April 10, 2022, “Hope” by Rev. Dr. Tom Eggebeen
Psalm 118.19-29; Luke 19.28-40
Last week Sunday, it was all about Go!”
On your mark, get set, go!
To the future we go … to the work that needs to be done … to be faithful to the LORD, faithful to one another … no matter what the day might bring, or however the night should come … faithful to the LORD, and faithful to one another.
Today, Palm Sunday, we go … we go to the Mount of Olives in ancient Jerusalem, a place of promise and hope … a promise of deliverance, and a promise of God’s mighty presence.
What could go wrong?
But something did go wrong.
That jubilant crowd, shouting their praise and singing their joy, took a turn to the wrong side of the street, in just a few days … shouts of joy turned to cries for crucifixion …
What went wrong?
As best as we can determine, the people of Jerusalem had long harbored a hope, a good hope, for sure, that God would set them free from the brutal, bloody, Roman Empire … an empire of steel and slavery …where all roads led to Rome, and on those roads, all the money, all the power, all the goods of that vast and terrible empire.
The people longed for a new King David … to set things right, restore the kingdom, recapture the past, set the people free, from the bloody, brutal, Roman Empire.
The people were ready!
From Galilee comes Jesus, a preacher of wisdom and justice, a miracle worker … could he be the one? Could this be the moment?
The people shouted and danced … laid down their cloaks to acknowledge his royalty, waved the palms of victory and triumph.
It took but a few days for the people to realize that Jesus was of a different order, offering hope of a different kind … something deeper … the peace that passes all understanding.
The people were impatient, and who can blame them?
What they wanted, they wanted now … they wanted deliverance, they wanted fireworks, as John the Baptist had said:
Even now, says John, the axe is lying at the root of the tree; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
“Misplaced hope” I call it. Hope for something that couldn’t happen, something out of line with reality … hope that was more fantasy than faith.
All the hope in the world won’t add two more inches to my stature … I’m 5’ 8”, and that’s that … and so are you when it comes to height … though I may have some control over my width … but here’s the deal: I’m not overweight; I’m under height.
As my friend Howard says, “It is what it is!”
Nothing can alter the reality of my mortality … though I may try, and should try, to live as well as I can!
Medicine and science and good habits can help, yet a time will come when I draw my last breath; I’ll be no more … I’ll sail away to the everlasting arms of God.
Hope has to be related to reality …
We can, and we must, pray for peace in Ukraine … but the reality of the times, the twisted history of Russia and the West … WW1, WW2, the Cold War, and all the rest … we have to pray for miracles, but we also have to know the story, the realities, the history … and then pray for leaders of all nations who will choose the pathways of peace rather than the highways of hell.
We can, and we must, pray for miracles … but the reality of this world has to be kept in mind and heart, too … even Lazarus, raised from the dead, still had to die in the end. the little girl raised from her bed of death, still had to die in the end. Dust to dust, earth to earth, ashes to ashes is our reality … that’s a part of what Lent is, Ash Wednesday … our reality … and the love of God, the mercy of God, at work in our reality, at work in all things for the good of God’s creation, and the wellbeing of our souls.
I like to watch dystopian sci-fi movies – everything is falling apart … but always hope – the hope we have with one another, in community, bonds of friendship, loyalty, kindness and mercy – we’re gonna make it, because we’re doing this together.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never loose infinite hope” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Everyone of us here has prayed for our share of miracles … healing for a loved one, for ourselves, for the welfare of children and grandchildren … the restoration of a broken love … a better job, a better future … peace and safety in our communities.
And pray we will, and pray we must.
But pray with care … mindfulness … knowing the difference between hope misplaced, and hope grounded in reality, grounded in God. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
God Almighty has woven hope into the fabric of time.
Hope strong, hope true, hope that cannot be swayed by time or circumstance; hope in the face of sorrow and setback … hope at midnight, and hope by the grave.
Hope endures, hope sings, hope dances, even when there’s no music.
Hope waits for the Monarch to break out of its chrysalis … hope takes time to talk with a child … hope plants a tree for another generation; hope gives someone a second chance, a third, even fourth chance, and seven times seventy … hope walks quietly with the sorrowful … hope holds a hand gently and tenderly … hope points to the bird in the sky and to a little flower growing in a sidewalk crack … hope knows when to stay put, and when to get up and go … hope can laugh, and hope can cry … hope is the energy of God’s love at work in all things, the heart of God’s creation, and the very life of Jesus the everlasting Christ.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand:
all other ground is sinking sand;
On Christ the solid Rock, I stand.
Hallelujah and Amen!