“At a depth in excess of four hundred feet somewhere in the south china sea, while looking for a Soviet submarine,” I say when colleagues ask me to describe a memorable communion experience.
A chaplain had come aboard the US Navy submarine I had served for a short cruise from Subic Bay and back. And once we were safely underway, I had asked if we could have communion. I remember little of the worship service: what scripture the chaplain had read nor his message. We might have sung a hymn, for the crew’s lounge had an upright piano from the home of our ship’s namesake, Thomas Alva Edison, and some talented musicians, but I don’t know which. None-the-less I clearly remember sitting with the XO and the captain while sipping an ounce or two of grape drink from coffee cups. This was significant then, because we were doing something that those on board the ship we had sought could not do. Clearly this was a God moment.
This memory of communion is significant now for it reminds me of Jonah who had fled from God’s presence to avoid prophesying in Nineveh. Yet even in the belly of that great fish, God had found Jonah.
It is significant for this blog as each week I ask: “Where is God in all this?” The question presumes there are some places without God. The question presumes there are some places where we should recognize God’s presence and God’s creative and redemptive acts, and some places or actions that are not of a divine origin. The question presumes that God is not the creator of all things seen and unseen.
A better question, the question that I have sought to answer, is: “How is God in all this?” How is God in the warm sunny breeze outside my window and in hurricanes lashing at cottages along the shore? How is God in the miracles of modern medicine and in incurable diseases? How is God in those who support the Church and in those who deride it?
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:38-39 (NRSV)