Birth is a miracle. Every birth. And every new birth is a miracle. We are all participants in the miracle. We have all been born. Jesus used the birth imagery in his phrase “born from above” (John 3:3, NRSV) to introduce Nicodemus to an equivalent miracle in their famous nighttime conversation. God is in the business of making life, bringing into being what is not. Birth is the name of this act. It is always a miracle.
Naming an event a miracle doesn’t mean we can’t understand it. It means we can’t anticipate it. It means we can’t reproduce it. We cannot control it. There is more going on than we can comprehend. There is more to life than we can account for. Miracle is a word Christians use to name events, at least some of them, that God brings about.
~ From As Kingfishers Catch Fire, a new collection of Eugene Peterson’s sermons. Excellently edited, these sermons provide a glimpse of the candor and earnestness of Peterson’s ministry. They are a gift to the church.
Since I tend to avoid book lists, this short list of my own probably requires justification. There are a small handful of authors that I try to read faithfully and studiously pursue their recommendations. I was delighted to find several of these authors publishing one after another during the last year.
“The short answer that I had come to embrace through the years of my pastoral formation….is that the Holy Spirit forms church to be a colony of heaven in the country of death….Church is a core element in the strategy of the Holy Spirit for providing human witness and physical presence to the Jesus-inaugurated kingdom of God in this world. It is not that kingdom complete, but it is that kingdom.
It has taken me a long time, with considerable help from wise Christians, both dead and alive, to come to this understanding of the church: a colony of heaven in the country of death, a strategy of the Holy Spirit for giving witness to the already-inaugurated kingdom of God.”
~ Eugene Peterson, The Pastor (110)