I just read a beautiful post by my blogging pal Hannibal about how Astonishment is our natural state of being and when we (for example) see a great magic trick, our astonishment transports us back to that state of raw excitement and wonder. He thinks heaven may be a lot like this, and then some. I think he may be right. This all got me thinking about a few other things too, and I’ll start (as Hannibal does) with “I wish the kids were here to see this…”
I used to build puppets. In fact, the best jobs I’ve ever had were a couple of brief stints as a puppeteer. When I was in my teens, every now and again, visitors would come round to our house and find me building my latest puppet project and inevitably would say “I wish the kids were here to see this…”
Now, this was all very flattering, but it always saddened me that puppetry in our society is always viewed as being a children’s thing. Good puppetry can be as exciting and awe-inspiring as an opera or a rock concert. Anyway, that aside…
My love for puppetry came from this sense of childlike wonder and astonishment. I was an avid fan of Fraggle Rock, and I was so delighted and enthralled at the world that Henson created that I couldn’t simply watch the show on my own. Every soul within a 100 yard radius of our house had to drop tools and come and watch the show with me at 5.05pm every Saturday. Not only that, but I would even tape the songs (we didn’t have a VCR, I used C90 audio tapes!). This meant the assembled audience had to be totally silent during the musical numbers.
My point in all this is to say that when we enter this state of Astonishment and wonder, if it’s really that good, we can’t bear to experience it alone. This is why we say “Aw, man did you see 24 last night?”. This is why we make each other mix tapes.
This is why we share our faith with others.
When we ourselves are in astonishment and awe of God, worship happens. When we are collectively in that place, church happens.
One crisp, frozen, snowy New Years day a few years back, some friends and I drove to the beach at 6.30 am, went for a run across the frozen beach in our underpants, then climbed into our wetsuits and surfed for 3 hours as the sun pushed a new day over the horizon. My friend caught a glassy, clean wave which propelled him smoothly along virtually half the length of the beach with the sun glinting through the face of the wave and shining on his grinning wet cheeks. In that moment, God was almost tangible, his creation a thing of beauty, the exhilaration almost poisonous. As he popped off at the end of the ride, he jumped to his feet, burst through the water, punched the air and screamed at the top of his voice, “THIS IS CHURCH!!!”