Week 1: The Mission of God
Week 1, Day 1
“That These Words of Christ, ‘This is My Body’, etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics (1527),” Martin Luther
[God] must be present in every single creature in its innermost and outermost being, on all sides, through and through, below and above, before and behind, so that nothing can be more truly present and within all creatures than God himself with his power.
God in Residence (Exodus 15:17)
Tapio Leinonen, Lutheran, Finland
You brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your own possession, the place, O Lord, that you made your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.
Where does God reside? Is there a certain place where God can be found? How much space does God need in God’s residence?
God is more than anything we can conceive of—we cannot build or even imagine a house or a church large enough to house God. We cannot make God fit into a single place. Still, God is present in our churches, our places of worship and the houses in which we live. God has given us God’s creation, in which to live: to exist with every cell in our body, to breathe the air, to feel the sun, to love and fulfill our tasks as God’s images. God resides in God’s creation, but cannot be captured within its limits. But if God is everywhere, where should we look for God?
While fasting, we make room in our hearts for God. God is already there for God has created us in God’s image—of that we can be certain. Our Lenten discipline is not for God’s pleasure. Rather, it is so that we can empty our hearts of all things that prevent us from loving God and knowing God’s will and presence. Love and the presence of God can make us flourish and our hearts glow, and help us to see more clearly.
In the book of Exodus, Moses and the Israelites sing praise to God who has promised to lead them to God’s residence, to plant them on God’s mountain. We can join that praise and pray for God to lead us to God’s holy place of residence, the altar. The altar is where we cannot only find God, but also meet God in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist. At the altar we can truly take root in the soil where God resides, that is in God’s Word and sacraments. But God does not remain at the altar. God sends us to the world to fulfill God’s mission through service and love and resides with and in us.
God is so mighty that we cannot situate God wherever we want. We have our limits. But God chose to position Godself within our limits; God came to us in God’s Son, to reside with us as one of us. And God will be with us, to the very end.