“Hope that is seen is no hope at all.” Romans 8:24
In the first edition videos of Disciple Bible Study, the late Ellsworth Kalas recalls hearing from a Bible teacher long ago that our Bibles should not have back covers. That’s because the story is unfinished. God’s story is ongoing, and it’s being told through us!
This Sunday we come to the end of our 10 week Bingeworthy: The Bible in Ten Episodes series. But really, we are just getting to the end of the “official” Bible. The story continued in the lives of the disciples, and the early saints, and the formation of the Catholic church, then the eastern church, and the Reformation, and the divisions of denominations, and John Wesley, and Methodists, and you and me. If we take nothing else away from these weeks I hope we will hold onto the simple idea that God wants to keep telling the story of his redemption and power through our lives right now! This Sunday we conclude with the message of hope.
A year ago this week I was in Oberammergau, Germany filming videos for a series for the United Methodist Church that will be used this coming Lent. We arrived on a beautiful fall morning (like today!) and went straight to Dachau Concentration Camp for a piece we wanted to film there. One memorial at the site remembers the prisoners who jumped on electric fences in a final act of surrender to escape their pain and suffering. The few times I have been to Dachau and looked at this scene I think of the writings of Viktor Frankl, a prison camp survivor, who observed people who gave up hope versus those who persevered. His observation was that people who survived found a reason to live. In his best selling Man’s Search for Meaning, he quotes Nietzsche who said, “(The one) who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” Frankl observed this as he watched prisoners find ways to live for others in some of the most deplorable conditions imaginable.
Hope is having a why. This is the serendipity of faith. When we focus on the survival of others we find hope that helps us survive. To quote a Flannery O’Connor title, “The Life You Save May Be Your Own.” When we discover a why to live we can face the challenges that threaten our hope.
As we wrap up our walk through the Bible this Sunday, I want you to consider just how the story is being told in your life. You are a disciple. You are a follower of Christ. God is telling a grand tale of love and hope through you. What’s your story? How are you giving yourself to that hope? Surrender to it, and you’ll find a faith that endures.
See you Sunday,