April 8, 1966, Time magazine published their weekly edition without a person on the cover for the first time. The theological idea expressed was not new, but Time decided they needed to report on the controversial concept. Hegel is credited with first using the term in 1802, but the full development of the Death of God philosophy arrived in the 1960’s.
I will make no attempt to explain or defend the notion. Instead, I stand with the author of Hebrews, For the word of God is living and active. NIV 1988 version
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, both launched in 1977, have left our solar system and are still sending data to Earth about what they are finding. Pioneer 10, launched in 1972, was the first to reach interstellar space, and Pioneer 11, launched a year later, may also be there, but we have lost all contact with both. New Horizons, launched in 2006, has already flown past Pluto and is quickly catching up to the aging Voyagers.
What we know from those and many other space flights is that we should not expect to be sitting on a cloud playing a harp. We cannot see the theological Heaven and we do not know where it is or what it will look like. What we do know is that God runs the universe from there. The New Earth and the New Jerusalem are there waiting for our arrival.
Meanwhile, here on this crumbling planet we call home, how are we to survive until our escort arrives to deliver us to our new homes? Can we get through Monday and still be faithful to the Word of God? Can we even know that Word?
With Job we often say, Today too my complaint is bitter; my hand is weighed down because of my groaning. I wish I knew where I could find him; then I would go to where he is. CJB Job had much to complain about; he was treated unfairly. That is one of our lessons from Job, we will often be treated unfairly.
But the lesson today is that Job, in his bitterness, still seeks God. He stayed close to God in the best of times and he tried to stay close when all went bad, even as it seemed God was not paying attention.
The Hebrews reading tells us, For the Word that God speaks is alive and active; it cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword: it strikes through to the place where soul and spirit meet, to the innermost intimacies of a man’s being: it exposes the very thoughts and motives of a man’s heart. Phillips
Where soul and spirit meet. God speaks to us through that thin membrane. His Spirit murmurs and tickles our soul. It is a mere whisper that is easy to ignore or even miss entirely.
It is little wonder that many people say God does not exist while others conclude He is dead. Why does He not shout at us or write on the wall? If He loves us, why does He allow so much evil to happen to us?
Because He gave us the freedom to live our own lives, to ignore His voice if and when we choose. God gave us our inheritance and allowed us to go into the far place to make our way among the pigs. He continues to watch for our return, but He does not chase us.
Jesus, in today’s reading, makes it clear that if we rely on our own efforts to reach God, we will fail. Only by listening to that still small voice can we hope to know God. Only by following the example of the living presence of God, Jesus, can we expect to live through Monday, and every Monday, in the way that God wants us to live. Like Job, we must seek God even when we cannot sense His presence. He is always at that thin membrane whispering to us, but we too often listen only to our own ideas.
Be righteous and do good.