Moltmann Monday: Feasting in God

Anna Garforth

Happy Moltmann Monday, all! On this Thanksgiving week I thought I’d share this excerpt from Ethics of Hope, where Moltmann summarizes much of what he lays out in God in Creation about the Sabbath as the feast of creation, which I’ve talked about before (Bold words mine):

On the seventh day of creation, God encounters us in a very different way: he is at leisure, so to speak. God comes to rest. God detaches himself from his works. God puts aside his being as creator…God comes to rest in the face of all those he has created, and with his being, resting within itself, is wholly present among them…God is not just active, he is passive too; not only creative but also at rest; not just speaking but also listening; not merely giving but also receiving. In the beginning God created, and at the end God rests: that is the marvelous divine dialectic.

Perhaps artists can understand best how one can ‘complete’ a creation by coming to rest. A painter puts his whole soul into his painting. When it is finished, he stands back in order to come to himself again and to let his work of art make its own way. Without this withdrawal, no work of art is ever ‘completed.’..

Consequently, this celebration is full of gratitude for the works of creation and for safe-keeping in the history of the world and is an echo of the creator’s judgment: ‘And God saw that it was good.’ And yet, or just because of that, hidden in the Sabbath lies a hope that embraces the world. All the days of creation have an evening, when night falls, but the seventh day knows no night. It is like a day without end, and because of that it points beyond itself to the day of God’s coming, the day when he will come to dwell eternally in his creation.

Of course, Moltmann is talking about the practice of Sabbath-keeping, and for those of us who are Christians, Sunday worshipping. In both cases, we rest from work so that we may remember this one, beautiful thing: we are God’s, and God delights in all God has created. God is like an artist who steps back from her work and says, “Ah, yes, that is good.” God takes time to enjoy creation, for its own sake, and with joy at his handiwork. This space is timeless: we enter into a promise, a foretaste of God being one with all of creation. We practice oneness in the here and now.

This is an act of joy, of delight, and of gratitude. And so, even though Thanksgiving, which is an American holiday that happens on a Thursday, is not technically part of this holy space, it remains an opportunity for us to pause and to practice feasting in the very same way God does: by resting, by delighting, by joyfully looking at all the good things surrounding us and enjoying them for their own sake. In so doing, we have an opportunity to draw near to God, to become one with God, so that for a few brief moments we may glimpse the promise of God dwelling with us fully.

Resting is such a holy thing. And we do so little of it nowadays. Even when we rest, we find ways to stare into our phones, gobbling up news and information and gossip, peeking in our inboxes and shooting off quick work emails before we forget, and this time of year, surfing sites to grab a few holiday deals to mark a few to-do’s off our list. I don’t want to guilt us about that. But I wonder if we could find a few holy moments this Thanksgiving week to set it all aside, to look up from our phones and TVs and laptops and books to see the beauty of the creation around us- the faces, the food, the roof over our heads, the sky above, the bursting autumn leaves- and delight in them. Truly drink them in like a joyful cocktail of thanks. Like the feast of goodness it is, straight from the hands of God.

This life is so precious. These moments are so fleeting. Take time to look up and be grateful. Delight in the Creator this week, even if just for a moment. The presence of God is the best feast that awaits us.


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