Wednesday 28th October 2020 – Hebrews – An Exhortation
Hebrews 2: 1 – 4
Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will.
At the end of this passage we get a wonderful summary of what we might call God’s self-revelation. God has been revealed to humanity both in the person of Jesus Christ and in the testimony of those who encountered Jesus in the flesh (recorded for us in the Gospels), and we can see God today in the gifts we are given by the Holy Spirit. God is not far off and distant, but close to us. However, I’ve missed something out here that troubles me – signs, wonders and miracles. Are miracles a problem for modern Christians? They certainly can be. If we insist that a belief in miracles is necessary to be a Christian we force people to make a false decision between believing in God and believe in science. If we define a miracle as an event which breaks the scientific rules of the universe* then I’m certain I’ve never witnessed one, and I’ve never come across a convincing account of a miraculous event. For me – and you may well believe something different – miracles are not a part of my faith. Insisting on the literal truth of the miracles in scripture means reading the gospels as straightforward history, as journalism rather than poetry. What if we read the miracle stories as theology packed with deep symbolism, stories which explain Jesus to us rather than relate a literal truth? For myself, I believe that there is a God who knows and loves me and was born on the earth as a vulnerable human being, and that in itself is absolutely miraculous enough without, like Alice, adding more impossible things to believe before break God is always beyond our complete understanding. (If you are reading this before breakfast, I hope you enjoy it.)
*See David Hume, ‘Of Miracles’ – Section X of An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. https://davidhume.org/texts/e/10
we give thanks to you today, and all days,
that you came to pitch your tent among us,
to show us that you love us.
We give thanks for the gifts we receive from you
and remember just how amazing and miraculous is your grace.