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Pensée #3: Henri Nouwen on Broken Ministry

Whether we try to enter into a dislocated world, relate to a convulsive generation, or speak to a dying person, our service will not be perceived as authentic unless it comes from a heart wounded by the suffering about which we speak.

~Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer, p.4



2 thoughts on “Pensée #3: Henri Nouwen on Broken Ministry

  1. The great Nouwen. Thank you.

    In exchange, here’s this, from a comment made to a blog post (not mine) about the atonement–as I recall, it was about the new Tony Jones book. The writer is thinking back to discussions he had with his parents as a kid. Powerful stuff:

    “… The Why of Jesus: Jesus did not come to earth to be crucified and tortured to buy back God’s favor. He came to live, preach, set an example, start a spiritual movement, and then die as all humans die, and then to resurrect, to show all humans that they too will go on to another life. He could have died peacefully in his sleep, then have risen, mission accomplished. That was it.

    “… Historic Reality: But Jesus entered into human history at a certain point, where cruel executions for defying the authorities often occurred. Jesus was not exempt from the conditions of his age.

    “… Why accept torture and death? Jesus was not a mere victim of historical circumstance. Jesus actively chose to let events take their course and visit cruel sufferings on Him. He accepted torture and death out of solidarity with humanity, which had known and still knows so much evil, with so many human beings torturing and killing others. Jesus, out of love, wanted to be fully at one with suffering humanity. Not necessary, but appropriate for his mission of teaching humanity to show loving respect for all human beings. By knowing the worst of human suffering he stands with all who have been wronged or have known the deep sorrows that our losses can bring.

    “Shortly after weeks of these discussions I had a dream. In my catholic school, during one of our Ignatian meditation periods (visualizing events in the life of Jesus), I saw Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemene asking God to let this cup pass. I asked “What cup?” Jesus responded by showing me what he saw: the Christian church, and Christians, making people suffer the way He suffered, the church persecuting people, acting like self-righteous demons. This was the cup that he had to drink. In founding his spiritual movement it was inevitable that some human beings would use His teachings to somehow justify being cruel and unjust to other human beings. The founding of his religion could not be separated from human history. My reaction was: “Why are you showing me this? I’m just a little boy.” Then the visualization or dream or whatever it was ended. I never thought it was a real vision from God, just my imagination putting things together, making sense of things for me.”


    Posted by nanbush | April 10, 2012, 4:21 pm
    • Wow…that is powerful. William Cavanaugh has a really cool chapter (not nearly as poetic, though) in his book Migrations of the Holy where he talks about the sins, failings, evils, AND sufferings of the Church as being the wounds and brokenness of the Body of Christ. A high ecclesiology has to theologically deal with the sufferings of Jesus and the sinfulness of the Church, His Body, somehow or another.

      Thanks so much for sharing, Nan. You are such a blessing and an encouragement to me.

      Posted by dmwilliams83 | April 10, 2012, 4:51 pm

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NCSU Graduate Christian Fellowship

Hi! I'm David, the campus minister for InterVarsity's graduate and faculty ministries at NC State and Meredith College. I hope you'll join me as I learn to "practice resurrection" in the City of Oaks, in her universities, and in the wider world. You can contact me at dmwilliams83@gmail.com

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