How can you receive life from God today? Can you perhaps go to God as the “Great universal Teacher”?
In a poem called “Frost at Midnight,” Samuel Taylor Coleridge describes meditating late at night. Coleridge sits in solitude except that, at his side, his “cradled infant slumbers peacefully.” As Coleridge muses, the gentle breathing of his son leads him to ponder:
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think thou shalt learn for other lore
And in far other scenes!
Coleridge thrills because his son will learn. His son will learn not only in classrooms, but “by lakes and sandy shores” and in all the lovely shapes and sounds through which God speaks. For Coleridge, even winter frost has a “secret ministry,” through which the “Great universal Teacher” teaches “Himself in all, and all things in himself.”
Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight” comes to mind because on Sunday I will preach from John 5. In John 5, Jesus’ opponents accuse him of not only breaking the Sabbath but also of calling God “his own Father, making himself equal to God.” (John 5:18) Instead of denying the charge, Jesus explains that, as the Son, he does “only what he sees the Father doing.” (John 5:19) Jesus’ relationship to his Father brings good news to us because the work that Jesus and his Father share is the work of giving life (John 5:21). And life happens because “the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing.” (John 5:20).
For us to receive life, we can understand that the Father-Son relationship that Jesus reveals in God does not lock us into deadly patriarchy. Instead, it liberates us for love and learning in all things. For us to receive life from God today, we can join Jesus in learning from all that the Father is doing. At this very moment, God is giving life to the entire universe, and Jesus teaches us to receive that life abundantly. So Coleridge is a good disciple when he envisions his child experiencing God through learning:
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.