Where is God? In her book, Grounded: Reconnecting the Kingdom of Heaven with Our Life on Earth, Diana Butler Bass suggests that the primary question that people are asking about God is no longer “Who is God?” but “Where is God?” More and more, followers of Jesus are rediscovering the story of the Gospels, that God is not in some distant place, way up in the sky, but right here, in our midst, grounded in the world among all its pain and all its joy.
This Sunday, January 10, we will begin exploring the Gospel of Mark through Sunday sermons. Mark Chapter One includes this fascinating detail of Jesus’ baptism: as Jesus came out of the waters, he observed the heavens ripped apart. The Greek word here for “ripped” seems to indicate the kind of tear that is not easily mended. In other words, in Jesus something ripped apart that separated us from God and that something would never be put back together. God, so Mark says, is grounded in the world.
Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, writes this about the Jesus we encounter in Mark’s Gospel: In Mark, “Jesus is beginning to suggest to his disciples the daring idea that the way God changes things will be from the heart of the human world, not by intervention from the sky. God is transforming the world, healing its wounds and forgiving and overcoming our failures, by being with and in the processes of the world—above all, in that unique process that is a human life: the life first of Jesus, but then the lives of those who have been called and commissioned by Jesus to be—like him and because of him— places where the work of God can start to blossom and expand in the world.”
This is why Jesus’ first proclamation includes the call to repent, to literally change course, to change the way we think so that we might recognize the Kingdom of God already at work in our midst and so that we might become beacons of that loving and peaceful kingdom.
Over the next few months, UBC will be finishing up the visioning process that we launched last September. My hope is that as we enter these last few months of pulling together ideas for mission and ministry in this place, we will remember our calling to be of new minds—to remember our calling to join God in being grounded in the world. Where is God? Isn’t God here among us at UBC? Isn’t God in the neighbors we are called to love and serve? Isn’t God among the retirees of our community? Among the Nones and Dones who have grown weary of religion and the church but still long to discover something of God’s presence?
As we explore Mark together, may it serve to ground us in this world… ground us with God.