High River United Church of High River, Alberta

Many Ways to Know God's Presence With You

Praying Hands


How do you know God? What does it mean to know God? That is the question we are exploring together through this winter season, on Sunday mornings, through these e-mails and during in-person prayer time. We invite you to ponder and consider how it is that you experience God’s presence. For most, a sense of knowing or experiencing God comes with a deep sense of peace and of being enfolded in love. It is often a fleeting, transcendent moment of feeling that we are part of something greater than ourselves. Some of us might name the experience as Love! While an experience of God may nudge or challenge us to a new way of thinking or being, God’s presence always comes with love and with reassurance. An experience of God’s presence will never leave us feeling afraid and alone.


Dr. Janet Gear, of Vancouver School of Theology, raised this question in a recent talk we heard and named 5 ways of knowing God but we have added a few more from our own experience and from some of you in the congregation. So, let us introduce the Ways of Knowing God, which we’ll explore in the coming weeks. We invite you to think about which one fits best for you. It is likely that there will be several that are part of your experience, but one that is the primary way that you know and experience God.


Knowing God through community

             You may experience God in the people who gather as part of the congregation, in their love and support, in their presence around you in worship, and in sharing activities with them. In the warmth of their presence, you feel God’s warm and loving presence.


Knowing God through reading, studying & debating scripture

            You may experience God’s presence as you spend time reading scripture. Certain passages may bring a deep sense of peace. You might also experience God as you study scripture, research it, and even debate it with others. God comes alive for you as you explore the stories of the Bible.


Knowing God through helping others

            You may experience God as you help others, preparing meals, listening to someone who needs a friend, leading a group, and in other ways offering a helping hand. In the moments of helping others, you feel God near to you.


Knowing God through working for justice

            You may experience God’s presence as work for justice and as you take part in actions and campaigns that seek to right wrongs and to provide equal rights and opportunities for others. You feel compelled by God’s concern for the most vulnerable and for those rejected by others.


Knowing God through quiet prayer, meditation & mystical experiences

            You may experience the divine presence most when you are in a quiet space, meditating, praying, journaling, reading scripture and pondering. A candle is lit, a prayer shawl may be wrapped around you, and in the stillness God is near. You may also know God in mystical experiences, in visions, in a quiet voice suddenly heard, and in other “unexplainable” experiences that bring God’s love close.


Knowing God through Jesus

            You may know God best through a personal relationship with Jesus. You may have welcomed Jesus into your heart, and feel closest to God when thinking about Jesus and praying to Jesus.


Knowing God through following the ethics of the Way of Jesus

             For some people, there is not so much a feeling of God’s presence, but rather a choice to follow the ethics presented by Jesus in the Way he taught. You are committed to loving neighbour, stranger and enemy, to providing for those in need and to sharing what you have for the good of all. It is this ethic and your commitment to it that connects you with the congregation.


Knowing God through artistic expression

            You may experience the divine presence as you paint, draw, do calligraphy, work with clay, or express yourself through writing. You may feel transcendence as you sing by yourself or within a group of people, or take part in drama or playing instruments. Or it may be in listening to music or contemplating the artistic expressions of others that you connect with the divine.


Knowing God through nature

             In the song of a bird, the colours of sunrise or sunset, a hike through the mountains, or watching a waterfall or a tumbling creek, you have a deep sense of the divine presence enfold you and you are left in awe and wonder.


We invite you into this journey of reflecting upon how you best experience the divine presence in your life. For in knowing how we best experience God, we can embrace a practice of that way of knowing and deepen our relationship with the divine, allowing God’s love to enfold, encourage and inspire us day by day, so that we may be a blessing in this world, working with compassion for the common good.


Blessings for 2021!

Rev. Susan & Rev. David

High River United Church

a community of help, home and hope





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