St Alban's Church

Churchill Parken 6, Langelinie, DK 1263, Copenhagen, Denmark | Map


Today is: Tuesday 16th, 2019

Nevertheless - A Message from the Chaplain

Posted on Tuesday 5th April, 2016

The Swiss-born theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) is widely regarded as a giant of twentieth-century Christian thought. Scholars tell us that one of the keys to unlocking his voluminous writings is the German word “dennoch”, usually translated as “nevertheless.”

For Barth, God deals with the world “Not [with] a natural ‘therefore,’ but [with] a miraculous ‘nevertheless.’” (Church Dogmatics II.2). With God it is always a comma, and never a full-stop. With God there is always more to say, and that more is a gracious and often unforeseen “nevertheless.”

The witness of Scripture bears this out. The children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt by the evil Pharaoh; nevertheless, God rescued them and led them to freedom in the Promised Land. Later, many Jews were exiled in Babylon, where they sat down by the river and wept; nevertheless, God called them again and led them home once more. Later still, Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed a “Commonwealth of God” where the hungry are fed and the mighty are cast down from their thrones — a message which led the political and religious authorities to execute him; nevertheless, God raised him from the dead and gave him new life. And finally, many of Jesus’s early followers denied their Lord and fled in fear when he was crucified; nevertheless, the Risen Christ appeared to them, shared his peace with them, and sent them out to transform the world.

It is this divine “nevertheless” which we celebrate at Easter-tide. The fifty days from Easter to Pentecost remind us, for example, that although we sin and fail to love our neighbours as ourselves; nevertheless, we are offered forgiveness and a fresh start. Although there is much in our world to cause us to despair or become cynical; nevertheless, the arc of moral universe bends towards justice. Although we, and our loved ones, pass through the dark valley of the shadow of death; nevertheless, God is with us and will never let us go.

Although all may seem to be lost, the last word is always God’s, and that word is a joyful and a defiant “Nevertheless!”

Happy Easter!


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