Where Do We Find Hope?

DSC05408Where do we find hope?

In the midst of senseless death, poverty that goes on unabated, environmental degradation, some of it taking place right in our back yard, how do we find hope?

How do we live hope?

Today we heard the first part of the second chapter of Luke, in the coming weeks we will hear the rest of the story. This week we find Zachariah and Elizabeth, without child, despite them living a godly life. In those days, to be without children was to have no standing in society. When the angel Gabriel tells Zachariah that Elizabeth would bear a son in her old age, he didn’t believe the angel. And because of his disbelief, he was struck silent until that day came. Zachariah had no hope… Despite being familiar with Abraham and Sarah’s story of a son in their old age, he didn’t believe. His hope was silenced.

It’s the first week of advent…

I am sharing three stories of hope, one from in our congregation, one from a colleague and one from a politician. 😉

This one from Lynne Church:

She spells hope in this way:

H – having a diagnosis
O – overwhelming news
P – people who care
E – eventual relief

In June of 1999, I got the devastating news that I had breast cancer. I was told over the phone just as I was getting ready for work. David made the call to my Principal to tell him that I wouldn’t be in that day and the previous day was the last time I worked for a year. I had many challenges but my many colleagues at work, my family and friends were the best. I had prayers said and well wishes from just about any religion & group that you could think of. The parents of my ‘kids’ were great also. In case you don’t know, I was a secretary in an elementary school. The school itself was also going through changes that year, as was I. St. Francis Elementary School was joined with Tower Road School. The transition happened and the ‘new’ school was called Inglis Street Elementary. When I was given the all clear to return to work in September of 2000, most of the kinks were figured out. I came back to lots of new faces and names to remember but most of all, the HOPE that everyone shared with me was thriving. Now today in my 17th year as a cancer survivor, I live each day, thankful for the advancements in medicine and also the POWER OF PRAYER. My HOPE is, that before I meet my Maker, they find a cure for this dreadful disease. There are a number of cancer survivors in this congregation and I truly believe that HOPE is what will see us all through whatever is thrown at us.

This from Rev. Janice MacLean, who in addition to being in ministry half time, has an on-line ministry called The Prayer Bench.

She writes:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
that perches in the soul
and sings the tune without the words
and never stops – at all –

This is a snippet of a poem from Emily Dickinson.

I memorized the words when I was a young adult. Every once in awhile my memory returns the words to me, especially in those times when I need to be reminded of the grace-notes of hope. Hope. What can we say about hope in a world like ours? Is hope even real for most people anymore? Well, here what I believe about hope. I believe hope has deep roots. I believe hope is woven into our DNA. It is a birthright. I believe hope has nothing to do with whether we are optimists or pessimists; those are stances we acquire later in life. I believe hope dwells in us. It perches in the soul. We come into this world glistening bodies of hope. I believe we lose hope; we all do now and then. But we never lose the possibility of hope. And this is really important. Hope is a practice of persistence. I believe we hope to the very point we can hope no longer, then we hope anyway. Hope is a practice of lament. This is the tune without the words when we can’t see hope, can’t hear it. These are often the times God is doing God’s deepest work in us, often bringing us into something more fully ourselves. Hope is outrageous and ordinary. We practice seeing things as they really are and hold them in tension that which is not yet seen. I write to bring you greetings of hope as we enter into Advent. May we be especially watchful for signs of hope.”

And these words from algary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Nov 20th 2015:

“I had a meeting this morning where we had a community forum on refugees. And I was a little bit nervous walking in because it was an open invitation, anybody could come, and I thought there might be some angry people or people with a lot of very difficult questions. And who was there were churches and synagogues and temples and mosques and grandmothers and volunteers and people from across the community, who were just asking the same question, which is by the way still by far the most common question I get, how can I help? And at one point a First Nations woman stood up. I only knew that because she said, I am a First Nations woman. I thought she was going to say, why are we having all this focus on these refugees when we have so many problems closer to home? And what she actually said was, I need some help. Because I need to understand how and when they’re coming because I want to make sure, and many of my First Nations colleagues, want to make sure that when these people come, we have an opportunity to have the elders there to drum them in and to do a smudge ceremony so we can welcome them to this land… I might have lost it at that point.”

Stories of hope my friends… stories of hope… may they blossom and grow in your hearts.

Thanks be to God, amen.

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