Endings that Bring HOPE of New Beginnings

I am hoping that you will follow the link in my Advent post to the great orientation to this year’s theme and Scriptures. If you do you will find a special surprise for your spiritual meditations: “The focus on endings to come that bring the hope of New Beginnings”.

I happen to believe that it is precisely this emphasis in the Gospel that has been tragically neglected in American Christianity and means that we have largely failed our own society by failing to include this part. And that is that the announcement of the coming to earth of God’s Promised Redeemer and thus His Kingly rule, means the utter judgement, destruction, and replacement of the world’s kingdoms and powers. And that is precisely why it is such Good News. deathbylove

In keeping with this theme, “ending that brings the hope of new beginnings”, I have started reading a new book called, Death by Love. I plan to take my time on this one because I really want to understand the main author’s view of the death of Christ. It will be the first book I have read by Mark Driscoll.

I have just started so I will let you know what I find as I go along. I always try to do a preliminary survey of a book like this before digging in- like reading the preface ( a good author will often tell exactly why she/he wrote it and what they are trying to accomplish), the table of contents, the index, the notes, and the Scripture index. I will leave you with this morsel from the preface:

One theologian has called the cross the great jewel of the Christian Faith, and like every great jewel it has many precious facets that are each worthy of examing for their brilliance and beauty… most poor teaching about the cross results from someone’s denying one of these facets, ignoring one of these facets, or over emphasizing one of these facets at the expense of the others… such narrow and reactionary theology has tragically caused the beauty of the cross to become obscured by the various warring teams that have risen up to argue for their systematic theology rather than bowing in humble worship of the crucified Jesus.

A Blogger filled with Hope

A number of things such as the Pope’s visit to U.S.A. and the economy and the presidential primaries, well you get the picture; the temptation to either stick one’s head in the sand or to be overcome with despair, have me thinking a lot about the theme of hope. I want to introduce this theme into my blog at this point, but rest assured it won’t be the last time it will come up. Every faith system by which man is known to live by includes the idea of hope and it seems to be another one of those basic traits that we all have in common as human beings, created in the image of God. So let’s begin with Pope Benedict XVI himself and what I see and hear in him to be a central spiritual force just as it was in his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. (His hope by the way, was clearly revealed in an interview that became the book, “Crossing The Threshold of Hope”.)

 

Pope Benedict XVI’s second encyclical, Saved In Hope, (“Spe Salvi” in Latin) takes its title from St. Paul, who wrote, “In hope we have been saved”. 

Love and Hope are closely related in the spiritual life. Love of God involves hope or trust in God. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man”. Hope enables us to look to the next life, but it also inspires and purifies our actions in this life. Pope Benedict considers modern philosophies and the challenges of faith today in light of the virtue of hope.

“Confronted by today’s changing and complex panorama, the virtue of hope is subject to harsh trials in the community of believers. For this very reason, we must be apostles who are filled with hope and joyful trust in God’s promises. In contemporary society, which shows such visible signs of secularism, we must not give in to despair.”
— Pope Benedict XVI

 

Interested yet? I promise to give you much more to ponder because we are living in days that are still on the verge of “the Abandonment of God”. This comes from another man, a prophet by the name of Jacques Ellul that I doubt any of you ever heard of.(surprise me) His book by the title of this post was published in english in 1974 so his perspective was conditioned by his historical context. He was a faithful member of the Reformed Church of France and fought in the French Underground against the Nazis. His thesis in that book was that often the strongest hope is birthed in the darkest hour, whether for an individual, a people, or an entire nation; a time when we actually feel we have been “abandoned” by God.