Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where Is God?

I've debated whether to write anything today. (It's depressing to recall that I've had this same debate on previous occasions.) What to say in the face of senseless violence? What to say following yet another act reminding us that things we want to take for granted cannot be? What to say in the face of questions with no easy or good answers?

Twitter and Facebook were awash yesterday in "pray for Boston," prayers that continue today. It's hardly surprising that people of faith would seek comfort from that faith. But the appeal to faith raises its own uncomfortable, difficult questions that the cheesy faith platitudes sometimes offered don't do justice. One more reason I debate writing anything today.

Still I know that some will expect it. And then one of today's lectionary passages seemed to encourage it. The reading from 1st John opens this way. "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." Is this part of an answer to the question of where God was yesterday?

Yesterday many people posted a quote from Fred Rogers of PBS's Mr. Rogers fame. (He was an ordained Presbyterian pastor by the way.) In it he recalls times when he would see scary things in the news and his mother would say to him, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." Surely helping is a form of loving. Surely it is a way that God is experienced, is known, and is made known.

That does not answer the question of why God does not simply overpower evil and wipe it away. And Christians face that same question when we look at the cross and its "foolishness," as the Apostle Paul called it. Why does God confront the brokenness and terrors of this world with a cross? Why not a full frontal assault? And once again, cheesy platitudes about the cross and Jesus' "sacrifice" don't do such questions justice.

I don't have the best answers to why God acts as God does, but one thing seems clear. Despite our continued insistence that evil can be conquered and overcome by force, God meets evil with love. It makes no sense by our reckoning. But in the inscrutable ways of the divine,"God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength."

And according to today's epistle reading, we come to know this God when we love others. This is Mr. Rogers' "Look for the helpers," but it is more. It is a defiant act that says we will trust God's foolishness and weakness over the ways of power and violence. Even in the face of violence and evil that seem beyond comprehension, our response will be to help and to love. We will not let evil turn us from the promise and hope of love, for through love we were "born of God," and as we love, we draw near to and know God." And right now, I really need that.

Click to learn more about the lectionary.

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