Impossible hope

Sometimes someone else’s words capture the very thing you have been trying to say:

The dreaming of impossible things in the Lord is the act of hope.  The act of hope does not ignore the chaos within and without, nor is it a dream for everything to be returned to the secure ways of the old status quo.  To be authentic, hope emerges out of an acknowledgement of our own powerlessness to act without the Lord.  It is the act of trust in the Lord that if we struggle to put aside our own attachments, he can work humanly impossible things through us for his glory.  Those impossible things may not be what we want, but they will be what God wants.  That may well mean the death of ways of evangelizing that make us feel comfortable.  It may well involve the death of existing pastoral structures or the religious congregation we have given our lives for.  The way of refounding the Church is the roundabout route: the way of asceticism, of darkness, of dreaming and doing the ‘impossibly new’ in the Lord.

The truly hopeful in the Church name the pain of the chaos and of their myriad losses.  When the pain has been named it can be let go in order to give space for the impossibly new to enter.  This process of salvifically mourning for the newness of the resurrection can be stopped, however, in various ways.  Once we have begun to mourn we can become so frightened of the darkness that we take refuge in the securities of worldly visions; or the communities we belong to are so weary and introverted that they refuse even to allow the public expression of pain.  Or there are those within the Church who see no chaos or pain at all; they offer people false hopes embodied in restorationism because they will not acknowledge the fact that authentic hope is founded in admitting to our inner powerlessness.

Gerald A. Arbuckle, Refounding the Church

I think I could muse on these words for weeks.  In a way I have been already – before I discovered them.  For my experience is one of darkness and crushing, of barrenness and impossible dreams.  Much of what is precious to me in ministry has been touched by the death which precedes resurrection.  And I mourn.

Yet I know that my mourning is for newness of resurrection and for ecclesial refounding beyond anything I have yet seen.  I am on the edge of something more impossible than I could dream – a prophetic reimagining, itself act of hope.

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