This Sunday (2011-09-11) we will worship in the shadow of the tenth anniversary of a great national tragedy. This original tragedy has been subsequently dwarfed by even grater and still ongoing suffering which our political and military leaders chose to inflict on countless and diverse groups of people around the world.
Our Worship Committee, with our new interim music team, prepared a deeply meaningful service of worship and reflection with the creative and beautiful use of music.
As a basis for my meditation this Sunday I selected an unusual reading - a little known (unfortunately) agraphon from Fatehpur Sikri. “Agraphon” is a name for a word (a saying) of Jesus not recorded in the four biblical gospels. I chose this particular saying because this agraphon itself, its form, its existence, its multi-religious and multi-cultural background, powerfully embodies the hope for our world. Its message has the power to deepen our spiritual lives and understanding, uplifting what is truly and ultimately important.
And if you have read this far, here is some theological teasing provoked by my most recent readings (John Caputo: The Weakness of God)
Almost all human religious thinking and religious expectations presume and sometime postulate God as omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. So how come, how is it possible, that the world is so full of unjust suffering and tragedies?
Now what if this theodicy quandary is all wrong? What if these divine attributes are just delusions of our natural human religiosity, even worse, idolatry, the production of idols? What if God is personal but not a person at all? What if biblical testimony has been true all along? I mean that famous self-revelation EHYE ASHER EHYE - "I am who I am." What if Martin Buber had good inkling by presuming God to be embodied in a grammatical category of the essential pronoun? What if we need to take it even further?
What if God is not “embodied in a noun or pronoun” but is “an un-embodied active verb”? What if the best way of speaking and thinking about God is not in characteristics and descriptive adjectives, but in aspects, tenses and adverbs? What if Jesus spoke in parables (stories) to capture exactly this active, dynamic, verbal, happening, becoming and encountering the nature of God?
What if God is not embodied in top-down power structures of rulers, priests, armies, and institutions? What if God is present and active in a much more elemental and essential manner? By the very virtue of being a verb, the grammatical principle of change, what if God is undermining all the powers of the status quo in the most essential manner? What if God is the persistent presence of this unembodied, weak, yet persistent potential for encounter, change and love?
What if God is a verb opposing fanaticism, militarism, nationalism and narrow-mindedness in any form? What if God is a verb of longing for peace and forgiveness? What if God is a verb of companionship and sympathy of the downtrodden and suffering? What if God is an event of journeying with the lonely and the abandoned? What if God is a verb of sublime pro-existence (who exists for others)? How is this divine verb changing the verbs of our world and of our own living?