Yesterday I posted about embracing the pathos of current realities in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Ironically—or perhaps providentially—on the same day a group of Presbyterians, several of whom I know as friends, posted a letter and video about Hope for the PC(USA). I think that my message and theirs work well together. You can watch their full video here:
I certainly did not intend for my post to be construed as a response or criticism of this message. To the contrary, I do in fact have a lot of hope that something good is happening in the PC(USA). I serve a growing congregation that is full of vitality and commitment to mission. The youth I work with in our congregation, and the youth I encounter throughout the wider church, fill me with hope for our future. I have been blessed to participate in gatherings and events where promising conversations are happening. I serve on a commission that has spent considerable time discerning new directions for our denomination.
Trust me, I’m not trying to dump cold water on hope.
But, I do believe in the prophetic moment of coming to grips with that which is dying. I draw my inspiration from Walter Brueggemann’s incredible book, The Prophetic Imagination. According to his argument, prophetic ministry moves from “Prophetic Criticizing and the Embrace of Pathos” (chapter 3) to “Prophetic Energizing and the Emergence of Amazement” (chapter 4). His paradigm example of the former is Jeremiah and his paradigm example of the latter is Second Isaiah.
I often feel that we are too quick to pass over the pathos and linger in hope. It’s hard to move from hope to a new reality if we don’t make a clean break with the old reality. That is the function of embracing pathos.
So, don’t think of me as the Grinch who stole hope. Think of me as one who is trying to channel a little Jeremiah so that we can fully live into the hope so many of us feel.