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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 17, 2013, 04:42:34 PM

Title: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 17, 2013, 04:42:34 PM
We're working in Fairmont, Minnesota toward a shared Lenten Series entitled Come to Your Senses: A Lenten Journey with God.
A possible theme verse is, The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NIV
I'm wondering how other people experience God through all five senses. I am most curious about the way you sense God in tangible ways through touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell. <
What has been your experience: How do you sense God?
What stories are you aware of that explore an experience of God's presence?
I am also very curious what scripture you point to as you explain experiences of God's tangible--incarnate--activity in the world.
thanks for your input. Pax, John.
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: Dadoo on January 17, 2013, 05:05:36 PM
We're working in Fairmont, Minnesota toward a shared Lenten Series entitled Come to Your Senses: A Lenten Journey with God.
A possible theme verse is, The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NIV
I'm wondering how other people experience God through all five senses. I am most curious about the way you sense God in tangible ways through touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell. <
What has been your experience: How do you sense God?
What stories are you aware of that explore an experience of God's presence?
I am also very curious what scripture you point to as you explain experiences of God's tangible--incarnate--activity in the world.
thanks for your input. Pax, John.

I experience God in ever so many ways, John, but I am never sure it is God. BUT, you and I would certainly agree that there are instances involving bread and wine and water that are 100% true, physical encounters with the risen Jesus Christ, the Son. If I had a choice what to preach on in that series, I would go after the sacraments.
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 17, 2013, 05:15:59 PM
I experience God in ever so many ways, John, but I am never sure it is God. BUT, you and I would certainly agree that there are instances involving bread and wine and water that are 100% true, physical encounters with the risen Jesus Christ, the Son. If I had a choice what to preach on in that series, I would go after the sacraments.
You are so right about the uncertainty if we are 100% for sure of our experiences of God being God beyond the Word and Sacraments where we know by faith that it is God and no other.  I certainly do see your point about the sacraments as a key point of tangibly experiencing God.
In my Roman Catholic childhood we often sang a song based on Psalm 34:8 "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord" on the way to commune.  It's no accident that Christ offers himself to us so tangibly.
thanks for the thoughts and any others you might care to share.
Pax, John
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 17, 2013, 05:26:16 PM
I agree that we tangibly experience Christ in the Sacraments.

I also believe that we are called to see the face of Christ in the face of our neighbors - especially neighbors in need of our love.  It would be a bit sanctimonious to suggest that we experience Christ, ourselves, when we act on opportunities to love our neighbor.  However, I think we experience Christ in our awareness of genuine acts of kindness by others.
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 17, 2013, 05:32:28 PM
It would be a bit sanctimonious to suggest that we experience Christ, ourselves, when we act on opportunities to love our neighbor.  However, I think we experience Christ in our awareness of genuine acts of kindness by others.
Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 really lays out a case that serving our neighbors is tangibly serving him--but I guess that's no guarantee that we will recognize Jesus there in our neighbors in need.  It is clear thought that we are serving him by helping.
thanks for the thoughts or any others you might have to offer, John
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 17, 2013, 05:50:21 PM
I am also very curious what scripture you point to as you explain experiences of God's tangible--incarnate--activity in the world.
thanks for your input. Pax, John.

That sounds like a premise for a great Lenten program!

I believe that you can find excellent scriptures for each of the five senses, including for some of them cautionary texts appropriate to a penitential season. If you go six weeks, there are texts on what is beyond our senses, perhaps starting with 1 Cor. 2.9-10.

Touch, for instance: Mark 7.32-34 and other texts where Jesus lays his hands upon them and they are healed; Mark 5:30 and parallels on healing by contact with the fringe of Jesus' cloak; and for a surprise, 2 Kings 13.20-21.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 17, 2013, 05:57:02 PM
I believe that you can find excellent scriptures for each of the five senses, including for some of them cautionary texts appropriate to a penitential season. If you go six weeks, there are texts on what is beyond our senses, perhaps starting with 1 Cor. 2.9-10.

