The Unbelievable God
Season after Pentecost 2020
From the beginning of the Christian community’s early formation as a peculiar people of God, the call of Jesus to his followers has been “to be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). What does this mean for us today? At Pentecost, the promise of Christ’s enduring presence is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh, thereby equipping the Church to be more than just another special interest group of like-minded individuals—and to do more than it could ever do on its own.
God of grace and God of glory, on thy people pour thy power;
Crown thine ancient church’s story; bring her bud to glorious flower…
This prophetic claim still echoes across the church of today; but is it still believe-able? In a world that toils with foreboding sickness and perpetual injustice, the news of redemption through death and resurrection may sound cruel, at worst, and at best, highly unusual. Even more so, the notion of actual reconciliation by way of genuine repentance and forgiveness sounds like a far-fetched dream. Is it wishful thinking? Or is it still the gospel Truth?
The psalmist tells us that the Creator God is still at work, and that the Lord will give us what we need in “due season” (104:27). The big idea is that the God who said “let there be light” in the beginning is the same God with a plan for our present darkness as well. Do we still believe that? Is this Word really enough for us in the living of these days? Or is it just another delusional, unbelievable fantasy?
In our summer reading of God’s Word to us and for us, we also face the absurdity of what God may ask of us along the way. As a church family, we are already living a bit ‘out of sorts, but let us consider another family by comparison. If you listen to the voice of mother Sarah in Genesis, the inclination is to laugh out loud. If you ask father Abraham to share his story, you will likely shudder with fear and frustration. If we consider the plight of Hagar, we might begin to identify with the heart of God for an oppressed people. These witnesses are not so sweet and simple. They too understood that not every tale of summer involves a beach or a pleasure cruise.
Somewhere between the Word and the world we are prone to exclaim:
What kind of a God would put people through all of this? Unbelievable.
And yet, even in those moments of pain and uncertainty, when the people of God are feeling torn in every direction, there are moments of subtle glory. Amidst the travail, there are glimpses of transcendence when the will of God is revealed with fresh insight. In this particular season of deep disorientation, we struggle to find words suitable for our witness. Lord only knows what might happen next!
Nevertheless, our response to the unbelievable God will make a difference. When I envision God’s preferred future for the community of Fairhope UMC, faith tells me that it will be unbelievable…absolutely…but in the best way possible!
In choosing to “love boldly,” we find our voice amidst the clamor of the crowd.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.
Grace to You,