We are in the midst of a “spirited” summer sermon series. The season of Pentecost began on June 9 and we took some time to celebrate God’s gift of the Spirit to the Church. Although Acts 2 describes the Spirit arriving in a dramatic way, there are references to it many years before Pentecost. For instance, Ezekiel declared that God would put a “new spirit” within us.
Sometimes we think of the gift of the Spirit as one gift. But I think it is helpful to think of it as a gift of many gifts. So far we have thought about a new spirit of gratitude and peace. In coming weeks we will consider other gifts—freedom, compassion, and growth. But next weekend we will give thanks for God’s gift of a new spirit of hope.
“Hope” is one of a number of significant theological words that tends to lose its power and punch in the way we use it in our conversations. We hope for things that may not be all that high on God’s priority list. In a “Peanuts” cartoon Lucy and Linus are talking about hope. Lucy says, “You know what we’re going to do tomorrow? Patty and I are going on a picnic! I just hope to goodness it doesn’t rain.” Linus replies, “’Hoping to goodness’ is not theologically sound!”
Linus got Lucy—and he got me too! How often do we diminish the meaning of the word “hope?”
We hope it’s sunny for our picnics, we hope our team wins, we hope to win the lottery, we hope! But for what does God hope? For an end to poverty, injustice, and hunger? For an end to dissension and strife and war? For the health and well-being of the environment? For us do something about these things? Read Romans 5. I hope to see you ‘round the table this weekend.