By Pastor Pam Seebach
Harmony, Mabel, and Newburg United Methodist Churches
As the coronavirus vaccines rolled out across the country, I began to have hope that eventually we would all be able to get together again without fear! Now that my family is all vaccinated, I have enjoyed hugging people again – my 86-year-old father, my daughter who visited from out-of-state, my brother and sister-in-law… I have missed hugs so much! We have hope again!
You’ve probably heard of Emily Dickinson’s poem about hope: “Hope is the thing with feathers”. Have you also heard what the Bible says about hope? The word is used more than 100 times throughout the Holy Book, as the Israelites hoped for a Savior and the new Christians layered belief in Christ over their hope for eternal life.
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome, giving them guidance and encouragement. In it (Romans 8:23-25), he talked about how the troubles they were currently experiencing (persecution in many forms) would pale in comparison to the glory they would see, and of which they would be a part, in God’s time. “For in this hope we were saved,” Paul wrote. Then he continued, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” The temporary sufferings of staying home, wearing a face mask, and avoiding hugs were worth it. I hoped for a vaccine; now that it’s here, I don’t have to hope for it any longer (though I still hope for 100% participation!). Being a Christian in a world filled with prejudice and non-believers, skeptics and evil doers, is not easy. Jesus calls his followers to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. Moreover, we’re called to love all people – even those people we don’t like! Upon his return, Christ has promised to bring all believers into his family; we hope for that day. As we wait, we balance the struggles of today with the glory of tomorrow, hoping for that glorious day ahead. Beyond hoping, we can begin to create the hoped-for outcome by engaging in civil conversation with people whose beliefs differ from our own; we can reach out in support of our neighbors, lending a hand when we see them in need; or we can write letters to those in positions of power, urging them to enact equitable laws for all people. We cannot see the future, nor can we see Jesus now, so we hope. And, as Paul encouraged: “we wait for it patiently.” It WILL be worth it!