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    Quotables: Reversed Thunder

    June 19, 2012 by Brandy Vencel
    Reversed Thunder:
    The Revelation of John
    and the Praying Imagination

    by Eugene Peterson

    In order for worshipers to get to the throne it is necessary to get through or past this “sea.” The crystal sea is a baptismal font…The world is comprehensively but not indiscriminately gathered around the throne of God–it is first cleansed in baptism and then presented. The waters of baptism, like the Red Sea and the Jordan River with which they are often identified, are waters through which we pass, leaving an old way of life and entering a new one, miraculously alive and cleansed…The throne, the sea, and the altar are the glorious originals of the pulpit, font, and table in the house churches where St. John’s congregations gathered week by week in their Lord’s Day worship. {p. 63}

    Seven hundred years earlier Isaiah had lamented that the vision was sealed up and no one was qualified to unseal it…Jesus unsealed the scroll by revealing its present meaning, his inaugurating leadership in the kingdom of God, the good news. {p. 64}

    Christ is in history ruling and conquering. The only way to understand history is to begin, openly and firmly, with Christ. {p. 75}

    Christ is not only worshiped each Sunday, he is triumphant each week day. That, of course, is not the way the newspapers report it; that is not the way our own emotions respond to it; but that is what the preached revelation proclaims. {p. 75}

    A voice is heard: “A quart of wheat for a denarius and three quarts of barley for a denarius, but do not harm the oil and wine!” A quart of wheat is starvation rations for a family and a denarius is a day’s wage. What is necessary for minimal living is unavailable while the luxuries of life, oil and wine, are abundant. {p. 78}

    [The Lord] brings his people to a weekly eucharistic meal that trains them to live by grace and not by greed. {p. 79}

    “Lord’s Day” provides a center for prayer. The word, for St. John, means Sunday, the day of resurrection and the Christian’s bright “first day.” But most people in the first-century Roman empire would have understood the word to refer to the emperor’s feast. It was not the first time, nor would it be the last, that Christians appropriated a page word and transformed its meaning. {p. 90}

    All day long we are doing eternally important things without knowing it. All through the day we inadvertently speak words that enter people’s lives and change them in minor or major ways, and we never know it. {p. 145}

    It will hardly do for us to be more scrupulous than God. {p. 162}

    Things unseen are only apprehended by means of things seen. The gospel is the enemy of all forms of gnosticism. The gospel does not begin with matter and then gradually get refined into spirit. The revelation of God does not begin with a material universe and a flesh and blood Jesus and then, working itself up through the grades, finally graduate into ether and angels and ideas. {p. 171}

    When St. John saw the names of the twelve tribes inscribed in the gates of pearl, and the twelve apostles inscribed on the foundation stones, he knew, and makes us know, that everything in history is retrievable. {p. 177}

    “He has planted in us the see of eternal life. The world to come is not only a hereafter but also a herenow.” Nothing can be so destructive to the maturing of faith than when endurance is reduced to grim, gray, stoical determination. {p. 179}

    Our sin-corrupted imaginations get everything backwards. We attempt to improve life by means that, in fact, diminish it. Earlier in his Apocalypse, St. John gave us a vision of famine. The rider on the black horse mocked us by advertising unaffordable prices for daily break, while the luxury items of oil and wine were abundant. Evil does that. It starves us of what we need to live, while is surfeits us with what we don’t need, masking our need. {p. 181}

    Such critics [who think heaven sounds boring] can be countered by referring them to the rivers and trees of Genesis, the breastplate gems of Exodus, the heaven and earth and city of Isaiah, the measuring rod of Ezekiel, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and the metaphor-strewn letters of St. Peter and St. Paul. If the critics have never submitted their minds to the power of these narratives, never acquired a feel for the images, never been battered by the stormy paradoxes and crushing contradictions only to emerge, surprised and healed, in the still waters of faith, then St. John’s heaven might very well seem dull. For St. John is a master of allusion; if our minds and experiences are vacant of all that he alludes to, he will have been addressing empty kegs. {p. 184}

    St. John’s heaven is not an extension of human cupidity upwards but an invasion of God’s rule and presence downwards. heaven in the vision, remember, descends. {p. 185}

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  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts June 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Me, too. 🙂

  • Reply sara June 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Wow! Some of this has been filtering through my brain all day…

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