Think of the most important relationships in your life. Who are the people who matter to you and to whom you matter? How do you nurture those relationships? Do you routinely show up for meals with them? Do you communicate with them? Do you celebrate special occasions with them? Do you check in with them on a regular basis? Do you go out of your way for them? Do you feel a sense of responsibility to them? Do you delight in their company? Do you lavish gifts upon them to express your devotion? Do you tell them what they mean to you? What would your life be like without them? Do you ever take them for granted? Would it bother you if you drifted apart.
Does your relationship with God matter as much? How do you nurture your relationship with God?
One of the consistent themes of the Bible is God’s desire for a relationship with us. God went searching for Adam in the Garden of Eden. God appeared to Abraham and made a covenant with him. The first two commandments God gave to Moses on the mountain have to do with putting God first. God in Christ said, “Follow me” to some strangers and formed them into a community of friends and disciples. They and their successors called to others to follow Christ and join that community, the Church, where we continue to work on that relationship today.
God wants to be first in our lives and promises to transform all other relationships. In an attempt to express the primacy of our relationship with God, the faithful do things like give the first tenth of their treasure to God and worship on the first day of the week. Because God matters, we show up for meals, communicate, celebrate special occasions, check in regularly, go out of our way, feel a sense of responsibility, delight in God’s company, lavish gifts upon God, and express what God means to us through prayers and praises. Life would not be the same without God and we don’t ever want to take God for granted.
God matters to us. But even more important is the message that we matter to God! Of all God’s creatures, human beings come first. We are the apple of God’s eye. Because this relationship is so important to God, God shows up for meals, communicates with us, celebrates special occasions with us, goes out of the way for us, feels a sense of responsibility toward us, delights in our company, lavishes gifts upon us, and tells us we are beloved. We matter to God and God never takes us for granted.
St. Augustine of Hippo prayed, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” We were created with a desire to live in relationship with our Creator as well as our neighbors. As we approach the Season of Lent, I pray that we will make a new resolve to open ourselves more fully to that relationship. This 19th Century hymn echoes Augustine's prayer. Take a moment to listen to this acapella rendition by Danny Byrum.
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
no, I was found of thee.
Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea.
'Twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
as thou, dear Lord, on me.
I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee!
For thou wert long beforehand with my soul;
always thou lovedst me.
I’ll see you in Church!
The Very Reverend Ron Pogue
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church