Did you see Barack Obama’s infomercial last night?  What did you think?  Was it on the level of selling the perfect set of ginsu knives promising the impossible?  Or did it provide you with some hope. Some sense that things could be different.  

Maybe cynicism has creeped in for some of you.  Thoughts of why try… why when we know that politics is a mire of muddy pigs dressed up in fancy suits. To be honest, I don’t know if the next president, whoever it may be, can bring true reform and change.  But one thing that Obama’s hopefulmercial gave me back again was a sense of hope in relation to the Church. 

Hope, is the possibility of seeing what God sees and having God’s thoughts, feelings and actions infiltrate into the core of my being.  

The question is, do I have hope that things can be different?  Can there be communities who reflect the image and character of God?  Will there be people who stand for radical love, inclusive hospitality and social reconciliation.  

Has middle classness, individual consumerism, safety and security so inoculated the christian church that we have become blind to the calling and dream of God in this world.  Maybe.  My resposnse out of fear is… why even try.  “Give in to the dark side, Luke”.  Just stay on automatic pilot in my individual world where safety and security are the throne and scepter of my life.  

But then Barack Obama’s pirated the network airwaves to spread his message of “What if…”.  And this is the reason I feel that Obama will win.  There are enough Americans who are willing to let a relatively unexperienced person be president because we want some with enough resonance and vision to dream “What if”.  But i digress onto my political soapbox.

“What if…” there were a people who took the words of Jesus seriously and practiced with their lives…

-RADICAL HOSPITALITY

-INCLUSIVE LOVE

-PEACE AND LOOKING FOR GOD’S JUSTICE IN THIS WORLD OF INJUSTICE

-REDEEMING RECONCILIATION

-DOWNWARD MOBILITY

Hope says, God sees all of these things and today I want to see my world and my culture as He sees it.

Hope says, that God has called out a people to live out this radical and subversive life as a light to all the world of what God’s Life looks like in a world of flesh and blood, suffering and pain, failures and disappointments.

Hope speaks.  What is Hope saying to you today?

Yes I admit it, the Espy Awards make me cry.  No it was not Justin Timberlake that made me want to cry. (although he was hilarious and was killing it with all his jokes and antics).  It is those doggone year in sports montages.  Something about the music, the memories, the magic that gets all rolled into one.  But I recognize that when the triumphal music combines with the images of victory and anguish, pain and grit, yearning and realization, that something happens deep inside of me.  Something in me is awoken.  Something in me is stirred.  I feel like I am being turned inside out.  My inner longings are being met.  And I realized this, that those moments are about…

dreams.

dreams being fulfilled.

dreams being lived.

And that wrecks me.  It conjures up all sorts of hopes and dreams that lie in me, some dreams that are dormant, some dreams that have been crushed and some that are blossoming into new life.

These images cause me to want to dream again.  To dream farther, to dream deeper, to dream dangerously, in the hope that one day my dream will become a reality.

Cause without our dreams what are we?  Skin jobs who fulfill the duties of the lives that we are given.  Dreams say I will live beyond my means today and make life meaningful.

So the question is what is your dream?  What is my dream?

And what are we doing about it?

A week ago I set out on an Experiment in Hope. (view part 1) Here is what I found as the thread of hope in my days.

Is there anything better than losing your first tooth? The hope of getting older. The hope of something new coming in. I find it ironic that children lose teeth and adult don’t. Quite frankly I don’t think an adult could handle the fragility of looking different, having to change the way I would eat (how dare anyone tell me to change!). An adults self esteem and ego would be crushed. But a child celebrates it! And their hope is rewarded by the faithful and elusive tooth fairy.

I was sitting in Powell’s Books, (the largest used bookstore in Portland). There I saw a young artist. She had a sketch book and graphite pencils. I walked up to get a coffee and passed by her. She was drawing. What I do not know. But in that I saw hope. She wasn’t reading to gain knowledge, she was not involved in some deep theological and esoteric conversation, she was simply drawing. Cause she could. There was something coming out of her. I love artists. They inspire me. I feel artists are people who the DNA of hope. May their tribe increase among us!

I just need to say that I don’t like fishing. I think it is one of the hopeless activities in life. (Much of this feeling is likely due to my own lack of success.) This time of year on the Columbia River there is a chinook run of salmon. There are thousands of boats on the river, all lined up in neat rows. All with hope of catching that illusive salmon. To me this is hope shared. To know that they have hope somehow makes me feel more hopeful.

Almost every telephone pole in downtown Portland is covered like this. Advertisements, bands, garage sales, events and special occasions. All saying something, all wanting attention and specifically my attention. They are tattered, partially covered, faded pieces of paper. But these mini-internet telephone poles scream what hope is to me. Hope is always fading. The moment I cling to a moment of hope a little too tightly it slips away from me. My hope of yesterday is tattered and needs to be replaced with a new hope event.

And that is what I came away with about Hope. Hope is only good for this moment. When you see Hope breathe Him in deeply. And then exhale. Ready to take your next breath. For in the next breath of Hope, He will be all your breath can handle. In fact He may even take your breath away.

Hope. Def: “A wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.”

Hope is such an interesting thing. I clamor for hope. I complain that the news is filled with bad news, depressing situations and general hopelessness. Anyone who looks around can easily fill their can of hopelessness. A small sampling of what I see: The congeniality of the Olympics being disturbed by an oppressed people trying to have a voice, the violence of Darfur and the rather cold shoulder the world gives, that a child dies every 6 seconds due to hunger, the continuing wars that litter our world in Pakistan, Chad, the Mexican drug war, The Gaza Strip, North Niger, Mali, Thailand, Chad, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia and of course Iraq and that I can’t sell a house in Vancouver if my life depended on it!

But maybe, just maybe I am looking but just not seeing. Maybe hope is more like the threads that hold the seams of my clothes together. The threads, so small, so insignificant, so overlooked and yet so important.

So my experiment today. To look for the thread of hope. To look in the corners of life. To look in the common, overlooked and simple places. And see what lies there. Is there Hope that is hidden?