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The Surprises of God

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5 - Church Schools

Aims

To challenge us to think more deeply about our perceptions of God.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and three speakers, who will need time to rehearse in advance.

Assembly

Leader: Whether we are atheists, agnostics or believers, we like to think that our view of God is the right one. Most of us fall into one of three groups.

Speaker 1: I’m sure there is no God.

Speaker 2: I’m sure there is a God.

Speaker 3: I’m sure that I’m not sure!

Leader: But how can we be sure that it is actually God that we are talking about and not just an idea of our own that we choose to believe or disbelieve?

The Book of Genesis says that God created humankind in his own image, but perhaps we keep creating God in our own image, the God we want to believe - or disbelieve - in.

Speaker 1: An Irish comedian called Dave Allen used to end his TV show by saying, ‘Goodbye, thank you, and may your God go with you.’

Leader: What do you think Dave Allen might have meant by may your God go with you?

Pause for reflection.

Speaker 2: The film series Star Wars talks about ‘the Force in the universe.

Leader: What do you think is meant by the Force?

Pause for reflection.

Speaker 3: I saw this notice on the wall of a shop: Trust in God. All others pay cash.

Leader: What do you think the shopkeeper was trying to tell customers? What did the notice say about God and about humans?

Pause for reflection.

We often ask, Do you believe in God? But why do we so often treat God like an object, like a chair or table, whose existence can be believed in on the basis of evidence? Is that fair to God, if God is real? Why does God need us to prove her or his existence? Maybe the question should be, Does God believe in me?

Pause for reflection.

In the Bible, the Book of Job tackles the issue of human suffering, but it also has a lot to say about humans thinking that they know all the answers about God. Job, although he firmly believed in God, still found God puzzling.

Speaker 1: Listen to what it says in Job 11.7-12.

C
an you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens above - what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths below - what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the Earth and wider than the sea.
If he comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose him?
Surely he recognizes deceivers; and when he sees evil, does he not take note?
But the witless can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human.

Leader: So one of the surprises of God might be the surprise of having to revise our assumptions about who or what God is, whether we make these assumptions as believers or non-believers. Maybe God is bigger than we think or imagine!

Pause for reflection.

Did you notice the line from Job that said, ‘Surely he recognizes deceivers; and when he sees evil, does he not take note?’

This suggests that Jobs God is not an erstwhile creator of the universe who now has no interest in it. JobGod - the God of the whole Hebrew Bible - cares passionately about human behaviour and ethics. This God is not a philosophical idea, but the Holy One who expects humans to be humane.

What do you think?

Time for reflection

Let’s spend a few moments thinking about the questions raised today.

- What do we think about God?
Is there stronger evidence for Gods existence or against?
Do we need to understand everything about the universe or should we accept a lot of things by faith?

Let’s not brush aside difficult questions. Let’s ask them and discuss them as we seek to formulate our own beliefs for our lives.

Publication date: February 2017   (Vol.19 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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