Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Enter into the Expectation

If I was going to produce a Jesus movie, it would be something like the movie, Pleasantville. You might recall that this movie is about a boy who is a devoted fan of an old ‘50’s TV show called “Pleasantville”, modeled after something like “Father Knows Best”. Of course, it’s in black and white.

Early in the movie the boy, played by Toby McGuire, and his sister are magically translated into the world of Pleasantville. It is a world in black and white, dull and boring. But, the brother and sister remain in color, coming as they do, from the real world.

As they spend time in Pleasantville, the color that they bring begins to catch and other people begin to take on color. Of course, it’s a Hollywood movie so color comes from passion and any kind of passion will do. But I like the idea of the movie. Something like that might come close conveying the effect Jesus had on his contemporaries.

The world as we know it is in many ways a world of various shades of gray. Into this world comes one who is in color, one who brings the color of the kingdom of God, who is the color of Heaven. He begins to touch people. As he touches them, they take on the color of the kingdom. He invites them to enter into the expectation.

Jesus touches the man oppressed by a legion of demons and, as the shades leave him, he begins to take on new color. Jesus touches the woman with the hemorrhage and no longer is the color bleeding out of her life, but she begins to be filled with new life, new color. He touches Zaccheus and the walls that separated the tax collector from his neighbors begin to fall like the coins falling out of his purse into the hands of the poor. He enters into the expectation. Jesus touches a blind man and sets him free to see in living color – and more than just the hand in front of his face.

Everywhere he goes Jesus touches people and they take on the color of the kingdom. They take on the color of love and peace, truth and joy, freedom and justice. And he gathers around himself people who have heard the invitation and have entered into the expectation that the color of the kingdom will cover the world and fill every person.

As people of the expectation, the church is a conspiracy to smuggle the joy of God’s kingdom into the world, to proclaim it and to begin to live it in anticipation. As people of the expectation, the church is the base of resistance against all that stifles or opposes the joy of God’s kingdom in the world.

We are people of the expectation. What does that look like? To begin with, it means we take seriously Jesus’ commitments as he expresses them in his inaugural address. In his inaugural address, Jesus declares his commitments in reading from Isaiah: commitment to the poor; to the oppressed; to those who are blind and left out. He proclaims a new administration of God’s favor in the world. Whatever else that might mean, spiritually or metaphorically, it means that to follow him as people of the expectation is to begin now to seek justice, to seek relief for the poor, to bring sight to those who are blind and release to captives.

It also means we expect Jesus to show up in the midst of the church, in the midst of our own lives, and in the deep recesses of our own hearts. It means we pay attention and expect that Jesus might show up just around the next corner in the world around us. We expect Jesus to show up and to touch us and to change the pale gray corners of our lives into the color of his kingdom.

Enter into the expectation.


Jim said...

Welcome to the blog-o-sphere. If I may, I shall add you to my blog's recommendation list. That wont get you a lot of readers, but my few (leftists) are pretty loyal and might drop by.

Jim's Thoughts

Jim said...

By the way, your preview feature does not work. I had to either post or kill my comment. Ah the blog software, always an adventure!

Matt Gunter said...

Thanks, Jim.

Derek the ├ćnglican said...

Hi, Matt! Just found your blog via the Byzantine Anglo-Catholic. You present an interesting image here but there's something that troubles me about it... I can't put my finger on it exactly but it has to do with the OT---does God's in-breaking into the world (which is how I'd describe theologically the coloration) *begin* with Jesus or is Jesus the clearest, concentrated, and most radical experience of it?

To push your vision, what color would the Temple be--greyed out or with some muted colors?

Matt Gunter said...


Thanks for dropping by. You make a good pint and perhaps reveal an over-zealousness or over-simplification on my part. If the Psalmist is right (and so I believe), and the earth is full of the glory of the LORD, then there must be hints of color all around us. Certainly it seems that one way and another, God “broke into” the history of Israel splashing the color of the Kingdom around. And, presumably, there was something of that color concentrated in the Temple (at least until, as Ezekiel saw, the glory departed, following the people into exile).
And for that matter, I am quite happy to see hints of color in other traditions.

So, no, it doesn't absolutley begin with Jesus. But, I would say, as you suggest that Jesus is the clearest, most concetrated, and most radical expression.

I still think I would want to say that whatever came before was anticipatory. Whatever comes after is reflective – and anticipatory of the Day when “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

So, perhaps rather than simply shades of gray, the world as we know it is more like a vintage sepia print where there are hints of color to be seen by those who have eyes to see. And some times and places and people reveal more than others. But Jesus is differnet in that he does not reflect the "color" but rather embodied it as his own.