God is Abundant (2)

God is abundance.

When we try to describe God, we use words and images which reflect our idea of "abundance", its richness and its unlimited potential. We may liken God to things that are huge, strong, powerful and impressive - mountains, the ocean, a storm, the heavens. Or we liken God to people, places, things, situations or relationships which we experience as "abundant": God is Father, home, light, love. And we use terms like holy, majesty, absolute, ultimate, infinite, everlasting and eternal to describe how God's life has no horizon. It reaches far beyond our sight, even beyond our imagining.
God is "abundance" because we think of the life of God in terms of diversity as well as in terms of sheer quantity. God's abundance includes creativity and resourcefulness: the ability to generate such a wide range of different things. Not just one type of bird or insect or flower, but thousands of very different ones.
God provides so much that we are often able to choose what we like, or what suits us. We like to choose between the good, the better and the best. God makes available to us many things that are beautiful, valuable and beneficial, and invites us to focus on them.... (Philippians 4.4-9). If we feel that we are not able to choose, or not free to choose something better, we can feel very angry and aggrieved.

God provides an abundance that is related to every aspect of ourselves:
Our bodies/ senses
Our "hearts"/emotions/ friendships, relationships
Our minds: memory, reason, imagination
Our will or soul: our sense of purpose, direction or calling
Our sense of the Holy, the Absolute, the Ultimate, the Awesome Mystery at the centre of all things, beyond all things

The Good News: God feeds us by means of abundance.

In an ideal situation, things that are "abundant" are a blessing and a benefit. They strengthen us and give us life - in many ways at once. They nourish, feed and fulfil us. It is when this goes wrong that we become disappointed, hurt, anxious, angry. We say we are "discouraged" or "disheartened", because we feel that we are not getting the "courage" or the "heart" which we expected, to which we feel entitled, and which we know we need. We recognise abundance because it is life-giving. We are attracted to things which are abundant, because we want to make the most of the life we have, and we are keen to have more.
Life is energy, inspiration, enthusiasm, commitment, joy. Life is faith, hope and love. Life is the ability to be creative, even in adversity. Life is compassion and courage, resilience and endurance. We always need more life, and we are drawn to anything which gives it. If we have it, we enjoy it, rejoice in it, share it and invest it in creating more. If we don't have it, and don't know where to find it, we rapidly become discouraged. Abundance is the sign that we are close to the Source of life. Even imagining abundance strengthens us, helping us to be more creative and giving us something to share.
God is so abundant that there is always enough for everyone. There is always enough to go around. God has provided for every need and wants abundant life to be available to all. It is our task to work with God to make this so.

God is a God of abundance.
God loves you.
Your need is known and provided for.
What you need has been given.

God's love, lavishly given. Present

God is abundance. God is abundant love. God looks upon us only with love. God's love embraces us whole – all of us – each of us – everything we are. And gifts us with abundance. An abundance of love, and an abundance of all the good things love desires for the beloved. There is loving abundance for all. Enough for all, enough for each, enough for evermore.

True for us, true for others; God is unlimited love and grace. The abundance of God, that is love, is poured out upon the world, creating, redeeming, healing, making whole. the abundance of God's love available to all for growth and healing; The healing of individuals – in body, heart, mind, soul and spirit – of communities, of families, of congregations, of societies, of the world. The streams of God's grace reach out through all creation: in the words of Charles Wesley, "Enough for all, enough for each, enough for evermore." A wealth of possibility, promise and potential.

God's abundance is personal. God is abundance. God is abundant love. God looks upon us only with love.
God receives us, looks at us, loves us, by paying attention to us. As we are.
God's love embraces us whole – all of us – each of us – everything we are.

God sees us as an abundance. As we are. And believes that we have even more potential for abundance. An abundance of love, and an abundance of all good things love desires for the beloved.
Because we have been received, we feel able to receive. claim that abundance for ourselves. Engage with the gift, interact with it, use it, develop it, customise it.

If we know we are loved, we have an abundance within us that the world cannot take away. "Something wondrous within us."

This knowledge is the source of life, hope, creativity and peace.
we can receive, and share, the abundance God gives.

Because we know we are loved, we can live life to the full, regardless of our circumstances.

Know that you are loved, and in that knowledge, love yourselves, love one another.
Keep your face turned towards the source of love.

The first step in living from love, not fear, is to notice, honour and celebrate the abundance in our lives. What we have. The richness of what we have. To understand that God is a God of abundance and that God wants us to live lives of abundance and plenty and creativity, and fulfilment and delight. Paying attention to what we have in our hands.

How does it feel to be given a present?
Surprise, delight, confusion, suspicion. The excitement of mystery, and potential.
Anticipation, joy, delight, surprise. Affirmation. Embarrassment. Suspicion. What does it say about us? Relationship etc. Potential. Treasure. Identity. Who am I, that you should say that I am lovely? Because you're worth it. The abundance that God offers us is personal. It is for us.

God gives us abundance. Actual abundance – the present in our hands.
Prayer -–thanksgiving for all that we have received.

My name is .............. I give thanks for ............ I am a beloved child of God.
God loves you .......... We rejoice with you in the abundance of God.

1. How does it feel when you have unwrapped the present? (Pause)
Mystery has gone. Joy or embarrassment. Disappointment or pleasure. Anger.

