Tragedy causes us to be searching for answers. Often we reach for easy answers. Often we are given complicated answers, which do not address our fundamental fears. Well meaning people give us bumper sticker sayings that often salt wounds further. People care.
I’ve written about the dangers of bad theology here. Today I just want to openly wrestle with my own theology in light of the bombings in Boston. I grew up outside of Boston in the early 70’s. I have nothing but wonderful memories of the city and the people. Hearing about all the heroes on Monday reminded me about God. So here it goes and I hope you are tracking with me on this one!
God is a marathon runner.
God runs the race moving toward a goal of a new heavens and a new earth. God invites us to be marathon runners alongside and encourages us toward the finish line. It is exhausting as we near the goal. We are at our limits. But God is the one who pushes through the exhaustion and carries us past the blast that knocks us to our knees right in front of the finish line. God picks us up and takes us to the medic tent. Then God goes back and gets another, and another, never failing in spite of exhaustion. God never fails. God stays at work until every last person receives care. God is not only near God is engaged. What power carries God on and on and on? Only one power overcomes all limits and that is the power of Love.
God is a crowd member cheering us on.
God is not only in the race with us but God is also at each mile handing us a cup of cool water. God is waving a sign that says “Go on! You can do it!” God is screaming our name and clapping and jumping up and down and saying, “I’m so proud of you!” God is waiting for hours just to get a glimpse of us and encourage us. God loves us just that much. No matter how fast we are or how slow, God waits for us. And, God waits for the person running alongside us. God cheers them on with equal vigor: a person we don’t know; a person we do know; a person who hold opinions we disagree with; a person who has done terrible things to some; a person who has done great things for many. God cheers all of us on, equally. And what keeps God waiting? What keeps God cheering? What emboldens God to cheer all equally? Only one power creates such energy and focus and that is the power of Love.
God is a child, fatally wounded, falling to the ground.
My heart absolutely breaks when any Image of God is extinguished. Something about children dying in senseless violence rips my soul and body in a very physical yet spiritual way. Yet God overcomes death. Even death due to a terror bomb loaded with nails and BB’s and hate. God says death is never the victor. God rises above it very literally. We all live in fear of death: our own death or the death of a loved one. Recently friends of mine lost their 21 year old son to death (he was a friend of my own son and born only 6 weeks earlier). I can never get my heart wrapped around these things. Honestly I don’t even know how to try. But God says, “I’ve got this!” God survives the attempted destruction of the Image. And what power could possibly defeat death, even the senseless death of a child? Say it with me: the power of Love.
So, next time you have a discussion with your Youth, and if somebody asks “Where is God?” maybe you can have some new places to point to out of your own context. When we talk theology with Youth it matters! It absolutely matters! Please, do it more often.
Let me know how that is working for you.
Peace and Grace,
Charles W. Harrison