Greetings Grace in Action community, and welcome to the first ever Grace in Action Blog Post.
Our topic this week: HOPE. Hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” But in a life where the presence of what IS happening can be overwhelming, and require all of our energy, what is the point of worrying about something that COULD be?
About a month ago, a group of local organizers and community members were fighting like mad to keep a father of two young children from being deported and separated from his family. Phone calls were made. Rallies were held. Petitions were submitted. But at the end of the day, he was still deported back to his home country, and his wife and kids were left on their own, to fend for themselves.
When our best efforts end in failure, how can we imagine that things could be different? How can we continue to have hope?
The first followers of Jesus understood this question as well as anyone today, if not better. Their people had been under the oppressive thumb of the Roman Empire for generations. When their leader, Jesus, began speaking out and openly defying the Romans and the religious leaders, he was put to death on a cross for treason. When they tried to continue the movement Jesus started, they were imprisoned, stoned, and crucified as well.
But somehow, against all logic, these followers of Jesus didn't give up, or lose momentum, but grew and became more powerful. How could that possibly be?
9 ‘Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
In this early version of what we know now as the Lord's Prayer, Jesus lays out this “coming kingdom” in clear words to his followers: 1)Each day, they would receive the food they needed to live that day, 2) the financial debts that kept them working like slaves would be forgiven, and they would forgive their debtors, 3) they would be saved from going to trial before the imperial powers of Cesar.
In it's first form, the Lord's Prayer gave a very concrete image of hope – hope for how things could be when God's governance was put in place. For Jesus' followers, this kingdom was not some vision of the afterlife – it was something they believed could really happen in their own lifetime: a society where everyone had enough to eat, debts were forgiven, and persecution would cease.
If Jesus' disciples found hope in the midst of struggle through this vision of the kingdom he taught them, what is the vision God gives to us today? What does that future “kingdom” look like to you? And how does it help us to face the challenges of what IS really happening in our world right now?
- This week's post written by John Cummings, Pastor of Grace in Action