Friday, January 18, 2013

Embrace the Embrace

     Sometimes it is hard to approach God. This is especially true for people that have found themselves in the depths of sin or even those who have been hurt by those that represent God. In my own experience I came to Christ from both of these positions and found it extremely difficult to be loved by God. No matter what I would do I could not shake a deep sense of rejection. Even though I felt this way I did not want to give up and in some ways it drove me to try to achieve a state where I would be acceptable. However, at the time it was also hard for God to approach me. For in many ways I was rejecting His love by letting my sense of rejection guide me. Little did I know that God with patience and long suffering was waiting for me to embrace His embrace.
     There is an element in the Byzantine tradition that is often over looked. Sometimes in the focus on our elaborate rituals, mystical theology and asceticism the radical expression of God’s love is missed. This expression of course is the emphasis of God’s total gift of himself to our human nature through Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that we have our traditions, which are all for the purpose of helping us to experience the presence of God. For instance, in our liturgies we might find it difficult to stand for long hours but the reality of it is- is that we can! We can stand before the almighty God and as the scripture says come to Him boldly and with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).For there is no separation between God and man because in Christ we have been given total and unrestricted access to God. It is in this that we find our traditions helping us to have everything that God offers and to show us the way to embrace His embrace.
     As I shared from my personal life I did not know how to be loved by God, which in many ways was related to my previous state of life. On the other hand, no matter where we come from we must all learn to be loved by God. It is for this reason that we do have our traditions. In contrast, sometimes we approach our traditions from the perspective of something we must do in order to be accepted or to please God. There is no doubt that God is pleased or the fact that participation is essential but this is all based on how our traditions allow us to be loved by Him. For even though there is no separation between us and God there are parts of our human nature that have yet to be touched by Him. Based on this our traditions become the means by which every part of us learns to experience God. In the end our traditions make it possible for our human nature to fully embrace His embrace.
     In looking at my past I am reminded of the words of St. Symeon the New Theologian when he said, “your Presence that has waited long in me”. It took me a long time to realize these words and discover that God has made us acceptable to himself by giving us everything that He is. We may not see this at first but God has called us by faith to understand there is no limit in His love for us. There really is nothing more He can offer to prove this for He has given us Himself completely through Jesus Christ. No matter how sinful we were or even sinful we might continue to be He waits in depths of what we are in order for us to discover His love. We truly have become his children by grace and as loving Father to us He longs for us to be able to embrace His embrace.
     When it comes to the Fatherly love of our God I think the Byzantine tradition offers a special perspective. For in many ways it demonstrates the openness and in some ways the vulnerability of God. The traditions show us that God holds nothing back no matter what state we might find ourselves in. I am reminded of this every time I go to the Divine Liturgy for it is there that I can be with the angles and saints and be wholly accepted by God just as I am. The best image I can describe this is in one in which a child runs to their father without hesitation when the father opens his arms in love, which is the image of our Father waiting for his child to embrace His embrace.

1 comment:

  1. Lord, help me to embrace your embrace!