We were driving into Denver for Christmas and we arrived, just as the sun was beginning to set, at the part of I-76 where you first see the mountains. We were stuck in traffic, but the show couldn’t have been more glorious. After four months of being spoiled by Iowa sunsets, it was still revelatory to again see the sky split open above our beloved mountains, where the air is so high and crisp and fresh that the brilliance of the sunset looks remarkably different.
I’d recently written a poem for Wartburg’s Advent service about God living in the sunset, and it struck me anew as I watched the spectacle from a new, yet very familiar vantage point. Because God is everywhere. It’s the very nature of God, to be in and of and through all things and all people – whether in Iowa or in Colorado or in New York. This week I find myself in Manhattan for my January-term class, which I designed so I could study the table ministry that’s happening here in the city, and better understand how food brings communities together.
This is my passion. This is what I’m more and more certain I’m supposed to do at this point in my life: to feed people, to bring people to the table so that they may eat together, grow together, and ultimately be a presence of God’s love for each other. When I think back on my life, the times I’ve most experienced love are linked to food memories: my dad making scrambled eggs with Velveeta cheese and fried hot dogs for Sunday morning breakfast. My mom making a giant pot of tortellini and meatball soup for Christmas Eve. My family eating chicken tenders at Disneyland. My sister preparing huge salads for us while our kids play in the next room. My husband feeding our babies yogurt. My daughter standing on a stool and measuring out ingredients with my hand on top of hers. I think of the meals we prepared together as a youth group in Galveston and Boulder, the snacks my all-girls class made at our school in Thornton. I think of the group today that invited me to join them for brunch at the pub around the corner from their beautiful church.
In all these memories, we didn’t talk about God. We didn’t talk about Jesus. We joked, we laughed, we shared stories, we urged each other forward, we taught. This is where God lives, too. In sunsets, and in meals. In food that we need to nourish our physical bodies as well as our souls. We need the hands that prepare it together. We need the conversation that happens around the table. We need the service that goes into the cooking and the clearing. This is love. This is God.
I haven’t seen any sunsets yet while I’ve been in the city, but it’s okay. I’ve seen God in many other places, many other gaps in “regular” life. God really is everywhere – in the farm lands, the mountains, the city. God is in all places as the light and the dark of the world mingle together to create something new, yet something as ancient as the universe – just like bread, just like sunsets, just like love.
“Where God Lives”
By Kellie Lisi
You know when you’re watching a sunset
That moment when the light is at its peak
Glorious waves of crimson spread wide across the great, long sky
The darkness in between the waves
That’s where God lives
Not quite light
Not quite dark
And it’s for all the world
In between times at all times happening in every moment at this exact moment, simultaneously around the world, this huge sphere that must have felt
In the days
When the light and the dark mingled together in the sky
A sunset then, before they were separated
A sunset now.
Light and dark,
a glimpse of the beginning of the world