Weekly thoughts from the Rector of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, where these words remind us that Jesus’ peace goes with us into the world.
Mockingbird is a blog that intertwines theological musings with popular culture. One of its essays highlighted a 2011 science fiction series called Terra Nova. The basic premise was that humanity, having turned the earth into a wasteland, had been given a second chance. Colonists were able to travel back in time to resettle a prehistoric earth, where, yes, there were dinosaurs. It turns out, of course, that the colonists are the same imperfect and broken human beings that
they we have always been. Nevertheless . . .
Don’t we all wish we had second chances? Don’t we all fantasize at some point about having a flying Delorean to go back in time and stop ourselves from doing stupid or harmful things? How convenient would it be if, theologically speaking, we had a space-time rupture that took us back to the garden to stop the snake before it got to Adam and Eve? The drama that plays out in Terra Nova is this overwhelming sense of pressure to survive and make the best of this second chance. If they [mess] it up this time, there is no third chance.
The gospel is more than a second chance, it is infinite second chances. Instead of getting the slate cleaned once, it is a perpetually cleaned slate. The disciple Peter once asked Jesus: “How many times do I give my brother a second chance? As many as seven?” Jesus responded, “not seven times, but seventy-times-seven times,” a figure of speech meaning always give a second chance. In Terra Nova, humanity has one more chance to get it right. In Christ, humanity will never get it right – and yet we are still promised “a new heavens and a ‘Terra Nova,’’’ a New Earth. The gospel is better than a second chance.
— The Rev. Neil Alan Willard, Rector