If you keep my commandments


In just over four weeks’ time we have a glorious spiritual retreat.  A place of recharging our souls and each other.   A place much hotter than here.  A place to relax.  To slow down.  A place to have fun.  A place with new people. A place we have never been before.  A place without church or bible.

And without those two bits we name that “holiday”.  The unspoken teaching is that a holiday is of the flesh and indulgence (and a retreat is of the spirit and restoration).

I see no difference.

I wonder why the unspoken knowing is that God cannot (really) be found in a bar or a restaurant.  Nor (really) found on a beach by the sea.  Nor (really) in the laughter and bawdy banter around a table.  Not really in the quiet contemplation of a distant horizon … a small working boat … a passing beach seller … small birds scratching for a crumb … children playing in the surf … in the buzz and bustle of having a loving and joyous fun time.

Why do we choose retreat with God – but holiday without?

I have always found holidays as seeing a God who is everywhere.  A God who is Love everywhere.  A God who delights not just in “living in the bible” of a believer – but who lives in each. A God who scents the daily living of all – everywhere. A God of no particular name – of no particular sacred text – nor defined by a certain creed – not even worshiped as we believe we should and must: in a certain way, at a certain time, and with those who are like-minded. A God of no particular name who is free of all that stuff we need to “need”.

“Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” “ John 15:9-11

Isn’t love joy and joy love? Isn’t love free and joy freeing?

The love and joy found in bawdy banter on a beach far from here.  The love and joy in the quiet reflection of a distant horizon.  Of the hurly-burly of checking-in and checking-out.  Of a God who needs no name as we must name God.  A God who needs no formality as we need formality.  A God who needs no obedience as we define obedience.  A God of love and joy who needs nothing as we need to pick our “needs”.

A God who delights in love and joy in all – everywhere.

I find that I can be as close to my God on a beach far from home as in the bible and formal prayer.  I can be closer to God with a drink in my hand and a bawdy joke shared than sitting in a church feeling all alone.  I can be closer to my God there as anywhere else.  And I wonder …

If I cannot find my God there what does that say (not) about his “commandments” …

But about my need of his “commandments”?

.

 

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9 thoughts on “If you keep my commandments

  1. Reblogged this on Church Set Free and commented:

    If you ever felt alone in the way you worship, if you think your theology is the only one, if you follow rules, if you don’t follow rules, you must read Paul’s post today. All are welcome.

  2. ” I can be closer to God with a drink in my hand and a bawdy joke shared than sitting in a church feeling all alone. I can be closer to my God there as anywhere else. And I wonder …
    If I cannot find my God there what does that say (not) about his “commandments” ”
    Beautifully said, Paul. I understand, I experience, I agree. ((hugs)) and ❤

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