Oakland church

Archive for hope

Choose the Road of Connection

Have a Blessed day! quipped a cheerful woman at the airport Starbucks,  to my friend Ken Medema. 

It reminds me of some messages I’ve have heard this year: “I’m feeling really hopeful about 2020 — it’s going to be a great year,”

What’s your response? Is there some resistance… some skepticism?

Sure, there’s a long list of events that happened in 2019 that could make us  embrace hopelessness or apathy, which I believe is a much easier path than hope and staying engaged. Instead of citing the heartbreaking realities you know and read about in the daily news,  I invite you to  start 2020 on a different road. One that leads away from despair, resignation and disengagement; or convincing ourselves that none of this is my fault, and therefore not my responsibility.

In the words of Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who of all people had reason to despair and disengage,  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. His words, so powerful in his time, are as powerful today, offering us a needed corrective to the rampant individualism that erodes our interdependence. The stark truth is that when we diminish one’s person humanity, we diminish our own.

We can talk until late in the night about the character and actions of our president, “the other party,” and “other proclaimed Christians”, about whether they are really following in the ways of Jesus. But when we engage in that kind of conversation, we’re deflecting the real work of this moment, the work of asking ourselves some very hard questions about our identities as citizens and our claims as people of the “way” of love. 

Jesus said it loud and clear in the Sermon on the Mount and on several other occasions: all God’s rules for human living are summed up in the direction to love God and love our neighbor. Everything else springs from this work. To be a Christian in the way of Jesus we will, in fact, have to swim upstream in today’s American culture, embodying what Jesus had to say in that sermon up on the mount. S hare what you have with anybody who needs it. Love your enemies. Live generous lives. Tell the truth. Act toward each other the way God acts toward you. Sacrifice something big for something good.

This year, let us to choose a road that acknowledges that we are all connected. Choose the road of hope tied to action. Resolve to live into hope, into a better year.

Life-long Graduations and Our Deepest Values

We’re in the season of graduation, but not just for high school graduates venturing forth to college, but for all of us in this lifelong process of growth, evolution, and change. 

Throughout our lives we search for meaning, our vocation, and our life’s purpose.   

David Brooks, NY TImes journalist, writes:

So I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you put on your résumé, which are the skills you bring to the marketplace.The eulogy virtues are the ones that get mentioned in the eulogy, which are deeper: who are you, in your depth, what is the nature of your relationships, are you bold, loving, dependable, consistent? And most of us, including me, would say that the eulogy virtues are the more important of the virtues. But at least in my case, are they the ones that I think about the most? And the answer is no.”  Click here for his Ted Talk

Reinhold Niebuhr summed up the confrontation:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by that final form of love, which is forgiveness.

Come and join us after the service for a conversation about how to live in this world, but not of this world, connected deeply with our deepest values. 

    Blessings, Laurie