Advent Hope, Bubbling Up, and Nelson Mandela
Yesterday, Joanna asked us: “How do we live a hope filled life without then being one who only ‘looks through rose colored glasses’?”
It is a great question. Is there a difference between optimism and hope? I think we do well to remember the one who anchors our hope is Jesus Christ. Our hope is not a general sense of goodness or well-being, or a “Don’t Worry – be Happy.” (Does anyone even remember that song? Google it youth, you missed out on a whole phenomenon with that one.)
What does it mean to have our hope rooted in Jesus Christ? I think it means the character of our hope ought to take on the character of the one in whom our hope rests. (Because it isn’t Pandora’s hope, after all, it is God’s hope resting in the one who is God-with-us.)
As God with us we know that Jesus sets aside glory and honor to take on flesh and blood, sin and grief. That is to say our hope is decidedly not rose colored glasses. It’s the opposite. Hope takes an extra-long and very real look at suffering. We know as well that our hope resides in one that died for us. Our hope is not a self-serving thing of comfort, ease, and material well-being. Our hope is rooted in the one who had nowhere to lay his head, who sought out the least and the lost, and chose as companions the ones that others had deemed unworthy.
But to come full circle this doesn’t mean our hope is less than rose colored glasses, or benign happiness. The point is that our hope is so much more. Our hope resides in the one who rose from the dead, who healed those left for dead, who united people across cultural and racial divides tearing down the dividing walls of hostility, the one who proclaimed along with the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19) and more than proclaimed it by chapter seven when John the Baptist is wondering if Jesus is the one to come – the one in whom our hope resides – Jesus response is not to say yes or no. But to say look what is happening in my wake? Where I go hope rises; lives experience tangible good news.
The hope we find in Jesus is BIG. It is world transforming. Its aim is creation-wide. But it’s accomplished one person at a time. It starts at the bottom and bubbles up. It sees the worst the world has to offer, and responds in counter-intuitive love and blessing.
You want tangible hope? Why don’t we end this week’s reflection on hope in the most tangible and fitting manner. With these words from Nelson Mandela who the world celebrates even as we mourn our loss in his death yesterday because his was a great spirit:
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
This is hope.