Noticing Glory

[This is a repeat of a post I wrote three years ago at NeoReformation.]

Would you notice glory if it shone into your life on a regular workday morning? Experiments suggest the answer is “no”.

A couple of years ago the Washington Post did an experiment where they asked the master violinist Joshua Bell to play his Stradivarius in a subway station in Washington D.C. during the rush of the morning commute. Over 1,000 people walked past him and almost no one took any notice of him. Even though Bell routinely plays concerts where people pay $100+ to hear him, only a handful of people stopped to listen that morning – never enough to even form a crowd – and his open violin case collected only $32 in donations.

One statement in the Post’s article struck me as interesting. According to the writer, the philosopher Immanuel Kant suggested that in order “to properly appreciate beauty, the viewing conditions must be optimal.” And, of course, rushing through a crowded subway station on the way to work is not an optimal condition for appreciating beauty.

This got me to thinking about church activities like Sunday worship, small group gatherings, and outreach. Attending to these – and other spiritual disciplines – does not in any way make our Father in heaven love us more or make us more included in his life through Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Because of Jesus we are always and forever included in the glorious life of the Trinity, apart from our work or action. The Glory of the Triune Life is always around us. But we do not always see it.

The Eucharist, sermons, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines are all gifts of Jesus to humanity. They are the gifts by which he creates an optimal condition in which we might pause, see, and appreciate the glory of humanity’s adoption into the Trinity through his life.

And that’s why they matter. That’s why it is important that some of us gather together as the Church and begin to practice the life in which we are all inlcuded. Without an optimal condition in time and space called “the Church” the whole human race would keep rushing right by the faithfulness of the Father and never notice the glory of what the Spirit is telling us about our life in Jesus.

~ Jonathan Stepp

4 comments so far

  1. janehinrichs on

    this is really really good! And it is such a great reminder. Thank you.

  2. Jerome Ellard on

    Yes! A particular way we pause and witness the glory bestowed!

  3. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks, Jane and Jerome, I appreciate your positive words!

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