Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In praise of... surprises

As mentioned previously, I've been constantly touched and overwhelmed by the support and love Jessica and I have received in all kinds of ways over the last month or so, including some creative and unexpected measures.

Today I received a number of surprises. Not only did the first of the Barth volumes arrive (III/4 and IV/4), but two more books I didn't realise had been purchased for me from my Amazon wish list. Here they are:

After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity by Miroslav Volf (Eerdmans: 1998)
What can we learn about the church from the life and nature of the Trinity? A trinitarian ecclesiology from one of the most interesting and important theologians at work today, in which he interacts at length with Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) and Zizoulas. I'm not expecting to agree with everything Volf writes (his take on the Trinity sometimes seems a little too symmetrical and neat), but I've wanted to read this book for a couple of years. I intended to get to it in third year ecclesiology, but other things crowded it out.

The Church between Gospel and Culture: The Emerging Mission in North America edited by George R. Hunsberger and Craig Van Gelder (Eerdmans: 1996)
An interesting collection of essays on contemporary church culture, life and mission. My new rector has been thinking about this book and suggested I read it as we reflect on what we do and why at All Souls.

A huge thanks to the two individuals who orchestrated such beautiful surprises. You know who you are (I do too, since your names appeared on the receipts with the books). As a bonus surprise, I'm not sure that I have ever met either of you!

Surprises remind us that the future is open to God's radical intervention. He has bound himself to the future in promises, but the fulfillment is always more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3.20).

Do not remember the former things,
   or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
   and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me,
   the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
   rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
   the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

- Isaiah 43.18-21 (emphasis added)

Series so far: I; II; III; IV; V; VI; VII; VIII; IX; X.


Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

In my view, that's one of Volf's best works to date. I love his use of John Smyth, too.

One of Freedom said...

I got that Volf for Christmas but haven't had a chance to crack it open yet. I've also wanted to read it for years.

michael jensen said...

It would have been improved with a few jokes, but: since he uses Ratzinger as one of his dialogue partners, it is a book of increasing significance for ecumenical thinking...

michael jensen said...
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