Friday, September 08, 2017

Porch Stories: Hope

porch stories: daring to hope

For her Porch Stories Kristin Hill Taylor blogs about Katie Davis Majors' Daring to Hope. "Hope" means it's time to revisit at least some stories of God's past faithfulness, God's surprises. Recite them. Relive them. Trust them to happen again? No, not quite exactly, but something similar in terms of surprise, creation's need, and apparent human impossibility.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
1 Corinthians 13:13

"These three"—we teach, preach, and testify to God's requiring only that we trust (believe, have faith, walk with) him. Even non-Christians know love is supposed to be the central teaching and action of Christianity. But isn't hope the most essential? I considered writing using the gerund hoping to indicate an ongoing process. I pondered the indicative or imperative "hope." In the Exodus narrative, the reality of the Day of Resurrection, God frees us – liberates us – and God claims us as newly-created people.

At least eighteen months ago I was emailing with someone who attended Thursday community dinners I helped prepare and serve at Church Around the Corner in Previous City. At her request I still email her the link to my notes from my adult SS class and usually add a note asking how she is, but I haven't heard back in over a year. Her late dad was a pastor, yet she imagines all kinds of hopeless-sounding scenarios. At one point I asked, "What's Christianity about?" She replied, "to acquire a Christ-like character." I responded—"that's the goal of every religion. It's the goal of atheistic humanism, of humanistic atheism. How about "practice resurrection?!" I quoted from Wendell Berry's Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front. Friend then asked, "What? Have I been missing something?" Yes. She had been.

What do I say about hope for today? I've consistently remembered God's saving acts and unmediated presence over the eons. The testimony of scripture that includes the Exodus from empire and the entry into the Promised Land. Homecomings from exile in Babylon and other places more than hinted at—fully promised by the middle section of the long book of Isaiah (chapters 40-55) that we refer to as 2nd Isaiah. Jesus' resurrection from death to new life. {For the most part, haha} I've lived as if loss and grief do not define me. In the power of the Holy Spirit of life, of resurrection, of newness, I've done my human best to practice resurrection. But behind my own hopes, even beyond the witness of scripture, God creates futures for humanity and for planet earth none of us can imagine. Unimaginable? Yes, despite our acquaintance with scripture and our own histories with the God whose "final answer" always is resurrection. You know that question we sometimes ask: what condition needs to be present in order to have resurrection? Answer? You need to be dead.

It took me a couple days to get to writing this Porch Story that's a little about past events, but even more about my own future. In the same way God's people Israel could not regard The Exodus from Egypt as a completely finished event, we cannot act as if Easter was a long ago happening, but need to continue living into both. This Porch Story is about my hope for my own future, and just as much about hope for friend from Previous City. I hope she'll answer an email soon, but even more I hope God will surprise her with newness she never imagined.

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