We woke up to rain this morning, the steady kind of rain and gray skies that have the capacity to keep our energy low and our attitude poor. Then on the news we heard the fuller story of yesterday’s mass shooting in San Jose and the loss of life that came from it. Some don’t need the news or rain or gray skies to have a depressive mood wash over them because of chemical imbalance and other kinds of mental health challenges. And even if that is not our issue, there are daily events and circumstances in that have the capacity to cause a depressive mindset.
I have often wondered why the book of Ecclesiastes is part of our canon of scripture. But when I think about the days of sadness and realized gloom, I wonder if the writer, who is quoting another, isn’t on to something.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NRSV)
It seems the writer understood the human experience well. There are some days when putting one foot in front of the other seems pointless at best, if not downright impossible.
Like you, I woke up to the rain and the news and the attitude. But I also woke up with the words of Peter on the day of Pentecost ringing in my head. Sunday morning in Bible Study we read the entire 2nd Chapter of the Book of Acts to frame our discussion about the day of Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit. A good portion of that chapter is Peter having a holy boldness he had never experienced before. Prompted by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, Peter gives witness to Jesus and his life-giving ways. At one point he quotes the Hebrew scriptures, saying...
I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic;
I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope.(Acts 2:26 The Message)
Those are the words that rang in my head this morning while the rain fell steadily and the news caused great grief and something was trying to bring my attitude to a new level of low. I wondered how does one pitch one’s tent in the land of hope? And what does it look like to live glad from the inside out?
Peter was trying to tell the crowd on the day of Pentecost, and faithful followers like us more than 2,000 years later, that hope doesn’t happen to you when good circumstances surround you. Hope is a choice. You have to pitch your tent in hope. You have to decide that no matter what is happening to you, around you or within you, you are going to take up residence in the place where hope lives. And Peter was telling a crowd of people who did not yet know that Jesus is the residence of this kind of profound hope, one that lives deep within us.
This is not an artificial hope, or a hope that tomorrow will be better, or gun violence will end next week. It is the kind of hope, powered by the Holy Spirit, that looks at the broken world and acts with boldness to change it for the better. This is the kind of hope that has feet to move forward, even when the path cannot be seen. This is the kind of hope that changes the world!
As you pitch your tent in the land of hope that is Jesus, may you be empowered by the Holy Spirit to change the world, on act at a time.
Pastor Becky Jo