“Where is God?” my students used to ask me in religion class. Yeah, I taught religion. That’s a story from another lifetime.
Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. So right here.
“But how do you know??!!”
Ok. At the worst moments of my life, when I was sick, hurt, stupid or angry, my mom and dad loved me. Sometimes they were thousands of miles away and sometimes they were hurting right there next to me, but they loved me. I never doubted it, even when I was angry at them. They love me.
And scripture tells us that God our Father loves us even more than our earthly parents.
“Well, then where is He, when babies die of cancer or someone kills a good person??”
He’s there, just like your mom or dad would be there, loving and grieving. But this life is ours to live, with all its imperfections. What happens to us here is a product of here. Perfect is not of this world.
“My life sucks. God’s not here. He doesn’t love me. No one loves me.”
I never knew what to say to that one, beyond a silly game of “Yes, He does” and “No, He doesn’t”. Teenagers can be stubbornly sad sometimes and I figured it was not my lesson to teach. God has His own time.
The other night I went to family faith formation at church. Deacon Pat was supposed to be talking about baptism, but Deacon Pat likes to talk, so we followed a curvy path. For those who don’t know, a deacon in the Catholic church is an ordained minister dedicated to service. Pat is a humble and approachable servant of God. I’m not sure, but he sounds like he’s originally an East Coast guy. Maybe Philly. Lots of big hand movements and that “What, are you kidding me?” tone of voice. At one point he started talking about folks who wonder where God has gone.
“Look”, he said. “I never understand people who say ‘God left me. God doesn’t love me’. I don’t get it. If I’m standing here next to God, and then I feel like God is suddenly far away, who moved? Who moved? God moved? No, I moved. You want to be closer to God? Move back.”
And there you have it. God doesn’t stop loving. God doesn’t move. I move. You move. We move.
Move back. Wouldn’t Advent be an amazing time to do that?