What implications might this forward look of hope offer us today? Just that. The future can contain hope if we choose for it to. Here in the U.S. many are struggling and feeling squeezed economically, even with our economy having narrowly escaped an impending recession three years ago. Things are still tough now. Political circuses continue to inflict stress to varying degrees on parts of our population. Globally we continually witness the violence of war and killing of innocent lives. And ecologically, some say we’ve reached the point of no return when it comes to global capitalist growth and extraction, which have rapidly taxed our planet’s resources to the breaking point, setting us on a course of making our planet uninhabitable.
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It’s no wonder we have a generation now that lives with concerning levels of anxiety and/or feelings of helplessness. And in the context of our reading this week, I’m sure the originally intended audience for our reading felt something very similar in response to the challenges of their time and place.
In those anxious moments, the author of the gospel of Mark admonished their listeners not to give up and not to let go. This gospel taught them to keep following the ethics, values and life-giving teachings of their Jesus stories. To keep choosing to love one’s neighbor, and set in motion the Golden Rule so it could change the world. To keep pursuing nonviolence as a means of changing. To keep choosing to stay committed to taking care of each other in community rather than falling into the lies of self-sufficiency and independent self-reliance. And this is what our reading is whispering to me this week, too.
When the words of our reading this week were written the world looked, like ours, pretty hopeless. This week’s reading is a reminder to me that, as Mariame Kaba often says, hope is and has always been, a discipline. The arc of our universe can still bend toward justice if we choose. Yes, there are other forces at work for sure. But this advent, I’m renewing my efforts to not give up. This advent I’m renewing my belief that the advent of a just, safe, compassionate world for all of us is still possible. I choose to continue believing that the future is not fixed but open. And I’m choosing to keep believing that, though I don’t know all our future holds, I know that we can face those challenges together in more life-giving ways than we can on our own.
Herb’s new book, Finding Jesus: A story of a fundamentalist preacher who unexpectedly discovered the social, political, and economic teachings of the Gospels, is now available at Renewed Heart Ministries.