With regard to the present social atmosphere in America, deriving from much misunderstanding, hatred and violence in our country, I am daring to say that “HOPE” is one of those spiritual words that tend to render me mute. And certainly this is not a sentiment that anyone in leadership should admit to because as Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” Even so, although words might elude me in articulating hope, I do know hope when I see it and I also know what hope feels like. I know hope is more than the common understanding of wishful thinking, as in “I hope something will happen.” I know, intrinsically and spiritually, that hope means “confident expectation.” And it is this expectation from which I hope for our future, that things will get better, and audaciously hope for change.
On the issue of hope, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving … courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.” Hope keeps life moving in spite of everything that is distressing particularly for those who choose hope over despair. It is a something inside of us to hold it all together – i.e. a promise; a promise that God has better plans than we can imagine. Confidence that in the face of any attitude, law or behavior that dehumanizes and does harm to or oppresses another, still assures that God is in control. This confidence, in the mean time, may not keep tears from falling, anguish from existing, but it keeps despair from settling in the spirit.
As well, audacity or more specifically, “audacious” means to be bold and fearless. It is being bold about a hunger for something more. It is a daring to believe that something better is coming even though our culture might seem morally bankrupt and everything around us appears so gloomy. So what does “Audacious Hope” look like? We need look no further than, Harvey Milk who is considered a martyr for the LGBT rights movement who said,
“… You have to give them Hope. Hope for a better world, Hope for a better tomorrow, Hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without Hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us’es will give up.”
How do we make “Audacious Hope” happen? We remember, we believe that we are all called to be “a light to the nations” (Isa 42:6, 49:6) and to be a light to the nations means it is only logical to know we cannot be light unless we ourselves have the light. An exhortation to victorious self-love, communal affirmation and the spirituality of personhood is expressed by the author Toni Morrison in her book ‘Beloved’,
“She did not tell them to clean up their lives or to go and sin no more. She did not tell them they were the blessed of the earth, its inheriting meek or its glory bound pure. She told then that the only grace they could have was the grace they could imagine. That if they could not see it, they would not have it.”
The optimal premise is that “if we can’t see, we won’t have it”. And who of us does not want to see victorious self-love, communal affirmation and the spirituality of personhood.
Lastly, “confident expectation”, aka “audacious hope”, requires patience. Paraphrasing the apostle Paul
3You have troubles? There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise
even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles
can develop passionate patience in us, 4and how that patience develops
endurance, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 5 In alert
expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged – i.e. this
hope will not lead to disappointment. (Romans 5:3-5)
Harriet Tubman, a great liberator, firmly believed this as she is quoted to have lived by it. And I too have chosen to do the same.
Yours in fellowship….Reverend Gale Jones, Pastor