-Pastor Melissa Fain-
In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
Jeremiah 33:15 NRSV
Have you ever misused a tool to have it perform a function it was not meant to, or used the tool like a weapon? If you thought hard enough, you probably have.
Here’s an innocent one. Just two weeks ago I subbed P.E.. It was my job to stay inside with the badminton players. (Because the more rowdy kids chose kickball and touch football.) In the first five minutes of every class the words, “The racquet is for hitting birdies, not swordplay,” came out of my mouth. Then everything was fine, and it was a good class.
There are also times that we don’t even realize we are misusing a tool. I think knives are the biggest culprit. Most of us just pick them up and start cutting. We learn hard lessons as dull knives slip, or we cut towards us instead of away… hopefully just a bandaid later, we are using the tool more as it’s intended when we return to it.
That’s how it is with Christian hope.
In a Christian context, hope is not a feeling.
Let me repeat that: Hope is NOT a feeling. One can feel “hope,” but that is like feeling the sun. You know the sun is not a feeling, but you can feel its warmth. Only, unlike the sun, you can’t see hope. Not in the way that it’s a physical object we could reach or touch. We only “see” the effects of its presence.
Christians are prone to become disheartened when they ask God for “Hope.” They are usually seeking a feeling of Hope, not actual Hope.
A Call to Adventure
Good hope, in the purest sense, is a call to adventure.
A real call to adventure isn’t all fun and games. It isn’t enjoyable. It is often dirty, painful and thankless. People will intentionally and accidently say very jabbing things to get you to stop. Mostly, because a real call to adventure makes absolutely no sense to anyone but the person accepting the call. That’s because of Hope.
Godly hope starts with a prayer: “God, where should I go?” or “God, what should I do?” Then there’s an answer. The answer is Hope. It’s a destination you cannot see, feel or touch, but you believe it’s existence because God called you to it. Because you believe it exists, you work towards that destination. (It’s why, for years, I’ve called Hope a map.)
As the Advent season has finally started, we begin with the first of four themes: Hope. Can you see why we start here, why we must always start here? No journey can start without first hope to light it’s way. Without Hope, there is no peace, reason to be joyful, no love to reach.
Start this season with a simple prayer, “God, what do you want me to do?” It might just be a call to adventure.