Yet we know that faith calls us to world care. It is not always easy to discern what is worthy of us, or how to make this reality better. Too often we revert to ideology and shout at those with whom we disagree.
The question what has love to do with this is compounded when we know that God does not have a plan, that God has not set out a map to follow. Now it feels good to hold these views because decision making is easier. If we begin, though, with the reality that this world does not have a straight path, that God has not decided the future, that we live in randomness and chance, we can begin to develop a faith that will guide us without guarantees. By beginning without a safety net we can have confidence in our actions, and agency.
A moment of transformation was when I wrote a piece for JesusJazzBuddhism. The editor pointed out that my use of the term “God” would not compute for many. So I had to search for another term. As it happened, I was reviewing piece by John Coltrane. In the piece the Psalm he moves to Love Supreme. This made sense because one of his lines was “I will do all that is worthy of you. Love that is worthy of worship.” Thanks to Tomas Oord I now have made this the uncontrolling Love Supreme. Coltrane’s prayer is this uncontrolling love supreme is to help us resolve our fears and weakness
The power of a revised faith is to bring to consciousness those beliefs that influence us.
Our readings give us images that will help us see the world as beautiful and that mercy comes from uncontrolling love supreme.
The Psalm speaks of God breathing through all of life, in the smallest particle to the most complex reality which is us. Beauty is found in all things and the uncontrolling love supreme breathes though us so completely that we feeling that it is in everything. (From Coltrane’s Psalm) There is a graciousness embedded in life. It is relational. We are invited to join this movement, of creating compassion. In the gospel there is a spirit of love that is here to be found in life. So while this love is uncontrolling it is invitational and our response makes a difference to what becomes.
Proverbs gives us a hint; it is wisdom. Proverbs 8 speaks of Sophia, Divine Wisdom, as Love Supreme’s creative companion. Divine creativity embraces the whole of creaturely experience. Wisdom is the creative part of the nature of uncontrolling love supreme. She works in the world to increase creativity and beauty. “She cries out… rejoicing in his(sic) inhabited world and delighting in the human race.”
Being open to this wisdom helps us see what has been achieved as a blessing. We get grounds for caring for all of creation. What the gospel of John is offering, is a new way of seeing reality. To see in a new way. It is not a once in life time event. We continuously need to change our perception.
Uncontrolling Love Supreme is symbolized as receiving nurture. This speaks of love. Wisdom is an element of excessiveness — of generosity of love — giving us all we need to live. And the images remind us that the spiritual, the aim of love, is found in very natural ways and human activities. It is an affirmation of the body, and the aim of love is found in very embodied ways.
The affirmation is that wisdom values up our senses of compassion, empathy, and justice. When we are touched by wisdom, we learn from our activities, paths that heal. In this sense we are making the future by what we have done to make this world a more beautiful place. It is a task of deep listening to others around us.
When we open ourselves to the presence of the spirit we can live without a safety net, without a plan that all things are worked out. The spirit will shift our attitude in our dealing with those different from us.
Wisdom takes us to the inner reality of life — to see our world as holy earth. The earth is full of the beauty of God, and our job — our project — is see this inner reality and to work with it. It is to see the different as beautiful. And when we see this is the truth about life, we are energized to care for all around us. It is to see the world as full of meaning before we get there. It is to learn from others and honour their insights about this inner truth — that life is inspirited. We turn around and now treat the world, and those in it, as having something to teach us. Encountering this spiritual truth has the power to transform our thinking about the nature of life, to moves into solidarity with others, to join with others as our brothers and sisters, and thus to create a new reality — a new way thinking about life — we are in this together and we need one another to heal our broken reality.