Minister’s Musings December 2019

Dear Ones- Our theme for the month of December is “HOPE”.   Hope…what a mad, ridiculous notion! We buy a lottery ticket and hope we’ll win, knowing the odds are against us. We hope for peace on earth, knowing that humans are never going to change. We make plans for tomorrow, hoping that we will wake in the morning. What a mad, ridiculous thing is hope!

But hope we do. We hope for good things to happen, to win the lottery, that peace will prevail, for the sun to shine tomorrow and that we will live to see it.

Honestly, I don’t know why humans cling to hope so tenaciously. But studies seem to indicate that we are psychologically and perhaps even neurologically predisposed to hope and to its cousin, positivity. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2015, researchers concluded that “Overall, our major scientific finding is that …words, which are the atoms of human language, present an emotional spectrum with a universal, positive bias.”

This bias toward the positive doesn’t mean we don’t see the possibility of failure, the potential for disaster, or even the inevitability of death, of course. We most certainly do see them. To deny them is to have lost touch with reality.

But we humans, beautifully weird creatures that we are, seem able to “put that aside” for a time and focus on what IS possible. (I’m often amazed at our ability to fully believe 2 contradictory things at the same time- and this, it seems to me, is a perfect example!)

Anne Lamott, in her book Help, Thanks, Wow writes: “Hope begins in the dark ..the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You don’t give up.”

Certainly, our Universalist ancestors believed in hope. Early Universalist John Murray (or maybe Alfred S Cole- there seems to be some dispute here) wrote: “You may possess only a small light, but uncover it, let it shine, use it in order to bring more light and understanding to the hearts and minds of men and women. Give them, not hell, but hope and courage. Do not push them deeper into their theological despair, but preach the kindness and everlasting love of God.”

And I believe to the very core of my being, that now more than ever we need hope. Hope, even in the face of all that is wrong in the world. Hope, even in the face of pain and misery. Hope, even in the face of injustice, racism, marginalization, xenophobia, homophobia and all the ills of life. Just as much as we need food, shelter and air, we need hope to survive.

It seems from what I’ve read that “hope” requires 3 things: First, that there we want something to happen, second, that we be able to envision the possibility that it will happen and third, being able to see HOW it might happen.

Without hope, without wanting things to get better, without imagining that they CAN get better, and without having a vision of how they might get better, we are lost. Without hope we wander aimlessly in a wilderness of cynicism and despair. Without hope we give up and give in to the forces of entropy constantly bombarding us. A life without hope, it seems to me, is an empty existence, indeed.

And, let’s face it, this is the season for hope, is it not? We hope for “peace on earth and good will toward all”. We hope for Spring. We hope for a better new year. We hope. We continue to hope.

So my wish for you is that your holiday be filled with warmth, joy, love, humor, goodwill, and, most of all, with that mad, ridiculous, unrealistic thing called hope.

Wishing you peace and blessings,

Rev John

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