As I was reading the pre-Christmas story in Luke 1, I stumbled over Zechariah’s song and a curious paradox. Zechariah was John the Baptist’s father. His song trumpets that the centuries-old longing of God’s people would be fulfilled. “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.” Curiously, when he sang this song, not much had changed. The Romans still occupied the land. In the years ahead, the followers of Jesus would face severe persecution by decree of the Roman Emperors. Where was the redemption? What had actually changed?
But, then it struck me—hope is not rational. Hope stares down all of the current realities, the present fears, the past failings, and makes a claim that is does not have to be that way! Hope will not let the downward spiral of the past determine the trajectory of the future. Hope does not bind itself to pre-determined outcomes it frees us to imagine future possibilities. Hope is not rational.
For Zechariah, the world didn’t change because he believed the promise was being realized. Yet, because he believed, he would have the energy and courage and tenacity and patience to work toward the change that God desired—a world infused with love, compassion, and irrational hope!
It’s Monday. As you prepare for the coming of Jesus again this week, ask God for an irreplaceable gift—the gift of hope. Peace. Kai
Advent–the season of preparation. This morning marks a different kind of preparation for one family. I will be gathering with them to prepare for a memorial service for a loved one. All of a sudden, many of the anxieties of the season–the quest for the perfect gift, the rush of holiday parties and concerts and preparations, the tension of anticipated family gatherings, pale in comparison. This family (and too many others) will have an open chair around the Christmas table and the “reason for the season” emerges with piercing clarity: Hope in life. Hope in death.
Less than perfect gifts under the tree or no gifts at all. Meals plated with perfect timing. Imperfect relationships. Loss. Grief. Sadness. That is the world Jesus entered. That is the world God loved so much. What do we truly need? Hope in life. Hope in death.
It’s Monday. You probably know someone who is struggling with loss this season. Reach out. Crack open the gift of hope by being present in their life. Peace. Kai
I want to share a brief poem by Lillian Bernhagen. Lillian read some of her poetry to our community this weekend. As I sat with her, all 95 years of her, I felt like I wanted to drink in as much of her wisdom and experience as I could. It’s heartening to be with those who have navigated the tumultuous seas of life and emerged not more cynical and hate-filled but more compassionate and hopeful. As she read her final poem I realized why. She has always imagined a force, a love, a being who fills her every cell with meaning and infuses even the most mundane of tasks with purpose.
Silent Words by Lillian Bernhagen
There are not enough words to say
What force this is
That holds my being in its sway
And lifts my soul
Beyond the mundane routine of each day.
I only know that it warms my heart
A love that surely was
Before my being had its start
In earthly form,
A precious thing,
A total part of every cell,
It makes me whole
And lets me live this mortal life
With faith in immortality of soul.
It’s Monday. Say a prayer of thanks to the force, the being, the love, the God that gives you life today. Peace. Kai