The hidden image of God crucified.

This article is a response to the meditation found on the front page of A few years ago I came across the term "keek a boo" theology. It is all about understanding the hidden yet revealed nature of God. We have all played the game "hide and seek", "keek a boo" theology highlights one aspect of this encounter. We have all seen a father or a mother hide behind a curtain the quickly appear, hide, then appear. the child keeps looking in anticipation. For many an encounter with God is explained in such a fashion. God seems to hide himself then reappear remove himself from our lives then re-appear. So you have the idea of the God who engages and amuses us by his presence to draw attention to himself. To build a relationship. A game like this allows a child to feel what it is like without mum or dad, but then is re-assured by the return of the parent figure. There is another aspect of this game that seems to be initiated this time by the child. The child hides behind a chair and Mum pretends she can't find the lost child. Here is an enacting out of the idea that one day we will grow up and move away from a parent, we may break ties, think differently, but we will always expect a parent to find us to be with us, never to give tip on us. The analogy also holds for the spiritual. We go hiding from God, and we long for him to find us. Like Adam in the garden, in the book of Genesis, we know we are hiding and God knows he will find us. There is however a more serious and darker side attached to all this, could we be lost for ever? What would happen if we were not found? Could God abandon us? In our attempt to make our own way in the world, have we lost our direction in the world? Could we in our attempt to hide from God be in effect the authors of our own demise? Stop for a moment and think about that time you felt lost completely lost as a child. Think of the utter panic, with no place to go, and no one to know and no one to know you. How do you feel standing in a strange landscape in an unfamiliar terrane? The hidden presence of God in the dereliction of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary strikes a chord with those who feel abandoned by God, those who can't see God's presence anywhere. In that second or moment of abandonment, we realise the presence we once knew and we long for again, but it his lost, disipated. If you listen closely to some people who once believed you can read a wistfulness in their voice. How then do we live through these times of honest questioning and doubt? I have come to live through these moments by dying to self and living for Christ. In other words through service. Sometimes it is the shear routine of service that pulls us through and then at the least expected moment we see the face of God, in a touch, in a note of music, in a word of scripture that breathes new hope into our hearts. Now what goes for people goes for the community of the church. Congregations can feel abandoned, lost, without a future, even a denomination can encounter this dereliction. It is in weakness that we find strength. Where the church understands her weakness – she moves on in strength. The cross attracts and repulses us – surely we think there can be no beauty here ? Yet we cannot take our eyes away incase we might encounter the hidden God. Like children we look wistfully will dad's face reappear? Luther unpacks this idea of the "Hidden God" on the cross. He says the God who is crucified is hidden in his revelation. Alister McGrath commenting on Luther's views says, "Any attempt to seek God else where than in the cross of `Christ is to be rejected out of hand as idle speculation." Luther argues that the crucified Jesus is a riddle to be pondered upon. He quotes Isaiah 45.15 " Truly yo are a hidden God" And what of us, what games do we play? The prophet, Isaiah talks of "the despised and rejected one ". Are we the ones "hiding our faces" because we do not want to look on the cruelty of the cross? Those who want to re-image the cross and re-imagine its meaning and context, need to be careful that they too are not hiding from their own fear, their own image, and its consequences. One thing I'm sure of, the cross is like a diamond it has many sides to it. We cannot ever plum the depth of its meaning. Let us all stand in humility and gaze and gaze upon the riddle. The truth is we cannot know God through the inquiry of our mind alone, Christians believe the greatest mystery is the cross. God reveals himself as we keep gazing and reflecting on the many facets of the cross. On thing I'm sure of the theology of the Cross is a message of hope for those who despair. It has something to say to thus who feel dis-ease in the present context of a changing culture. I'm suggesting that the cross of Christ will never be exhausted even by the most sophistocated of intelligence. So how then should we who believe and gaze upon the cross live? Paul suggests we don't live, but rather that we die to self and live to Christ. (Galations 2.20) We become people who serve our communities. Service is the road to godly obedience. For many today the church is on the wane and there is a sense of fear and foreboding as people consider the impact of what some people are calling a "Kiaros Moment". The Western world, with its faith in secular liberalism faces a number of alarming scenarios. The first is nuclear weapons falling into the hands of a rogue state, then the banking crisis has challenged to the fundamentals of democratic capitalism. In addition to this the rise of radicalised Islam and strident atheism all add to the confusion of the place that religion should have in public affairs. Add to this the ever re-occurring defining of sexual ethics and you have a interdependent world culture in the state of flux. This uncertainty adds to the angst of many who are living through unemployment or the threat of job loss. The shear fear and weight of these issues drive many to despair. The meaning and significance of the cross for some seems misplaced. I want to suggest in this article that it is in the cross we can find hope for the world. Many feel the church is in retreat and surrendering to the powers of liberalised thinking. They also argue the more the institution of the church despairs the greater temptation is to centralise. There is a longing that church leaders should do something. Yet perhaps we need to listen to the words of `Luther. " It is not we who can SUSTAIN THE CHURCH, nor was it those who came before us, nor will it be those who came after us. It as and is and will always be the one who says , " I am with you always even unto the end of the age. It is He who sustains the church. Remember the words in Hebrews " Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever more!" The Church was sustained yesterday when we were not around. It is sustained today by the same Lord. In our weakness we come and cry:- Hidden God Yet always seeking Draw near and strengthen your Church Reveal in our conversations this day your love Seek out that which we hide, and hide from And fan into flame that which has turned to ashes Hidden God Revealed in bread and wine and water Nourish your Church We are thirsty We feel we are in a desert place And the storms ahead chills the air Feed our hearts and souls again Hidden God Yahweh - In the chill of our doubt Cover us with your blanket Comfort us with your presence Reveal yourself in our hearts and in our discussions Rekindle a holy flame Let the bush burn again Oh breath of God Let it freely burn Until what we talk of speaks of your Purity Honesty And love Turn To ashes all that speaks of ourselves And clothe us in your humility Let Holy Charity be our outward clothing And lowliness become that which we wear inside True lowliness of heart Which takes the humbler part And o'er its own short comings weeps with loathing Father Son and Holy Spirit Let or unity and communion be with You Let this be the longing that burns in all of us Let it surpass the power of human language And when we cannot speak its meaning Let its face be seen through grace Let Grace become the space Wherein the Holy Spirit Dwells among us
Leave a reply