1. How does it feel to be able to use a gift creatively, or share it with others, or give it away? (Pause)
Satisfying, fulfilling, relief. Confirmation.

In order to get something out of it at all stages, we need to pay attention – to the gift, to the circumstances, to ourselves & what is happening within ourselves, to the giver, too, perhaps. Gifts are part of a relationship. (Experience at Symphony Hall, the hurt conductor, the spurned gift)

How do we pay attention to it? How do we regard it? Do we pay attention to what we are given? Or are we always looking for what is not there, and focusing on that? And feeling disappointed, perhaps?

We need to pay attention to what is actually in our hands. What we have been given. We need to pay attention to what is ours in the present moment. Ours in the present. The present moment is all we have. All we ever have. The present moment is where God meets with us. The present moment is where God empowers us. If we do not feel empowered by God, perhaps it is because we are living somewhere else – in the past, or in the future. Perhaps it is because we are not paying attention, or we do not believe that the abundance is truly for us. Or we cannot see it because we are focused on all that is missing.

How do we see the actual? Half-full, half-empty?.

How we see things has a profound effective on our ability to benefit from them. If we cannot see the blessing, we cannot receive it. If we deliberately avoid paying attention to the blessing, we will never receive it.

Attention to what is there, rather than longing for what is not there. If we focus on what is there, and pay attention to it, give it the attention of our whole selves, then we begin to discover resources. We have five senses – touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell. Paper has a texture, a colour, a smell. We respond to a stimulus with feeling, memory, imagination and association. We are people of body, heart, mind, soul and spirit. When we see a shape or hear a word, we make instant connections with a deep cultural library of story and image and song.

It is the gift of ourselves to the present moment that gives us the feeling of fullness, fulfilment, abundance. It is our fear that prevents us offering this. Fear points to what we lack, what we don't have, what we can't do. Fear speaks of poverty, scarcity and want. Fear looks at a piece of paper and says, "There's nothing there." Abundance sees the space into which can be poured something of the resources we have within us – a sketch, a doodle, a thought, a list, a prayer, a an exploration, a poem.

Suddenly, the blank space is being filled. The blank space becomes potential.

So how do we see what we hold? Which is more accurate? More realistic? Which will help us to take a drink if we are thirsty? Which will encourage us to share?

Why do we keep looking elsewhere? Is it because we are afraid that the abundance is not for us? Pay attention to why we do not feel abundant and we will identify the fears that keep us from receiving the plenty God has provided for us. What do we gain by remaining trapped in our fears? Why do we prefer fear to love?

When we pay attention to what is actually present, bringing to it the whole of ourselves, we become resourceful. The resources in the cup can feed us, even if they are not enough, and the emptiness becomes a space into which we can grow, extend ourselves, venture, experiment, dream, play. The possibility becomes our treasure in heaven – "all that we can imagine, and yet more." (Margery Allingham) Our holy grail.

Perhaps the Israelites had to stay in the desert until they learned to see it as a place of abundance. Perhaps Jesus stayed out in the wilderness until he discovered how it would feed him, empower him to set others free, reveal to him the secret hidden within the Scriptures, and enable him to follow the saving love of God as it moves through the world as transforming grace.

God gives us the gift of potential. An abundance of potential. all the possibilities that surround the actual. We need to focus on the actual first, in order then, to see the potential. If we rush too quickly to the potential, or get hung up on what is not there, then we will go awry. The actual is the entrance to the potential. The blank page. A frame. A window. The door. The actual is like a TARDIS, or a treasure-box. Larger on the inside than on the outside.

We realise this potential – we gain this abundance, by paying attention to God, to others, and to ourselves, even as God pays attention to us. We gain abundance by learning God's way of paying attention. The art of abundance is paying attention.
Attention is the art of being present. Wholly present where we are. Here and now. To live wholly in the present moment.

The joy and hope and peace of the Gospel is this – the heart of the Good News is this – that in the wilderness God provides a stream of living water, a feast of good things. That though we may be wounded, in the divine mercy we are given power to become children of God, a new identity that reflects the face of God, so that, in the power of that grace, we become healers, too.

Jesus came to share with us God's abundance, and to show us how we could share it with others. We recognise the front line because that is where there is least abundance. That is where our fear is greatest. Our Lord's Supper is the symbol Jesus left us to remind us of the heart of the Gospel. That God is a God of abundance. God shares abundance with us, and helps us to share abundance with others. Teaches us how to do this. By accepting, giving thanks, breaking, offering and going on giving.

Paul, too, discovered the art of contentment, whatever his circumstances. Perhaps this was the gift of his "thorn in the flesh" – that it taught him to look at what he had, and find in it that grace of God that was, indeed, sufficient for his need.

If what we have in our hands does not seem like "a sufficient grace" – could this be because we are not paying attention to it?

There is loving abundance for all. Enough for all, enough for each, enough for evermore.
Introductions: who we are, and one point of abundance in our own life.

Confirm and celebrate our Abundance:
I say - My name is .................., and I am a beloved child of God.
We all say - ................., God loves you. We are glad that you are here.

O God of infinite grace,
As we approach you, conscious of our pettiness,
Our frailty, our wrongdoing,
And our share in the sin of the world,
We trust, not in what we see of you,
For our understanding is so limited,
But in what you see in us,
For your mercy is our security and our hope,
This day and forever. Amen.

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