Sunday, August 23, 2009

Where's Hope

Where's Hope

O God, you are the beginning and end of all things, and in your sight a thousand years are like an evening gone. Still, you have assured us that not even one sparrow is forgotten in your sight. In our sight, then, that makes our evenings at least as precious to you as they are to us, and we even more precious to you than we are to ourselves and each other. In that assurance is our struggle to grow in awareness, trust and love. And in that assurance is rooted our courage, peace and hope for each day and night of our lives.

Hope seems to be a scarce commodity these days. With all the turbulence and conflict generated around health care reform, global climate change, economic shifts, pinches and uncertainties,the seemingly intractable challenges in the Middle East, shadows of fear and despair stretch to every corner of our days and nights. We wonder if anything will change for the better, whatever that is. Are we to continue to be plagued by the hostility and distortions (read "lies") of narrow, self-interest partisan political jockeying? Is fear our primary if not only fall back position when faced with complexity, change, challenge, uncertainty? A lot of pundits claiming "scientific" evidence insist that fear, the "fight or flight" reaction, is the strongest, most elemental human response to perceived danger. But whether they are right in that claim is always an open question because we aren't totally defined by biology. We aren't destined to be stuck in terminal fear. We have choices.

My dear departed friend Bill Coffin refined Vaclav Havel's writing about hope into one memorable sentence: "Christian hope doesn't depend on hopeful circumstances." There is a great freedom in that truth. That kind of hope isn't about our personal dreams, or our career objectives, or even our passionate ideologies, any or all of which might be thwarted without loss of hope. Our deepest hope, which I believe is at least as deep as our fear, refers to there being another Power than our own at work in human affairs and history. It's a Power with its own purpose which always outruns our own purposes and motives which however well intended are still tainted by our limited vision and persistent self-interest.

But is it really true that another Power is at work in life? Well, we're still here, aren't we? And we still have choices, don't we? But proof by scientific measures? No, we don't have that and never will, pro or con. But proof by living in that hope, Yes. We do have that, some of that, at least, enough to make a difference in and for ourselves and even in the world because that other Power can use our mustard seed faith and efforts for His/Her own purpose. We are free to work for justice as we understand it, to be compassionate, to love our neighbors and ourselves and our enemies, to sacrifice something big for something true and just. That keeps us free in the face of fear. That keeps us wildly, irresponsibly, creatively, joyfully hopefully.

This last word for now. Just as "Christian hope doesn't depend on hopeful circumstances" neither does it depend on particular outcomes. More on that soon in my next blog.

For now, think about this one. Ted

1 comment:

  1. This is a very thought provoking look at hope. A hope like this free us to be creative and to seek a way that is less fear-ridden. I am grateful for your ways of seeing things and for your look in on the world and coming out on the side of hope. One of the most hopeful signs this week has been the Lutheran Churches take on homosexual clergy. So hopeful for us all that the fear of each other has dissipated in the church a little.