Today's Lectionary Text
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.
We live in an interesting social age. Positivity everywhere. We use it to explain how just rising and grinding with your “Good Vibes Only” T-shirt while attaching #blessed to all of your social media can cure cancer, get you more money, and magically erase signs of crow’s feet. I know that I’m not alone when I say that there’s a certain emptiness to that -- a kind of lithiumed-out, Stepford-wives way of denying all of the experiences and nuances of life. Perhaps it has good intentions but it quickly becomes vapid and void of a bigger picture.
I don’t think Jesus would’ve been a big fan of those elements of the Positivity movement. Rather, I think he offered up a different way of embracing life -- hope. Hope as something greater than a feeling, but an identity that sustains when things are … well, bad. Realistically, systemically, heartbreakingly bad.
“Now my soul is troubled”...I don’t know about you but I find great reassurance in knowing that Jesus had moments of “This feels awful and is an awful lot to carry.” It’s acknowledged, wrestled with, and allowed to be real. And then he keeps going. He reminds us (and himself) that the ruler of this world -- the ruler that says our worth is dependent on how much we make, how much we play to the system, how we look, how much power we possess -- is being driven out. A new rule is coming: the rule of Hope. One of the beautiful things about hope is that it makes room for and even demands that we sit with reality. Whether it’s a broken heart, an unjust system, a deep sense of loss. Hope doesn’t ask us to pretend those things aren’t real. It just asks us to keep going.
So come, my friends, be people of this hope -- this hope that shines like light when the darkness fights back from its retreat. This isn’t about an action or even a mindset. This is our identity. To be children of light, children of hope. Real hope.
Not vapid, false positivity but “I have seen it done before, and I know it will be done again” kind of hope. The kind that rolls up its sleeves and works for the things GOD cares about - love, redemption, the freeing of people from their shame, justice -- because that’s what children of light do. Even when our souls are troubled.
Spiritual Life and Discipleship Director
Lincoln Trinity UMC
Prayer for Reflection
GOD of This Moment, you are so much bigger than a happy thought. Thank you for calling us into the fullness of life and the broad experience of it all. Some of us have troubled hearts, GOD. Rest with us in this space. And then wake up our troubled places with hope as we keep working and loving, wherever we are.
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