God died last month.
The newspapers barely reported it. No politician offered a eulogy. There was no radio broadcast of a moment’s silence. The subject did not come up over dinner. God died last month and we barely noticed.
How is it possible that God could die? Who could kill God so callously and get away with it? To understand what happened to God last month, you need to know everything that happened to God since the beginning. You need to hear about God’s life.
It was after the Exodus that the Israelites began to see how vulnerable God was. They had been redeemed from Egypt. They had crossed the Sea of Reeds. They had received the Ten Commandments from a thunderstorm.
Moses, Aaron, and seventy elders ascended the mountain once more to ratify their covenant with that God Almighty. When they reached the summit, they were shocked by what they saw.
Under God’s feet were building bricks like sapphire, as blue as the sky itself. Those feet were trapped. Those beautiful bricks bound them. The elders asked what had happened. God replied: “As long as you were enslaved, I was enslaved too. As long as you built bricks from clay, I built bricks from clouds. As long as you were in pain, I was suffering too.”
Of course, not all of God could be imprisoned. The infinite God transcends all space. But there is a part of God that lives with us and in us. A part of God labours when we toil. Cries when we cry. Hurts when we hurt.
The Israelites continued to catch glimpses of God’s frailty throughout their relationship. God had promised Jacob at the outset: “I will go myself with you to Egypt, and I myself will bring you back.”
It wasn’t just a promise of solidarity. It was a sad admission that, when the Israelites were refugees, God would be in exile too. When the Babylonia came to displace them and hold them in captivity, God travelled with the Israelites to Babylon. God sat with them in the synagogues. God was weeping by the river banks too.
Of course, not all of God could be exiled. The infinite God transcends all space. But there is a part of God that lives with us and in us. A part of God leaves when we leave. Cries when we cry. Hurts when we hurt.
God’s sympathy was not confined to the biblical age of miracles and prophecies. God stayed with us through history, even when we thought we had been abandoned. Yes, even in the concentration camps. God was there.
Elie Wiesel survived the Nazis and came to tell us what he had seen. He saw a child strung up by the guards, dangling. The child was left there for hours, dying in slow agony. The camp inmates had to stare him in the face with his still-red tongue and eyes not yet glazed.
“Where is God now? Where is He?” someone behind him asked. “Where is God now?”
And Wiesel whispered inside his heart: “Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on these gallows…”
God died there in Auschwitz. Of course, not all of God could be killed. The infinite God transcends all time. But there is a part of God that lives with us and in us. A part of God leaves when we leave. Cries when we cry. Hurts when we hurt. Dies when we die.
God has died with us many times. One hundred thousand sacred sparks have been extinguished in the UK this year alone. But God does not die in statistics on spreadsheets. God dies with one person at a time when one story is snubbed out too early in an unspeakable injustice. That is how God dies.
And now you know how it was possible for God to die last month. And now you need to ask why.
God died on 9th January at his home in Cardiff. He was 24 years old. He had been in police custody because someone suspected he had breached the peace. We are still not sure what that means. He was released without charge.
When his aunt picked up from the police station, he was covered in wounds and bruises. She says he didn’t have them when he was taken to jail.
52 police officers had contact with him in the 24 hours that he was held in Cardiff police station. None of them saw anything suspicious. The police are running toxicology reports and investigating themselves. They are looking at the CCTV footage but so far they have found no misconduct by officers and no use of excessive force.
The police have refused to release the footage. They say we will never see it.
We may never know how God died or why. But we know that God died last month.
And he was a black man named Mohamud Hassan. And he had a life that was worth living. And he should not be dead now.
And now you know how it was possible for God to die last month.
And now that you know that God has died, you are a witness to the crime.
And now that you are a witness, you will have to testify.
You are summoned before the Only Judge to give your testimony about why he died.
Black lives matter.