¡De vuelta a la escuela!
“Hybrid” Diocesan Convention Planned for 2021
2021 Wardens’ Conference: Presentations and Recorded Sessions
A Child and a Miracle
A Sunday School Pandemic Journal
ACT: 50 Years and Looking Forward
Are We Teaching Our Children How to Live?
Arts Education Amidst a Pandemic
Back to School!
Breath of Freedom: Rural and Migrant Ministry’s Summer Overnight Leadership Camp
Campus Ministry Across the Diocese
Confirmands Get Creative
Covid on (and Off) Campus
Developing The Next Generation of Leaders
Diocesan Protocols for Covid 19 Now Mirror Those of the State of New York
Episcopal Charities Receives $1 Million Anonymous Donation
Episcopal Futures Learning Communities Launched at Pentecost
Grace Year: In Preparation for Leadership for the Common Good
Hacer espacio para dejar que los niños nos guíen
Introducing Rev. Kevin W. VanHook, II, the New Executive Director of Episcopal Charities
Jonathan Daniels Pilgrims Reflect
Kelly Latimore: Iconographer of a New Imago Dei
Make Space to Let the Children Lead Us
Mission of Our Youth: Poverty in New York
New Executive Director for Episcopal Charities
New Youth Grantmaking Board at Christ’s Church, Rye
Palm Sunday Hospitality with 10- and 11-Year-Olds
Pennoyer Appointed Head of Grace Church School
PPP Loans: Reminder to Congregations to Apply for Loan Forgiveness if You Qualify
Prayers from Our Hearts
Report from the St. Margaret’s and St. Luke’s Branches of the Girls’ Friendly Society
Seeing Past the Horizon
The Journey
Un niño y un milagro
Video Hit: St. James’ children’s ministries series Did You Know?
Voices Heard: A Diocese Explores Pathways Toward Reparations
We Need All Ages
When I Was a Child: The Beginnings of Faith
Home » Beginning Again
Print this article

Beginning Again

Glasspool_inf_preferred - Horiz

During one of my last semesters in seminary, two of the courses I took were God and the Problem of Evil, largely based on the writings of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and taught by the Rev. Dr. Carter Heyward; and The Life of Prayer, taught by the Very Rev. Harvey Guthrie, then Dean of Episcopal Divinity School and Professor of Old Testament (it would be called Hebrew Scripture today). I got an A+ in God and the Problem of Evil; and a B- in The Life of Prayer, which had the (I’m sure) unintended effect of having examiners in my home Diocese of New York think that while I was an expert at evil I was somewhat wanting with respect to prayer. I bring all of this up because I have been trying to recall a quote from Elie Wiesel about beginning and beginning again. I finally found it and here I share it with you.

Following the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE, the Jewish people were faced with two options: to end their suffering by denying their faith and assimilating into society, or to go on and rebuild on the ashes. Wiesel suggests that the Talmud was the “temple” constructed when the Jewish people chose the second option. He says that “the Talmud was conceived and written as an act of defiance.” It was as if the sages wished to tell God they refused to concede and quit believing. This defiance of theirs confirmed the ancient message of Judaism that, while humanity cannot begin (only God can do that), it is humanity’s duty not to accept an imposed end. “It is not given to man to begin; that privilege is God’s alone. But it is given to man to begin again—and he does so every time he chooses to defy death and side with the living.” [Messengers of God: Biblical Portraits and Legends, New York: Random House,1976]

It was this last sentence that I was looking for: “To begin is not in the realm of possibilities; only to begin again, over and over again – and therein lies [humanity’s] strength. And his glory, too.” “New Beginnings” is an oxymoron. But we have been given the opportunity to begin again, over and over again.

So, we come to the end of calendar year 2021, and one characteristic 2021 has in common with 2020 is that most people are glad it’s over! Yet as we look ahead to 2022, let us remember that piece of wisdom from Elie Wiesel. We are not the ones who created the world. God did that. Yet God continuously gives us the opportunity to begin again, over and over again. And to that I say Thanks be to God!