Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Out of the Old

I have always loved the imagery in 2 Corinthians 5, which speaks of the old passing away and the new coming. It's a message of reconciliation that reminds us that God offers second chances. That image coincides with the images emerging as I begin reading Jurgen Moltmann's In the End -- The Beginning (Fortress Press, 2004). I'm dipping back into Moltmann in preparation for attending the Theology Conversation with Moltmann sponsored by JoPa Productions (Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones).

Moltmann is, of course, known for his theology of hope and focus on the future of God. He's also been very open about his own life story and conversion during his captivity in a Prisoner of War camp at the end of WWII. In this book, after recounting his own story of surviving a RAF attack on his home city of Hamburg, attacks that killed 40,000 and left the city in ruins, then time in the camps -- he speaks of a theology of catastropheism -- that is, the biblical story is full of catastrophe's, and his experiences as a youth were in a sense that of living in Sodom and Gomorrah, as it was being destroyed. But through all of this, he learned several things, two of which he shared, and which I'd like to share.

1. "I discovered that in every end a new beginning lies hidden. It will find you if you look for it. Don't loose heart."

2. "I found that if one gathers the courage to live again, the chains begin to smart, but the pain is better than the dull resignation in which nothing matters, and one is more dead than alive."
(p. 35).

I have never experienced anything like what Moltmann experienced. He lived through the devastation of his country, and also had to face the realities of the atrocities committed by the leaders of his nation. It must have been devastating -- indeed, he suggests that it was -- but out of this experience was born faith in God. These two simple statements remind us that no matter what happens to our lives, we can see in these experiences an opportunity to begin anew. Today is a new day. The old is passed, the new has come.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, we have a similar situation in our own lives, on a much smaller scale. Small wars of aggression are evil and painful too, for all sides. It takes effort to lead our heart back to God’s love. It’s good to have role models like Moltmann. The future of God sounds odd, but that’s the promise. David Mc