“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.
You wait and watch and work;
you don’t give up.”
The Sunday night portion of our Gathering is, as we move closer and closer to Christmas, discussing hope, faith, peace, and love. Last night we talked about hope.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and from an emerging church perspective… from a Christian perspective… I guess from a human perspective, hope and the state of hope in our world is something to be very concerned about. I think it is clear to most that when it comes to hope, we are in short supply. More and more people are struggling with depression, and while that might be due to a greater acceptance of depression as a viable thing to struggle with, I think it is also due to a decreasing number of things to place our hope in. It really comes down to (and the stats confirm it) people really only able to hope in themselves. I just read an article from the Barna Institute confirming some of the same things. It really comes down to our own selves. But this, doesn’t really seem to satisfy what we need as individuals being geared to be in relationships.
So we can’t hope that the government is going to fix things. We don’t hope that war is going to bring peace. We have a difficult time hoping that the environment can be saved with our current way of living. We struggle with hoping that the “American dream” is all that it’s cracked up to be. And sadly, at least from where I am coming from, there is an even smaller hope in Christians being able to make a lasting, relevant difference in this world. This saddens me, as it seems to me that the message that Jesus lived out, even to his death and resurrection, was that there IS hope. People don’t get this from us Christians, though.
So in this world of diminishing hope, we have to ask ourselves the question: What can we do? How do we, in some very significant way, restore hope to this world? As an emerging community, seeking to follow God in the way of Jesus, this question is of incredible importance. As we look at the impact of our relationships, and the spread of influence through the relationships of those we are close to, it seems clear that perhaps things can spread quite quickly. It starts with being hopeful people. My first hope is that people might be able to place their hope in Christians again. Okay, maybe not all… but at least in this one. Maybe they might see me as someone whose way of living IS different, as someone who WILL love them where they are at. Maybe, in me first, they might see a way of living that really IS attractive.
And after they have hope in me, maybe they might have hope in my community… “Wow, you mean there are actually a group of you that I can have hope in? People… CHRISTIANS… can actually be open with each other and not judgmental of people like me?!?” We show them something different, welcome people… anyone… and they begin to see us as having something to offer. And then, as our hope is restored in Christian community (because, yes, all of us are growing and restoring our hope), perhaps we are then able to hope that the message of Jesus has something to offer as well.
But this is slow… it is done through relationships, through “doing life together,” through pain and waiting and long nights and early mornings. It is not done through my writing, or through books, or radio programs. Hope is spread one person at a time. Maybe, just maybe… hopefully… we might be able to give someone hope this holiday season. Even one person more hopeful, is a step in the direction of a hopeful world.