04 December 2008

We DO Know Where This is Going.

On my church's website, they have begun a blog specifically for the Advent season. The first week of posts (started on November 30) are all having to do with hope.

One of the posts talked about how there is an element of despair in every hope. Hope, the writer said, is sometimes hopeless.

We talk about how we can hope for something "against all hope", or that there is no hope in a given situation.

But hope and despair come hand in hand. We can hope that we don't get laid off, but only while we are experiencing the despair that comes with the threat of losing our job. We can hope for a comfortable retirement account, but that hope is focused through the despair of a bad economy. We can hope for a better, stronger, brighter America in the future, with despair in the knowledge that it will get worse before it gets better.

Hope is only real when times are tough. Hope only has meaning if one has every reason to despair.

The Bible has much to say about hope. Any sort of casual reading through the prophetic books will show you what despair looks like. I mentioned the Israelite Exile to Babylon briefly last week, and I would like to revisit that in order to illustrate hope.

The Israelites had literally everything taken from them. Their possessions were stolen, their Temple had been destroyed. Their homes were burned. They even had their land taken from them, as they were forced to move to Babylon. It was the absolute lowest point in their history since they were in Egypt.

And during this exile, during this horribly desperate time in their history, the Israelite prophets spoke of the despair, of the pain, of the judgement that they were experiencing from God.

But then they also spoke of hope. Hope for a future where everything is "put to rights". A future where justice prevails, where poverty is eliminated, where everyone eats enough and can afford daily necessities. Where no-one dies in wars, where no-one has their possessions taken from them by force. The prophets wrote that this hope would be for not just the nation of Israel, but for all people, everywhere.

This should be our hope as well.

We believe that the hope of the exiled prophets for a new, better world came to fruition in the flesh of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the hope that the prophets were talking about. Not just for Israel, but for all people, everywhere.

The Book of Revelation is a strange book to read, and a difficult book to understand. As a child, the book nearly drove me away from faith, but that's a different post.

If we look at the last two chapters of Revelation, we see a glimpse of where Creation is going. We catch the slightest sideways glance at what God, through Jesus, has set in motion:

A New Jerusalem.

A New Heaven.

A New Earth.

A New Creation.

What we're seeing is Hope. That means that I can stand before anyone and tell them that I know where this is going. I know what will happen. I know how this story will end. In this time of growing despair, of fear and war and death, we shall begin to see more clearly the hope that we all have for the future. This hope is firmly rooted in the fact that Jesus has "put the world to rights" in God's eyes. Jesus has enacted the hope of Revelation 21 and 22.

He enacted the hope that we have for the future, and he also empowered us to live out that hope in our lives today.

Gandhi said that we should try to be the change we wish to see in the world.

In this Advent season, when we think of the hope we have for the future, we should attempt to be that hope.


1 comment:

jimkastkeat said...

Jesus, Gandhi, and N.T. Wright.

These are some great words wrapped around some fantastic ideas.