Touch, for instance: Mark 7.32-34 and other texts where Jesus lays his hands upon them and they are healed; Mark 5:30 and parallels on healing by contact with the fringe of Jesus' cloak; and for a surprise, 2 Kings 13.20-21.
Father--
thanks for the insight.  We only have 5 weeks with Ash Wednesday being Ash Wednesday--but I definitely like the idea of faith allowing us to know of something beyond human senses.  that's a great point
pax, John
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: readselerttoo on January 17, 2013, 06:02:56 PM
I hesitate to talk about experiences of God in the world because outside of the Scriptures and the place where Jesus' promises to be, one can be duped into believing that God is there when it is the devil.  Even the devil quotes the Scriptures as the temptation story makes clear. 

In terms of tangibility, don't you thing it is enough to hear Jesus speak his Word to you by means of the Gospel (ie.  Jesus says, red letter words) or in the Sacraments where his Word is connected to tangible things?

And the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 passage don't "see" Jesus when doing or not doing things to the neighbor.  So the tangibility option isn't even an option for sheep or goats in that matter.  It is seen by Jesus (and the Father) but not by the agents.
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 17, 2013, 06:08:48 PM
the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 passage don't "see" Jesus when doing or not doing things to the neighbor.  So the tangibility option isn't even an option for sheep or goats in that matter.  It is seen by Jesus (and the Father) but not by the agents.
You make a very good point about the people who served Christ in Matthew 25 being unaware of their service; but in no way is in not tangible to feed, house, or clothe those in need.  Mysterious how this works -- Jesus says when we feed the hungry we feed him -- but we don't see him there when we prepare and serve the food, we just see the neighbor in need.
thanks for the solid and constructive input peace, John
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 17, 2013, 06:16:57 PM
Pastor Rahn writes:
I hesitate to talk about experiences of God in the world because outside of the Scriptures and the place where Jesus' promises to be, one can be duped into believing that God is there when it is the devil.  Even the devil quotes the Scriptures as the temptation story makes clear. 
I comment:
And if this leads us into quietism about our experiences of God because we fear we might be wrong; that is not a good thing.

Pastor Rahn writes:
In terms of tangibility, don't you thing it is enough to hear Jesus speak his Word to you by means of the Gospel (ie.  Jesus says, red letter words) or in the Sacraments where his Word is connected to tangible things?
I comment:
Maybe for me. (But not really.) And for those on the margins of the church, or with bad experiences with the church; not only is what you mention not enough, it isn't anything at all.
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 17, 2013, 06:22:49 PM
And for those on the margins of the church, or with bad experiences with the church; not only is what you mention not enough, it isn't anything at all.
Charles--thanks for the thoughts
I posted these same words with the same title on Newsvine http://unlikelybanter.newsvine.com/_news/2013/01/17/16570207-feedback-requested-how-do-you-experience-god
so far two atheist have come along to say they have had no experience of God.  I replied to both naming some of the experiences that I've seen of God at work.  So far no reply--but I think you have a point that's worth considering as we prepare for this series.  Some will deny that God works through a church that harms others.  Some will equate the church that harms others with God and just want to run in the other direction.  So the challenge to "come to your senses" for an atheist is very real--
thanks and peace to you, John
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 17, 2013, 06:40:44 PM
One of the things I have always thought, John, is that we are to be like Paul and that shrine to the "unknown god." When people sense the transcendent or have those "spiritual" experiences, we should not be quick to deny those experiences, but suggest where those experiences are truly pointing. Then we help them "into" that which is Gospel, that which is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rather than first taking those things (and our own ways of experiencing Gospel and the Holy Trinity) to them.
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 17, 2013, 06:50:47 PM
One of the things I have always thought, John, is that we are to be like Paul and that shrine to the "unknown god." When people sense the transcendent or have those "spiritual" experiences, we should not be quick to deny those experiences, but suggest where those experiences are truly pointing. Then we help them "into" that which is Gospel, that which is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rather than first taking those things (and our own ways of experiencing Gospel and the Holy Trinity) to them.
I am now collecting atheist comments on Newsvine.  up to 6 atheists now
Great point and great scripture to tie it together. 
thanks, John
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: J. Eriksson on January 17, 2013, 08:50:27 PM
Briefly:

1. In encountering/thinking about/ musing on the fact that He has created me and all that exists given me my body and soul, home and family etc. things to do like shovel snow, listen to music, discover new things, waste time
2. In the wonder of being forgiven and knowing that I am forgiven very often when I screw up in big and small ways. and when I do waste time.
3. In worship...
4. In dealing with /interacting with people I am called to love....but possibly do not like.

best
james
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 17, 2013, 09:07:52 PM
Two "experiences" of God.
1. The library of Rosary College (now Dominican University), River Forest, Illinois. The nuns can be heard singing Vespers from the chapel down the hall. I am reading through Paul Tillich, struggling as a young seminarian with the intricacies of systematic theology. But somehow in that setting of sight and sound and mind, I realize what a glorious and mystical and wondrous discipline I have chosen when I entered seminary.

