ODBLOG: “Zoom Out, Zoom In”

Rev. David Fekete contemplates botht he vastness and intimacy of he divine in this reflection…

Readings: Isaiah 40:21-31, Mark 1:29-39

God is above the universe, before the universe. God is cosmic. God made the billion galaxies with their billions of stars. And as Isaiah says,

He who brings out the starry host one by one

    and calls forth each of them by name.

Because of his great power and mighty strength,

    not one of them is missing. (Isaiah 40:21)

God made them all and God’s mind is infinite, so God knows how many stars there are and calls them all by their billions of billions of names. 

I have a friend who doesn’t believe in God. He doesn’t believe in God because the universe is much, much too big for any one Being to have made it and keep it in order. But God is omniscient. That means “all-knowing.” That means that God’s mind is infinite. And an infinite mind can make the universe with its billions of galaxies and billions of billions of stars and keep track of it all and keep it in order. That is what

infinity is like. We say the word infinite, and we don’t stop to think what it means. Infinite

means that the whole universe can be known, created, and kept in order by such a consciousness. It’s that big. And we could go sub-atomic, too. Zoom down into the atoms and sub-atomic particles and acknowledge that God knows each quark and neutrino by name and made them all and keeps them in order. This is the magnificent God in the clouds of glory where we often place God. God is this. But when we put God in the clouds of glory, God can become impersonal. God is also

intimate. God comes to each one of us in our hearts. God doesn’t only number the galaxies, stars, quarks, and neutrinos, God also numbers the hairs on our head. God doesn’t only know the stars by name, God knows us each by name. And God cares about us. God cares more than our mothers. Infinite applies here, too. God’s love for us is infinite. Here, we can say omnipresent. That means “all-present.” That means that God is present everywhere. Even cosmic Isaiah says,

Why do you complain, Jacob?

    Why do you say, Israel,

“My way is hidden from the LORD;

    my cause is disregarded by my God”?*

Our cause is not disregarded by our God. God knows our cause. God knows our needs. God knows our wants. God knows what will make us happy. And God gives us what will make us happy.

I don’t think enough attention is given to God’s intimacy. Of God’s omnipresence. Of

the God who sits next to Simon’s mother-in-law and holds her hand. To make my point, I’d like to share a story about my own recent understanding of God. It relates to healing. 

Recently, I’ve undergone Rieki healings. I tried Rieki healing because Carol had gone to a practitioner and told me that it relieved her stress. Feeling a lot of tension, including muscle stiffness and joint soreness, I thought I’d try Reiki. I was skeptical at first, but was open-minded. I was, in fact, surprised what a marvellous healing happened. It went way beyond my body into my mind and soul, healing my consciousness and clearing my mind. Reiki healing is done by the healer laying her hands on my forehead, shoulder blades, heart, abdomen, knees, and feet. You wouldn’t think this would do anything. But it does. Then there is another healing practice that works through the ether over distances. So the healer is at home and I am in my home and the healing energy flows through the ether to me over distance. Recall that Swedenborg says that distance is an illusion and in the spiritual world there is no distance at all. Space is an illusion.

To receive the healing energy, one asks the Creator to come and let you into the healing sphere. Here, I ran into a conceptual problem. Just what kind of Creator do I ask to let me in? This healing process was all new to me, and I think its origins are in Shamanism. That suggested to me an Indigenous Creator. But I’m a Christian. And I’m getting to the point I’m trying to make.

I thought that Jesus is the Creator for me. I wasn’t sure about mixing up Christianity with Shamanistic healing practices. But there’s only one God, one Creator, and for me, that is Jesus. So when I prayed to the Creator to let me into the healing energy, I pictured Jesus sitting next to my bed, laying His hands on my forehead like my Reiki healer.

At first I recoiled at this idea. Swedenborg suggests we picture God like a human shining in the center of the spiritual sun. That’s a pretty cosmic image of God. But what about God sitting at my bedside laying His hands on my forehead? It almost seemed blasphemous. But why? Didn’t Jesus sit at the bedside of Simon’s mother-in-law and take her hand? Yes, He did. There was nothing special about Simon’s mother-in-law—she was an ordinary woman. Then they brought everyone who was sick to Jesus. Jesus no doubt took them by the hand, or otherwise touched them. These were ordinary people whom God loved and healed and touched. So I concluded that I could imagine Jesus at my bedside laying His healing hands on my forehead.

That is the Divine Human this church preaches. God’s soul is infinite but God has a

human body made divine. So that Human and God are One. It is central to the Swedenborgian Church that God and Human are completely united in the one person of Jesus. We say this; we profess this; we believe this. But do we realize this? Do we realize how intimate this makes God? I still hesitate when I think about Jesus sitting at my bedside laying His hands on my forehead. Should I?

John 1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory.” And the Bible and our doctrines tell us that Jesus rose flesh and bone. And Swedenborg tells us that Jesus appeared to him in a tavern and told him not to eat so much.

The infinite cosmic God who sits above the universe sits by the bedside of Simon’s mother-in-law and holds her hand. The infinite cosmic God who sits above the universe and numbers the hairs on our head. The infinite Cosmic God who sits above the universe sits at my bedside and Lays His hands on my forehead. That, I think, is what the doctrine of the Divine Human means.

*New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. 

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