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Hope for a World of Lost Horizons

Nearly every Saturday afternoon/evening finds me furiously editing, rewriting, rearranging, hating and hacking out parts of a sermon manuscript that has inevitably grown rather bloated over the course of the week. The longer I do this preaching thing, the more I am convinced that short sermons are far more difficult to write than long ones! It’s relatively easy for me to ramble on (as readers of this blog are no doubt aware!); it’s much harder to keep things concise and, if necessary, to get rid of stuff that I am quite (humbly) convinced is rather eloquent,  insightful, and necessary. Such is the cross I bear.

At any rate, sometimes my Saturday hackfests involve cutting the good words of others as well.  This week I am preaching from Micah 4:1-5 and the powerful vision of a hopeful future the prophet delivers to a people on the edge of exile. Whenever it comes to themes of hope and God’s future, I often find myself reaching toward my bookshelf for the words of German theologian Jürgen Moltmann. I won’t be using this quote in my sermon tomorrow, but I thought it was too good not to do something  with it. Lucky I have a blog for these sorts of things.

This is from Moltmann’s Theology of Hope:

As a result of this hope in God’s future, this present world becomes free in believing eyes from all attempts at self-redemption or self-production through labour, and it becomes open for loving, ministering self-expenditure in the interests of a humanizing of conditions and in the interests of the realization of justice in the light of the coming justice of God.

This means, however, that the hope of resurrection must bring about a new understanding of the world. This world is not the heaven of self-realization, as it was said to be in Idealism. This world is not the hell of self-estrangement, as it is said to be in romanticist and existential writing. The world is not yet finished, but it understood as engaged in a history. It is therefore the world of possibilities, the world in which we can serve the future, promised truth and righteousness and peace. This is an age of diaspora, of sowing in hope, of self-surrender and sacrifice, for it is an age which stands within the horizon of a new future.

Thus self-expenditure in this world, day-to-day love in hope, becomes possible and becomes human within that horizon of expectation which transcends this world. The glory of self-realization and the misery of self-estrangement alike arise from hopelessness in a world of lost horizons. To disclose to it the horizon of the future of the crucified Christ is the task of the Christian Church.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Your editing process reminded me of a paper I wrote for Pastoral Ethics at Regent. I was trying to write a social ethic for urban mission (ambitious for a 3500 word paper). When I finished my rough draft I was roughly 1500 words over limit so I started cutting. In the end I cut some great quotes and my whole section discussing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. I did well on the paper but I always felt guilty about having to give him the axe.

    November 10, 2012
    • Ouch! That’s a tough part to cut.

      As it turns out, we had a very full service this morning and I didn’t cut enough. I had my first real experience of massive “editing” on the fly. Not something I’m anxious to do again soon :).

      November 11, 2012
  2. Paul Johnston #

    “PIPPIN: I didn’t think it would end this way.

    GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

    PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?

    GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

    PIPPIN: Well, that isn’t so bad.

    GANDALF: No. No, it isn’t.”

    November 11, 2012
    • What a fantastic scene. My wife and I have a tradition of watching the entire LOTR trilogy (extended versions) each Christmas season. I’m looking forward to revisiting Middle Earth in a month or so :).

      November 11, 2012
      • Paul Johnston #

        Great tradition. My youngest daughter and I share a similar affection. We saw Return of the King 10 times at the theatre…total geeks. 🙂

        November 11, 2012
      • 10 times?! Wow. You win :).

        November 12, 2012

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