To God’s Glory: Week 6 | Day 5
The whole of creation is sacramental, pointing us to God. Br. Curtis Almquist suggests how an understanding of panentheism – that everything is in God – can ignite our passion and point us toward something we can do to safeguard the creation, and to God’s glory.
Question: What is it in creation that captures your passion?
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Activity: Date with Creation
Transcript: Creation is teaming with God’s glory, with God’s infinite creativity, and God’s oneness with all that God has created. As Anglicans, we embrace a sacramental theology – Now do you remember from your confirmation days what is a sacrament? A sacrament is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace” – that the whole of creation is sacramental. The whole of creation points us to God.
In the ancient vocabulary of the church there is a word for this, and it’s panentheism. I’m not saying pantheism. Pantheism is “God is all,” so God is rock, God is tree, God is sky, God is water. Pantheism: theos, God, pan, everything. But I’m saying panentheism, that everything is in God. That everything points us back to God. That the whole of creation is iconic, like an icon. That God is always more than we experience in creation, but God is not less.
I’ll leave you with a question. As you experience creation that surrounds you, what is it that captures your passion? Now it may be passion in the sense of love, of deep love, something to which you’re greatly attracted because of its beauty, its glory. Or it may be passion because of suffering. Something of creation that is suffering, diminishing – to use St. Paul’s phrase – “groaning with travail.” Is there something that you could do on behalf of something in creation to God’s glory?
– Br. Curtis Almquist
Question: What is it in creation that captures your passion?
Nurturing a healthy relationship with Creation takes time and intention. This week, schedule a few “dates” with Creation, finding a favorite spot in nature to return to each day. Nurture your relationship with Creation by offering thanks, being present, listening, protecting, and praying in this spot.
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My passion for a long time has been the amazing daily creation found in nature. A gorgeous sunrise, the stunning display of stars in the nighttime sky, spring flowers shooting forth from their winter hibernation, the ability to walk outside in nature which I relish on a daily basis. Even in the midst of winter I find the awe inspiring beauty of nature all around me. Each season presents new and bountiful gifts which I treasure and relish. I love outdoor photography so I can capture its beauty. I don’t think there is a day that goes by that I can’t find something inspiring in the creation on Earth.
I am moved by the interconnectedness of all nature with itself and the non-living world. I think “how infinitely wise is God to have created the rules that govern the universe and Earth, and allow for variation and adjustment so that Creation continues.” Yes, I’m a biologist, and I tell my students when they reject the natural rules in favor of God, “If you were a king, would you create rules so you didn’t have to judge, in person, every little problem?” I fear the outcome of humans believing ourselves above these natural rules of God’s Creation. I worship God whenever I watch the great beauty, the natural cycles of Life. And I marvel at His infinite wisdom, and our lack of understanding our role in Creation
The rhythm of nature captures me…the changing of the seasons, the life cycle of plants and animals/birds, the ocean’s waves perpetually going out and coming in…the sun rising and setting, the gradual darkening of the night sky, the equally gradual dawning of the new day–all of these speak to me of God, and remind me of God’s presence and care for all of creation, including me.
I play the trumpet in the Stratford [Ontario Canada] Concert Band, and I sing in Senior Choir at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in London, Ontario, Canada. What in creation inspired me is the beauty that can be created when a group of people dedicated to creating a dynamic beauty together under the leadership of a conductor can create together. We have to subjugate our individual desires for this to happen. We have to make sure our part is ready for the group to be as beautiful as it can be.
I grew up in Manhattan and lived in Brooklyn for all of my married life until retirement. I never was in the least moved by the idea that God is displayed and can be experienced in nature. I didn’t know what people were talking about. Then I moved to a small town in Maine, and it all made sense. The very first thing I noticed were the stars. Beautiful hiking trails are now just minutes away. Especially when I have the woods or beach or whatever it is all by myself, I am overwhelmed by God’s presence and love for me. I am overcome by feelings of joy and peace. I feel healed and restored. I give thanks every day that I live in Maine and can know a little more of God in this way.
Pantheism and Panentheism…..boy that opened up a Pandora’s box when I explored it further!
Saint Augustine said:
“In Pantheism, God is identical with the universe, but in Panentheism God lies within and also beyond or outside of the universe.”
A person on the Net said
“In my understanding. in Panentheism, if the universe had a big mouth it could say, “Not I, but the Christ in me”. Because there would be an aspect of God which both transcends it and fills it at the same time. Like a sponge filled with water.
In Pantheism, if the universe had a mouth it could not say that because there would be no aspect of God which transcends it, which it could unite with. It would be a sponge with no water to fill it.”
I would have substituted “cosmos and beyond” for Universe. The “water” is the Holy Spirit, the Manitoo; it is transcendent…..the essence of Baptism.
I am a Panentheist and can accept that disaster, tragedy, death, and the final singularity of this Universe (termed the “Big Crunch) are all parts of the mission of the Spirit, however hurtful they are at the time. Humankind, while imbued with the Spirit, is but transient in the bigger scheme of God. This puts a lot of power behind the prayer “Thy will be done on Eart as it is in Heaven”….it is a non-fatalistic acceptance of a cosmic reality.
So what have I done to protect anything imbued with the Spirit? I wrote and implemented Canada’s first Emvironmental Assessment Review Process; I got grilled in Court for my contribution to protecting the rights of the James Bay Cree….the list goes on and my personal and false pride is now getting in the way of me recognising that the Spirit was working through me and my teams.
I am about to grow a new vegetable garden without pesticides and herbicides…. I just cleaned out and erected a bird box….small things but for now meaningful and protective.
I apologise for this ramble, but then we are all walking the Lenten pathway and I, like Chaucer, am very grateful for your company!
I am moved by the passion for God who reveals himself daily in an energy that cannot be created or destroyed but continues in different states of being, immortal energy made flesh in the merger of sperm and egg…enveloped in mortal bodies eventually joining with the decayed forest that becomes coal that when pressed in time becomes mountains or perhaps even diamonds ….all hurtling through space with a gazillion suns…..wow….. And, yet, a mere butterly in its’ transformative life stages or one planted seed reminds me of Christ and my souls hope in the hands of God.
Truely beautiful Rhode…a great perspective which which I share. Thanks.
My passion for God’s creation varies from season to season. Right now, I am rejoicing in the beauty of the Bradford Pear trees, which are in full bloom, all over my city. The one I love the most, because of its close proximity to my house, is one in my front yard. Simply lovely beyond words! I so thank God for the Springtime, as well as for the three other seasons, each of which has its own special beauty.
Thanks for causing me to think about this subject today.