1 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.
2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people.
3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’
4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone,
5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.
7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?
“But I can say that, while it might be different than that of the early Christians, our context is also one in which we are dogged by hopelessness from time to time. There are some days when we wonder, even if we don’t have the courage to say it out loud, if God is really listening to what we have to say because, well, there’s quite a bit around here that needs divine intervention. We look around at our lives and our community and our world and, well, let’s be honest: it’s not hard to feel doubtful.
“We want to be hopeful people of faith. …. But we still feel alone sometimes, and we wonder if God will come quickly to help us, that God will keep our lives, as the Psalmist insists, or whether we’re offering up our deep pain and hopeless wondering to an empty, dark void.
“Our Calvary context this morning specifically is the context of stewardship, of the reminder that all of our lives belong, not to us, but to God. And we’ve each been led in one way or another to plant our lives in this place, in this community of faith, to live in community with each other remembering always that corporately and together: we belong to God.
“It all sounds great at first, doesn’t it? … We challenge each other to live the radical Gospel Jesus came to preach as we grow and build this community of faith together, tending it carefully and making it ready for those who are still in need of a place like Calvary Baptist Church.
“Aww, that’s so nice. I think we can all remember the first blush of love, when we encountered this family of faith and found, unbelievably, the perfect place for us.
“But, life goes on, as it has a tendency to do. This beautiful church becomes the subject of long and (some would say) torturous committee meetings during which we struggle with all our might to take care of this physical plant we’ve inherited. And this wonderful, friendly, diverse community of faith, with a little bit of living, almost inevitably from time to time becomes a community of . . . human beings, that is, people who are sometimes not so friendly, who often don’t understand each other, and who, even despite their best efforts, sometimes allow their differences to divide them rather then bring them together.
“And the discovery that this place, this holy, wonderful place, is not as perfect or beautiful or spiritual fulfilling all the time as we had originally thought . . . well, this can be a little disillusioning, can’t it? … [S]ome days it can seem just as devoid of God as everything else. And those thoughts are enough to maybe even make you want to pack it all in and head home…
“Perhaps Luke, if he had been writing to us, would have said that it’s here, in these moments, that the parable of the persistent widow speaks to our context.
“How better could we, the people of Calvary Baptist Church, live the lives of faith we’ve been given in a world devoid of faith and lacking in hope, than remembering that we belong, not to the many things that pull at our lives demanding our attention or to the whims that drive our behavior most of the time, but rather . . . we belong to God.
“And because we belong to God, we will keep offering everything we have and everything we are with the brave and faith-filled hope that God is here, and God’s work is well underway.”
- Make a pact with yourself to commit an act of hope this week. Find 5 minutes and, instead of checking Twitter and Facebook feeds, use your smart phone to reach out to at least one person with a message of hope. We all know someone who is going through a rough time. Let them know they are not alone.
Prayer: Jesus, it is not easy to stay hopeful. Give us the persistence and drive to bring that special brand of hope to the world that only God can give. Amen