Beacons of hope
At this week’s Spring FOCUS, Steve Janowiak got to preachin’. I don’t mean that he got “preachy” – I mean that I heard some good news in what he was saying to a small group of new Valpo students. “We’re training you to be the kind of people who will build hope in your communities.” It fills me with warm fuzzies just typing it out: the image of thousands of Valpo alumni being sent out into the world with a great education and equipped to be beacons of hope. That vision is one of the best things I’ve got to counter the constant hum of bad news: the omicron variant, schools battling over how to educate our children, and – well, you know what I’m talking about.
But when I say that Steve Janowiak got to preachin’, I also mean it in the Southern way – the way one of my Tennessee parishioners used to say it to me sometimes. She’d come out of worship, fix me with a hard stare (one that always made me a little nervous), and say, “You got to preachin’ today, Pastor.” It meant I’d given a sermon that made her feel like she had to actually do something in response.
Steve Janowiak got to preachin’ for me. His words reminded me that it’s not just students who ought to be training for hope-building – it’s all of us. And especially those of us who bear the name of Christ, the hope of the world.
Jesus’ hope was so strong that he proclaimed blessings on people even as they were in the midst of some of the most difficult trials of life:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven… (Matt. 5:3-12)
The blessing is proclaimed as fact not because of what’s going on right now – but because of what will be. But it’s vital that we remember: Jesus didn’t just say, You’re blessed – God’s kingdom is coming! and leave it at that. In fact, what Jesus announced at the very beginning of his ministry was: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matt. 4:17).
Jesus told us about the future, God’s perfect kingdom, and his blessings were rooted in hope and faith in that coming kingdom. And because Jesus was so confident in that future, he started to live it in the here-and-now. He said to those in mourning: you will be comforted when the kingdom comes – and he also offered them immediate comfort. He said to those who hungered (for righteousness or for food): you will be filled – and he offered them food and truth and moments of justice.
Hope isn’t only for the future – it’s also for right now. Hope is what gets us through the days when everything seems wrong.
We can be beacons of hope for one another even in these shadowy times. And we don’t have to have a clear vision of how the pandemic will end or the future of the university in order to be hopeful. Instead, we focus on the smaller things that are already within our power. Showing interest in the lives of people around us. Music. Dance parties. Phone calls. Sharing food. Living generously. Reading our children silly bedtime stories. Standing up for one another. It is small things like these that shine hope into our everyday lives in the ways that we most need it. And small things, all of us can do.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Jesus Christ, you are the light of the world.
The light no darkness can overcome.
Stay with us now, for it is evening
And the day is almost over.
Let your light scatter the darkness,
And shine within your people here.–Holden Evening Prayer
Jan. 12, 2021
Rev. Katherine Museus Dabay takes turns writing weekly devotions with Rev. James A. Wetzstein at Valparaiso University, where both serve as university pastors.
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A call to courage for 2021
- A charming tale for over-achievers
- A Lesson On Beans … and Being
- A New Place
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- A Time of Dust
- Acquiring a peaceful spirit
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Anastasis: the Greatest Story of God’s Saving Power
- Another kind of darkness
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- As if we needed a reminder
- Beacons of hope
- Better Together
- Blessings As You Go
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Fear of the Lord
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Getting through this together
- God is not overwhelmed
- Good Friday
- Grief & Graduation
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How do you keep from giving up hope?
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- Imagining Eternity
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In everything, grateful
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Jesus among us
- Killing off our future selves
- Knowing a Good Thing When We See It
- Lessons in fire building
- Let there be light!
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- Naming our demons
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- On the day after the night before
- Persistent and Extravagant
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Praying for Reconciliation
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Rest is Holy
- Right where we are
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Surprisingly Simple: Breathe!
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Trouble with Mammon
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You might be a Lutheran if…
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- WWJD? We already know
- Walking in the Light of Jesus’ Resurrection
- We had hoped
- We’re on a mission from God
- What do you do with your anger?
- What good is a shepherd?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When God uses something terrible for good
- When heaven & earth click
- When joy and sadness live together
- When stress overwhelms
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- When we are moved
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Won’t you be my neighbor?
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future