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Archive for Saturday, February 7, 2009

Faith Forum: How do you define a miracle?

February 7, 2009

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God present in both the mysterious and mundane

The Rev. Gary Teske, senior pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H.:

An Internet dictionary definition of a miracle is “an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.”

I would guess that most of us operate with a very similar definition of “miracle.” Now an important second question is, what events do you think are “inexplicable by the laws of nature” and thus, by definition, a miracle? And another question which is perhaps even more important would be do you need God to perform miracles as proof that God exists?

I have encountered people who concluded that God failed them, and that God is not active in their lives because God did not miraculously deliver them or someone they loved from a tormenting condition or an illness like Jesus seems to do in, for example, in Mark 1.

I believe that it is a miracle, that it is “inexplicable by the laws of nature,” that God is present and at work in what we consider the ordinary and mundane. The sacred Scriptures that I turn to, namely the Bible, show me a God who is present and at work in the mysterious and the mundane, in the shocking and in unnoticed ways.

The absence of what we characterize as “supernatural phenomena” does not mean the absence of God. Even so, I do believe that miracles take place. I see miracles around me in people who are delivered from death when all had given up hope, but I also see a miracle in someone facing the death that comes to all of us with peace and confidence that conquers fear. I consider it a miracle that we have “laws of nature.” Life, love, forgiveness, hope, birth, imagination, death — all are amazing, and all are miraculous.

— Send e-mail to Gary Teske at gteske@tlclawrence.org

Lord’s actions present throughout history

The Rev. Maria Campbell, pastor, Central United Methodist Church, 1501 Mass.:

A miracle is a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature that can only be explained by divine intervention.

I believe in miracles. I believe that God has acted throughout history in extraordinary ways. These events could only be explained by a supernatural being participating in our natural world.

I believe that miracles happened frequently when Jesus Christ walked upon the earth. Jesus demonstrated that God’s reign had come near by feeding thousands with barely enough food for a small family. He restored sight to the blind and healed the sick. When he was caught in a storm at sea, he calmed the waters to demonstrate his power over nature. These were all miracles: they were instantaneous changes in the physical reality of certain persons and places.

Today, we often use the word more loosely, claiming situations to be miracles when by strict definition they are not. Yet when people gather to participate in the restoration of regions that were devastated by natural disasters, it may not be textbook miracles but something extraordinary is happening. People shift their focus from their personal desires to the greater good.

I believe that God calls us to participate in the care of others. When each person gives a portion, a small miracle happens. While it does not precisely meet the definition, something extra ordinary transpires. These are moments when we love as God loves. These are moments when we participate in the divine mind which longs for justice for all people. I believe that God delights in our “small miracles” and is at work within them, encouraging us to strive beyond our humanness, urging us to be as we were created — images of the divine.

— Send e-mail to Maria Campbell at cumcpastor@sunflower.com

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