The “festive impertinence to humanity” that was referred to yesterday comes from “Grammars of Creation” by George Steiner 2001. He is plowing through a marvelous exposition of God’s creativity and the fact that nature seems to be impervious to our understanding and ability to dissect. The “whys” of our life come when we try and figure out the impertinence, the raw insult, that somehow attacks us or leaves us puffing and huffing not only with pain but down right insult. A windstorm tore down my barn. How dare it and why? Some gene that I didn’t even know that I had has transformed into an enemy that wants to kill me. Me! How dare it and why? Then we go to God if we have any sensibility and we ask Him, why?
We were studying Job in Bible class and it kept getting sidetracked by ice storms and blizzards and ultimately, by Lent. I remember asking why? several times. Was God trying to keep us from studying the book? The book itself is frustratingly reliable in the why’s and irritatingly empty of answers. Commentators and critics are always left empty with God’s answer to Job from the whirlwind because, it is no answer they say. That has always been the cry of the truly desperate who get into a debate and ask a question and in frustration say “I see, you have no answer.” Well yes there was an answer, it just was not the answer that you wanted. God’s answer to Job’s question of “why” is “Creation”. It may not be enough for critics and commentators and for you, but if one can step back from our own hubris it is overwhelming and more than enough.
You may be wondering why? Why is this discussion taking place on this blog? It has to do with the other quote I had to look up. The “nefarious brew of presence and absence” come from Gerhard Forde, “Theology is for Proclamation” . The weight of Forde’s work is that Christ must be preached and the Gospel must be preached, because God not preached, just studied or contemplated will always be a confusing, nefarious brew of presence and absence. Not preached God will always seem to be a mean policemen staring over our shoulder or a frightening phantom, the hidden God who allows our barns to be blown down, or worse, commands them to be torn down, and then hides in the shadows of the trees at the end of the pasture and watches while we plow through the rubble.
For a preacher this is important stuff. I have heard more than enough sermons where Christ was not preached. He was talked about and bragged about but not preached. There is a difference between a eulogy about Christ, and preaching Christ. The world more and more doesn’t want a preacher. It never really has. When God wants to save people He sends a preacher. The preachers job is to preach and proclaim Christ as the only God we deal with because He is how God reveals Himself to us, but He has to be preached, not just talked about and that is a huge difference.