Hope Lies Ahead

Are you tired? I’m tired. It’s mid-November and I’m already tired of winter. I know it hasn’t even really started yet. Still, I’m tired of it. But that’s not what I mean. Like most people, I probably work too much and don’t rest, let alone sleep, enough. But I don’t mean that kind of tired, either. And yes, I know I “only work for an hour on Sunday morning ha ha ha.” That joke gets a little tiring even, but, again, not what I mean. No, I think it’s something different. This is going to get ugly, so please bear with me to The End. I’m tired of the angry back and forth when people don’t instantly agree on something. I’m tired of the need to vilify the person when we don’t like their ideas. I’m tired of the lack of compassion towards the poor, the sick and the elderly and the lack of desire to help those who can’t help themselves. I’m tired of the need to be able to say whatever we feel like without any thought or filter, just because we think we should be entitled to. I’m tired of entitlement period. I’m tired of hate and bigotry being justified as opinion because they’re not, they’re hate and bigotry and I wish they stopped. I’m tired of betrayal and I’m tired of being anxious and fearful. I’m tired of war, in all it’s forms. I’m tired of bombs going off and bullets flying. I’m tired of the destruction and hurt inflicted on people and on the planet. I’m tired of oppression. I’m tired of violence. I’m tired of natural disasters and the disasters our presence inflicts on the earth. I’m tired of hearing that a few hundred died here or thousands there or even one on their way home from the store, as if they’re just numbers. I’m tired of nations fighting with each other. I’m tired of earthquakes, famine and plagues. I’m tired of reading the news and I’m tired of hearing that being tired of all that makes me a “snowflake.” Winter isn’t coming, it’s here. Now, if you’re still with me, this wasn’t just a rant. I have a point. I imagine Jesus’ disciples were feeling much the same when Jesus talked about The End. See, the church year, unlike the calendar year, ends at Advent. Advent begins the new year, anticipating the arrival of Jesus at Christmas. So as we come to the end of the year, we hear scripture readings in church that remind us of, well, The End. And sometimes that can feel like The End is happening right now. And I’m tired of that. The gospel of Luke records a story of Jesus and the disciples walking in the temple. The disciples are admiring the wonder of the temple, but Jesus says “as for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6) He proceeds to tell them how The End will come, basically outlining a summary of what I said above. Except, the point isn’t to scare anyone, it’s to give them hope. Yes, hope. We can so easily become fixated on the pain, the suffering, the destruction, the “dreadful portents and great signs.” But there is no life in that. There is only tiredness and death. But The End will be followed by The Beginning, it always is. The hope is not in the death, but the new life, not in the ending but the beginning. In Luke, Jesus tells this little apocalypse just before he’s arrested. The disciples will already know the tiredness of what they’ve seen, the fear of the authorities and enemies of Jesus circling. In a few days they will know the grief of the cross. A few days more and the hope Jesus promised them will be real: they will touch the new life that is in him. I’m still tired. But I have hope, hope that new beginnings are ahead, hope that new life will come because love wins. Always.

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