In my last post, I began exploring the idea of the church plotting revolution. I asked what we should be doing now in anticipation of the coming glory. This question opened up for me as I read N.T. Wright’s commentary on Romans 8. That in turn made me recall a certain jealousy I once held for the social activist, David Horowitz, and his father as he tells about growing up in the home of American communists in the 1940’s and 50’s. That father gave his son daring and tenacious kind of faith in the revolution they were plotting that took the very concrete idea that among all the sweeping changes they would usher in, there would be the job of renaming the city streets.
Yes, I was jealous of that scene. I think that kind of faith is impressive in the face of overwhelming odds and persecution. It was daring and grounded in THIS WORLD. It did not retreat or concede ground; it laid claim to the Promised Land ahead of time.
No. I have no favor for those particular politics, agendas, and plans, but the faith… THE FAITH those people put in that future was something to envy. But my Dad never took me out on the streets to rename them as an exercise in imagining our world after the Glory comes. I missed something there.
But, I also suggested that renaming streets might be a rather low order agenda, actually. Sure, it would be involved, and it is important. But that is hardly the big picture. It certainly suggests that the Horowitz family were really dedicated and had plans worked out down to some rather fine details. Apparently their minds, hearts, and strength were fully devoted to imagining the world ordered differently, and this mundane example shows the lengths to which they had taken it. But renaming the streets is not where the real thrust of reimagining the world gets its power.
I will not deny my envy of that picture. A father and son so confident in their shared faith. But I need to say that actually I share something bigger with my father and mother. And while my last post borrows heavily from communist faith, I surely do not want to glorify that faith, but rather use it to help point our imagination to a better place. And in truth, my parents and I shared a moment once that far outshines that of the Horowitz family. I hope that by sharing it, I can aid my readers to stretch their imaginations (with a hope beyond that for them to in turn come back and help stretch mine).
I believe that the last time my mom and dad and I were all together was the day of my grandpa’s funeral (several years ago now). It also happened to be the day Mom got her final prognosis from her cancer specialist. Her life expectancy was outlined that day, and subsequently her final stages of cancer went exactly as planned. It was with both of those items making up our day that in the late afternoon my mom, dad, and a few close relatives and I all went up to the Knife Edge overlook in the Mesa Verde National Park (which overlooks my hometown). And there we prayed, sang some hymns, and watched the sunset over the Montezuma Valley below.
It was during that meditative time, as we struggled to imagine our future with God and family (having just buried Grandpa and learned Mom’s prognosis) that Dad and I began reflecting on Joshua stopping the sun in the sky (Josh. 10:12-13). What can I say? It was a moment pregnant with wonder. Knife Edge overlook has long been a favored spot of God’s creation for my family. The sunset on the valley below is a treasure to behold. The chance for my family to be together like that was rare, as we all lived so far away anymore. The fact that Grandpa was now in the ground and Mom’s time with us appeared to be drawing to a close all made us yearn to hold on to that moment – that beautiful moment, and suddenly Dad and I thought about Joshua stopping the sun.
This gave way to much reflection and meditation on what it means to be God’s image bearer. In the Bible, the image bearer not only stops the sun in the sky (Josh. 10), but the mountains bow down, the valleys rise up, the crooked places straighten out (Isa. 40:3-4); the flowers bloom along the path as the image bearer passes by (Isa. 35); the image bearer can walk on water (Mark 6:48)! The image bearer was always meant to rule over creation (Gen. 1:26)! If all this was true, then surely we could even repaint the sunset over the Montezuma Valley and command the sun to stop as we hold on to that moment. And if not at that moment, then at least we could plan for it. So we did.
There on the Knife Edge overlook, my family prayed, sang, and worshipped and plotted revolution. And my imagination has forever been stretched.
Now, if I can only plant this seed in the hearts and minds of my brothers and sisters in the church. And especially so that they then begin plotting revolution for the streets – the people living there.