Someone recently noted I had not posted anything on my blog lately. A lot of this is the fault of Bryce and the fact that I spent 8 weeks at home caring for him ... and like most new-borns he demands a lot of attention. I realize that the other reason I have not blogged much is I feel like around elections I am left biting my tongue a lot. Even if the IRS did not have laws around the role of the church in politics I am not inclined to dive into these highly charged waters. I am privately very politically but since my calling is a pastor is to all people I think it better to keep my personal opinions out of the way of my ministry.
This time of year it can be hard to escape politics. So I think I am going to go for an area that I feel is not political at all ... hope. Obviously hope is gets used in political discourse but I am talking about a more generic hope. I am talking about a hope that no matter who wins things will be better ... or things will be alright. I think that sort of hope is lacking in the world. It clearly is lacking in politics but I think it is also lacking in other places.
I follow the Vikings and unlike mostly people I am not that surprised that they are 4-1 at this point in the season. This is not because I am good at analyzing football and picking winners and loser (my family can attest to that) but simply because I tend to have hope. Even in the midst of a losing 3-13 season last year I kept finding reasons to hope. Not because it was justified ... in fact it was often unjustified but just because I felt hope was better than despair. Reading the Star Tribune sports pages I often feel the local writers need some hope when it comes to covering our local teams. It may not be accurate journalism, but it would be optimistic journalism. I think a lot of local fans look for hope when it comes to their sports teams (or should anyway).
Another area I see a lack of hope is the economy. This is a tricky situation ... one could easily argue that false hope is what got us into some of the mess we are in now. People seemed to hope that the housing market would go up and up ... or hope they could afford the mortgages ... or hope no one would notice the mortgages they were bundling were filled with bad loans. One of the biggest hindrances to a recovery seems to be a lack of hope. People are not hiring because of the gloomy outlook ... and the outlook remains gloomy because people are not hiring. I know it is far more complicated than that ... but I cannot wonder if there is some room for hope here too.
Maybe we need to find a way to distinguish between false hope and true hope. True hope is not blind optimism (every lottery ticket I buy will be a winner) ... instead I think it is an optimism that is tempered by the knowledge that losing is not nearly as bad as we make it out to be. The line from Fight Club "only when you have lost everything are you free to do anything" comes to mind.
When it comes to the church I think this is the kind of hope we offer. Not an artificial hope of a land flowing with milk and honey ... if you just do enough right. But a genuine hope that no matter what there is room for grace, room for God, room for resurrection. Maybe that kind of hope does not have a place in politics or economics, or even sports ... but I think it is the kind of hope that the church should be offering to everyone, especially in these challenging times.