For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. — Jeremiah 29:11 (NRSV)
These words of scripture were addressed to a people exiled from their homeland, disconnected from the hub of their religious life, and trying to cope in an unfamiliar world. Most of us haven’t literally been driven from our homes or country, but over these years of COVID full of disruptions, adjustments, and losses, the context of these words from Jeremiah has resonance. Much has changed. Nonetheless, God assures us of a future filled with hope. On the path of discipleship, we learn that we are active participants with God in creating that future!
Together, we will create and sustain a hopeful, joyful, loving and just community, committed to nothing less than changing the world for the better. Join us for this meaningful series and find your place as together we perceive, claim, cultivate, envision, and celebrate A Future with Hope.
Perceiving A Future With Hope
A homily preached by Rev. Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli at Foundry UMC, October 2, 2022, World Communion Sunday. “A Future With Hope” series
Texts: Ephesians 1:15-23, Luke 24:13-16, 28-35
“Hope isn’t hope until it’s crucified…until then, it’s only wishful thinking.” A wise colleague preached that line more than 20 years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. It says something profound about Christian hope. In our first reading today, we heard Paul pray, “that …God … may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…” (Eph 1:17-18). We hope for all sorts of things in life, but Christian hope has a distinct shape and content: the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The Easter promise is not only a promise of new life in this world and the next, it is an affirmation of all that Jesus embodied and taught. Christ crucified and risen is the hope to which we’ve been called—it is the hope that goodness is stronger than evil, that death doesn’t have the last word, that human life has eternal value, dignity, and meaning, and that love has the power to save someone’s life. This hope isn’t just a nice idea. It is embodied in Jesus—made real in flesh and blood—so that we see our hope is not just wishful thinking. And we are called to be the Body of Christ, to be Christ to one another. We are called to embody our hope.
Today in our Gospel story, weary, wounded travelers meet a stranger on their journey toward Emmaus and allow their hearts to be open just enough to unknowingly welcome the risen Christ into their conversation and into their home. Jesus joins them for supper and when he blesses, breaks, and shares the bread, they know! Their eyes are metaphorically “opened” to perceive the hope that was with them all along their journey. They were graced to “know the hope to which God called them”—the hope that new life, resurrection life is possible.
In a world where there is so much despair, cynicism, and suffering, one of the most powerful things we can do is to welcome the living Christ into our lives, and to hope in the new life that brings. That might look like simply getting through another day, trusting that things won’t always be this hard. Sometimes it might look like forgiving someone—maybe yourself. It might look like working on a campaign you believe in or organizing for change. It might look like giving at least your surplus so that others might have what they need. It might mean doing the kind thing, the loving thing, the sacrificial thing, the brave thing, the beautiful thing, the creative thing, knowing that these things might make no discernible difference, but believing they might mean life for others, a sign of hope made flesh. When we welcome Christ into our lives and embody hope, we aren’t the only ones who benefit. We become signs of hope for others.
On this World Communion Sunday, we celebrate the presence of Christ and the revelation of hope embodied by churches around the world. We as Foundry Church are part of the Body of Christ and how we uniquely embody the hope to which we have been called is so very important. The travelers on the road to Emmaus lived in a moment in history when all hope seemed lost. Jesus was dead and along with him the movement that promised liberation and justice for the poor and downtrodden and a new way of life and life together for all people. And you and I live in a time in which the future seems bleak, a time where a future with hope seems like folly. But we’re reminded today that Jesus is not dead, but alive and journeying with all of us. Jesus is alive and at work through Spirit here in this congregation and in congregations all over the world. And today we gather at God’s Table with God’s people everywhere, a sign and foretaste of a future with hope when all will feast at the heavenly banquet in love, justice, and joy—a future when all things will be reconciled and made new.
This hope is what we embody through our mission and ministry as Foundry Church. This hope is what we proclaim. This hope is what we offer Washington, DC and the world. This hope is what we support through our gifts. This is the hope to which we’ve been called. Thanks be to God.