Seeking Transcendence

I doubt that I’m the only one who experiences writer’s block. I am grateful that it comes only rarely into my work. Another prevalent occurrence for me is to get an idea or a single word stuck in my head that renders writing about anything else virtually impossible.

Well, the word inhabiting my brain as I ponder renewal this month is “transcendence.” For me it is the elevation of natural experience to a spiritual level above the physical plane of sight, sound and touch. Times that seem more important, and the presence of God more palpable; times when the practice of my faith in corporate worship, personal devotion, ministry or mission take on a power and a meaning that builds up and reinforces my faith and my Christian commitment.

I cannot claim that transcendence exists only in the realm of Christian experience. I have witnessed others who had no visible or claimed connection to Christ’s church experience transcendence in very special ways. It could be in experiencing great music, being part of a charity drive that makes a meaningful goal, coming to the aid of a neighbour or a stranger or even witnessing the first moments of life.

I certainly would not want us to chase that feeling as if we are transcendence junkies, but I do think there is something in understanding that where it is absent, renewal may also be lacking. For me, the church should be a place where transcendence is not rare.

Can we plan for transcendence? I am not sure. But I suspect we can open ourselves to great possibility if we work on the following ideas:

Focus on the wonder of God in our worship. His creation is amazing. His salvation is extravagant. His love is overwhelming. The triune God draws from us our love and response that can reach transcendence.

Seek to make a Kingdom difference. Love neighbour. Love enemy. Love justice, the widow, the orphan and the poor. Work together with extraordinary generosity of time and treasure. Make a difference in your local or global community. Then watch God bless your efforts and your hearts.

Broaden your Christian experience. Find ministry you can share cross – denominationally. Learn to celebrate the great things Christians share in common. Learn how to walk with people who have a different take on things that you think you have right. Listen humbly with a generosity of spirit and then work together in the name of Christ.

And when you experience God showing up in powerful and significant ways and when transcendence happens, renewal follows.

Published in The Presbyterian Record on November 1, 2014.