This weekend we showed our first video featuring member responses to the question, “What gives you hope?” As I mentioned in my sermon, I was intrigued by the comments made by one of our sixth graders about the Greek myth of Pandora.
I loved being surprised that our students are learning about Greek mythology. I get concerned that so much of our educational system, with its increasing battery of mandated tests, is being geared toward technical knowledge. We teach to the test. What gets lost in the mix is our humanity. We are not machines designed to spit out the products that perpetuate our materialist culture. We are humans designed in the image of God whose souls soar in the presence of beauty, whose minds imagine their way out of the quagmires of conflicted relationships, whose spirits connect across the boundaries of race and culture and religion.
The point of these cultural myths is to help us deal with the great questions of life, “Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” And, “How did we get into the mess we find ourselves in?” That’s why it’s so important to learn and know these stories.
So, let’s get back to Pandora. In brief, the jar Pandora was given, once opened, released all sorts of evil into the world. What remained bottled up in the jar was hope.
It feels like that today doesn’t it? All sorts of evil permeate every corner of the known universe, every community, every cell of our being as we stare at the images on our screens. And hope seems to be bottled up.
If that is the only story we know, the only story to be told, life would be driven by our base instincts to compete and win, to survive, to get what we can, when we can get it, at whatever cost.
But, Advent reminds us we are part of a different story. Pandora is not the only story that speaks to us in our time. In fact, the narrative we live into as followers of Jesus is in stark contrast. Instead of releasing all sorts of evil into a good world, we extend all sorts of good into a world wracked by evil. Rather than bottling hope, we throw off the lid with each act of kindness and generosity and surprising grace.
We know, on our own, we can’t cure all the evils of the world but we can work to mend the parts that are under our influence. Each seemingly insignificant helpful action serves as a subversive agent of goodness and hopefulness overthrowing the cultural narratives laced with evil and despair.
We do have a story to tell this season. It’s the story of God entering a broken and despairing world and offering nothing but love—a patient and persistent love that casts out fear and co-creates hope.
It’s Monday. What is the story you are living in these days? Peace. Kai