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Jurgen Moltmann has been beating me up all day.

I’ve been reading The Crucified God (an aside: whoever designed the series of covers for Moltmann’s books must be a Jesus and Mary Chain fan) — both for my own spiritual formation during this season of Lent, and also to share with our church community.

In our church, we’ve been talking a lot about the interconnectedness of suffering, redemption, hope and love in Christ. ¬†Thoughts from folks such as Dave Gibbons and Rob Bell have been very formative for us in talking about redemptive suffering — appropriate as we approach Passion Week, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

We’ve been asking, as Moltmann writes in Crucified, “How can one continue to love despite grief, disappointment and death?” How do we experience pain honestly, without indulging in self-pity or becoming bitter, hardened people? ¬†Can our pain lead us to deep, abiding trust in God and heartfelt empathy for others?

Here is a passage from The Crucified God that jumped out at me today:

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One of my regrets from my seminary days is not being more fully present to my studies.

Perhaps it was the multiple hundred-mile round-trip treks to serve as a youth pastor each week, or the constant catching up with the hundreds of pages of theology, church history and biblical language studies each week, or just trying to figure out who on earth I was and where God might be leading me, but much of what I read escaped my brain as soon as I wrote it down for an exam or typed it for a paper (of course, in reality, it was probably some combination of the three, plus many other factors).

Recently, I am rediscovering many theologians whose writing & thoughts I did not have the time to engage deeply while I was a seminary student.

These days, some thoughts from Jurgen Moltmann on prayer have gotten my attention:

Real prayer to God awakens all our senses and alerts our minds and spirits. The person who prays, lives more attentively.

Theologian friends, any thoughts on Moltmann?

My theology reading is painfully slow (I think reading Karl Barth has permanently damaged the theology-reading part of my brain. Seriously, I would have to read a paragraph of his, like, five times over just to catch a glimpse of what he was saying), so any insight would be appreciated!

there’s a church down the street that has displayed the following message on their placard for the past couple of months: “new sermon series – the book of revelation: your future” … now, i know i’m picking a couple of easy targets here (i.e., church signs and “left behind” eschatology) but i see the sign all the time, and i always think the same thing:

first, i think, “how can it still be a new series after all this time?” which is then followed by a mild depression. it’s like when i rented the omega code from blockbuster because i was feeling smarmy and ironic. after watching it, though, i felt guilty and sad. guilty, because i was mocking other believers and sad, because of how so many people treat the bible as if it were some kind of sudoku puzzle that, upon being solved, would magically lay out the blueprint for the future…

i know how hard it can be to discern God’s will. our family is right in the middle of a huge transition, and things are very muddled. our church has gone through some outrageous things over the last couple of years, we’ve struggled with our sense of calling, and we’re moving on to where we believe (hope) God is leading us. but i think things would be a whole lot worse if God hid His plans for us in a cosmic game of hide and seek. when i’m being honest, it’s me who plays games with God, not the other way around. rationalizing, hiding, venting, pouting… that’s on me, not on Him.

i want to have confidence in God, even when i can’t see clearly. i’m not there yet, but that’s where i want to be – relying on our God of hope who redeems.