Wrestling with the Bible: I’m Knocking — Futilely? — on Heaven’s Door

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Isaiah laments, “O, that you would tear open the heavens and come down . . . ”

My sentiments exactly. Why doesn’t God break out of God’s hiddenness and silence once in a while and explain a few things?

Like why are we here? Why do we have to die? Why do our friends, our mothers and our fathers suffer terrible illness, struggle to live, often unable to hear or see or walk, only to be crushed by death in the end?

We get discouraged, we earthlings. Some of us have given up and joined the ranks of the doubters and cynics. Some of us are so angry at the state of things that we have written books with names like “The God Delusion” and “God Is Not Great.”

Isaiah’s observation – “there is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity” – is as applicable in some circles today as it was in Jerusalem 2,500 years ago.

Nonetheless, some of us, like the Isaiah writer, keep on knocking – futilely? – at heaven’s door.

Why then, does the Real keep its face so hidden? Why does it let us stew in our own juice, in our iniquity? Why are we left to guess and wonder? I’d like to know.

© Text and photo 2011 BF Newhall

A new year in the Christian liturgical calendar begins this busy post-Thanksgiving weekend, and many Christians will be trying to take some time out to ponder the upcoming Incarnation (aka Christmas!).

Here are the Advent 1 scripture readings (the Lectionary) for Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary, a schedule of readings that is followed by many Christian denominations.

Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37

“O, that you would tear open the heavens and come down,

so that the mountains would quake at your presence –

There is no one who calls on your name,

or attempts to take hold of you;

for you have hidden your face from us,

and have delivered us into the hand of

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© 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Barbara Falconer Newhall. and www.GodsBigBlog.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog's author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Barbara Falconer Newhall and www.GodBigBlog.com with appropriate and specifc direction to the original content. Bible texts are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA. The Psalms are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. Material originally published and copyrighted by the Oakland Tribune is posted here by permission. WordPress theme adapted from Thematic Theme Framework