2. Zermatt, Switzerland, a bright, sunny day in February, the Matterhorn clearly visible. My son and I exit the Gornergrat train and put on our skis. As we begin one of the most spectacular days of skiing ever, in that incredibly beautiful setting, I have a sense of the wonder, beauty and glory of creation that has trumped almost every other "spiritual" moment in my life. Something of that moment returned when I was again in Zermatt two summers ago. It wasn't ski season; but surrounded by the majesty of the alps, there was "something" transcendent.
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: R. T. Fouts on January 17, 2013, 11:24:36 PM
I don't think we have to have the overly pious Lutheran comment about sacraments to embrace the concept of experiencing God.  There is a difference between experiencing God generally, and interpreting such experience as if it were some sort of divine revelation other than what it actually is.   Natural revelation is still revelation -- just take it for what it is.  We experience God, in a sense, every time we breathe... every time we open our eyes... every time our hearts beat... by virtue of being a creature.   Special revelation lifts the veil, so we can appreciate it.   More than anything though, I think I experience God through struggle.  Tentatio.   The things that have driven me toward God, strengthened my faith, haven't been the mountain top experiences... but the crosses... trudging through the muck and the mire of life.   In those moments, when my utter dependence upon God is all I have left, I find "experiencing" God at work is the most profound. 
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 18, 2013, 12:54:43 AM
I don't think we have to have the overly pious Lutheran comment about sacraments to embrace the concept of experiencing God.  There is a difference between experiencing God generally, and interpreting such experience as if it were some sort of divine revelation other than what it actually is.   Natural revelation is still revelation -- just take it for what it is.  We experience God, in a sense, every time we breathe... every time we open our eyes... every time our hearts beat... by virtue of being a creature.   Special revelation lifts the veil, so we can appreciate it.   More than anything though, I think I experience God through struggle.  Tentatio.   The things that have driven me toward God, strengthened my faith, haven't been the mountain top experiences... but the crosses... trudging through the muck and the mire of life.   In those moments, when my utter dependence upon God is all I have left, I find "experiencing" God at work is the most profound.
there's no moment when God can do more than when we come to him and say we can do nothing
it's just amazing
Peace to you, John
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John_Hannah on January 18, 2013, 09:11:29 AM
I hesitate to talk about experiences of God in the world because outside of the Scriptures and the place where Jesus' promises to be, one can be duped into believing ....


Pr. Rahn

What does OLFC mean?


Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 18, 2013, 11:48:31 AM
I'll bet it means "On Leave From Call."

Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: readselerttoo on January 18, 2013, 12:57:14 PM
Yes, I am on leave from call at the moment. 

In terms of experiencing God it is important to note that within the God's Law/God's Gospel framework outside of God's clear promises of faithfulness to his people (ie. not just to Israel but now since Christ open to all) in the Scriptures and the promise that Christ offers in the sacraments, the book of nature (experiencing God in the world) or human reason are not guarantees that Jesus and the Father are at work exclusively.  Satan and his deceptive activity can make one think that the beauty in nature on the golf course on Sunday morning is an experience of the saving God (it may be or it may not be. who is to say for certain?).  So it is important to note to atheists that experiencing God is also something that atheists do encounter but as the hidden God, or the God of wrath, as Luther notes.  Savvy atheists would acknowledge that they do experience God but it is the God who met Adam and Eve in the garden who not only clothes them but also places them under various curses ala Genesis 3.  So the book of nature is not to be trusted.  God's promise of faithfulness in Genesis and then in the New Testament (ie. in Christ) is rock solid and only good persuasive techniques or constant proclamation can bring it to the ears of atheism.  Our mission continues... God's blessings.
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: Weedon on January 18, 2013, 02:22:46 PM
There is a hymn the Orthodox sing called the Akathist of Thanksgiving. Note the ways in which it describes experience of God and how the CULMINATION is the Eucharist (not in contrast, but as the final and fullest):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/thanksgiving.htm
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 18, 2013, 03:49:50 PM
Yes, I am on leave from call at the moment. 

