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SINGING HOPE

February 16, 2011

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:  7-8)

Many years ago I was visiting friends in Burma.  It was April, the hottest and driest time of the year. I was sitting in a small office with 8 friends trying to carry on a discussion about the work of the youth in the church of Burma.  Without air-conditioning, the room was brutally hot and the overhead fan, turning lazily and reluctantly, did little to relieve the heat.  I was having a very difficult time concentrating on what friends were saying, and even began to wonder if there was any value in holding the discussion.

From my position in the room I could look out the narrow window that overlooked the neighborhood.  Nothing seemed to be moving.  All of the trees were without leaves, and a powdery brown dust covered buildings, plants, fences and roads.  It was as if there was no life at all.

In discomfort I shifted my chair which gave me a slightly different view through the window.  I caught my breath in surprise.  To the left I saw a tree that had previously been hidden from my view.  Barren of leaves, it was covered with large clusters of bright red flowers.  The intensity of the red in contrast to the dry brown that had filled my sight just moments earlier, awoke me from my lethargy with a start.  In that moment I saw life.  It must have been similar to the feeling Mary and Martha had when they realized that Christ had risen.  He was no longer in the grave.  Hope had sprung forth in the most hopeless moment.

Perhaps that is the lesson God wanted to give me that hot, dry day in Burma.  When things seem the most difficult and hopeless, God expects us to blossom the brightest.  When all around us things seem to be falling apart causing so much stress and fear, God wants us to be the clearest and brightest example of resurrection, joy and hope.  That is the way we transform the world.

One of my favorite songs is called “He Came Singing Love.”  The first verse says:

“He came singing love and he lived singing love.  He died, singing love.  He arose in silence.  For the love to go on we must make it our song: you and I be the singers.”

The final verse concludes:

“He came singing hope and he lived singing hope.  He died, singing hope.  He arose in silence.  For the hope to go on we must make it our song: you and I be the singers.”

Through the resurrection and the ascension into heaven, Christ passed his song of love and hope on to us.  We must sing it loudly and clearly, especially in the most difficult times.  We must bloom the brightest when heat, oppression and fear abound.  That is the message of Christ.  That is the song of Christ.  Then we become like a tree planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. We are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Our leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.  We are the hope.  We are Christ’s singers.

Reprinted with permission of PeaceSigns, the online publication of the Peace and Justice Support Network of Mennonite Church USA, www.mennolink.org/peace

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