Tuesday, January 6, 2009

experiencing God, 3


to continue our thoughts on hearing God’s voice, i want to call on walter brueggemann again to let us know just what is at stake if we come to see the recognized authoritative scriptures, practices and people as the voice of God, or what william abraham calls canonical theism, and what brueggemann calls "utterance and gesture." that is, those things that have come out of the well-spring of the church's history.

brueggemann’s statement from his, Theology of the Old Testament (p.575) is poignant and powerful, and deepens the meaning of the word of God mediated, or the idea of canonical theism, to a most frightening moment.

brueggemann writes:
"...Yahweh, as known, trusted, obeyed and feared in Israel, is there in Israel only because of the sustained mediations that incessantly focus on Yahweh's oddity. Without these sustained mediations, Yahweh, who is so odd and irascible, so wondrous and awesome, would disappear from the life of Israel and from the life of the world...The reality of Yahweh depends upon the compelling case made regularly by the witnesses. And the witness make their case in utterance and gestures of mediation." (which brueggemann footnotes that for us this is "Word and Sacrament")

from this we could say that in the practice of word and sacrament we discover ourselves related to God. or we could say that in the utterance and gestures of mediation we hear the voice of God. of course, we could also say that to cease practicing the canonical theism of the church opens to us the possibility of losing the voice of God as well.

could the voice of God disappear? could the voice of God be lost? and could it be that christian communities have so move from utterance and gesture (in belief if not in practice) that God is silent? and could it be that all the scurried calls of, “i hear God’s voice,” or God said thus and so to me,” are little more than what the old timers called whistling pass the grave yard?

you will remember the ezekiel experience as he watches the presence of God leave the holy of holies, then the holy place, then the temple and then the city. don’t you wonder what the high priest thought when after that departure it was time for him to again enter the holy of holies. and what did he discover but an empty chamber where the ark lay dark and empty?