gratitude & hoopla: Sabbath Wonder

gratitude & hoopla

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

27.6.06

Sabbath Wonder

I've been sharing lately from Eugene Peterson's Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. Half the reason for this blog, after all, is to share from the books I'm reading. Peterson's discussion of the value of Sabbath-keeping has been helpful to me. I have not the time to cover this chapter in detail, but I wanted to share a few points anyway. Peterson associates Sabbath-keeping, for one thing, with the cultivation of wonder. In that regard he quotes the always quotable G. K. Chesterton:
What has really happened during the last seven days and nights? Sometimes we have been dissolved into darkness as we have been dissolved into dust; our very selves, so far as we know, have been wiped out of the world of living things; and seven times we have been raised alive like Lazarus, and found all our limbs and senses unaltered, with the coming of the day.
Peterson associates Sabbath-keeping with the cultivation of a sense of wonder; wonder before God and wonder before God's creation. And this wonder is born of resurrection. As the Chesterton quote indicates, it is resurrection wonder. Concerning the resurrection of Jesus, Peterson draws five conclusions about resurrection.

1. The resurrection of Jesus, however much it seems to have been predicted of old and however much it was mentioned by Jesus himself, took everyone by surprise. Peterson: "Nothing here is quite analogous to the usual categories by which we understand ourselves--psychological development, for instance, or moral metaphysics. We inhabit a mystery. We must not pretend to know too much."

2. No one involved in Christ's resurrection appearances did anything to prepare for the event. As Peterson says, "There is no 'working up' of a readiness for wonder." There are no experts at this. We are all beginners here. Was this part of what Jesus meant when he said we must enter the Kingdom "as little children"?

3. Marginal people play a prominent role. This seems an important point for the modern church to hear well. "The men and women who are going to be most valuable to us in cultivating fear-of-the-Lord wonder are most likely going to be on the edge of respectability: the poor, the minorities, the suffering and rejected, poets and children."

4. This point relates to Shane Claibrone's suggestion that the American church needs to de-spectacularize. Peterson speaks of our penchant for "surrounding important events with attention-getting publicity." He adds, "Bright lights and amplification are not accessories to the cultivation of wonder."

5. This, says Peterson, is the most important point: "fear is the most frequently mentioned response to Jesus' resurrection." He continues:
We're afraid when we're suddenly taken off guard and don't know what to do. We're afraid when our presuppositions and assumptions no longer account for what we're up against and we don't know what will happen to us. We're afraid when reality without warning is shown to be either more or other than we thought it was. Fear-of-the-Lord is fear with the scary element deleted. And so it is often accompanied by the reassuring "fear not." The "fear not" doesn't result in the absence of fear, but rather its transformation into "fear-of-the-Lord." But we still don't know what is going on. We still are not in control. We still are deep in a mystery.

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