When the people of Israel were wandering in the desert, they carried their tabernacle with them. God’s presence went with them to every stopping point along the way. Likewise, when immigrant people scattered across North America, the Methodists sent circuit riders to remind them that God’s presence was coming with them to every stopping point, meeting place or crossroad along their way.
Temples and church facilities eventually came to represent a more permanent residence for the Most High. As those spaces became increasingly vacant, it has become clear to some that the posture of the church needs to reflect a much more distributed presence of God.
Churches are creating holy spaces at coffee shops, in bars, museums and parks. These sanctified apostles imbue a table or a room with a movable feast of God’s presence. Just as Jesus chose bread and wine to represent His presence whenever and wherever His children gathered, so the church has chosen to let a cup of coffee and a bagel set the table where God’s name is honored and praised.
It doesn’t take a vote of the Church Council or District Board of Ministry to go to your favorite coffee shop, park, museum or restaurant with a friend or six and start looking for the living Lord in the faces of the patrons or in the pages of the scriptures. All it takes is a willing heart, some creativity and a bit of courage.
I saw a group of young people standing around a lovely painted landscape from the Romantic period. As I drew near, I heard one of them ask “Where do you see God in this painting?” They stayed riveted in place for fifteen minutes discussing the nature of beauty and the beauty of our creator. I could’ve sworn I saw tongues of fire upon their heads.
Who would accompany you to a movable feast of God’s presence? Where would you go together? When will you start?