A New Hope
I Recently saw the Star Wars Movie Rouge One. It is the story of how a group of rebels obtained the secret plans to the Death Star- plans that help save the day in the original Star Wars Movie. At the end of Rouge One, after tremendous sacrifices have been made, someone asks the question “What have we gained?” The answer (and the final words of the movie) is “Hope!”
Hope is one of the main themes throughout this series of movies. Hope is what keeps people alive, willing them to live and persevere despite the darkness of evil that seems to be winning the day. Hope is what people depend on, it provides guidance, direction, and is the source of their courage. Hope is powerful. It can capture a mind, a people, an entire generation.
Soon, we will be celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day – a day when we remember our Heroes who stand up to injustice, racism, tyranny, and the degradation of people who are different than us. Dr. King gave us so much. He not only inspired us with hope, but he demonstrated how to live and stand up to these forces of evil that so easily consume our country. Reverend King also powerfully demonstrated what it means to be the church. When Jesus first spoke about what the church was supposed to be (Matt 16) it was in the context of empowering Peter and the disciples to be the church (which is not a building or a club). The church is a group of people that are to be powerful witnesses of hope. People who bring Good News to a dark and grim world. Jesus gave this vision when he and his disciples were standing in the shadow of one of the most corrupt and evil cities of Israel (Ceasera Philippi – a city known for its heinous forms of worship that included human sacrifice). It was in this context that Jesus said those famous words “I tell you, you are the rock upon which I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:18-19). The vision of Jesus’ church was one that would be a voice in this world, standing up to the powers of darkness that enslave people, setting them free with the power of the Gospel. What a powerful vision. It was this picture of what the church should be that lead Reverend King to be such a passionate voice against the powers of injustice, racism, poverty, and privilege that hold people captive in our country today. Let us reclaim this vision of the church. Let us offer freedom and hope to a world that desperately needs it. Amen!