Talking GOD: the Tony Jones Challenge

[Tony Jones recently challenged progressive theo-bloggers to talk about GOD. You can find the rules here and check out the follow-up post. The exercise has so far been fruitful for me, as I’ve written a couple of posts that will go up in the next few days about two aspects of GOD: GOD as the Great Storyteller and naming.]

This week, I was moved by the Exodus story. Particularly because manna from heaven came up in the lectionary two weeks in a row. But what compelled me was to explore this idea of the really big show of the exodus from Egypt with silence in the wilderness. It seems as if GOD wanted to prove something and see if that would be enough.

It is as if GOD steps on stage in front of thousands of followers chanting his name and says

Let me prove

a) how powerful I am,

b) how important you are to me,

c) how evil this Pharaoh is,

d) why you don’t want to stay here, and

e) why sticking with me is the way to go.

Then BAM! Blood, guts, parting seas!  In response to the shocking display of supreme power, of course the crowd goes absolutely nuts!

Then GOD drops the mic on the stage and walks off it.

The people look at each other dumbfounded. What the F? Seriously? Where’s He going? “He promised us liberation!” they cry. “But this wilderness seems like a prison. This isn’t better!}

In the midst of the wilderness, however, GOD keeps showing mercy on them, despite the continuous acts of distrust and rebellion. When they act like spoiled children, he gives in to them anyway. In fact, he seems like an enabling parent during the Three Grumblings. But they discover the one line they cannot cross: worshiping something/one other than YHWH.

What keeps coming back throughout the scriptures and our lives, if we have eyes to see it, is the level to which GOD will show mercy and will reach out to the children to bring them back in. Similarly, this is what is continuously preached by Jesus (most famously in the parable of the Lost Sons) and what I’ve observed as the work of reconciliation by the Holy Spirit. Even in my own life, the mercy and reconciling are the reason I’m a priest: both in getting ordained in the first place and continuing in ministry.

I’ve read some great posts so far, including responses by Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove, Adam Walker Cleveland, and Crystal S. Lewis; plus Tripp and Bo brought it on this week’s Theology Nerd Throwdown. My take, after all the stuff we need to speak as given is to keep it simple and say that GOD is merciful and gets jazzed when we show mercy to one another.

I’d like to hear from you. Don’t be bashful. Just talk about GOD. Who GOD is and what GOD is doing. Find your voice in the conversation. And don’t forget to check back for more GOD talk.


(NOTE: This post was updated to include links to later #progGOD posts)

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