Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lost Causes


I believe in lost causes.
I have been on the side of many things that had no chance of winning.
Lately I have been working with other leaders in Concord on the issue of what will happen to our homeless sisters and brothers.
It certainly feels like a lost cause.
There is nothing to be won for politicians to take up the cause of people experiencing homelessness.
They don’t have any money.
And most of them don’t vote.
The people who do have money and who do vote are often people who want a nice place to live without having to look at or be around others who don’t look good, and who don’t act good.
I will be the first to admit that there are some people experiencing homelessness who will probably be homeless for the rest of their lives.
There are some who will never get a job or be respectable.
You can ask Bill and Gail Megan and they will tell you that in the many years they have been feeding people at the Friendly Kitchen there are some who have always been there and some who always will.
It seems like a lost cause.
So why do I do it?

I believe in peace.
In my life I have done what I can to fight for the quest to live in a world without violence as the solution to our problems.
Don’t get me wrong I understand the need for our armed forces.
I am glad for the sacrifice of the men and women who risk their lives, who put their country first.
But I think we all yearn for a day when that will not be necessary.
And yet that always seems like a dream.
There has always been strife between people.
At the beginning of time there were disputes and people fought to get their way.
Peace is a lost cause.
So why do I do it?

Why do any of us believe in lost causes?
Why does the mother keep helping her son who is addicted to drugs even though he keeps stealing from her?
Why does a father pray at night for his daughter to turn her life around?
Why does a grandmother talk to her grandchildren and tell them how much their actions are hurting her and others?
I would contend that even if you don’t agree with my lost causes all of us have been involved in a lost cause or two in our lives.
Why do we do it?

We do it Because of hope.
Because this time it might be different.
This time someone might listen.
This time it all might change.
We as a people believe in hope.
More specifically Christians are a hopeful people.
We don’t give up because we just don’t know what will turn things around.

More than this we believe that God does not give up on us.
At a certain point in my life I was considered a lost cause.
But thankfully God and others did not give up on me.

Today our Psalm essentially asks this question.
Who are we that God is mindful of us?
We are people that are constantly messing things up.
We can’t seem to love each other as we ought.
We can’t seem to set aside our pride and do what is in the interested of everyone and not just ourselves.
And yet through all the years God has not given up on us.
Why not?

Perhaps God is hopeful that this time it just might be different.
This time we just might understand.
But maybe even more than this that God has made us a little lower than gods.
That God, for good or ill, has chosen us as his co-workers in kingdom making.

Sometimes, Christian theology is presented to us as God loves us even though we are unworthy and useless.
I disagree with this.
God loves us because God created us.
God loves us because God knows that despite even our failings there is something worthy about us.
God believes that there are things about us that are lovable.
That we are redeemable and we can do to great things.
Perhaps one of our greatest attributes as humans is our capacity to hope, our capacity to reach for the stars and do better.
This is why it is important for us to be involved in lost causes.

The Psalmist today tells us that God has a very high opinion of us.
That God gave us rule over the works of God’s hands.
God could have created the world and run the whole thing by God’s self.
In fact, it might have been a better plan.
There would have been no humans to pollute the planet, kill others, and create the atomic weapon.
But God created humans because God wanted helpers.
God didn’t want to do it alone.
God crowned us with glory and honor.

There are many things that we don’t do well.
But we stand in the grace of God, hoping to share in the glory of God.
We know that things cannot stand as they are forever.
So while we wait for God to make all things right we don’t stand idle.
But we suffer with our homeless brothers and sisters.
We feel angry and sad that there are people who have no place to call home.
We feel a need to speak when people are evicted from the one place they can sleep without a place to go.
We hope that perhaps this time our elected officials will listen and act.

Even though war might be necessary we still pray for peace.
We hope that this time cooler heads might prevail.
We hope that we might find words that will produce understanding.

St. Paul today tells us that we suffer now and that suffering produces in us hope.
Not because we are naïve about the world, but because we know of God’s love that is poured into us.
We know of that love since the beginning of all things.
We know of that love that was spoken to through Noah, Abraham, Moses, Ruth, the prophets, Mary, Jesus Christ, the apostles, and Paul.
We know of that love because we still sing “Jesus loves me this I know”.
Even in a world that seems to become more evil, and more complex, we still know of this love and believe in it through faith.

A couple of weeks ago at our adult forum I was saying that we simply cannot create peace.
Peace is too far from us.
There has been no time in human history have we known true peace.
Then someone in the class said, “But we continue to keep trying.”
Amen to that.
We keep trying because we have hope that perhaps this will be the day and time when God’s glory will shine through the heavens and there will be peace in our time.
We keep trying because Jesus told us that it is the peacemakers who are blessed.
We keep trying because Jesus told us that it is the poor who are blessed.
That it is those who weep that God cares deeply about.
We keep trying because all is not lost as long as God’s love is poured into us through the Holy Spirit.

I pray for all of you to be involved in lost causes.
So that you know suffering and that suffering leads to endurance, and that endurance leads to character, and that character leads to hope.
So that you may live in faith and know the glory of God.

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