You never know what detail of liturgy and worship is going to impress itself upon you. This past Sunday, the 16th Sunday after Trinity, it was the conclusion of the Gospel from Luke 7 after Jesus raised the widow’s son from the dead at the gates of Nain:
And they glorified God, saying . . . God hath visited his people.
And in the remainder of the service and since then, it has occurred to me how in manifold ways, God visits his people: in the Incarnation and first and second Advents of Christ, in Christ being present in the Holy Communion, wherever two or three are gathered in his name, in numerous episodes recorded in the Bible and in numerous answers to prayer today, and more.
We tend to think God’s default relation to us is very distant. But really his default relation to us is very present, as in the Garden of Eden when he was “walking in the garden” to converse with the first people and in his coming kingdom in which “the dwelling place of God is with man.” (Rev. 21:3) This present fallen world in which God seems distant is the aberration – an aberration to be done away.
But even during this temporary distorted time of this fallen world, God remains the same – He is the God who visits us, the God who is “very present” as Psalm 46 reminds us:
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.