Two Images of Liberation

Pig hang-gliding in sky

A late-evening Moltmann Monday posts for those of you who remind me when I skip a week… :)  This one’s from God in Creation p.287:

Israel has given the nations two archetypal images of liberation: the exodus and the sabbath. The exodus from slavery into the land of liberty is the symbol of external freedom; it is efficacious, operative. The sabbath is the symbol of inner liberty; it is rest and quietude. The exodus is the elemental experience of God’s history. The sabbath is the elemental experience of God’s creation. The exodus is the elemental experience of the God who acts. The sabbath is the elemental experience of the God who is, and is present. No political, social and economic exodus from oppression, degradation and exploitation really leads to the liberty of a humane world without the sabbath, without the relinquishment of all works, without the serenity that finds rest in the presence of God. But the reverse is also true: men and women never find the peace of the sabbath in God’s presence unless they find liberation from dependency and repression, inhumanity and godlessness. So exodus and sabbath are indivisible. They are the necessary complements of one another. They wither and do not lead to freedom if they are once divided, and if we attempt to make only one of them the foundation for the experience of liberty.”


External freedom and inner liberty,  as Moltmann says, “are necessary complements of one another.”  This we’ve heard before, I know.  Inner life and outer life, personal salvation and social salvation, personal faith and communal faith lived out in the world together.  But as someone who spends time with people from across the denominational spectrum, it seems fairly clear that this is something we know but not something we KNOW. That, or nobody wants to do anything to change what we know to be incomplete.  Churches tend to focus either on inner life (how are you doing?) or external freedom (how is the world doing?).  For the love of all things, I don’t know why anybody feels the need to choose.

This is why I appreciate Moltmann bringing exodus and sabbath along as a description. It makes it feel more important, no?  Who wants to leave out the exodus? Who would say sabbath isn’t worth the effort? Both are central to our story. They are indivisible. They are necessary complements if we ever are to become mature and faithful people. So let’s figure out how to share from the best of our respective traditions and find some much needed wholeness in our approaches. Let the pig fly, people. Let the pig fly.

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