LABC Update – May 24, 2023
May 23, 2023
Yesterday, I came across this quote from the great theologian of hope, Jurgen Moltmann. He wrote these words in April on his 97th birthday. “Resurrection to eternal life is my hope in life and in death. Eternal life is a lived life. It is life in God’s new creation. Death is thus like a birthday to new life in the kingdom of God. That gives me new courage for life every morning of every new day.”
Seattle Pacific University provided this introduction to Moltmann when he spoke there in 2008.
Jürgen Moltmann was born in 1926 in Hamburg, Germany. He grew up in an educated, secular home, reading the luminaries of literature and science. By his own account, his heroes were Albert Einstein, Max Planck, and Werner Heisenberg. By the time he was drafted into the German army during World War II, Moltmann had had little exposure to the Bible or the resources of the Christian faith. Toward the end of the war, Moltmann surrendered to a British soldier and was taken as a prisoner of war. With memories of terrifying battles fresh in his mind, he found that the literature which had meant so much to him as a boy was now unable to sustain him.
He became even more troubled when he and his fellow prisoners were confronted with pictures of concentration and extermination camps at Belsen and Auschwitz. The initial disbelief among the German soldiers soon gave way to a grave realization that they had indirectly participated in these horrors. As Moltmann recounts in his book The Source of Life, “The depression over the wartime destruction and a captivity without any apparent end was exacerbated by a feeling of profound shame at having to share in this disgrace.”
At that point, many of the prisoners gave in to despair and lost any desire to look to the future. Yet Moltmann was confronted by an unexpected source of hope when a chaplain gave him a Bible. He was confused by a great deal of what he read, but he found himself transfixed as he came across the psalms of lament and the passion narrative of Jesus.
As he read about the suffering of Jesus on the cross, Moltmann writes that he was encountering a God who could identify with his own suffering. “I began to understand the assailed Christ because I felt that he understood me,” he recounts. “This was the divine brother in distress, who takes the prisoners with him on his way to resurrection. I began to summon up the courage to live again, seized by a great hope.” This hope not only enabled Moltmann to press forward, but it also shaped the way in which he would spend the rest of his life.
May hope find you today,
This morning on LABC Zoom – Pastor Jim leads Bible Study 10;30
Dial-in: 1 669 900 9128
Meeting ID: 859 909 5914
Please help decorate the Sanctuary – “We will be decorating for Pentecost on Saturday, May 27th, at 11:00 am. Helpers are welcome and needed! Thanks in advance.” Paige