Waging Hope

hopeDear friends,

More than any time in my memory, yesterday felt less like an election day and more like a referendum on the kind of country we want to be – a feeling that was widely shared by people all across the country and all across the political spectrum, in red states and in blue.

For those of us who woke up thunderstruck and heartbroken by what happened last night, I want to offer a word of solace and encouragement.

If you are now feeling fearful and uncertain about the future, if you wonder what kind of country we’re becoming, if you look out out at the days ahead and it feels like all you can see is a long dark tunnel, here’s my counsel: take a step, then take another, because the only way forward is through.

We know this from all the great stories, in scripture and elsewhere, because they are all speaking to the same truth: life is just like this.  It’s filled with dark passages, devastating setbacks and hard chapters.

They last for a time, sometimes days, sometimes weeks or months, sometimes years, until one day you’re through the passage and you overcome the setback, and suddenly you emerge into the light and start writing a new chapter.

It was true for Moses, standing on the shore of the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s army thundering up behind him.  It was true for the Hebrew people, making their way to Canaan, lost in the wilderness.  It was true of Jesus, praying vainly for deliverance in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Their only way out was through and so they did what they had to do: they took one step, then another.  And so they met the challenge and made their way through the sea, through the wilderness and through the darkness and began to write a new story.

I’m sure this has been true even in your own life.  When you lost your mother, or your husband, the rock of your life; or when you lost your son or your granddaughter or your best friend and the pain you experienced felt unbearable, and all the light seemed to have drained out of your world and hope seemed far off and out of reach.

But you got up and you took a step, then another, and with every step you moved closer to the light — the light of simple happiness, of hope restored.

The good news is that we don’t have to make this journey alone.  As a community of faith, we’re blessed with the opportunity to be church together, to navigate whatever challenges lie ahead in the company of others who believe that Easter trumps Good Friday because they have experienced the hope and the truth of resurrection in their own lives.

We get to decide who we want to be and what we stand for.

We get to write our own alternative narrative within the larger story that is now playing out all across the country.

We get to be a beacon of light and hope to our neighbors who may be feeling lost or afraid, to assure those who wonder if their lives matter, those who wonder if they are welcome in this country, that their lives do matter because they matter to us, and they are welcome in this country because they are welcome here.

With our worship and our singing, with our service and our witness, with our joy and our hope, we get to declare our faith in a God whose love transcends our differences and whose grace cannot be limited to people who believe like us or look like us.

If you need to grieve the temporary loss of your dream for a better country, I encourage you to honor your urge to mourn and find a way to give voice to your lament.  If you’re angry that America seems to have taken a step back into its shadow past, please find a place to shout and rage and don’t stop until you’re done.

Then take a breath, and fuel up.  And if you can, meet me here this Sunday, because, together, we’re going to take the next step on our journey toward the light, toward a bright hopeful future, for us, for our friends and neighbors, for our country.

With deep love and steadfast faith—in you, in our church and in God, with whom all things are possible.