The Possibilities Are Endless: An Advent Starter

I was watching what amounts to a comedy round table this morning after watching a political round table show. Of course the comedy was better, but neither was too far off of the other. The lesson that I got from both of them: for the first time in a long while, it’s time to have hope.

A little bit over 2,000 years ago, a baby was born in a little town the powerful didn’t care about — not the politically powerful Romans, nor the religiously powerful leaders in Jerusalem, nor even the locally powerful owners of an inn. Still, the owners of the inn gave what they had, Jews at least knew what “the city of David” was, while Herod thought life was fine and he was in control. The closer to a situation you get, the more important it becomes.

The child would grow up to not travel much, not write much down, not have a house, not marry — not any of the things on most of our “bucket lists”. Ultimately, he would die a failed preacher, a failed prophet, a dead political person, hung on a cross by a world of cynics that felt hope, but submerged it in their personalities so far that they came to hate it.

When he was dead, the people who followed him were devastated. Their world had fallen apart. They had actually held hope in their hands when he touched them. He had talked to them, or listened to them, had paid attention to them and healed them. How could someone so good be killed as an evil troublemaker. Why was their hope a trouble to their leaders? Apparently it was, though, because Jesus was dead. Still, he seemed to be so right about the way the universe should run, and when he was around, it had.

The world now knows the rest of that story and we are the better off for it. God refuses to let hope die. God knows the way the world should run. Jesus told us all about it, and the Spirit helps us recognize it regardless of which side of Truth we are on. Evil does not ultimately win, but proving that takes an act of God — more than we believe we are capable of, but far less than God knows is possible. The Truth of the power of kindness calls to us, and the possibilities are endless if we follow the love in the world that God has said God wants… and it started with a little baby no one cared about but animals and shepherds.

So what does this have to do with Bill Maher, a noted atheist, and Meet the Press, a political round table? And how does that lead to hope? Here’s how: an atheist, a Christian, possible a Jew and possibly a Muslim, a Republican and a Democrat all agreed on something. Capitalists and Socialists agreed with each other that some people can’t be trusted, that actions speak louder than words, and that there’s a lot of work to be done.

Ten or twelve people on two different networks knew right from wrong — and they chose for people’s interests, not profit’s. They called out those who would hurt their brothers, sisters and non-binaries alike. They acknowledged corruption when the saw it and –at the end of it all, Bill Maher said that not all of life is political and we should enjoy our families, even if we disagree politically.

For pastors and theologians , hope is born because they’re asking the right questions. People are not asking about party or political expedience, they’re not gaining more power or more wealth. They are talking about people (our species) and they are talking about right and wrong, good and evil (our area of expertise). Personally, I long for the days when we could preach about justice and humility and peace without someone saying “You can’t say that about my President!”, even when he-who-shall-not-be-named …wasn’t.

This past election cycle has brought me more and more hope as the winners have been announced, because of the people who are represented in Congress. We listened and took to heart the message of teens who were shot at. We elected people who aren’t lawyers or stockbrokers or White Supremacists (for the most part). We elected women so their experience can be heard. We elected Muslims and Native American people so their experience can be heard. We elected poor people (or relatively poor) so their voices can be heard. I can’t tell you how excited about that I am or how healing I believe it will be!

As I said earlier, the closer to a situation you are, the more important it becomes. The people who have stepped forward bring wisdom that comes from experience. Yes, they will have blind spots. Yes, they will make mistakes, but their intent is to care and to do the right thing. In the old days, we used to complain that Republicans and Democrats were basically the same. Today, former Republicans are joining with newer Democrats to agree on right and wrong — on morality, with or without piety.

For those who grew up in the past 40 years or so, the new/old questions being asked will require different answers, answers which cannot be found on Google or on Wall Street. The answers they seek can only come from thoughtful discussion by loving people seeking a loving Way. We in churches have that. I think we need to prepare for what happens when they come looking because there’s a lot to be done in the name of this Spiritual revolution for more and more people. The pendulum of hatred and mistrust has swung a long way in the last 40 years or so. The Spirit calls us back the other way. Let us make the most of it, celebrating people’s experience and wisdom, seeing people’s value as God sees it. Let us celebrate the new day treasuring those the powerful have yet to see.

Resisting with Peace,

John

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