The Gospel of Astonishment

cross-sand I have been singing along with,  listening to or reading John Fischer for at least 30 years now. Fischer was one of the first wave of Jesus-people musicians in the 1970’s (“Love Him in the Morning’).  Beginning with columns and essays for the now-defunct CCM magazine, Fischer has also morphed into a very compelling and thoughtful writer ( see especially On a Hill Too Far Away: Putting the Cross Back into the Center of our Lives, 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me), and Confessions of a Caffeinated Christian

     For the past few years, he has provided The Daily Catch,a  brief daily meditation on some aspect of life from the perspective of the Bible and the gospel.  It’s worth subscribing to here.

  Today’s article was “The Gospel of Astonishment”.  Enjoy!

“[The gospel] is not a question to be answered or a puzzle to be solved. It is a paradox to be relished, a wild, outrageous secret to be astonished at and then snitched to the world as the greatest joke ever told… The Mystery of Christ is a festival of weakness and foolishness on the part of God… something that makes no more sense than the square root of minus one—something that is deaf to our cries for intelligible explanations but that works when it is put into the equation of the world—something that can only be marveled at because it is such preposterously Good News. The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, has one Word for us: God has upped and done the damnedest thing. Or to get the direction and adjectives right, God has downed and done the blessedest thing we could ever not have thought of.” – Robert Farrar Capon

We celebrate a Gospel of Astonishment. There will be no one who will get into heaven on the basis of what they deserve, thus making the overwhelming attitude there one of complete and utter astonishment. Based on a true and personal understanding of sin and Grace, nothing else seems appropriate.

It’s the astonishment of the vagabonds and street people who were ushered into the lavish wedding banquet at the last minute because the invited guests had “better things to do.” It’s the astonishment of the workers who got paid a full day’s wage for an hour of work. It’s the astonishment of the Prodigal Son welcomed home with a robe, a ring, and a party when all he hoped for was to simply eat with the servants. It’s the astonishment of Sarah, who laughed a real laugh, no longer cynical, as the baby Isaac was placed in her old wrinkled arms, chalky white and screaming from birth. It’s the thing that will cause all of us to proclaim, when we reach our final destination and first lay eyes on the glories of heaven, “What could I possibly have done to deserve this?”


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