April 12, 2018
Hope is a BIG word.
Last Sunday, when our congregation was prompted to complete one of the follow phrases...
Because he lives, I can ________
Because he lives, I have _______
… the most common response was, HOPE.
A composite of the hundreds of responses that were texted are reflected in this word cloud (CLICK HERE). The most common responses appear larger; the more unique responses are smaller in size. It’s fair to say for a common story for our community is that because Jesus lives, we have HOPE.
Jim McMillen, a friend from Elmhurst CRC, reminded me of the following anecdote told by Roman Catholic Priest Henri Nouwen that illustrates HOPE via the acrobatics of a trapeze act.Nouwen had the opportunity to talk to both the “flyer” and the “catcher” of a trapeze duo. The flyer had this to say about her art:
“The secret of trapeze is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. When I am flying to my partner, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar. The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher. I am not supposed to catch my partner. His task to catch me. If I grabbed his wrists, I might break them, or he might break mine, and that would be the end for both of us. A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him.”
In this analogy, we humans are the flyers in the trapeze act of life and God himself is the catcher. We truly start living when we release the security of the bar and begin flying through the empty air toward our divine Catcher. This sounds terrifying; this IS terrifying. But the letting go is essential. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. A person can only release their white knuckled grip on life when trust in the catcher overwhelms the fear of flying. It’s literally a leap of faith.
Most of us feel as though we are catapulting through life. I am heartened that HOPE is one of our key words. Hope means that our flight is not random. Hope means that we trust that we will not crash land. Hope means that we have the trust that we will end up in the sturdy grip of a faithful catcher. Hope is a big word, indeed! We have hope—situation by situation. We have hope—year by year. We have hope—that the final flight of mortal life will lead to a final, eternal arrival in the arms of God.
As awesome and essential as hope is, a time is coming when it will no longer be necessary. When we are caught for eternity, hope will disappear. For eternal life, all that needs to remain is shared between the Catcher and the caught. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. In the meantime, HOPE is our testimony. I’m proud that it is a big word at Elmhurst CRC.