In many theologies there is some sort of separation posited between God and the world. This can range from God being “totally other” as some have put it to forms where God is in us or with us but because of our corrupt nature there is some sort of divide to be overcome.
In the aspect monism of The Divine Life Communion, there is no separation between God and the world. Each individual, whether it be an elementary particle all the way to the most complex organism is a particular life of God. God takes on the constraints of being for that individual entity and lives that life. Now, this concept is nothing new. In Greek, there is a word “kenosis” which means the act of emptying. There are different interpretations of what this means in a theological sense but in one it means casting off the divine nature to become fully human. This is one interpretation in Christianity. The incarnation is an example (“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, John 1:14). In Hinduism, there is a similar concept of the avatar, where there is a material occurrence or incarnation of a deity. Incarnations appear throughout the ancient world of thought.
I talk about this to point out that there is a widespread sentiment in theological thought that God is present in the world, and not just in some sort of mystical or spiritual sense but as an actual being. From the DLC perspective, God lives.
So if God is living the life of everything, then that also means there is a communion of all things in the Divine Life. Each aspect of God’s life is also inextricably part of all others. This is communion. Communion is a sharing in the Divine Life.
So what is this sharing about? There is certainly an important communal aspect to it. We share life together in our joys and pains, our life events, our passions, and even the mundane day to day happenings. This sharing tells us we are not alone. We have a deep connection with each other and the world.
But there can also be a deeper aspect to communion. When I was a Christian and attended the Lutheran church one of the things I really liked was what we called Holy Communion or the Eucharist. In the Lutheran churches, I attended this was a communal event but also a sacred one. It was a communal meal, to be sure, but also more than just eating together. It was a communion with each other and also with God. In Lutheran theology, the bread and wine are both actual bread and wine and actually the body and blood of Christ. There is a mystical element to it. A deep connection to God, and with it a communal connection to each other through our participation in God. While I no longer consider myself a Christian, I also think there is so much deep truth in all this.
As a communion of the Divine Life, everything participates in God’s life, as a whole as well as each individual life. We also participate in God’s purpose for life. I think that purpose is the eternal creation of love, beauty, and meaning. It dwells deep within us all and calls out to be made real, every day in every event. And what we do does not just affect us individually. It also affects every other part of the communion as well as God, the author of all things. When we act, we touch not only just those around us but also the trajectory of God’s purpose. We can thwart that purpose, creating hate, ugliness and meaninglessness or we can probe our divine depth, embrace it and act accordingly.
One metaphor I like to illustrate the relationship of the world to God is Author/Story. God as author is the creator of the narrative of life. That narrative has settings, characters, events and constraints. It also has an underlying purpose to it, a goal that is not an endpoint but a dynamic, living process. But the narrative is not set in stone. As an author writes, the narrative unfolds, sometimes in unexpected ways. The author must adjust to how the story emerges. This is the creative process at work. I think this is also how things work with God, the Author. As God lives each life (yours, mine, and everything else), the narrative has its twists and turns. There are points of decision where each individual can choose to embrace divine purpose or not. It’s tough. Life is complicated and busy. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. But this is the essence of living. There is an eternal challenge of life to be courageous, loving, and creative for the good.
So as we embrace each day, I hope that we can all be more cognizant that we are not alone. We are part of a grande, beautiful adventure of Life. A great gift. But perhaps we can also be more aware that since we are part of the Communion, each of our acts not only affects us, but also others in the Communion, and God the Author.