Summary: The journey of the Christian life, during difficult times, leads to a hope-filled life.
“Hope for the Future”
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
This is indeed a very troubling time in which to live.
Our country is at war…
…engaged in a different kind of war than we have ever faced.
The events of 9-11 have forever changed our feelings of security and hope for a certain future.
Jeanne and I were watching some movie a couple weeks ago, and at the beginning of the movie, which was set in the late nineteen nineties, the narrator said something like:
“This story takes place during the brief period of time after the cold war had ended when our biggest worries were what President Clinton was doing with an intern in the Oval Office.”
Things have certainly changed dramatically in the past three years or so!
We open the paper and read about the death toll of young American soldiers growing more and more quickly with each passing day.
While, still, the threat of terrorism looms stronger and larger, as the terror alert colors move from yellow to orange and back to yellow again.
Amidst this chaos in which we live…amidst the anguish that millions of families are dealing with—both Iraqi families and American families…
…amidst the fear, the depression, the darkness, the despair, and the sense of hopelessness…
…God’s Word continues to ring out with the ultimate message of hope for the future—no matter what may occur in New York, Pennsylvania, Baghdad, or Hampton Roads.
But what is this hope for the future?
And how do we go about claiming it for ourselves?
A few chapters back before our Old Testament Lesson for this morning…
…in Jeremiah chapter 29 we are told: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
A hope and a future…
…isn’t this exactly what we need right here and right now on September 26, 2004???
Because there is no doubt that life that is not related to hope for a better future leads to tragic consequences.
A young man who was involved in a struggle on the corner of a busy intersection said, “I ain’t got nothing to live for. Kill me, I don’t care.”
Our world desperately needs a sense of hope—a vision.
On the night before his assassination in Memphis in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. articulated his vision:
“I’ve been to the mountain top; I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but one day, my people will be free.”
The strange actions of the prophet Jeremiah, in our Old Testament Lesson for this morning, help illustrate the importance of learning about and participating in God’s hope and vision.
The army of Nebuchadnezzar had laid siege to Jerusalem.
And at the very time that it was clear that Jerusalem would be destroyed and the Israelites would be taken as captives to Babylon, Jeremiah purchased land in nearby Anathoth.
What kind of place and time was this to make an investment in the future?…
…but after-all, the Lord had instructed him to do so, and he followed the Lord’s instructions.
Are we willing to make an investment in the future even in a time when our accustomed ways of life are coming apart?
Probably not, if God is left out of the equation.
And how often do we leave God out of the equation?
But this is no way to live, this is no way to have hope, this is no way to have a future!!!
As Paul wrote to the Philippian Church, “But our citizenship is in heaven.”
And Christ told us that although we are in the world, we are not of the world.
Jesus tells us in Luke Chapter 17, “The kingdom of God is within you.”
And this is how Christians throughout the ages have been able to stand up for their faith in the face of persecution, war, hatred, and even martyrdom.
Because the kingly rule of God was taking place within their souls.
Is the kingly rule of God taking place within our souls?
Or have we left God out of the equation?
Because of the kingly rule of God people like Martin Luther King, Jr. have been enabled to have the courage and vision to lead a peaceful struggle for civil rights in the face of all kinds of opposition.
And Mother Teresa was able to dedicate her life to serving the poorest of the poor in Jesus’ name.
And this is what enables those of us who continually trust in God to face the trials of life with hope for the future no matter what is going on outside of us.
Psalm 24 tells us that: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it…”