Each Sunday, our Micah community gathers for a time of worship, reflection, fellowship, food and showers.
About 20 to 30 circle up each week.
Traditionally, we begin our time together by going around the circle sharing a gratitude statement, something positive or inspiring that each participant in the group experienced throughout the week. One week, I specifically asked them to talk about “Where they had seen God?”
One by one, they answered in a far more different way than I had expected.
“I can’t really say I see God,” one said.
“I really can’t get a visual on that,” offered another.
“But I feel God.”
“But I hear God.”
“I know God is there,” rang out from our circle over and over.
In a week, where most in our nation have found ourselves confined to our homes, this prophetic voice of our street neighbors has weighed heavily on my heart. Our most productive members of our community are suddenly crying out from their homes with a voice of isolation and fear, anger and stress, anxiety and trauma. Everything we thought we knew has been challenged in only a matter of days.
And let’s face it, it’s hard to see God when the connections we held dear are suddenly minefields for potential spread of disease. It’s hard to see God when people are dying faster than hospitals can procure life-saving equipment and protective gear is so minimal that fabric stores are giving away free material for the domestic among us to produce it. It’s hard to see God when our stable jobs are on hold, our bills are due and we aren’t sure where the money is coming from and our children’s long-solid routines have been disrupted.
Yet, there are so many ways God has shown up already.
God is in the creativity by which those who have been disrupted by the pandemic are finding opportunity. Where the instinct to fight, flight or freeze runs deep, people are none-the-less-growing—maybe not along the pre-planned trajectory—but in online sales, different models of engagement, and even those great ideas that have been sitting on the shelf for years that have now come more relevant than ever. God is in the technology that has soothed our yearning for relational connection. God is in the ways we are seeking purpose for our gifts, redeployment of our time, and “wartime” partnerships that will bring security to us all.
God is, indeed, in the chaos.
And our biblical ancestors are our teachers. Our history tells us that existence in God’s world is all about exile and return—eviction from our original home in a garden and displacement in the wilderness, rebuilding our cities only to lose them yet again, loss and death of everything we think matters only to find redemption and resurrection in the most unlikely places. Homelessness and homecoming—they are kindred cousins in our journey to the kingdom of God. What we are all realizing right now, is that the things that matter most in both displacement and reconciliation are our neighbors.
In all of our social distancing, our hopefully brief bout with “home”lessness, it is my prayer that God shows up beyond measure. Take time to ask yourself that each day, “where has God shown up?”
If you cannot see God, open your ears to hear. If you cannot hear God, reach out your hand and feel. If you cannot feel God, breathe through your nostrils and smell. If you cannot smell God, open your mouth and taste. If taste doesn’t do the trick, take a moment and call a neighbor.
For in a relational space between neighbors, no matter how many gigabytes apart, God is there and we are all transformed.