Wednesday, 18 March 2020

"2020: The Year that God forgot"

On ABC news on Monday night, the 16th of March, the reporter finished his report with the phrase “2020: The Year that God Forgot!”  It is always unusual to find God making the press these days and it seems often only to be when we believe God might be somehow to blame for something.  The inference in the reporter’s comment is underpinned by an idea that God is generally in control and micromanaging everything that is occurring.  This reminds me of the conundrum that Nick Cave sung about in his song, “I don't believe in an interventionist God, but I know, darling, that you do.” 

Within the Christians faith there have been long standing questions about the concept of divine and human agency.  How much control does God have over the world and how much freedom do we have?  These questions of freedom and determinism have not disappeared with the growth of preferences for many in our community to reject faith in God.  Determinism is still an issue for us as we consider issues of cause and effect in areas such as neuroscience, economic modelling, physics, climate change, and health.  Whether we reject God completely, or blame God, we are still confronted by questions around how much control any of us have over our own lives.

Yet, believing in God is not necessarily wondering about how much control we do or don’t have in our predicament.  Rather it involves leaning in on God for courage and hope as we face the mysteries of life and the of the unknown.  The promise of the Christian story is that God remembers.  In fact, the majority of the Old Testament follows a pattern of humans forgetting God and God’s ways, and thus turning away, whilst God constantly remembers.  God shows mercy, forgiveness, and healing, and draws people close again. 

The rhythm and pattern of Christian worship is grounded in remembering God as God has remembered us, especially in sharing the bread and wine of communion.  The technical jargon often used to describe the act of remembering is anamnesis which is kind of the opposite of amnesia.  Tapping into our communal memory, that God is with us and that God is for us not against us, especially when the chips are down can serve to strengthen us and give us hope.  In the presence and power of the Holy Spirit remembering God, anamnesis, can transform us as we face the unknown.

For so many people it may feel as if God has forgotten us, but our faith draws us beyond our individual and momentary existence, and into the mystery of the eternal story and promise God’s love.  It is a promise of love that is unending and as each new day dawns we can be reminded that God’s mercies are new every morning.  Regardless of how bleak the world may seem God is with us the light of Christ "shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." (John 1:1-3)

“God remembers the covenant forever, the promises God had made, for a thousand generations.”
(Psalm 105:8)


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