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Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Long Silence.

This is a well-known piece of work, but I haven't seen it anywhere for some time. I came across my copy this evening, while searching for something else, and decided that it was worth giving it an airing. No comment - it speaks for itself.

At the end of time, billions of people were seated on a great plain before God's throne. Most shrank back from the brilliant light before them; but some groups, near the front, talked heatedly - not cringing with shame, but with belligerence.

"Can God judge us? How can He know about suffering?", snapped a pert young brunette. She ripped open a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. "We endured terror ... beatings ... torture ... death!"

In another group, a Negro boy lowered his collar. "What about this?" he demanded, showing an ugly rope-burn. "Lynched, for no crime but being black!"

In another crowd there was a schoolgirl with sullen eyes, pregnant after having been raped. "Why should I suffer?" she murmured. "It wasn't my fault." Far out across the plain were hundreds of such groups. each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering He had permitted in the world.

How lucky God was to live in Heaven, where all was sweetness and light; where there was no weeping or fear; no hunger or hatred. What did God know of all that man had been forced to endure in this world? "For God leads a pretty sheltered life", they said.

So each of these groups sent forth their leader - chosen because he had suffered the most. A Jew, a Negro, a person from Hiroshima, a horribly deformed arthritic, a thalidomide child. In the centre of the vast plain, they consulted with each other. At last, they were ready to present their case. It was rather clever!

Before God could be qualified to be their Judge, He must endure what they had endured. Their decision was that God should be sentenced to live on earth as a Man.

Let Him be born a Jew. Let the legitimacy of His conception be doubted. Give Him a work, so difficult that even His family will think that He is out of His mind.

Let Him be betrayed by His closest friends. Let Him face false charges; be tried by a prejudiced jury, and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let Him be tortured.

At the last, let Him see what it means to be terribly alone. Then let Him die in such a way that there can be no doubt about His death. Let there be a great host of witnesses to verify it.

As each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmers of approval went up from the throng of assembed people. Then when the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence. No one uttered a sound; no one moved.

For, suddenly, all knew that God had already served His sentence!

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