By Rev. Bob Evans
We have freedom of religion and separation of church and state because the founders of our nation knew something; no one tradition has favor in the eyes of the Divine. It is time to get over ourselves. Each has its own unique expression of the Divine that is the blessing each tradition brings to the world. And each tradition’s scripture must always speak to the seeker personally in the present tense, because that alone is the voice of beingness/I Am, the mystery we call God. God is the God of the living – everyone who is alive and awake to this moment.
There is a wonderful Jewish story about God inviting all the Israelites up the Holy Mountain with Moses and Aaron to see God face-to-face. As they all started up the mountain behind Moses, God began to speak with the guttural “ayin.” But when God speaks worlds may be created. Every letter of every word of God is creative and destructive. God’s voice was so powerful that the Israelites were too frightened to continue up with Moses, and they turned and fled back to the safety of their tents at the foot of the mountain. The amount of people who had started up the mountain and heard God begin to speak numbered 600,000. This guttural which signaled the beginning of God’s words, being creative, planted a powerful truth in the heart of each Israelite that revealed something of God’s relationship to humanity. This guttural, this personal gift to each Israelite, was to be shared with each other that we all may know our beginning and who we are as children of the living God. Each person becomes a mini tradition of shared love.
This is true of all the traditions whose founders have been to the top of the Holy Mountain and I haven’t done this story justice, but I know you get the point. Each tradition is like the individual Israelite, complete with a teacher/revealer worthy of following, and a gift to share with all other traditions. Jesus says to his followers that we must be “awake,” be ‘reborn,” to begin to see the things of heaven wherever they may turn up. Jesus makes it very clear in the Gospel of John. When asked which mountain of learning was the most powerful, or right one, he says that no tradition is above another but that God seeks those who worship the Divine in truth and in Spirit. “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship God in spirit and truth. It is these worshippers who God seeks. God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth” (my translation).
“How do we fully worship the present moment in spirit and truth in a way that transcends all traditions and fulfills the law?” Here, I will follow the advice of the one called Christ: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Again it says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Unqualified love seems to play a big part of being in the moment. Be in every moment a presence for God’s love and when one succeeds, “On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
All traditions claim to be special, and they are. I am a Christian minister who loves the Christ, who is a special gift to me. It is because of this special gift that I wish to share it as an offering to other traditions, not as a challenge or as the childish taunt, “My creator is better than yours!” We should ask each other, “What can you share with me about God’s love?”
Bob Evans is the reverend for the Emerge n’See Church, located at 2232 Algoma Spur Road in Sagle.