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The God who is

John chapter 11 Jesus said to her, "Your brotherwill rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the coming into the world." (11:23-27, NVI)
This pandemic has left us wallowing in death. We have lost a loved one or heard from someone who has lost a loved one, or heard or read a news story about people dying. To paraphrase theologian Edward Schillebeeckx, we are faced with a "barbaric excess" of death and suffering, particularly in the last two years. To make matters worse, we now face the horrors of another war, one that could trigger a holocaust. could trigger a nuclear holocaust. "What if?" we ask ourselves. Violence in the world world whether verbal, structural or global, has added to the sense of precariousness of life. Death seems to reign. We are filled with uncertainty and fear. We ask ourselves, where is God, what if God fails us?

I imagine Martha and Mary felt something similar as they contemplated their beloved brother who fell ill, and as they watched him waste away and die. "What will become of us without our brother, where is Jesus?" They had sent for him, but he had not shown up. What if something delayed him? What if he too is sick? What if the Romans captured and imprisoned him? Surely, he would not simply ignore their cry!
Jesus didn't show up. Her brother died. And they wept bitterly. What if...?
God doesn't deal with "what if?" We have spent the last two years wondering "what if?" Because we are human, frail and yes, fearful, we find ourselves constantly filled with regrets and recriminations. God is not.
Martha comes to Jesus and says: "My brother would not have died if you had been here". Mary repeats her sister's hurtful cry. "If you had been here, my brother would not have died." We spend our lives living in remorse and in the hopelessness of what if? If we had eaten better...if we had exercised more...if we had taken the time to have fun...? If I hadn't gone to that place.... If you hadn't come into my life.... If I hadn't gotten involved with you... If... If... If...
God doesn't wallow in the what ifs. God deals with what is and what can be. "I am the resurrection and the life! "I am. And because "I am," we are. "He that believeth in me, though he die, yet shall he live." There is life. There is hope. There is grace! There is salvation. "And they that believe in me shall never die." That is the "what can be!" God is the God of being, and the God of life, and abundant life.
We can weep in the face of stones, or we can loosen the bonds and see life emerge.
Prayer Thank you, Lord, for being the God of what is. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Loida I. Martell Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean Lexington Theological Seminary

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