Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tell It Slant

Tell all the truth but tell it slant -
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truths superb surprise

As Lightening to the Children eased
with Explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind

-----Emily Dickinson

Our daily conversations are important. Just this morning I enjoyed coffee with a friend as we sat on stools across a round wooden table. The theme of our dialogue focused on God's work in us and in the world. Interestingly enough, we did not talk about church much. Church is important, but it's institutionalization tends to cloister people not release them for God's work in the world. The Truth of the gospel resides primarily in the daily stuff. Sundays are necessary, but they aren't the final word.

The slant messages in our daily talk with others and in our listening to God are the basis for which we join Christ in His work in the world. By slant, I mean using ordinary conversations about our life to weave a gospel tapestry for others to inspect. Imagination and creativity are key ingredients. Musing together is more related to singing a song or painting a picture than it is to a Bible study or Sunday school class. In the process we connect to God differently and also to acquaintances, colleagues, and friends. The challenge is to keep the Truth in mind when talking with any person. Christ showed us how when he walked from Galilee to Jerusalem through the rugged Samaritan countryside. His stories were full of Truth on the slant.

.....I'm thankful to Eugene Peterson for reshaping this idea for me in his book, Tell It Slant, and to Chuck Orrestad for his encouragement to keep writing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Raking Leaves

Raking leaves is a menial autumn task. Yet, the reward is profoundly noticeable. With each pass of the rake an area of grass becomes exposed, pristinely green.

At first the task seems unattached to what is important. Upon further thought, no chore is without a divine purpose. It would be a moral stretch to assign some significant value, perhaps a pithy metaphor, to make a case for God. However, if one catches the mind wandering while the rake scratches the ground, the thought betrays the heart. There is no menial task in God’s economy. Every assignment, no matter how small, either connects the doer with God or is rationalized away in simplicity. God does care how we rake leaves. If His eye is on the sparrow, not one falls to the ground apart from His will.

Jesus models this idea for us. While on the road in Samaria, he told stories about the regular ways of life. The tales were not meant as Sunday school lessons. “Nothing is more dismissive of Jesus that to treat him as a Sunday school teacher who shows up on Sundays to teach us about God and how to stay out of trouble. If that is the role we assign to Jesus, we will badly misunderstand who he is and what he is about.”1 No, Jesus shows us that eternal life begins today on the walk to Jerusalem. The journey is now. All that we do is captive to Christ or to Satan. So raking leaves is an experience of worship to one or the other.

1Peterson, Eugene. Tell It Slant, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2008.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Dance of Dawn

This morning came alive before my eyes. On my first day without an agenda since I quit my school job at BCS, I walked to my favorite hangout. The new day in its naked infancy lie dark and cold. The air pricked my skin like a thousand needles. As usual I turned one block early adding about a quarter mile to my journey.

The sun waltzed the dawn dance. Red and orange curtsied and swirled across the early sky. My breath steamed from my mouth in the crisp air as I stared at the clouds that painted horizon. Dawn's dance glowed hotter, higher and wider. More colors joined the frenzy, whipped up by sunlight in the waiting clouds. Then as certain as the darkness turns to dawn, colors faded to yellow and white. The sky lightened to crystal blue.

Birds chirped nearby and I realized that the world is packed with God. His favor lasts a lifetime, but His mercy is new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness, oh Lord.