In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, (former?) slaves Sethe and Baby Suggs find they cannot keep praying or speaking the word because their times have been irreparably broken. Their future has been taken from them by their former oppressors. Now, as Sethe says, the future is nothing but “keeping the past at bay.” And the past must be kept at bay because “nothing ever dies.” The undead past haunts, spitefully.
This is just to the theological point: for the present to open toward an eschatological (and thereby a worldly) future, for hope (in contrast to anticipation) to be possible, the past—in all its glory and all its horror—must be somehow put to rest for good.
Bonhoeffer says somewhere that the telos of pastoral care is to free people to pray. But to pray in good faith, we must in fact believe that our past and our future somehow are permeable to the eternal mercy of God. And surely this is why the gospel proclaims that Christ died once for all and has been raised to life for us. How else would we be free from what has happened? How else would we be free for what is to happen yet?