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“What brings you hope for the New Year?”

This was a question asked last night by a good friend at the conclusion of a meeting last night around my conference table at St. Stephen’s. The group laughed uncomfortably. In large part because the folks gathered around the table just finished talking about how they did not plan on watching the prime time address from the Oval Office. Also, I believe the uncomfortable laughter might have come from our conversation about hope earlier. Hope seems to be a philosophical thought for many right now...more metaphysical than tangible.

I paused because for a moment I wondered what hope looks like.

As people began to struggle to answer the question I began to picture what hope looks like for me.

I remember the stories of my great-grandmother as she told me about the boat she got on board in Europe to come to America in the 1920’s. For her, hope was a place she only heard of. A place where the language was not her own, the people were unfamiliar, the future uncertain...yet there was hope. It was not until a few years ago, after months of research, that I found a picture of the ship she boarded on a maritime historian’s website. From the look of it my only hope would be that it actually was able to float!

Many others found hope in the same country as my great-grandmother and boarded less substantial vessels to cross the oceans. Some grabbed anything that would float to escape Cuba and take the 90 mile journey across the Gulf. All in hopes of a pace that might just be better than where they were leaving.

I suppose hope must look different for each person.

Could hope be invisible, yet made visible by the way in which we embrace one another? Could it be made visible in the way in which we treat one another? Could hope be made visible in art, poetry, stories, or even the other person that looks and sounds different than you or me?

Could hope be a group of people committed to a better future, even when they struggle around a table to answer the question of what brings them hope for the New Year?

The meeting last night was a group of folks from the Wilmington area committed to transforming Wilmington from ‘murder town USA’ to an active member in the non-violent cities movement. Could hope be in the audacity to think that a handful of people might actually be able to affect change?

My hope for the New Year is that we learn to value one another and see Christ in each others faces. I hope we have a more gentle and kind year.

What is your hope for the New Year?

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Jason

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