God lives where we let Him in.
Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk
I am about a third of the way through a fascinating book: The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who was the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. Sacks argues that science and religion are both essential for understanding the universe and humanity’s place in it. Science and religion are not competitors for “the truth,” he states, because each has a task different from the other. “Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean.” By combining knowledge from science and religion, we understand our world better.
The three great monotheistic religions, all of which began with that conversation between Abraham and God thousands of years ago, have, at their foundation, personal relationships between God and humans. Knowledge of God is not essential to humans; an intimate relationship with God is. Sacks says: “Faith is not a form of ‘knowing’ in the sense in which that word is used in science or philosophy. It is, in the Bible, a mode of listening.”
As I think about this, I wonder if one of the reasons that so few people in our community are engaged in a relationship with God is that they find it hard to do their part in that relationship, which is to sit quietly and listen. Our culture is one of hard work and always being engaged. Just watch young people as they have a conversation with friends while texting someone else and checking their Facebook page. As adults, we get up early, go to work and work hard all day, prepare meals, finish work in our home office, and fall into bed exhausted.
God speaks with us mostly through quiet touches to our souls. The subtleness of these touches makes it hard for us to notice them as we are busily involved in our lives. Our earthly world impinges on us so much that there may be little or no time for us to listen, quietly, for these touches from God as God reaches out to us in relationship.
The relationship with God that can fill our lives with love, comfort, and a sense of purpose, is made so much more difficult when we cannot or do not take the time to sit and listen for God. During this season of Advent, I hope that each of us can schedule a bit more quiet time each day – time dedicated to listening, quietly, for those nudges from God as God strives to have a closer relationship with us.
And, now that I am on this subject: do people notice, as I do, how little quiet time we have in church each Sunday? It is hard to listen for God, even in our beautiful church building, when it is not quiet. Perhaps we can take some more time Sunday mornings for listening for that quiet but insistent touch of God, as God reaches out to us.
Go with God,