Thursday, September 19, 2013

Encore!

In my post yesterday about the parable of the prodigal son, I mentioned the annoyance of a toddler requesting “The Three Little Pigs” over and over. Truth is, I was that kid. If I found a book or a movie I loved, I wanted to consume it over and over again (as my parents so lovingly remind me when they can still quote There are Five People in My Family from well over 20 years ago). When you’re passionate about something, it doesn’t fade with familiarity; it’s wonderful and exciting each time. 

I’ve known John 1:1 since I was little. Besides John 3:16, it might be the only verse I can identify and quote offhand. But years of familiarity doesn’t cheapen the words to me. I find the beginning of John beautiful every time:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; that light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:1-5).”

Repetition doesn’t have to be bland or monotonous. Rather, it can be an expression of joy in the subject and in the familiarity. Chesterton says, “[Children] always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.”  

There is a phrase I’ve heard from black congregations when they pray. A prayer almost always starts out with, “Thank you for waking us up today.” I’ve always thought that it’s a good way to start a prayer, being thankful for mere existence and life before any other particulars. But what if God doesn’t just wake us up each morning but wakes the entire universe? What if the continuance of creation is merely God being delighted in us, calling for encore after encore for eon after eon? What passion it must take to infinity say, “Let there be light.”

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