Happy Moltmann Monday! I’m going to share with you a small snippet of a sermon Moltmann wrote on the Beatitudes, from his book The Power of the Powerless. I’ve said this before, but that’s a great little book that’s under the radar, and as it’s sermons, it’s very readable for everyone. Also, it includes PRAYERS. Prayers written by Moltmann. I mean. Obviously, get the book. So, this sermon on the Beatitudes was written in the 80’s during the arms race. I edited out those sentences, just because they’re dated (and they make the excerpt much longer), but the emphasis is still the same and can be applied to many of the issues we face today. Here it is:
When we are face to face with the Sermon on the Mount, it is impossible to remain general and uncommitted. It cuts into our lives and makes a decision inescapable… But who is certain that his answer will serve life and not death? Because of this, many people find the answer so difficult that they would like to suppress the challenge of the question, and refuse to accept it at all. It is really a matter of conscience…
Peace is God’s first word and his last, for he himself is the fullness and the riches of peace, and its indestructible fortress…Because of this, the whole Christian church is quite unequivocally bound to the service of peace. But what does peace mean here?
Peace is not merely the absence of war; it is also the overcoming of injustice and oppression. In positive terms, it is life that is blessed, affirmed, loved and successful–life as shalom. Anyone who wants to serve peace must serve life. He must therefore resist war, because this is the deadliest form of discord. But this resistance against war is only one part of a much wider devotion to life. The service of peace is the whole task of life.
OK first, isn’t that a great opening sentence of a sermon? Uh, guys, we aren’t allowed to remain general and uncommitted since we just read that passage. Moltmann’s not going to bury the lead on that point, is he? Then he reiterates- God is peace, so the Church is therefore bound to be about peace and peacemaking. And it’s not just being a pacifist in a general sense, though, I’d be delighted if that happened more regularly among Christians as it used to be one of our key characteristics. The service of peace is the whole task of life. Sure, no war, no armaments race, no homicide. But peace is also the continual practice of taking every thought and action and asking, does this serve death, or life?
We are the life people. I know it’s Lent, and death will soon be all around, but even during Holy Week we are the life people. Those meals? Washing the disciples’ feet? Telling Peter to put away his sword? Even staying silent before Pilate and being condemned to death… All of those were decisions for the sake of LIFE.
So. Let us be peacemakers. In the big and the small things. Because peace is God’s first word, and it will be God’s last word. Life-giving good news, that is.