The Three Mile an Hour God

At this wonderfully rich site called Lift UpYour Hearts (now sadly discontinued),  I came across this lovely story and another timely reminder to go slow and rest awhile in this crazy world. The author is Lawrence W. Denef.

I sometimes want God to zoom across this world and transform it in a blinding flash but having experienced the slow Advent pace, Christmas and now the approaching Epiphany, Christ's style of ministry tells me that is not His way.

So the story .....
"A while ago I was in Tokyo for a Lutheran World Federation conference on "Mission in the City." The crowds in the streets, at the airports, on the subways, were like those in Ottawa on the first of July. One was literally shoved into and out of buses and buildings. Often we were able to see only the blur of persons in motions; we saw no faces. 

In his opening remarks, the keynote speaker at the conference, a Japanese theologian, asked us to reflect on the speed at which we are living. 

"The context in which most persons live is fast-moving urban life, with its noise, its hustle and bustle, its dominant impersonal relationships," he noted.

"People no longer see one another with faces, but as numbers and replaceable units in productive processes and systems." 

After a pause, he contrasted our speed with God's pace. "Our God," he said, "is a three-mile-an-hour God."
Leicester Square 11pm from a Series 
by Oona Hassim here

That is the speed at which humans walk. That is the speed at which Jesus wended his way through Galilee -- touching the ill, chatting with widows, pausing in marketplaces to observe children at play, plucking grain in the fields on a sabbath day. 

"The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath," he said. "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it," he said. "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Stand up and take your mat and walk'?" he said. 

We were created in the image of a three-mile-an-hour God, and we have been called to be partners in ministry with a three-mile-an-hour God. 

There will be no growth among us unless we stop running: no increase in understanding, no growth in faith, no sight for the blind, no help for the poor, no compassion for the outcast (and, for that matter, no increase in the numbers of the faithful) -- unless we stop running. 

This world on the run needs people who are moving slowly enough to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice;
people who are moving slowly enough to notice smiles of joy and tears of sorrow;

people who are moving slowly enough to reach out to those in pain, to comfort those in suffering, to offer hope to those in despair. 

The Jewish people teach by way of stories, and the rabbis of today still do. 

A rabbi asked his students: "When will we know that in God's providence darkness has turned to day?" 

"When at a great distance you can tell the difference between a date palm and a fig tree?" replied one. 

"No," responded the rabbi. 

"When at a great distance you can tell the difference between a sheep and a goat?" replied another. 

"No," responded the rabbi. 

"Day will have dawned when you look into the eyes of another person and recognize there your brother or your sister." 

"You are the salt of the earth . . . the light of the world," said Jesus. 

You and I have inherited all of the past and are beginning points for all of the future. 

You and I have been empowered to unmask the illusion of living by doing, of serving by running, and to rekindle in human hearts the life-giving image of a three-mile-an-hour God. 

When will we know that darkness has turned to day? 

When, beyond the blur of persons in motion, we begin to see each other's faces.

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