And so we come to Easter. We come to wonder; verb and noun.
The Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, concentrate our minds on the divine power of Jesus and how he used that power for love. A contrast so stark it is truly shocking was the evil ingratitude of Judas Iscariot. Mary poured $50,000 (today’s dollars) worth of perfume on Jesus feet. A few days later Jesus washed his disciple’s feet. How are we to understand that Judas then chose to betray Christ? How are we to deal, with the fact that Jesus was completely in control of when Judas would do this? I suggest an important ingredient in our understanding is wonder. It can be said that the Bible is a book of simple clarity but also of intentional mystery; both are indispensable aspects of wonder. We sing a song that goes “May I never lose the wonder of the Cross”. To be honest there are sometimes when having been a Christian for 42 years think I lose the wonder and feel overly familiar with the Crucifixion events. Why is that? It’s because I crucially forget something. It seems to me that the first necessary component of wonder is profound gratitude.
Gratitude is a debt that cannot be repaid even by the most generous. But though it is a debt it is the only debt one can owe that gives one a sense of fulfillment. For example a gentle pressure applied to a strained muscle can actually hurt, although it brings relief. Physiotherapists call it “sweet pain’. A debt of gratitude is somewhat like that-something that reminds you of your need, and the someone who is able to meet that need for you. Perhaps this is what Peter did not understand when he said he would lay down his life for Jesus but in the end was not able even to say he knew Jesus when challenged as being one of the disciples. He was afraid. We have fears and foibles and failures; our private sins and insecurities. They combine like a fog to keep us from the wonder of seeing we are loved more deeply than we can fathom. Away with mundanity, away with ordinariness, away with cynicism and insecurity I say. Let us replace it with wonder and gratitude. Let us remember that Just as Jesus saw the evil of Judas and the brittle posturing of Peter he knows us and loves us. The word ‘gratis’ in Latin has its root meaning in the word ‘freedom’. When something is free we consider it free. Gratitude is the free expression of a free heart toward one who freely gave. His gratitude is not a spur of the moment thing. It is a gratitude that values a relationship rather than any benefit made possible by the relationship. It involves trust and brings peace. This is something that Peter learnt as evidenced by his later letters (1 and 2 Peter).
So what about you? Do you know gratitude? No gratitude, no wonder, no wonder, no hope.