Friday, 13 July 2012

History: the record of a broken world

  Meanwhile I continue to reflect on what it means to be plunged into history. God made everything good. But in that good creation, soon or late each of us, one after another, gets discovered by Garrison Johns and finds that not everyone thinks that our place in this creation life is so wonderful. We are plunged into pain and disappointment and suffering. Sometimes it recedes for a while; other times it threatens to overwhelm us.
  The final verdict on all of this is death. We die. Strangely, virtually every death, even of the very old, feels like an intrusion and more or less surprises us. Tears and lament give witness to our basic sense that this is wrong and that we don't like it one bit. Death provides the fundamental datum that something isn't working the way it was intended, accompanied by the feeling that we have every right to expect something other and better.

-- p.137 from Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson

* Peterson introduces Garrison Johns earlier in the book as a school bully who made Peterson's life miserable for months until one day Peterson fought back and ended up beating him up. The story seems to tell that it was through Garrison Johns that Peterson first learned the world was not as it's meant to be, and that this broken world was not simply external to Peterson but also in him too.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Creation: Created and completed by Jesus

  In John's rewriting of Genesis, the resurrection of Jesus completes the creation story. The week of the Genesis creation was complete as Jesus rested ("was buried") on the seventh day, the Sabbath. Then Jesus presented himself alive to his friends and followers early in the morning following the Sabbath. Over time they realized that they were now involved in a new creation week marked by this "eighth day" resurrection. Gradually, the traditions and commands associated with Sabbath were transferred to Sunday, referred to as "the first day" (Mark 16:2 and John 20:19) and "the Lord's Day" (Rev 1:10).

  -- p.119, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson

Monday, 9 July 2012

Wonder: falling asleep and waking up

  What has really happened during the last seven days and nights? Seven times we have been dissolved into darkness as we shall be 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.
  -- G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, 8 July 2012


  Unfortunately, we do not live in a world that promotes or encourages wonder.

  Wonder is natural and spontaneous to us all. When we were children we were in a constant state of wonder - the world was new, tumbling in on us in profusion. We staggered through each day fondling, looking, tasting. Words were wondrous. Running was wondrous. Touch, taste, sound. We lived in a world of wonders. We became Christians and found to our delight that all this is confirmed in Genesis and John (and so many other places), and we realized that the wonder is deep and eternal, that we are part of a creation that is "very good."

  But gradually a sense of wonder gets squeezed out of us. There are many reasons, but mostly the lessening of wonder takes place as we develop in competence and gain in mastery over ourselves and our environment.

  -- p.123, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson

Whenever I hold John, my 7 months old son, and walk towards our car parked on the street, I observe John watching all the trees, shrubs, leaves, flowers, branches both lush and dry, grass, sky and cloud, whatever that comes in the line of his sight. It seems he really is struck by the wonder of God's creation. He might have been wiggling and even squealing just before we walked out the door, but while we walk on our driveway, he is silent and his movements slow down. He looks around here and there and try to reach out and touch those green leaves, dry branches, or orange flowers. He does not make any sound. His eyes sparkle and his mouth hints a smile.

I think I was somewhat like that too when I was younger. I used to get distracted by flowers and leaves on the side of the walkways and by the trees and birds next to the roads. I do notice them time to time, but only occasionally. Maybe I cannot and even not meant to live in constant wonder all the time by everything (even my little child don't do that when he's inside for the whole day), but it seems quite a healthy thing to notice and find them pleasing to my senses. Isn't it a great thing to gladden my heart by these plants and animals, if it did so with a reminder that God is wonderful and He means good for us? Terrible things are in this world and certainly within my heart. But there are some profoundly good things in this world because it is made by the good God and recognising them as such is perhaps a piece of evidence that there is some good in my heart too. It might even give us courage and motivation for living our best.

That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.
  -- Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings