you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”
— The Gospel of Mark
As I begin to write about hope, Thanksgiving approaches. I recognize that this national day is a day of loss and pain for our indigenous brothers and sisters. I want to acknowledge the depth of their loss of land and culture, and invite all of us to pray for justice for our first nations communities on this continent.
I have often thought that the ECC is akin, in many ways, to the reconstructionist movement of Judaism. To be a reconstructionist is to work to retrieve all that is beautiful and life giving in tradition, and to release the elements that are oppressive and even deadening. Reconstructionist Jews, for example, believe in a Judaism is evolving, that is building a Jewish future by embracing contemporary meaning in service of building a magnificent Jewish future.
With that in mind, we can mine Thanksgiving for the elements that are worth claiming this year. The idea that none of us can make it alone, that we need community to survive, to thrive. We can take a moment and embrace that community, in the form of family, friends, fellow community members, and express in tangible ways our gratitude. We can stop and focus not on our scarcities and the ways in which we feel deprived, but on the reality that no matter what we are sacrificing, we can still find illuminated places of abundance.
As we enter Advent, we are invited into the spirit of Hope. In some Christian communities, the first candle is also called the Prophetic candle. It reminds us of the reality that prophets address: No matter how hard it seems or how far away we feel, God is at our elbow, whispering in our ear. Sadly, sometimes our chronic hearing loss causes problems, and so the Prophets come to turn up the volume. Does it look bleak in Babylon, and you’re sick of masking and waves of paranoia when you cough? Ezekiel says, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Finding Canaanite ways seductive, and feeling fed up with Zoom mass and physical isolation? Hosea speaks for God, saying, “I drew them with human cords, with bands of love. I fostered them like those who raise an infant to their cheeks; I bent down to feed them.”
This week we are invited to hope. Things aren’t great. But things have not been all that great at other moments in the life of the human family. We are called to hope, despite the circumstances. Together, when we reach the point where the road forks, and we have a choice between sinking low or moving toward the light, we can join hands, and drag each other forward: Choosing Hope.
This week, we are excited to welcome Fr. Jerry Maynard as our homilist. I hope you’ll be with us.