Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
Psalm 90: 12-17
“Hope is believing in God’s future now; faith is dancing to it.”
That calligraphic statement hangs in our dining room just above the buffet and below the teacup rack and to the north of two other statements—these other two are biblical.
“Do not be afraid. I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine. You are precious in my eyes and honored and I love you.” —Isaiah
“This is what Yahweh asks of you, only this: to act justly to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.” —Micah
These three powerful statements are rich with hope—a hope that is founded, rooted, cemented in the deep and relational and unrelenting inexplicable lovetowardus of God. And, while these passages are moving and reassuring, they are not finally not warm and fuzzy. As Hebrews tells us, God’s word is sharp and dividing and active and piercing and discriminating—hard, in another word. Hard.
“You are mine”—Good, right? The Creator God of the universe owns me. Oh.
“Only this: justice, love, humility”—Good, right. That’s it? That’s all? Only justice, love, and humility. Oh.
Today’s lections are also full of hope—and other ideas:
Justice—always justice. This God nags about justice. “…how monstrous [are] your sins; you bully the innocent, extort ransoms, and in court push the destitute out of the way.”
Economics—justice is so often referenced in economic terms: the hard economics of God. Wealth, always in the way. “One thing you lack: go, sell everything you have, and give to the poor….”
Mortality—that ultimate fact we work so hard to ignore: we die: “So make us know how few are our days, that our minds may learn wisdom.” Wisdom: always hard earned.
Doom—never seems too far away; the unintended consequence of our refusal to do justice. Unintended for us who forget about justice.
It is a hard hope we are called to—in the midst of our humanity, our willfulness, our lustfulness, our selfishness. We are called to believe in the world God dreams for us—and, then, to act as if it is already true, even as we see that the world, as lovely as it is, is full of pain and injustice. It is not an easy dance we are called to and more often than not it is not a graceful dance (however grace-filled it may be). We are not practiced at it. We are more like the good young man Jesus meets and says, Leave it all to the those that really need it and come, dance with me. I think the look on Jesus’ face as the young man walks slowly and sadly away is the look he often has as he watches me, turn and walk away.