What about hope?

27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”[a] 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
- Mark 8:27-30

As we talk about hope this morning, I would like to read you some quotes that I found.

Hope is the thing with feathers -That perches in the soul -And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all
(Emily Dickinson)
The wings of hope carry us, soaring high above the driving winds of life.
(Ana Jacob)
Meanwhile, these three remain: faith, hope, and love.
(Paul, the apostle)
To live without hope is to cease to live.
(Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

Can you imagine living without hope? Simply existing day after day, going through the motions, nothing to look forward to, nothing to believe in, except that you know that tomorrow will bring only more of the same?

Or making reckless choices, indulging in risky behaviors, because it really doesn’t matter, what you do or don’t do just doesn’t matter, because your life isn’t going to get any better anyway?

Or shrinking your horizons, not worrying about anything beyond the walls of your house or the boundaries of your town, taking care of yourself and those close to you, because there is nothing you can do to make a difference, because you have no hope that things or people will change? Haters are going to hate, takers are going to take, abusers are going to abuse, and there is nothing you can do about it except to try to stay out of their way ...

Can you imagine living without hope? People do. It is a terrible way to live, without hope, like not living at all, but people do. What can we do for them? How can we give them hope?

We can’t. We can’t because of what hope is. Hope is a frame of mind, an orientation of the spirit, a consciously adopted way of engaging the circumstances of life as they are, whatever they are. Hope is a choice.

And because hope is a choice, you can’t give hope to anybody else. But you can plant a seed. You can plant seeds of hope.

You can’t give hope to a friend living with a chronic illness, but you can plant a seed. You can be present, physically present, with words or without words, just being there is hard evidence to your friend that they are not alone in the struggle and knowing that they aren’t alone plants that seed of hope.

You can’t give hope to a floundering middle-schooler, awkward, self-conscious, unsure of himself, but you can plant a seed. You can create opportunities for him to show his talents, to try something new, to take a chance, to shine. Isn’t that what our Sunday School teachers do with our kids. They guide them, they let them create works of art to take home to their families, and those moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas whoever it is when they see those projects, those creations, those crafts, and the kids tell them the story behind them and they have the attention of their loved ones, that makes them feel so special, and that plants a seed of hope.

You can’t give hope to good people who worry that their church is slipping away as people age and culture changes and traditions fade, and the church has to change with the times, but you can plant a seed. You can be here. You can be here, all in, fully engaged, living each day not as if our days are numbered, but living each day as if this is just the beginning of a new and wonderful adventure, because it is! Isn’t that what we are doing? The ice cream socials, the kindness closet (when we aren’t in a pandemic). Other church activities that we can do to engage our community and our members. The prayer wall, the basement project, the picnic table, the new ramp. All of those things are new and fresh and show that we as a church aren’t planning on going away. And that plants seeds of hope, not only among our congregation members who may be worrying about our church, but also our community that may worry that our church won’t be here if they need us.

Can you imagine living without hope? Maybe you can. Maybe you can because you are, living without hope -- without hope for the future of this world, without hope for the future of this church, without hope for your own future. If you are living without hope, I cannot give you hope, but I can plant a seed. And this is the seed ...

Jesus asked, “Who do people say that I am?”

The disciples have seen enough, the people of the land have seen enough, to have an opinion. Jesus has astonished them. Jesus has amazed them. Jesus has provoked them. Jesus has exposed them.

The disciples answer “Some say you are John the Baptist”

A voice crying in the wilderness, urging people to turn their lives around and get ready for God’s kingdom.

Some say you are Elijah ...

Performing wonders, challenging the powers that be, defending the cause of a beleaguered people.

Some say you are a prophet ...

Tearing down the facade of a shallow self-serving faith, extolling the matchless might and boundless compassion of Almighty God, proffering a breathtaking vision of hope.

But what about you? That’s what Jesus says: “What about you?”

Who do you say I am?

Peter had an answer, but that was Peter’s answer, not yours. What about you? It is your answer that matters: your choice, your belief, your faith, your hope. You have seen him. You have heard him. Who do you say he is?

Your answer to that question will make all the difference -- all the difference -- because the Messiah is hope. Asking the question is planting the seed, but it is you who must tend the seed and let it grow in you, let it grow to the full fruition of hope in you.

1 Corinthians 13:13 says “Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, and love.” May these three remain in you. May you choose faith and choose love and choose hope. And having hope in you, may you plant seeds of hope in those around you.

As we head into September and the fall season starts, as we start thinking about the harvest ahead of us. Let’s plant seeds of hope. (I have started some seeds for you today, to take home and for you to watch grow) and as these sunflowers start to grow may they remind you that there is hope and that you can help plant those seeds of hope among the children, hope among strangers who are really friends, hope along a way that is both easier and harder than it seems, hope in a world turned upside down, hope in embodying a different way, hope in healing, hope in knowing what matters most, hope in knowing that what you have and what you are is enough, hope in knowing that he is coming back.

Jesus is coming. He is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops. Never stops planting hope!


‒ Pastor Pam