Experiencing God’s Presence transforms

The Olive Tree in the Garden of GethsemaneThe other two motifs in the readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter are light and glory, or praise.

Psalm 67 opens up with the petition: “May God be merciful to us and bless us, show us the light of his countenance and come to us”. Where there is light, God’s ways are known (verses 1-2). Indeed, in Rev. 21:10, 22-22:5, because God’s Presence is with God’s people, “…there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light…” Light opposes darkness and where God’s Presence is, there is no darkness.

Verses 3 and 5 are refrains of the same invocation: “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you”. It is the same idea in Acts 16:15 where Lydia hosts Paul and his companions following her transformational experience in baptism.. Like Paul, she becomes God’s servant for the missionary work in Philippi.

Something happens when we experience God’s Presence – transformation takes place. Indeed that is what Rev. 21:26 means by the promise: “People will bring into it (the Presence of God) the glory and the honor of the nations”. New dynamics come into play, life-giving qualities replacing destructive tendencies.

At this point I would like to add a cautionary note: My previous account of my personal experiences in the Garden of Gethsemane and the Basilica of Agony, is precisely that; a personal experience. Not everybody who might have been in Jerusalem at that time, or any other time, experienced exactly what I did. We encounter and experience God in many different ways.

What is common is that every experience is a chance to encounter God and every experience is transformational. These experiences are our stories, to transform us and to transform others. For that to happen the stories need to be told.

There are, of course, problems and even errors if we would appropriate every biblical narrative as our own story. (I have discussed this in my hub-pages). Biblical stories inform us into learning from our own personal stories and into experiencing God’s Presence. We need to constantly remind ourselves that God cannot and should not be contained in a box.

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