Popular Posts

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Link between Grace and Hope

   You might recall that in January I determined that the theme of 2014 for me would be "Hope."  I did not mean "hope" in the weak and half-hearted way it is often used in conversation, "I hope you actually listen to me this time."  No, the hope I am talking about is strong and based on truth upon which you can build your daily life.
   I've been thinking about this lately: true hope is linked to grace.  Let me give you a couple of examples:

Isaiah 40

   I appreciate the oratorio Messiah by G.F. Handel.  I begins with a number of pieces taken from the text of Isaiah 40.  Its first words are "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, says your God.  Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned..."
   In this passage, God is speaking to a people who are being sent into exile for their acts of disobedience.  According to John Calvin's commentary on Isaiah 40:1, the verb "says" ought to be rendered "will say."  In other words, despite the difficulties and trials that the people will experience, God will speak comfort to them.  A time will come when they can make a new start.  God will forgive them and give them a true hope to rely upon.
   As readers of this passage so many centuries later, we are the recipients of this grace today, not in some future time.  This opportunity to be forgiven and given a second chance is here for us right now. It enables us to walk in hope.

The Butterfly Circus 

   This short film illustrates the link between grace and hope in a powerful way.  A character named Will is treated as a freak in a circus sideshow; the showman introduces him as "a man who God Himself has turned his back upon."  Will has no limbs (and is played by Nick Vujicic) and is treated as an undeserving excuse for a human being.  Will despairs that this is the only life for him, to be gawked at and to be attacked with rotten fruit because he can do nothing to defend himself.
New born butterfly, Aug. 2014
   But then Mr. Mendez, a person of grace, enters the story.  He comes close to Will and says just three words directly to him, "You are magnificent."  Will reacts by spitting in his face.  However, Mr. Mendez takes the blame on himself and withdraws to his own circus, one that sees the ability of each performer.
   As the story unfolds, Will becomes open to the possibility of hope and leaves the place where he is being exploited.
   Where the harsh, merit-based way of thinking takes special note of how persons do not measure up to strict standards, grace sees intrinsic value, possibilities and a new beginning.  Those who have been shown such grace need to extend it to others, sharing with them the basis for true hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment