'Your own personal God' Service transcript 09/08/2020

Opening Words

Mark light chalice

Karl: Come and find this quiet centre

Allow yourself to arrive here

Welcome yourself here

And those with whom you are joined in spirit

Come and find this quiet centre

Allow yourself to connect to God without

And your God within

All are welcome here

As we praise this day

With joy, gladness and holding in hospitality the stories and sadness of others.

Welcome to this quiet centre.



The title of this service is ‘Your own personal God’.

We’ve been wrestling particularly with the question of the Macro and the Micro God recently.

How we reconcile praying for things that concern our personal lives, our own personal longings, desires, fears, suffering, with praying for a world, the concerns of which often seem so much bigger that anything that’s going on for us personally.

How can we pray to the Macro God – the God of the world, and to the Micro God, the God of our own hearts, and both these prayers be ok?

This is the subject we will be trying to address today.

HYMN: P.22 Come Strong God – Mark play – Karl introduce

Mark Reading – Your own personal God

How dare I ask for anything

When there’s so much going in the world?

How dare I presume?

Selfish little creep,

To come to God with my little worries,

When there are so many millions dying over here,

So many billions suffering over there,

How are my wants, my suffering

Of any consequence on God’s gargantuan to-do list?

Me, a snivelling, creeping thing.

Why should I even bother to ask?

So I sit,

Slowly numbing,

A radioactive rock,

Emitting pulses of dull suffering light,

Diffuse and murky.

Until my own personal God steps in.

Yes, my own personal God!

Not the God who’s concerned with the suffering of all beings on this planet,

But a God that’s only mine.

Who I can whinge to
And creep to

And complain

And lament

And want… and want… and want….

And it’s ok,

Because you’ve got your own personal God too,

And you, and you and you,

We all do!

Every person, every creature

Can at any time call on

Their own personal God,

And they are there,

To hold your inner child

And say ‘there there’,

When you’ve been ignoring it all day,

Cursing it and telling it to ‘grow up’

Your own personal God can come along

And just hold you

Just be with you,

Rock you gently to sleep.

Watch over you through the night.

Or they can lift your thoughts

Out of the quagmire.

They can raise you up

Out of envy and bitterness

Fear and anxiety,

Need and longing,

To the higher plane of abundance,

Where there is enough for all,

And where our earthly measurements

Are but a harmless joke.

And what’s more

Your own personal God

Can communicate with the personal gods of others:

You want to get a message to your friend,

To the one you love,

You just send your personal God as an envoy,

They’ll make sure your love gets to them,

Because you see there is network,

A divine network of our personal Gods

Of our avatars, our spirit animals, our guardian angels,

Call them what you will,

They are the shadow of our every breath,

Our selves at our full height,

They are the hand the reaches down

And pulls us up up up

To our rightful place,

The place of divine trust and communion,

Which is our inheritance….

Reading: I am your God, Karl

I am your God

I am here in the small hours and thin places

I’m at the stone circle, the stile, the crossing gate

I’m your God with you, by you, in front of you and a few steps behind.

I’m your God

Consoling your questions, fears, your next step on this path.

I’m the echo of your footsteps,

I’m the light at the break of day,

The dark at the fall of dusk,

I’m in the wind in autumn,

Blowing the old season’s leaves to dust the ground,

I’m the new birth of spring,

I’m your God,

I’m in the crisp of the winter,

The warm of the summer,

I’m your God,

I hear the fading when you’re so tired

And in your sentences you speak,

I’m your God,

I’m with you when you give compassion, sympathy, empathy, understanding, listening,

I’m in your sharing, knowing, sleeping, and seeing.

I’m your God,

I’m the slight wind that blows across the sand

I’m the waves at sea,

I am the other place,

Most of all, I’m your God

I’m the one that takes over when you’re tired and can help no more,

I’m your God, your God,

I’m your God.

Candles of Joy and Concern – Mark introduce, Karl light

HYMN P.184 ‘We are here in stillness’ - M Play

Mark Address

I’d like to begin my address with a quote from the 1997 novel ‘The God of small things’ by Indian author Arundhati Roy.

“He didn’t know that in some places, like the country that Rahel came from, various kinds of despair competed for primacy. And that personal despair could never be desperate enough. That something happened when personal turmoil dropped by at the wayside shrine of the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane, unfeasible, public turmoil of a nation. That Big God howled like a hot wind, and demanded obeisance. Then Small God (cozy and contained, private and limited) came away cauterized, laughing numbly at his own temerity. Inured by the confirmation of his own inconsequence, he became resilient and truly indifferent. Nothing mattered much. Nothing much mattered. And the less it mattered, the less it mattered. It was never important enough. Because Worse Things had happened. In the country that she came from, poised forever between the terror of war and the horror of peace, Worse Things kept happening.

So Small God laughed a hollow laugh, and skipped away cheerfully. Like a rich boy in shorts. He whistled, kicked stones. The source of his brittle elation was the relative smallness of his misfortune. He climbed into people’s eyes and became an exasperating expression.”

The start of my reading earlier began with the words ‘How dare I ask for anything when there’s so much going in the world?’

And I find that sentiment reflected here is this excerpt from ‘The God of small things’.

How can I presume to pray for the life of my inner world, when the outer world is so chaotic?

What is my trauma, my suffering, my hopes and delights to the trauma and suffering of the great history and present of the world, to the dashed aspirations and longings of so many beings?

How do we reconcile the micro to the macro, the ‘small God’ to the ‘big God’, the personal triumphs and losses to those of the collective? Surely the personal pales into insignificance, in the shadow the great story of all?

Is this an invention of modern or Western society, or do we all live in the isolated silos of our minds?

What have we to say to personal ambition, personal betterment, personal responsibility?

The excerpt from the novel says the ‘relative smallness of our misfortunes is a source of but brittle elation’.

In other words, the existence of the sufferings and delights of the macro is actually scant consolation to the affairs of the micro.

We live our lives in constant tension and negotiation between the concerns of the Big God and the Small God. When we turn on the news, we are suddenly humbled in our grumblings and murmurings. We reprimand ourselves for having dared to grumble and murmur at all, when bombarded with the evidence that so many people in so many places have it so much worse than we do.

Guilt might set in, or a numbing, or compassion fatigue, or even closed-mindedness, apathy and indifference. Because the grumbling and the murmuring return. And the excitement and anticipation too. Sometimes it feels as if the entire existence of the world rests upon whether I get to see that person again. Often I’m much more ready to go to war over a perceived slight from a colleague at work, than over human rights atrocities in some other part of the world.

If I could only get as exercised about fighting the iniquities in society as I get about righting the iniquities in my family.

No, the Small God will have his share of prayers too.

Greedy as he is, being born of my own manifestation.

Sometimes he seems more a devil than a God.

Sometimes I ask myself, who’s helping who here, who’s training who?

Because we need the God of small things, the personal God, if we don’t want to allow our personal pain and hope to die within us, to get stuck, to congeal and fester.

We need to be able to turn to our personal God and say, ‘Big God’s got enough on her plate at the moment. I can’t go to her with this. I just need to you to listen to me whinge about my small problems for a little while’.

And if we’ve trained our small God well, he will tell us that it’s all ok, that all will be well, and that all will be well, and that all manner of things will be well.

Small God might say to us, ‘well no wonder you’re all tied up in a knots, all fraying rubber bands and tattered string; you’ve been ignoring your inner child all day! You’ve been trying to talk to yourself like a grown-up, but the inner child doesn’t understand grown-up language: ‘Throw as much grown-up language as you like at me, I’m just going to cry even louder’, your inner-child is saying.

And if at that point you can allow your small personal God to hold you, to soothe you, there might just be a release, maybe only temporarily, from the bondage of your tense and frozen murmuring. You might just be able to melt a moment into your small God’s arms, and allow a greater expansiveness within yourself.

It feels selfish and wrong to ask the Big God for help. It doesn’t feel selfish to ask for help from the small God. They are your own personal God; you are their only concern. You might not be about to go to war in Afghanistan; you might be just about to have a slightly tricky conversation with your boss at work. But you can still ask your personal God for courage in that moment. And your personal God will freely acknowledge that for you, right now, you might be in need of a boost of courage as big as you’ve ever needed.

And it’s in this way that we move from the micro to the macro. We move from the isolated, separated silos of our brains, into the interdependent web of all existence. Because we begin to learn that the Big God, the macro God, is only made up of the collective imagination of all our personal Gods put together.

We begin to see that the small God is not limited to the confines our our individual minds, but that our personal Gods can actually talk to each other; my God to your God to your God. That through a divine network, we can actually get a message to the one we love before the world ends. And that a collective heave begins with the shared intention of every atom, of every fibre within the greater being.

So if Big God is just made up of the sum of all our Small Gods. If we’re all just the same and we’re all a part of the whole, why do I continue to take life so personally?

We’ve heard this story I’m about to read in services read by both John and Lindy over the years. And each time I’ve heard it, I’ve struggled with it. But I feel it illustrates well the Big God, Small God, Not at All God question that we’re grappling with:

‘Let’s Wait and See’ told in ‘The Shortest Distance’, p.18. Bill Darlison – Karl read

Would you rather that things did or didn’t happen for a reason?

The dictum that everything does happen for a reason can seem at once so reassuring and yet so heartless. Does that include the natural disasters, the human atrocities, mortifying diseases?

I heard on the radio last week this piece of advice:

‘Everything that happens to you happens for you’.

‘Everything that happens to you happens for you’.

In other words, we cannot control the things that happen to us, but we can control how we use the things happen to us to grow and evolve as human beings, and investigate more deeply the intricacies of what it means to be alive on this planet.

‘Everything that happens to you happens for you’.

So when we think about synchronicity, when we think about sacred coincidence, when we think about the personal God advocating, interceding in the divine order on our behalf, the personal God is not the one who is tweaking the order of unfolding events in the universe, but rather the personal God is the one who takes the events that happen, and finds a way to use them for you highest purpose.

Your personal God is the one who joins the dots between the things that happen, the one who learns to turn suffering into empathy and compassion, and the one who turns ignorance into understanding, and fear into love.

‘Do not be afraid of, or discount sacred coincidences’ says your personal God. ‘They are the force by which the big God moves. When something joyous falls into your lap, praise it. When something is ripped asunder, lament it. It’s okay to do so’. The Gods of each of us are waiting for our signal, to rise up in communion and bring justice to this world.

When we remember that the child in the Indian slum has the same hopes and desires, fears and prejudices as we do; that their small God is just as big as ours, then we begin to recognise our common humanity. When we remember that the day before the bomb fell, a mother in Hiroshima was shopping in the local market just as you might have being doing last week, balancing her budget, worrying about if her son would get married, about the health of her elderly mother.

We are allowed to celebrate and lament the rises and falls of our lives. And there is still space to pray to the big God for all our small God power to rise up in kindness and help through our hands, our hearts, our voices.


HYMN P.148 ‘Spirit of Life’, K play



As we heard in the story earlier, it is often impossible to know if any thing that ever happens is really a blessing or a curse.


In these prayers of lament and thanksgiving, we hold in tension the not-knowing, and the paradox of both those things being true.

We lament this Corona virus, that has brought suffering and loss to so many, in terms of life, liberty and livelihood.

We give thanks for this Corona virus, which has give us a chance to take a step back, to pause and to allow our earth to breathe.


We lament the passing of time, which brings my joyous, peaceful moments to an end,

We give thanks for the passing of time, which brings my suffering and discomfort to an end.


We lament death, which takes away my loved ones, looms constantly on the horizon of my life and lurks menacingly in the tread of my every step,

We give thanks for death, which frees us from the prospect of eternal numbing sameness and endless shrivelling decay.


We lament fear, which stops me from pursuing adventure, taking chances and risks, from inhabiting the present moment

We give thanks for fear, which teaches us to value life more, and helps us to treasure the fragile vulnerability in ourselves and others


We lament the dark, which takes away my vision, shrouds and swallows up my certainty,

We give thanks for the dark, which nurtures regrowth in germination and without which we could not see the stars


We lament money, which breeds avarice and greed, in-fighting and war, materialism and waste

We give thanks for money, which facilitates trade and invention, ingenuity and striving, and allows us to signify worth and value.


We lament love, which rips through our hearts and makes us feel wretched, discombobulated and desperate

We give thanks for love, which is really just God, knocking at the door of our hearts, but sometimes with a mild to moderate concussion…


Karl Address:

How are you with the word God?

Is it a big image or something that is difficult to even imagine?

