Hope is necessary, but is not a sufficient starting point . . . worship and praise are our necessary starting point, reorienting us to God. – Jonathan Ytterock
As the young man preaches his ordination sermon before a veritable bevy of ministers and elders, I am stuck on and struck by his words about hope and its place within our worship and our lives.
Hope – that thing ineffable that the writer of Hebrews calls the object of our faith.
Well, if faith is the evidence of things not seen, perhaps hope is the evidence of things seen – seen and found wanting.
And so it was that in early 2006, listening to the stories of Iraqis fled to Amman, Jordan, juxtaposed with reports from home that I wrote:
My young woman friend’s engagement party was scheduled and rescheduled three times because of security concerns, each proposed location deemed unsafe. Finally, the party was had at home. Unfortunately, her family live near a police station and the morning of the party, there was a car bomb at the station. In addition to the carnage there, all the windows were blown out of their apartment. Tired of rescheduling, they elected to fix the glass and have the party anyway. About half the guests stayed away. Yet, when she remembers her engagement, she smiles. Even the violence of the day did not drive her from Baghdad.
But later, her step-brother was kidnapped and beaten. He was ultimately returned, after a large ransom was paid. Her father initially tried to haggle over the original ransom demand (a common practice); but the kidnappers reacted by threatening to kill his wife and daughter. The family then fled to Amman. Her husband continues to work in Iraq, but manages to come to Amman to visit her as often as he can. She tells us this matter-of-factly and even with some humor, especially about the engagement party. But there is an ever-present sadness in her eyes.
As I listen to this beautiful, bright young woman tell about her life and marriage, I am reminded that President Bush or someone in his administration recently remarked that one of the signs of improvement in Iraq is the fact that people continue to get married, that marriage is a sign of hope; therefore, things must be getting better in Iraq.
I remember and I am furious at the facile statement. Mr. Bush is a baby boomer himself; does he really not know what that means? Does he really forget that his own creation was born in a time dominated by fear? Can he really not know that our generation’s existence owes as much to desperation as to hope? Does he really not understand that hope itself is about a wish for something not now true? That hope does not reflect an existing improved reality, but rather the lack of one?
Hope is for people who need, not people who have.
Ah for the day of dreams fulfilled . . . peace found . . . hope unnecessary . . .