Messages From the Clergy

Hope

One of the brothers at the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE) wrote: “When we, like our predecessors in the faith, live in a world where the line between (what is and what can be) is thin and permeable, we can learn to live in hope because what we see was possible in their lives we can know is possible for us as well.”

As we enter November, I have been thinking about hope. We are in the midst of a World Series where the Chicago Cubs are playing the Cleveland Indians. One of my friends has been a Cubs fan for the 30 years that I have known him. He was a boy when the Cubs were last in the World Series 71 years ago. (Continue Reading…) It has been the longest stretch that any team of the major four American sports has not been in a championship. The last time the Cubs won the World Series was 108 years ago, in 1908. The Cleveland Indians have the second-longest stretch without a World Series title, last winning in 1948. When I was serving a church in Massachusetts, I presided at a graveside service. Nearby was a tombstone that read, “Never got to see the Red Sox win a World Series.” It had been 86 years before the Red Sox won again in 2004. In 2008, it had been 28 years since the Phillies had last won a world series – not so long.

Spring training is always a sign of hope for me. Maybe because it precedes Easter, or perhaps because I take it as a sign that the weather will soon warm up; mostly, I think, because in spring training the whole season is before us. The world offers the possibility of a championship, however slim or real.

My friend has been hoping for 71 years; others for 68 years. Some never get to experience a championship. Hope is something we have seen in those who have gone before us, and because of that, hope becomes possible for us as well, as the SSJE brother wrote. Now, compared to life and love, baseball is trivial.

The Prophet Jeremiah, not the most optimistic of Bible writers, was clear about Israel’s wrongdoing, yet was also clear about Israel’s hope. “O hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble” (14: 8). The Apostle Paul turned to Abraham, a predecessor in faith, to show that hope was possible is his time as well. Like Jeremiah, he taught that “in hope we were saved.” Then he added, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

However difficult our days might be, however long it has been since we have lived in peace, however harsh the conversation, we find hope in God for compassion, peace, and stability. We wait. We strive. We pray. The awaited day will come.

~ Cliff