Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Preaching Paradox and the Paradox of Preaching

Dangling questions can be more powerful than trite answers.

I have always struggled to understand God and faith and how they relate to everyday life. As a child, I remember sitting confused on a shrunken brown wooden chair, staring intently at the polished parquet floor my feet couldn't quite reach. My young, smiling Sunday school teacher never let on that she was fed up with my regular interruptions to her well-intentioned storytelling. “Who made God, miss? Is God bigger than the universe, miss? Why did God tell Abraham to kill his son? Will he tell me to hit my sister? If I do hit my sister, then isn’t God responsible, because he is in charge of the universe? Why?”

My Sunday school teacher always had an answer that, I see in hindsight, wasn't really an answer. "If we could understand God, then we would be God." Or, "God works in mysterious ways." Or, as a last resort, "Don’t be awkward—get on with your coloring.”

Years later, as a pastor, I sat in a hospital ward and once again stared at the floor, this time sanitised and off-white. I could not bring myself to look directly at the mother kneeling by the bedside, thick black lines of makeup smearing down her face. The one-year-old beside her had been babbling and bubbly just a few days earlier—gorgeously boyish. Now he was blind, crying incessantly, his body rigid. It was supposed to be a routine operation; now his screams expressed how we were all feeling. His piercing cries made audible the pain of the tragedy, the panic for the future, and the ever-present question, “Why?” Read More

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