Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Thing With Feathers

I just spent my morning devotional time reading every Bible verse that includes the word "hope." There are a great many of them, in both the Hebrew Scripture and the Second Testament (a.k.a. Old and New Testaments in traditional parlance.) It's a great way to start the day, when you're a clergy person searching for a new call.  I like some of the verses better than others but I love so many of them so much that I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite. I also like the Emily Dickinson poem about hope. I love that she compares it to a singing bird. I bet if a Psalmist saw her poem he or she would wish to have thought of this image first, it is so beautiful and perfect.

Hope is a the cornerstone of our faith. Where does it come from? How does one get and keep it? The Bible is actually pretty articulate on this score. In my experience, it comes from spiritual discipline, from things like prayer and Bible Study and providing direct assistance to people in need. I think it is fair to say, however, that some people are born with a gene that makes hope easier. I suspect I could be one of those people. There was a time in my life when my hope was more likely to be swamped by pessimism, but that happens less often and does not last as long now. On the other hand, I have experienced hope as a thing that I have had to work to get and keep at times, so perhaps it doesn't come naturally to me after all. Someday maybe science will have an answer for me. In the meantime, I have scripture, and I have the descriptions of churches all over the country. Some of them are struggling and in deep denial of the nature of their dysfunction, but most of them are out there making the world a better place. Just knowing these churches exist, even if none of them chooses me as their Pastor, gives me reason to feel hope.

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