By Reverend Amanda
I would be willing to bet that most of you remember the Y2K scare. I knew many people who were frightened about the apocalypse and the end of the world with Y2K. My grandmother was one of them. This was quite a few years before she moved in with us or before dementia set in. At this point, she lived with my Aunt Linda and her family. But she was not going to be caught unprepared for the end of the world and her family was not going to perish as others would. So for years, my grandmother collected food. There were non-perishable foods stored everywhere in my aunt’s house.
She stored food on the back of her bedroom door, on the doors of her closet and bathroom, in my aunt’s basement there were shelves and shelves of food. In the pantry of my aunt’s kitchen, there was a lot of food and more chicken broth then anyone would know what to do with. We would all laugh and reassure her that Y2K was just something that has to do with the computers and the experts would figure out a solution in time. The end of the world was not coming. I remember her saying, “You laugh now but just wait until Y2K and then you’ll be coming to me”. Well, the day came and went and the world kept turning. The stock market did not crash and life continued on just as normal. Except now my grandma had a lot of food. And she never stopped collecting it and when she moved in with my family guess what came along with her, all of her food. It took years to finish all the canned chicken broth.
Sometimes there are potential dangers that come our way. Events that take hold of our imaginations and create scenarios that frighten the day lights out of us: think pandemic and the Ukrainian crisis. In our faith journeys, when we walk through those valleys of the shadow of death, our personal times of wilderness, it becomes hard to see hope. We seem certain that the end is in store for us; our imaginations sometimes make the situation worse for us. This means that we need those interactions that open our eyes to the glimpses of a new future that God is revealing to us in the little moments in life. Moments that reveal the light at the end of the tunnel that is meant to inspire hope, courage, and relief.
Today we heard from the prophet Isaiah as we often do at the holiday times. But most people look upon the prophets from this position of awe, like they were somehow magical, or mystical beings. They weren’t. They were human beings like you and like me. They ate, they laughed, they cried, and they cared for people. They got into arguments, and at times they even struggled with faith in God. They watched their society; they were up on their current events and news. They understood humanity better than most people. You add in the word of God spoken in dreams and visions and you get a prophet trying to save their people. Sometimes it came in the form of a promise, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a new way of life with God in the lead. Other times it came in the form of a warning that if the people continued in their excess then people would suffer and die. God had given Isaiah a vision of a better tomorrow, hope that would bring the people of Israel through Diaspora. Isaiah and his people believed that they had experienced the end of the world and honestly they had. Their country had been overthrown and they had been captured and taken to a new land to live amongst a new culture away from all that was familiar and safe. Many believed that they were experiencing the apocalypse, the end of times, because it felt very much like the end of the world had come. God was telling them otherwise and God tells us otherwise when we feel as if our worlds have changed to something unrecognizable.
In the book of John, we hear of a woman anointing the feet of Jesus and then wiping them clean with her hair. Here too the disciples are being given a glimpse into what is to come. Jesus answers Judas, “Leave her alone. She bought the perfume so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me”.1 Jesus is opening their eyes to the miracle that is to come not only with his death but also his resurrection. With this anointing, God is letting the disciples know Jesus was not just an ordinary man and something truly wonderful was going to happen right before their eyes.
Isaiah promises a time of new Exodus. God was promising them that out of their suffering in Babylon, he was going to raise them up and bring them home. We are continuously being given signs that no matter how difficult life might become there is light to come. So look for the glimpses that God is guiding us through in the world around you. It might come with a new relationship, a changing perspective, finding an inner strength you never knew you had, learning to depend on one another, or learning that you are valued and loved. So, don’t let the darkness of the wilderness, the frustrations of this life, take control and steal away your hope for tomorrow. This week look for the strength, the hope, and the light that God is beginning to reveal to you and give yourselves permission to live with peace and hope, to live with joy and excitement for the new day to come. And hold the words of R.C. Sproul in your hearts and use your faith to inspire hope for tomorrow, “Hope is not simply a ‘wish’ … it is that which latches on to the certainty of the promises of the future that God has made”.21 John 12: 7-8, NRSV.
2 R.C. Sproul, 20th Century.