Tag Archive: God


Looking for a Sign

Every Sunday I find myself opening my eyes and looking up during prayer time.

Why do I do this?

Well, for years I have taken a look around when I am supposed to have my head bent and eyes shut.

Image by Eduardo

Image by Eduardo

Right after we share our joys and concerns and go into prayer, I am hoping for something that might be a glimpse of something glorified, something rare and beautiful.

I am hoping for a glimpse of God, Jesus or maybe just an angel.

We used to have a member at the church who drove me crazy. He prayed the loudest and always a half step in front of everyone when we did the Lord’s Prayer. The man was a sanctimonious ass, an uncompassionate Christian who made the other Christians look bad. And his goal was to never bring you into God’s love but to let you know he was a better Christian than anyone else.

That member bothered me because the Lord’s Prayer is one of the few times all members of the congregation are in lock step with each other, when they can take a minute to repeat a prayer and be in synch. We need to be able to do that, to know that there can be a moment when all are joined in worship of the same God.

But before we start that, when the pastor or lay speaker is giving up the joys and concerns, I open my eyes and look around. I want a glimpse, I want to see, I might still be looking for proof. I want to see what the glory looks like.

Image from Morguefile.com

Image from Morguefile.com

And I do not have to push anyone out of the way to make that effort.

Will I ever see God while I live here on Earth? Some days I think so when I see the beauty of hoarfrost or a blooming rose or kids just running around being kids. I see it in the beams of light that come through the clouds towards the end of a day.

When I try to explore the metaphysical world, I see a man who looks like Jesus in his European form. I once saw a picture of Jesus with more Mid-East features and thought that man looked beautiful as well. But I have not seen them at church or during a prayer time.

Still, at each prayer I take a moment to look and see if I can find him.

You never know, one of these days, I just might.

How do you try to find God?

Feeling Churlish

Ever have that moment of “A-ha” thinking during a sermon?

I got one last week when my pastor spoke on happiness not being related to money or material possessions.

It had been one of those weekends where we had activities but little cash while going to one of the biggest sport shows of the winter. And we were doing it like that again, after several years of doing it with little money.

I was angry and frustrated because the husband did his usual changing of how we were going to do things. Instead of friends driving us to the hall, he was going to drop us and find street parking. That is until he passed the entrance and decided to go for the street parking and we would all walk over.

I was trying not to get mad right until I realized he parked the car against the curb and a pile of snow. I was wearing my pretty shoes, not boots, and began feeling stupid walking around the car without getting snow in my shoes. The mile walk in a cold, cold wind in which my daughter did not wear gloves or a hat began to fuel a bit of anger in my soul. The final straw came when our usual plans for dropping off coats was not going to be used.

There is nothing worse than looking at big expensive boats and motor homes when you know you do not have the money that day to even buy a churro. While holding everyone’s coat. At least there was not a baby bag on top of everything else.

I want to be one of those women who floats around with a drink in my hands and laughing that tinkling laugh, knowing it is possible for me to by the RV with the pop-out sides and a fireplace inside. If my kids want a churro or several churros, it is not a problem. Same thing if I happen to pass Reba’s Fudge from Mackinac.

But that is not my life and sometimes it depresses me. I have to force myself remember that we are lucky with food in the pantry and a working car. I want more, to be stable, to buy whatever I want whenever I want. I don’t mean big-ticket items. Just things like clothes or cd’s or books or to go out to a restaurant without a coupon.

This is where that sermon fits in. Pastor reminded us that all of the stuff does not really matter. All of the stuff is not going with us to heaven. And the joy we feel from the love of God is longer lasting than what we might get from a churro.

It was a reminder I needed on a day when I was feeling grumpy about being a have not, churlish and childish. I still have that even when I look at expensive boats and know they will never be in my future. But sometimes, I feel like singing Janis Joplin and hope I have the same giggle she did at the end of the song.

“Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz,”

At least I have put my wishes to the universe. How it will answer, I do not know.

If you want to get people riled up in this country just bring up a religious topic.

 

picture by clarita

Being that today is the NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER, the fighting never ends. A judge in Wisconsin, U.S. District Court Judge of Madison Barbara Crabb to be specific, has stated that the NDP is unconstitutional, violating the ban on government-backed religion. 

If you want to get all wonky, there is a historical reason for our constitution not wanting to establish a national religion. Way back, the earliest immigrants who came to this land were looking for religious freedom. 

If you lived in Europe and were not of the religious faith of the local ruling person, prince, burger, whatever, you could be killed. Catholics did not move away to a Lutheran region, Lutherans and Calvins stayed in their areas. 

People were forcibly moved. The Russians issued pogroms against Jews and Mennonites. (The Mennonites took their incredibly hardy winter wheat with them). If you were different from the mainstream of your area, you were attacked physically eventually. 

So people started coming here to find religious freedom. Some found it, some perpetrated the harsh behavior. Puritans would brand Quakers, a sect that holds their religious services in silence. 

My guess, and this is a strong guess, is that the founding fathers did not want to see the problems of religion of Europe come to this new land. So they stated strongly there would be no state religion. Here it is from the Bill of Rights. 

Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 

But the brilliant writers also stated there would be no prohibiting the free exercise of religion. What does that mean? It means we can join a church worshipping bunnies or whatever. AND there will not be a law prohibiting it. This allows the Nazis and the Waco, Texas people and Westboro Baptist Church to exist. 

It is also quite clear that there will be no state religion. We are not a Catholic Nation or a Christian Nation or a Muslim Nation or a Jewish Nation. We are a nation that allows its citizens the freedom to be religious or not, no consequences in this life for that decision. 

Praying together, picture by taliesanDo I wish more people in our nation would come to God? I do, I really do. I think prayer is one way to get closer to God and Jesus. But I also think enough hypocritical religious people have turned off non-believers. “I don’t want to be that guy,” is what non-believers are thinking. I used to say that myself. I hear voices preaching hate and wonder if we read the same bible. 

But this day, whether it is constitutional or not, is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to pray, to take a step closer to God and feel his love and concern. Visit a religious meeting house of your upbringing or choosing this weekend and talk to your God. Chances are he wants to talk to you but wants your heart to be open to hear his words. 

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her outdoor writer husband and four children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook.