Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Amazement (Reflections of Hope, 5 of 6)
The teachers all looked tired and ready for Christmas break but the students are excited for Christmas and each moment is filled with amazement as they discover the story of why we decorate, sing, shop, party, cook, eat, clean, pray, worship, and give so abundantly during this time of year. They don't have the long to-do lists so they are free to be amazed at God who loved us so much to give of Himself and entered the world.
Why don't we keep that same energy and amazement as we age? I could posit several reasons but most of them could be condensed into the category of "threats." Once we live in the amazement of the moment it begins to become a new standard and its not quite so exciting. We can begin to wonder a new reality but then we second guess if that new reality will be as amazing or energizing as our first moment of amazement.
We see this happen all the time on mission trips. We take a group of people on a trip and they have a week filled with wonder and amazement at God's work and the spirit they feel from loving their neighbor. Then the group comes home. They don't quite feel the same wonder and amazement for their own community. There are too many threats getting in the way.
1) Threat to myself. If I begin to experience wonder and awe toward others who are different than me, then perhaps my life might change for the worse. My social standing might change. My future goals might change. Amazement transforms us and that kind of change is scary and hard.
2) Threat to power. Reaching out to help the poor changes the balance of power in a community. This balancing poses a threat to those in power.
3) Threat to culture. Pointing out the injustices of poverty in the world bring attention to our materialist culture. If I were to really examine myself would I have to give up my iPhone or my excessive tendency to eat out? Its easy to sacrifice when I'm isolated on a mission trip. Harder to do when I'm back on my own turf.
Yet we are not called to do this alone. We seek to transform the world with each other and with God. One of God's greatest acts of amazement and wonder was the Resurrection. In that moment threats rose to the surface. But it is an act to be celebrated. A moment that gives us all new identities, life, and ethics. As Brueggemann states in Prophetic Imagination, "The resurrection can only be received and affirmed and celebrated as the new action of God, whose province it is to create new futures for people and to let them be amazed in the midst of despair." (p. 112) This made it possible for the disinherited to have a future.
The wonder and energy of children is amazing perhaps if we stopped trying to figure out each detail we would be free to be amazed at what God is already doing. Then we can remember that we are like the photo - made new by returning to the image of God.
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