So we do not lose heart.

As we begin the slow spiral out of this pandemic, there is talk about the light growing at the end of the tunnel. Scientists waffle between hopeful glee and stern reminders of variants and masks and the need to keep washing our hands (I’d hope the latter was in place prior to the pandemic!). Spring is in the air, it seems, and hope has begun to set its roots.

Hope is such an odd thing, isn’t it? There are times when it is so fragile, and the slightest challenge makes it wither, but there are other times that it acts as a propellant – a strong wind moving us forward when we should have long given up.

Hope and Faith are different, and yet closely woven together. In my old philosophy days (folks who major in philosophy often become lawyers, pastors, cynics or some combination of the above) I remember studying several treaties on the differences of the two. Realizing this is a conversation best held in a pub or in a pew, let’s take a crack at it anyway!

Faith seems to be more grounded in trust that something or someone is true whereas hope is more future-oriented (however hope is built upon the foundation of faith). Examples may be helpful here:

  • I have faith in God, and hope for the future.
  • I have faith that good people have used their God-given gifts and training to develop vaccines and hope that we will work together to stem the tide of this pandemic.
  • I have faith in the many gifts and passions of those in leadership in this Presbytery, and hope for a future where we work together to build the kin-dom of God.

If you find this sort of thing fascinating, you too might have a future as a philosopher (or lawyer, pastor or cynic). Regardless, you might find these distinctions helpful as we continue the climb out of this pandemic because hope is both a fragile thing and a gale-force wind. 

The next stage of this pandemic will be challenging for us as individuals and as the church. It’s beginning to look like many of our members may not return to church even after the masks can come off. Some of the groups that utilize our buildings may cease to meet. The pandemic has sped up the movement toward a post-church society. 

We may feel the hope sucked out of us…. until we remember our faith.

Paul puts it this way: “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (2 Cor 4: The Message)

It’s time to look deeper than buildings and programs… time to remember our identity is not wrapped up in the numbers game… time to recall those things we cannot see, which will last forever.

It’s time to really BE the church.

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