Towards engagement driven by hope and optimism and away from reactions based on suspicion and scarcity. We can no longer operate as if new life and hope are not realities. I believe that too many of us only know how to feel useful if we are in a climate of fear and desperation. Too many of us only know how to play the role of malcontent and/or gatekeeper and do not know how to operate within a climate of hope. In fact, when we are really unhealthy, we may even create negativity and chaos when it is not there, simply so we can come in and operate in a more comfortable setting. How many times have folks tried to move things forward only to run into walls of negativity and fear? Now this is not simply a stage-of-life issue, but a reality that we, especially the church, must deal with. Jesus did not come to bring despair, but hope. If we the church, of all institutions, cannot live into that idea, we might as well pack it in and go home. Movements of hope do not demand ease and smooth sailing, but a common understanding that through the struggle and communal hard work, there is new life ahead.
While Bruce was talking about his Presbyterian Church, he could have been talking about my own denomination, the Disciples of Christ. I don't know what has happened, but at least around these parts, it's as if people took some hopeless pills. People are constantly tearing each other down, talking trash that such and such church will close, that these churches have no mission and how we should just give up and just join the United Church of Christ. It's all negative and you wonder if they really believe in a God at all.
Maybe it's a mainline malaise. Maybe we have become so used to loss that we tend to think venture inward, fearful of the future and tearing down anyone who has the audacity to believe things can change for the better.
But I have to believe I serve a God that has done the impossible; a God that has taken the weak things of this world to shame the strong. David defeated Goliath. Gideon and his small army defeated the mighty Midianites. And the Messiah came from a backwater town.
It's hard to be a cheerleader, especially me (there is a reason I call this blog "Oscar"). But you know, I do believe in hope. As Jim Wallis once said:
Hope is a decision you make. Hope means believing in spite of the evidence and then waiting for the evidence to change.
Yeah, churches are losing members and budgets are getting smaller. But we serve a powerful God. Do I have start yelling, "Yes, we can?"
Any resemblance to a certain candidate is purely intentional.