Psalm 33:18-22 was the passage for me this morning. But when I read it I didn’t see the word “Hope.” I thought I had chosen passages that all used the word hope. So, I read it again…still no hope. Then I realized that I was reading it a different translation (the NET translation) than what I had originally used. Sure enough, when I switched to the NRSV, there was hope twice… But in the other translation, where the NRSV said “Hope”, the NET translation said, “Wait.” That led to some more digging into the original word to see what was underneath it all. The main meaning of the Hebrew word is “wait”, but in context using “hope” makes sense too.
So, what does all this mean and what does it have to do with the four liturgical stoles that I have pictured for today? What I heard in all of it this morning is the reminder that God’s time is not our own. We want things to happen so quickly and so efficiently yet that is not God’s work and God’s timing. The stoles represent different seasons of the church year – blue/purple for Lent and Advent, white for Easter and Eastertide, red for Pentecost, and green for Ordinary Time (the times between the major seasons of the church). The church year doesn’t start with January 1 but it started with the first Sunday of Advent. Even the church’s time isn’t like “other” time.
When we have hope, when we live in active hope, when we watch for hope, there is a reality that the hope may not come to fulfillment in the immediate or even in our lifetime. I hope for the day when Jesus will return, but it hasn’t happened yet. I hope for the day that we as human beings can look beyond our own self-interest to realize how “easy” it would be to truly alleviate poverty in the world. I hope for the day when we can find ways to settle conflicts with tools and words rather than bombs and guns. I hope for the day when we see the Kingdom of God in its fullest, but we’re not there yet. So, I wait. And I hope. And I’ll wait. And I’ll hope.