Friday, April 22, 2011

Give up the Comprehensible God

I've been attending services this week at St. Luke's Orthodox Church, and to be honest, it's a bit overwhelming at times. Everything means something. From the architecture and furnishings of the sanctuary, to the order of the readings, to the colors, and the smells, and the songs, everything is a picture of God's grace. Very rarely, there is a small blip in the flow of the service, and this always provides great comfort to me. Just when I'm feeling that I could never understand or even remember everything that's a part of the worship, there's an unplanned silence or someone starts over with a reading and I relax and am reminded that I don't have to learn everything at once. I'm also most grateful for the kind instructions and information that the other worshippers offer without any pressure or expectations. Exploring Orthodoxy has broadened my faith experience, and led me to a greater awe of God. Frederica Mathewes-Green points out that every statement we make about God is an analogy to something fleeting and earthly, and thus a mere shadow of the truth. She says, "We must give up the comprehensible God, the one lit by matchsticks of feeble human understanding." The services of Holy Week have served to remind me of the vast mystery of the love of God.

If I may jump from the sublime to the ridiculous, my daughter made a mix tape for me that contains a Regina Spektor song with lyrics that describe the bizarre ideas that humans have stuck on God. It points out the oddity of when the crazies say He hates us and they get so red in the head you think they're 'bout to choke and that while no one laughs at God when in they're in trouble:

God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious.

We've certainly tagged God with some ludicrous characteristics, but even our best and loftiest ideas are grossly inadequate for the God who knows and loves us.

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