January 3, 2016

            I've been wrestling with the word “hope” throughout the advent and Christmas seasons and now into the new year.  I’ve always found hope a positive word, a clean and healing word, a word like a fresh, sterile, medicated dressing I may put on a wound. The dressing is meant to promote the healing of the wound and recovery of wholeness.

            But some of the mortal hopes I keep hearing expressed in this wounded, combative world are not medicinal and healing; they are cutting and sharp—hopes not for justice, but for vengeance and vindication. Just as the sterile dressing I mentioned can become contaminated if we humans are careless in handling it, so hope can be contaminated by our human anger, selfishness, and vindictiveness.

            Many of us love John 3:16—“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may have life eternal.”  But it seems to me that  we need to be careful to include John 3:17 with it.  It casts light on God’s way of curing our human brokenness.  “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” It speaks not of retribution but of redemption as God’s way.

            Therein is hope—clean, healing, restorative. It’s not a hope armed with vengeance but redemption. May that kind of hope grow in us, in our world, in our relationships, in our human family during 2016. “Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen”

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