Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Some words from Lukas Vischer

I've just come back from the memorial service held for Lukas Vischer and thought I should include here these words (translated from German). They come from a lecture he gave in Bochum in 2002 on confessions of faith and confessing faith. In the service today we tried to let Lukas himself speak through short extracts from some of his writings. His texts were always a joy and a challenge to translate - a joy because his thought was so clear, a challenge because he expressed himself so concisely it was often hard to find an elegant English rendering.
The service this afternoon was led by Geiko Müller Fahrenholz and you can read other short texts by Lukas in the liturgy you can find here. Geiko also gave an excellent address but I won't be publishing that here as we will be seeking to put it in the Ecumenical Review.

"I want to add one last thought. To me it is more important than anything else that can be said about our common confession. The path that we have taken is fatal. It is inevitable that there will be increasing damage as well as more and more victims. Starting from where we are now it is unrealistic to expect that humanity awaits an age of justice and fulfillment. Decay and destruction are more likely. This situation brings with it … the temptation of cynicism. What is the point of making a commitment when nothing will change?
In the Apocalypse in the Gospel of Matthew, there stands the strange sentence: "And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold." (Matt. 24:12) Because of the hopelessness of the situation, love is transformed into indifference or even into bitterness.
The witness of the church is hit at its very heart through this process. It freezes. It is therefore perhaps the most important task of the church, to point to the source of Christian love. Its flow does not depend on the course of history, but rises above all human history: God is love. And every act of love has meaning in itself, or more precisely it has meaning in and of God, and is therefore not ultimately dependent on finding legitimacy on the level of this world.
… The Church may say much that is correct … But it will only be able to truly engage with the people of this age if it does all it can to not let its love go cold. This is why the simple phrase "God is Love" belongs both at the beginning and at the end of any confession that is to answer the challenges of this age."

Lukas Vischer 1926-2008