Summary: A piece of imaginative rambling… Have you ever tried to weigh God? And where do you find him if you can't see him? What links all our questions together?
Style: Dramatic monologue. Duration: 10min
Scripture: John 6: 24-35
Have you ever tried to weigh God?
I tried it once.
I put my Bible on the scale.
My neighbour noticed what I was doing and said my Bible was too small, and she brought out her family Bible. It outweighed even me.
So I was confused. Why would the weight of the book matter?
Which one was right?
And then I got this idea.
Maybe God wasn’t in the pages, but was between the pages, or between the lines.
Like those times when you wanted God to speak to you and you opened the holy book and found something that didn’t help at all. And other times you were so convicted and shaken and transformed that the book simply shook in your hands, and you just kept reading. And reading. Until you got exhausted as God must be with the frailties of the human species and the relentless love of God.
I gave up on trying to weigh the Bible.
Thinking perhaps God was up there somewhere, I went outside in the darkness and tried to pull down a star.
All I got was air. Dark and thin. Like an Ethiopian refugee.
Wandering the earth.
But I thought, maybe there is nothing of God to hold onto.
There is only the longing to be held.
A yearning for a home. and food. Connected. Sheltered. Befriended.
Could God be in a refugee camp?
Under the tent with the mother and child, sharing their air, their communal meal with the others - listening, crying.
Thumbing their noses at the war lords and their posturing violent madness.
I took my scales to the store.
As I was weighing out the cabbage, I asked the clerk,
“Do you know how much God weighs?”
“Never thought to ask,” she offered.
“Any ideas?” I asked.
“Ask a minister.” She suggested.
“I am a minister,” I told her.
“Look it up in one of your books,” the clerk recommended.
“I tried weighing my Bible,” I reflected.
“Why don’t you try the bakery section,” she concluded.
I went to the Bread of Life bakery.
The man put a whole loaf of bread on the tray.
Then he put a cube of bread on the tray.
It was so heavy the scale broke.
I was onto something here.
I bought a new scale, and went in search of the weight of God again.
Took the bus to the National Research Lab. Once I got inside I was so embarrassed with my scale that I left it at the desk. These people had measuring and weighing scales that I could never dream of.
A very nice scientist took me inside and listened to my question.
For an hour I got a complex lesson on black holes and quantum physics and seven different theories on the formation of the universe. I was offered a dozen books to borrow.
“Thank you,” I said, “But all I want to do is use one of your scales to weigh God.”
“Oh,” he said, “I can only weigh out the theory, metaphorically speaking. Maybe metaphysics is what you want. Now if you have some DNA we could get somewhere.”
At Zellers, the TVs were on. They were all showing the same program.
There were these kids with flies around their eyes and distended bellies.
The clerk looked embarrassed and hit the remote.
Suddenly the room was filled with the sound of drumming.
It pulsated through my soul until I thought I would burst.
It was the rhythm of the creation, groaning and laughing, singing and praying in tongues, and yet interspersed like fine, unmistakable threads on a tapestry was the sound of water lapping on the shore.
Or was it an ultrasound?
Was I listening to the first creation?
Was it the heart beat of a child in-utero?
Was it Babel or Pentecost?
Whatever it was, the beat was relentless.
Something was going on here.
As I left, the confused clerk was trying in vain to shut off the TVs.
I determined that the sounds would continue for eternity.
I also concluded there was nothing to measure.
And that I had been asking the wrong question.
But the images of the day intrigued me. The bread.
The sounds of the resonating pulse of life.
The mystery of the universe.
Was there a link there?
Could the pieces come together?
It is OK to admit you have been asking the wrong question. I went back to the people I had visited earlier and asked them the question I had never asked in the first place. “What in this world do you most hope for?”
My neighbour placed her two hundred pound Bible on her lap and said, “I live in hope that whatever is in here - in all these words - would actually come alive. Be real. Speak to me. Bring me alive.”
The woman in the refugee camp looked out of her tent and said, “I live in hope that all would be treated with respect, and that someone, somehow, somewhere would model for us a different value, a new way of living.”
The clerks at the grocery store conferred for a moment. The woman spoke for both of them. “We have all this food here, while so many are starving. Food is symbolic of so much that is both right and wrong with the world. We live in hope that even a morsel of bread would be a foretaste of a better world. A world where people give thanks and live with respect in creation.”
The guy in the lab coat took me outside and we looked at the stars that I could not quite grab. “I live in hope that we will never be so arrogant as to think we can understand all this. I hope we let the mystery of the heavens weave their magic into our souls, and always slightly off our scales. Maybe that is where your God is. Just off the scales.”
On the bus home I was sitting next to this woman. She was enormously pregnant. I told her about my search for the weight of God, and the conversations I had had over the day.
She laughed. She said that God is like a woman giving birth to the world. Each new creation is full of both lament and hope. Tears and laughter.
In equal measure. The heartbeat you heard and the mystery of the world you could not weigh
She said all that was, and all that was to come, was pure gift. Pure grace. Pure joy.
She opened her purse, took out an ultrasound photo of her baby, and a piece of bread. She broke the bread and gave me to eat. “The bread of life, she said. All will be well.”
(c) Copyright Jim Hatherly
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