Accountability is a buzz-word these days. One way or another, in politics and business, in civic and community living, people question, hold one another to account. We see this on a grand scale in the stand-off between President Trump and the US Courts, or the current series of protests against oil pipelines. On the individual or small group level we expect each other to conform to norms of mutual respect. In the workplace there is regular review and assessment; voluntary organisations monitor progress on agreed aims and objectives.
This challenge and accountability is manifest in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and God is not exempt. The Old Testament prophets constantly call to account both rulers and the nation, but the Psalmist questions and challenges God, echoed supremely by Jesus in his cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In Genesis (32.24-30) Jacob struggles and wrestles with God until God reveals Godself: Charles Wesley’s hymn “Come, O thou Traveller unknown” (New English Hymnal 350) is inspired by this story.
“Come, O thou Traveller unknown,
Whom still I hold, but cannot see;
My company before is gone,
And I am left alone with thee;
With thee all night I mean to stay
And wrestle till the break of day.”
Yes, we have permission to challenge and question God, to struggle in prayer, just as God challenges us, calls us to account. It is often only in and through this struggle that we come to know deep-down with Wesley that God’s name is indeed Love.
“‘Tis Love, ’tis Love! Thou diedst for me,
I hear thy whisper in my heart;
The morning breaks, the shadows flee,
Pure, universal Love thou art.
To me, to all, thy mercies move;
Thy nature and thy name is Love.”
Father Kevin Hunt