In the last couple of years, we've seen a strange phenomenon: fear of good news.
When the surge in Iraq actually worked, not many antiwar activists exulted in the fact that violence had actually diminished. When Barack Obama was elected President, many black activists still kept grumbling about an incurably racist America. When the stock market climbed recently, prophets of the "coming economic collapse" still had nothing good to say.
In each case, of course, good news exposed some fallacy around which these groups had framed their lives. That's also and especially true when it comes to extraordinary events — like encountering God in his glory. It's not always good news.
The Genesis story tells us that God was walking in the Garden apparently the day after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. He was looking to get close to the guilty couple. But when they discovered that God was in the neighborhood, they hid themselves.
In the New Testament we read that Peter, after hauling in a great catch at the command of Jesus, found himself confronted with the glory of miracle and the power of God. He tells Jesus, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man!"
This Sunday, we will be reminded of another such moment: When the women realize that Jesus has been raised, they run in fear.
There is something about the great news of encountering the very glory of God that scares the spirituality out of us. There are many reasons for that, but one is this: Divine light exposes something in us that we do not like to look at.
Paint a room in normal lighting, and when you step back, it all looks pretty good. You pat yourself on the back, and start cleaning up. But shine one of those 500-watt high-intensity lamps on the walls, move the lamp up and down, ...