If I were more serious about blogging, I would look ahead to the week’s readings and write about them before we hear them, but as it is I tend to hear them, be inspired, and take a few days to mull them over, ending up about 48 hours behind the lectionary when I decide to comment on it.
Yesterday was Trinity Sunday. This feast always sneaks up on me, possibly because it comes in the shadow of Pentecost. It celebrates one of my favorite theological ideas: that God is dynamic, mysterious, varied and engaged with us in every possible way. I cannot imagine being satisfied with a lesser God.
The second reading for the Solemnity was from Romans, containing Paul’s famous statement we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Some people look at that and see only danger, the danger that comes when people manipulate scripture to use it to keep people down. Yes, people have looked to that as an excuse to afflict and to keep the afflicted in their place. But when I heard it proclaimed this weekend my ear was drawn not to the beginning of the statement but to the end, that hope does not disappoint.
I have become well acquainted with hope in recent years. I rarely hope in a particular object or outcome – those indeed disappoint, and often. But I have settled into a hope that believes all will be well, that the worst of our lives are not the final word, and that there are myriad resurrections possible thanks to a God who died and rose.
For me, this is not pie in the sky stuff: My most intense experiences of hope have come in experiences of honestly accepting a grievous reality. Knowing that life can be tragic and still believing that life can be good has produced a new strength in me. This hope is not eagerness or anticipation – more a conviction that goodness and love are our ends. Like any virtue this hope is tested and surely will continue to be, but now it helps me face the day-to-day with a different attitude toward the bad. There are plenty of things that disappoint me, but hope has yet to be one of them.