Is there something in the spirit beyond us that is there, furnishing our innate need, want, venture and longing to seek?

Is it part of what forms the spiritual route and compass we follow?

Is it plausible?

And let’s think for a few seconds that it might be: that there is in you or me, our own God.

I’d like to know if there is, what that God is doing with me.

Why is that God interested in me?

I, like you, am on a life long journey of discovery and discernment.

There are things we have found and things we are going to continue finding: the many new things to seek have yet to show themselves.

We can even revisit the things we found before - the same things are there, it is only the light that changes in how we see them.

Somewhere in all of our minds, I’d like to suggest there is a small window that allows grace to shine through, and perhaps there are times we need to stand in another place, to stop and think a while.

Let’s take a little thinking journey for the next few moments.

You may be at this moment in your mind looking over the hillside, meadow, over the sea, or on a mountain.

Wherever you are in this moment, you might look back at where you are with your God, look back to when you were a child; what was the image of your God then, beyond your thinking?

This is where maybe your God has changed.

Maybe this God of yours was there all the time.

If you’re on the mountain now, is something called God blowing past you in the breeze, or moving the grass of the meadow, maybe stirring the dry sand on the shore’s edge looking out to sea.

Could it be in the hillside in a wild flower, just waiting to be noticed?

There are many places to find God.

Now then, I’ve already said the word ‘God’ in this address.

God knows how many times in this life I’ll say it again or today.

In the present moment, we witness together.

What I haven’t done on purpose is used a pro-noun, nor shall I, as none of can prove the gender.

What I feel, is there is a being beyond me; there is a light that allows me to see a little further, and a little way past the beyond.

And having said that, you might want to think of this personal God as a spirit guide, magical being, cheering voice of assurance, or any number of many things it can be called.

It cannot be something that allows one to say, ‘I’m going to have all the answers because I believe in this, I am invincible, I can achieve anything because I have God’.

Rather, this is the small voice waiting to hear the right question, waiting to know if you know what you are looking for; at least I suggest that as a possible or plausible insight.

I’d like to explore the moments when we are all only too capable of being unholy, the unholy moments are the those perhaps when we lose sight of all that is logical, reasonable, tangible.

Even in the unholy moments are we truly as the image of the cast created or modelled by our God?

My hope is that we are, because I would like to suggest that at these moments our holy being hasn’t left us, but they are there a few steps behind, ready to just pass us and catch us if we fall, or to still be ready as the still small voice that says ‘wait, I’m here holding you, I’m walking with you, I’m the one who knows all you say, think and do; the one who knows your coming and going; I am the one from whom no secret can be hidden. I hear your inner debates, the anger in your fires of despair. If I’m to still be your God within, or the one who all can believe in; allow me to furnish your ways with the reasons we journey and be not only the human image of your self, but the holy image of your self”.

Here are some questions to ponder:

Do you feel your own way to God?

Where is he or she for you?

What echoes in the church within yourself?

What is the open door to you?

Is the hospitality of a holy being welcoming you?

Can you feel the hands that hold with you?

We look into ourselves. At times we may do that if the answer we are looking for isn’t outside us.

There are many ways in which the true spirit and sacred presence lives with us. As we look to rejoin each other when time allows, may we all be the true image of what some call God.

May we conduct all our ways in the truest of faith, as we also hold those of many other faiths and beliefs in places far past our knowing.

I hope we will have the strength and courage to build any number of holy bridges. Allow us the grace to welcome all who enter the chapel doors to the chalice flame we share with the many who are seeking.

May we be the exception and example that says ‘come, come, whoever you are. Your sacred place and faith is welcome here with mine, and allow us to find the answers together’.

May we share all that are our given riches with others. As we may give our little today, for someone else's plenty tomorrow.

May it be so. Amen.

HYMN: Bring Many Names, Purple 14 – Karl play, Mark sing

Closing Blessing

Mark: May you be led into the shelter of your own personal God,

Karl: May they be a friend to you at your side

To lift you up to moments of greatness when you fear

And to hold and comfort you when you fall,

Mark: And may they give you the strength, courage and confidence

To venture out into this world and help to alleviate suffering and make it a better place where you can.

Karl: We are God’s hands, heart, voice and mind.

Mark: So may it be,

Both: Amen.