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Real Life, Real Hope

'Raining on Oaxaca' photo (c) 2011, oz - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

[Editor's note: This Advent season, we will be running a series of reflections on the Bread Blog from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. The reading for this post is Philippians 1:3-11. Keep reading Bread Blog for more Advent reflections.]   

By Rev. Jack Hodges

As I write this, hope has been terribly compromised for folks on the East Coast. Sandy has been—and continues to be—their reality. To see Staten Island from the air, your house would look like a jumbled pile of toothpicks; standing on the street before it could very well seem like the end to you.

Does that not push the question—Where is hope?

Looking at the Scripture passage, our experiences often seem quite at odds with Paul's cheery wistfulness.

Stop now and read it over ...

Now, in the manner of Lectio Divina—praying with Scripture—do that again. This time, rather than "dissecting" the passage, "enter" into it instead.

If you are now in a hopeless situation, ask yourself: "What of this passage is able to flow into my present void?"

Initially, Paul speaks glowingly of partnership, good works, and being partakers of grace. But Paul is hardly confining himself to Pollyanna statements. Soon Chapter Two will lift up grumbling and questions; and that is only the beginning. Again, reality enters the arenas of our lives.

 But Paul also says that hope is on the way: Timothy is coming and he is one who "will be genuinely anxious for your welfare." (Newspapers and TV have been full of "Sandy-inspired Timothys"—may God bless and keep them!)

Advent is that time in the Church Year seemingly most infused with hope. "Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel."  Behold! The One genuinely anxious for us is on the way. Good News indeed!

                The very least you could do

                in your life

                is to figure out what you hope for.

                And the most you can do

                is live inside that hope.

                Not admire it from a distance

                but live right in it, under its roof.

                                                   —Barbara Kingsolver

Rev. Jack Hodges is San Francisco Theological Seminary's alumni association president. 

 

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