In terms of experiencing God it is important to note that within the God's Law/God's Gospel framework outside of God's clear promises of faithfulness to his people (ie. not just to Israel but now since Christ open to all) in the Scriptures and the promise that Christ offers in the sacraments, the book of nature (experiencing God in the world) or human reason are not guarantees that Jesus and the Father are at work exclusively.  Satan and his deceptive activity can make one think that the beauty in nature on the golf course on Sunday morning is an experience of the saving God (it may be or it may not be. who is to say for certain?).  So it is important to note to atheists that experiencing God is also something that atheists do encounter but as the hidden God, or the God of wrath, as Luther notes.  Savvy atheists would acknowledge that they do experience God but it is the God who met Adam and Eve in the garden who not only clothes them but also places them under various curses ala Genesis 3.  So the book of nature is not to be trusted.  God's promise of faithfulness in Genesis and then in the New Testament (ie. in Christ) is rock solid and only good persuasive techniques or constant proclamation can bring it to the ears of atheism.  Our mission continues... God's blessings.
I read CS Lewis Surprised by Joy a few years ago and it might be time to read it again.  It convinced me that God is in search of the non believers as much if not more than we might be.  Sometimes the rocks will cry out as witnesses to God's grace and glory.
Peace to you, John
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 18, 2013, 03:50:54 PM
There is a hymn the Orthodox sing called the Akathist of Thanksgiving. Note the ways in which it describes experience of God and how the CULMINATION is the Eucharist (not in contrast, but as the final and fullest):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/thanksgiving.htm
thanks for the suggestion it will go into the consideration as we get ready for this Lenten series.
take care, John
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: R. T. Fouts on January 18, 2013, 10:04:11 PM
Luther's comments on experience in his 1521 commentary on the Magnificat are excellent.   It is one of my favorite of his writings.   
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on January 19, 2013, 08:46:42 AM
Luther's comments on experience in his 1521 commentary on the Magnificat are excellent.   It is one of my favorite of his writings.
I have not looked at that in a couple years.  It might be a good time to think about it again.
Thanks, John
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: ANewLeaf on January 23, 2013, 12:00:23 AM
How about "mutual consolation of the saints"?

I've had conversations that, when I reflect on them (a day, a week, a year) later, I stop and think, "Whoa.  That was a "God thing."
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: ANewLeaf on January 23, 2013, 12:23:20 AM
Or dreams.  I had a dream once. 
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: pastorg1@aol.com on January 23, 2013, 12:32:26 AM
For sure:

1. Sacraments.
2. Welcoming "little ones" in Jesus' Name.

Maybe:

3. A vision (stick-figure angel pulling up stick-figure me) as I was bleeding in a foreign field.
4. Comforting dream during seminary that being with God was understanding everything.

Pete (Deus salus est- Salvum me fac Deus meus!)
Title: Re: feedback requested: How do you experience God?
Post by: David Garner on January 23, 2013, 08:07:40 AM
A parallel I see between Lutheran worship and Orthodox worship is the fact that it entails the five senses.  That's why I always appreciated those occasions when our Lutheran pastor would break out the incense.  So for me, I suppose I would respond first and foremost in the Liturgy, for that is where God has promised Himself to be.  Now, that means icons, incense, song, litany, homily, Eucharist, etc.  And for us, the sense of touch when we, for example, venerate an icon or the cross or the Epistle book, or touching the priest's vestments as he processes by with the gifts.  As a Lutheran, I think to many of the same, except icons are replaced with Durer woodcuts and stained glass windows and crucifixes, and touch is replaced with dipping my hand in the fount as I approach the altar and crossing myself.

Apart from the Liturgy, one could make an argument that we experience God in all things.  My perception of His presence, however, is usually appreciated in prayer, reading (I finished Romanides' "Outline of Orthodox Patristic Dogmatics" yesterday evening), listening to music (....while listening to Ancient Faith Radio....), and sometimes most profoundly, in watching and interacting with my wife and children.  Where I should appreciate His presence the most is when I hand a few dollars to the beggar who cannot afford to eat, or similar acts of mercy, for "whatever you have done for the least of these, my brethren, you have done for Me."  Unfortunately, pride wants to block the door of such experiences.  Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.