A reader has asked me
Hi, a few of my godless, heathen friends have been asking why, if God existed, he would allow it to rain on the Barnaby Open Air Service in the Marketplace forcing it indoors. I wondered if you had any pithy retorts I could use to throw their comments back in their faces. PS love the blog.
Well, dear anonymous reader, I’m not sure about pithy comments or your plan for retribution, but there are some ways of looking at this situation which require us to use some imagination about our daily lives and God’s presence in them. I’d offer four ways of looking at it.
1. Jesus teaches radical love in the sermon on the mount and discourages us to think that somehow we are more special than people who don’t follow Jesus.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Matthew 5
Being a churchgoer doesn’t make you exempt from the weather. Also, vicars really shouldn’t “put in a good word” for picnics and weddings either.
2. I’m not sure that the rain caused any failure. Yes it would have been great to be outdoors singing praises, thanking God for our town and telling stories of hope and love. However, it was pretty uplifting to join the 600 or so people packed into St Michael’s Church, the only building that has shared nearly every moment of the town’s history, to do what we planned to do all along. It was a very Barnaby moment and one that has connected us to centuries of praying and inviting God to be in the midst of our little town. Surely that connectedness is what all this celebration is supposed to be about?
3. Seeing as our wet summer weather may be a result of all the rubbish we pump into the atmosphere as we selfishly serve ourselves, our appetites and our vanity belief that we are the only species that matter on the planet, perhaps God isn’t adverse to letting all the amazing processes and systems and laws and reactions he built into his creation do their job. Perhaps before assigning blame to God for the rain, we might look a little closer to home first.
4. I don’t know, he hasn’t returned my call yet.
Well, dear reader, I hope that helps you make some headway in addressing your friends and their thirst for theological knowledge. But really, seeing as you’ve been a priest in this town for a lot longer than I have, maybe you could do this for yourself next time.