The Feast Day of St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers
And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’
— Romans 10:14-15
In my work over the years in the Education for Ministry (EfM) program and in faith sharing groups I have learned that most people who participate in these things can name a time in their lives when God felt very near to them. At first this was astounding to me. I had rarely heard people talk about their personal encounters with God. And yet most people had only to be asked, and all sorts of amazing stories spilled out of them.
This shouldn’t have been a surprise. Thinking back on it, I myself had shared very few of my intimate moments with God with anyone except my partner until I joined EfM. These moments are precious to me, and I was fearful they would be misunderstood. They aren’t scientific or logical, and I often can’t explain what makes me name them as moments when God is near. Besides, it is just not polite to share such matters – spiritual matters – one’s religion – in most social settings.
Our culture tells us that life is a kind of grand adventure in self-fulfillment, where the only real duty is to take care of yourself financially and the chief goal is to be able to realize your ambitions. The enlightened individual does not even acknowledge a belief in God, especially a Christian belief.
So apart from the faith-sharing groups we might join we seldom get a chance to think about those times when we have experienced God, and we have fewer chances still to talk about them. And this is a great shame, for us and for everyone around us.
If we take Jesus’ teachings seriously the hands-down most important thing in life is to recognize and live into our real relationship with a living God. Each of us has a unique, individual bond with God; and living into the astonishing depths of this connection is our greatest purpose. Before any “doing”, any realizing of ambitions, it is this for which we were created.
If you think about this, it is very good news. It means that worth is not based on achievements, that illness and disability do not take away one’s value, and that even the death of everything we hold dear could never separate us from what is most important. Beyond death itself our relationship with God is present, real and glorious and full. Living into this reality takes us beyond fear, hopelessness, and loneliness. It leads us to generosity, to sacrifice, and to compassion. It completes us.
How was it that you came to know about God? How were you so lucky as to be turned on to the existence of the Beloved who yearns for you? Maybe your grandmother taught you to pray. Maybe you found a beloved pastor who opened your heart. Maybe it was your parents or a favorite uncle or a best friend who guided you. It could even have been someone’s story in a book or an article you read. In any case, I’ll bet that somehow it involved a personal story. I’ll bet somebody found some way to tell you about a time when God felt very near to them.
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries With others she manages a website for the Diocese of Colorado highlighting congregations’ creative ministries: Fresh Expressions Colorado