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Communion 2011

Infinitely Stranger

Originally scheduled for September 11

Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.

Sherlock Holmes, A Case of Identity

It is a common accusation against Christians: we are accused of creating God after our own image. But as Holmes tells us, our minds are not crazy enough to invent the truth. In fact, we know exactly how human beings invent God. Here are some examples:

·        There is the merciless God – the furious God who is out to get you for everything you have ever done.

·        There is a loving grandfather God — the one who wants to see you having a good time, and certainly wouldn't invent anything like hell. Mister nice guy, that's the loving grandfather God.

·        The most common invented God is the cosmic bean counter — the God who counts of your sins and then concept of good deeds. If your good deeds outweigh your sins, you get to go to heaven. So no matter what you've done, just do something good and you'll balance it out.

The test is this: suppose you got to write the story of the universe. You might imagine yourself to be a noble and self-sacrificing God, but can you imagine sacrificing your son? Your only son? I can't either.

So what would you do at the time of the crucifixion? Remember, if you are God you have the power to start all over again. You can just re-create the whole mess and avoid those pesky humans this time around. Indeed, if you are writing the story you have no obligation to create the universe in the first place. Think of all the work, the mess, and then the sacrifice that you would avoid.

Life is indeed infinitely stranger than anything which we could invent. Think of it: the God of the universe, the creator, he who spoke and the worlds began comes down to this little planet to walk among his creation. You might do that; but if you did you would certainly walk among us as a wise, noble sage dispensing advice. After all of your good little advice tidbits were written down, you would get back in your flying saucer and leave.

But God didn't do that. He comes in the flesh and dies in the flesh. It was not a noble death, it was the death of a common criminal — a disgrace. He did that out of his great love for us.

That is what we celebrate at communion. We celebrate the sacrifice, we celebrate his coming, we celebrate his death as our atonement — until he comes again.

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