I overhead Adam the other day making up a song as he is apt to do when he thinks no one is listening. “What is a bird without its song, what is a flower without its bloom, what is the sun when it does not shine, without its glow, what is the moon.” And it got me thinking, who am I without hope. The gentle light of hope has brightened my path through the years, during good times and bad. If anything, hope’s light shines brightest during the darkest trials. Humans can endure unimaginable hardship and loss as long as they have hope. Without it, the will to live is lost. Without it, fear and hatred are allowed to fester and grow into desperation and despair.
We live in a time, where there are a lot of desperate people. People who have lost sight of hope. Where you see terrorism, war, addictions, crime, you will find people who cannot find the light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t think that any of us come into this world thinking when I grow up, what I really want to be is a drug addict or a murderer, or a thief. We are born with the kind of hope that allows for extraordinary belief in things unseen. Nothing seems impossible. There are fairies in the woods, Santa at the North pole, superheroes ready to save the day.
But for most of us, that kind of hope and belief is whittled away with time and trials. Leaving an unbelievable void in its place. That kind of void demands to be filled so that we may once again feel whole. It aches deep into our being until we can find something, anything to numb it or distract us from the pain. The problem is, of course, that the only thing that fills hope’s void, is hope. I choose to believe that hope comes from God and the belief that God loves us unconditionally. Which is why I choose to go to church, whether by building or the middle of a meadow, to mindfully pause and seek to feel God’s presence in my life. I choose to identify as a Christian because I believe we are meant to be a People of Hope. But too often, I find that we, as the church, struggle to spread a message of hope and love effectively. How do we reach those that are stuck in despair and desperation?
I think we start with acts of unconditional love. Preemptive love. Loving people first, right where they are, without any expectations. We feed the hungry. We don’t stop to decide who deserves to have their hunger staved. No. That’s not our job. Our job is to show up and feed the hungry. We welcome the stranger, the refugee, the homeless, knowing that we are welcoming Jesus when we do so. We recognize our privilege and seek to stand with those whose voices are cast aside in our country and our world. We refuse to look down upon the addicted and afflicted, the criminals, and the outcasts because we recognize how easy it can be to get lost in the darkness without a light to guide you home.
Lord, let us be Your People of Hope to a dark, desperate, hurting world…. Amen.