Image Description: People are placing long, white candles into shallow pools of water. There are holes to hold the candles.
Today’s piece is a repost from April 2017. I love this story.
These days, I pray to the God between us.
Not to a distant God far away off in the sky somewhere. Not to a mechanistic God, constantly making things happen with the push of a “save” or “smite” button, reminiscent of some old Far Side cartoon.
I pray to the God between us.
Beyond us, yes, but only in the sense of being greater than any one of us. That, and calling us to transformative realities beyond what we typically allow ourselves to imagine. Never far away.
A couple days ago, I found myself reflecting upon one of the most powerful experiences I ever had in a worship service. It was 10 years ago at Mo Ranch, a camp and conference center in Hunt, TX. I was there with a couple hundred college students at a conference aptly called College Connection.
That night, we were together around 9 PM. The beginnings of a warm summer were just beyond the door of the building, and the space was filled with hundreds of candles. Students sat on the floor in close proximity. Together, we sang a lot of beautiful choruses, music with rich meaning.
Midway through that time together, we began to sing a powerful song called “Prayers of the People.” Already, we could hear the tinkling of rain on the metal roof.
The song is by Ben Johnston-Krase. He was there with us, leading us on the piano as we sang it together. We sang these words, not necessarily about ourselves, but about humanity at large. . .
We are hungry, whoa, we are hungry,
We are hungry, whoa, we are hungry,
We are man, woman, we are children, whoa, we are hungry. . .
And that’s when it happened. We moved onto the main part of the chorus:
So let the rains go, let the healing river flow. Let justice roll like waters. Let the days begin when new life enters in, and let your kingdom come.
Right then, a deluge of water poured from the sky onto that tinny sounding roof. And not only that. It began to flood the space where we were sitting!
Thankfully, this was not from the roof above us, but it did come through the door onto the floor. Some of us got up quickly to move and cover electric cables, but other that, we just let it happen. As we continue to sing those words, we let that water flow right to the tables that held our candles.
The imagery and the synchronicity was not lost on us. We wanted justice to roll like waters, and in that moment, we even believed it possible.
So what happened that night? Did a far away God, off somewhere in the sky, push a “rain” button and mechanistically make that happen? Certainly, if there’s a God, we might say that God made the glories of rain. But if there’s a mechanistic process to everything that happens, I have to start worrying that there’s a cancer button, and a tomahawk missile button, and a school shooting button. I don’t believe that everything that happens is destined to happen.
But I pray to the God between us. Because when that glorious rain happened, I think God was between us, waking us up to the sacred moment as we recognized beauty and sensed a real calling to justice.
I think God is always between us, constantly inspiring us to act in transformative ways, sometimes beyond what we can easily imagine if we will notice what is around us and who is around us.
And without question, the God between us turns us toward one another, so we can marvel at the shared humanity around us.
So we can participate in transformation.