I remember having explained to me as a young person that God was, everywhere, all-powerful, all-seeing, and all knowing. And when a person died they went to heaven to be with God (which of course contradicts the earlier statement by putting God in a place). I remember being told, and believing, that the person would became like God and might even be able to see you in all those places you didn’t want to be seen, so you better behave. I imagined God and those deceased family members watching all the time. That thinking produces way too many contradictions. For instance if God is indeed everywhere and knows everything then how can someone say to a parent that has lost a child, “God needs babies in heaven?” If God is everywhere there would be no “need” for God to have anything, God already has it (or does Almighty God have “needs”). Plus if God was indeed all powerful then why doesn’t God just create whatever God needs – why cause someone such pain. Well, simplistic explanations have simplistic counter arguments.
Try these on for size:
God is Love shared.
God is the Word spoken.
God is presence affirmed.
Then try this thought: God is a name we have given that which we worship. It could as easily have been Allah, or Goombah, or Allinall. The name does not matter. When we review the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) we run across many names. “I am”, the unspoken JaWeH, or God with us (Immanuel), plus many more, are all names assigned to “that which we worship” at one time or another. The point being in any of those suggestions is that the Sacred, above all else, is simply present. And, I would say, the sacred is present with the community, in the community, and is of the community. The Sacred is what we consider the element of life and creation, or creation itself, which emanates ‘specialness’, ‘holiness’, or ‘sacredness’ of all things.
Now the case for saying that the Sacred is “of the community” is a little difficult for some. The pace of the arguments for and against the immanence (god with us) or the transcendence (god up there) of god has been speeding up lately. But God is neither there nor here but is what we make it. The god of the Hebrew Scriptures is a god whom, in story form, delivers the people willing to follow out of the chaos and into order. Just as the God of the New Testament story is again a god of deliverance, a myth (sacred story) born out of a desire to find a solution to oppression and repression and it is the story of a God who longs for the wholeness of people a story that brings order out of chaos, creation out of nothing, a God out of not god, compassion out of cold-heartedness, justice from injustice. It is a God that finds us on the brink and brings us into community in order to share the love and compassion we have received with others.
God is all of that . . . and more.