When I was in kindergarten, I was afraid that the world would end and Jesus would return before I was ready. That day, I was playing outside during my after school program and the way the sun hit the clouds made it look like Jesus was on his way back in all his glory. I was deeply troubled. I wasn’t quite ready for the Resurrection. I wasn’t quite ready for what lied beyond this life. I wasn’t quit ready for life on the other side of the river.
As I get older, I get less embarrassed remembering that story. I think about the fears I had then and the fears I still carry today and remember that they really are not that far apart. Then I was afraid of death, a life not well lived and unfulfilled dreams. Today, these same fears remain with many more added, and they all exist in a context in which I am quite aware of my finitude and my individual lack of power.
Today, I fear the world that we live in, the world that seemed as though it changed around 4 am on Wednesday morning November 9th 2016 when Donald Trump won the Presidential election. Along with Donald Trump, I fear that violence and xenophobia, bigotry and sexism, racism and Islam phobia have also won and will now become the dominant values of our day. I fear that my life and all of the lives of those of us dedicated to justice and committed to living our lives in dignity and truth will be drowned out. I fear that after years of progress and placing our hope in God, but also political success, there will be nothing left to hope for. This year, as we start Advent, I fear that hope has lost, our faith is powerless, and that our world might be broken far beyond repair.
Yet, even as I fear this dreadful reality that ever encroaches, I turn to scripture and petition God to turn my despair into joy and my fear into hope. I turn to God and I find God leaping from the pages of this week lectionary God’s eternal promise and dedication to our hope. Isaiah 2 tells us that a day is coming when our swords will be turned into plowshares and our spears into prunninghooks, when nations shall not rise up against nations and that we won’t study war anymore.
Isaiah vivid imagery of tools of war being transformed into tools of community building and sustainable development reminds us that in the presence of God, hope is never lost. God’s hope is always present–in life and death, victory and defeat, peace and turbulence, God always pushes to hope. Either to believe it exists or compel us to make it so. As we wait for the coming of Jesus Christ, The Prince of Peace and the Heir of Hope, let us choose hope and remember that it is always worth it.
Rev. Elijah Zehyoue is the Director of Programs and Communications with the New Baptist Covenant.