Prophets Candle “Hope”
“Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes’.” ―Stephen Colbert
I recently led a few of the people in my church in exploring how to have good and fruitful conversations regarding public and political issues in this contentious period of time. As we tip-toed through that minefield, we discussed what Parker Palmer considered the biggest schism in America. It wasn’t Left vs Right, or Liberal vs Conservative. Palmer felt that the biggest divide in our nation is Cynicism vs Hopefulness.
Palmer describes Cynics as having given up hope that things can be better, and therefore need to grab what they can now. Cynics look at those with Hope as unrealistic, sentimental dreamers. Hope isn’t sentimental wishy-washiness; rather it is seeing the possibilities in the future while squinting through the gloom and despair of today. Hopefulness empowers us to seek the welfare of the city and country around us while working to counter the despair attempting to cloud our vision.
The first Advent Candle represents Hope. The reading for this first Sunday of Advent proclaims a vision of Hope for the future. As you read it, try to see in your mind the Hope within it.
Isaiah 2:1-5 NRSV The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. (2) In days to come the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. (3) Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (4) He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (5) O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!
Can you see it? Can you imagine it? What does the world look like when all the people of the world gather to worship and learn at the feet of God? What would it be like to see our weapons melted down and turned into farm equipment? As we look to the future, can we squint through the conflict and frustration of the world around us to see what might be? Can we cling to that hope and draw energy from it?
Prayer: King Jesus, I know that God’s kingdom won’t be fully realized until you return, but I will cling to that vision of hop, and do what I can to live it out now, so that when the trumpet sounds, I’m ready for it. May the hope found in You bring peace to my heart and motivate my steps in service and love. Amen.
Jeff Lundblad, Pastor
First Baptist Church