Sunday, May 21, 2006

spiritual formation

I find Eugene Peterson both refreshing and challenging. I had the privilege of taking a couple of classes with him at Regent College a few years ago. I recently picked up his Living the Resurrection

Peterson talks about the elements of surprize around the resurrection: unpreparedness, uselessness of experts, prominence of marginal companions, quiet out-of-the-wayness and fear.

Then he says this:
Without wonder, we approach spiritual formation as a self-help project. We employ techniques. We analyze gifts and potentialities. We set goals. We assess progree. Spiritual formation is reduced to cosmestics.

Without wonder, the motivational energies in spiritual formation get dominated by anxiety and guilt. Anxiety and guilt restrict; they close us in on ourselves. They isolate us with feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness; they reduce us to ourselves at out worst. Spiritual formation is distorted into moral workaholism or pious athleticism.
[emphasis mine]
I wonder if wonder is part of what so many are missing? I can identify people I have known who fit these reductionistic views of spiritual formation - and lack of wonder would certainly describe them. In a similar way, Nehemiah declares "The joy of the Lord is my strength;" then is it any wonder the church is so weak... because there are a lot of Christians & churches that are not filled with a lot of joy. Joy and wonder are certainly connected.
I sometimes wonder why we settle for so little?
Why we are so afraid of the "out of the ordinary"?
Why we hesitate to reach out to others?
Why we both dislike the blandness but don't want to move out of it?
I wonder, what it will take for us to come to the place where we die... because only then can there be resurrection.

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