We know that the whole creation has been groaning together as it suffers together the pains of labor, and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what one already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:22-25).
We are a people in desperate need of hope. I’m not talking about optimism or positive thinking. There is no denying that so many different parts of our world look grim. From climate change to political strife, from war to terrorism, from growing wealth gaps to ever-present poverty, we see many real problems in our world.
We are a people in desperate need of hope. Not just any hope. Christian hope. We wait, hopefully, because we have faith in a God who created all things and called them good. We wait, hopefully, because we have faith in Jesus who experienced all of the evil and brutality that people had to offer, and still on the cross asked God to forgive those who tortured and killed him. We wait, hopefully, because we have faith in the Holy Spirit who gathers us together before sending us out to brighten our world with compassion.
I like Paul’s description of hope in his letter to the Romans. In it, the whole of creation, including humanity, experiences the pains of labor as we wait for everything around us to be redeemed by our God. They were waiting, in hope, for this redemption in Paul’s time. We are waiting, in hope, for this redemption in our own time. Honestly, the waiting is exhausting. And yet, we wait. As Christians, we wait in hope because hope is our salvation in times of hardship and despair. We hope for something we don’t yet see, and still, we know that the pains of labor, as Paul calls them, are the beginning of something indescribably beautiful being birthed: what Jesus called, The Kingdom of God.
As you wait, where do you find hope? This is a question each one of us needs to answer. During the next few months, we are going to intentionally talk about signs of hope that we see present in our community at St. Thomas. Friends, the world is in dire need of hope. All of creation is groaning from labor pains. But we are beacons of hope, pointing to the birth of God’s Kingdom all around us and sharing the good news of God’s love, which redeems all things.
God’s peace and hope be with you,