We close today the book of Darryl Tippens,Pilgrim Heart. A gentle, ruminating set of reflections on themes in discipleship that mix the individual and the community. As I have said before on this blog, a discipleship that is group-shaped is more and more needed and this book takes us one step closer. Our theme today is “seeking” but before we get there, I mention again that in two weeks we begin Jon Wilson’s Why Church Matters.
Darryl opens with a magnet line from Flannery O’Connor — and I ought to add again that I like his wide-ranging quotations — “Don’t expect faith to clear things up for you. It is trust, not certainty.” (197) Now if that doesn’t strike home, nothing will.
A faithful heart, the book states, “is always a passionate pilgrim heart, ever on the road, ever moving forward — searching for understanding, seeking the face of God” (199).
And this leads him to the point of all spiritual disciplines, whether individually-framed or ecclesially-shaped: to love.
He concludes the book with a look at the final scene of John’s Gospel with Peter and Jesus and the disciples. “Tragedy,” he observes, “is pregnant with holy possibility” (201). They thought Jesus was gone; they learn he is not only alive but that he is present in the smallest of these and at work in the minorests of details: in the meal.
The Christian life is like Peter’s — one that has failure. Again from Flannery O’Connor: “When we get our spiritual house in order, we’ll be dead” (202). And he finishes off with a wonderful analogy.
Bob Keeshan was the man who acted the role of Captain Kangaroo — whom I watched as a boy. He began acting this role as a young man, 28 years old. He had to have his hair whitened and fake wiskers and a wig — and as he got older he began to morph into his character. His own line: “I have grown into the part.”
Isn’t this the essence of spiritual formation? To “become the part over time”?
How’s this for a closer? “In the end, the followers of Jesus know only love. We were created in love in order to love, so that we may finally be embraced forever by a greater Love that will never let us go” (205).
Darryl, we’re better for having spent these weeks with you and your book. Thanks brother.