Letters from the Pastor
From the Pastor’s Desk
I attended the “Festival of Homiletics” in Minneapolis for as part of my continuing education this year (“Homiletics” is the ten-dollar word for “preaching”.) This annual event is described as “summer camper for preachers.” The best preachers and preaching teachers from around the nation provide lectures and sermons reflecting theologically on preaching, worship, and how that fits into 21st century church life. This year’s theme was “"Preaching Hope for a Weary World."
The most impactful I attended was “Hope Punk and the Gospel: Narrating Hope When All Seems Lost” given by Rev. MaryAnn McKibben Dana (how could I not attend with a title like that.) “Hope Punk” is loosely defined as literary, artistic, and spiritual efforts that support positives aims in the face of destruction and despair, especially when a “win” is not imminent or foreseeable. It is the decision to fight as Sam from “The Lord of the Rings” movies: “(we do this) because there is good in the world worth fighting for.” Hope Punk, while having an ethic of gentleness and kindness, is not “nice” or “keeping the peace” but is resistant to what is wrong or life draining. It emphasizes community over competition, right over winning, and acting over results.
Hope Punk says that we do our part, and then leave it for the next generation to take it up and move it forward. It is the Good News that we fight, fight, lose, and fight again, not because we eventually will win but because we know God wins in the end. It is what allows hope in the face of desperate circumstances, resistance to injustices, wrongs, and oppression, especially when we wonder if what we do will have any impact. Jesus lives out Hope Punk by resisting the way things are by acting in the ways of God. This isn’t a hope of denial of pain or suffering or injustice, nor is it pie in the sky that nothing matters because it all works out okay in the end. Instead, it affirms their reality while declaring that it is not the way it should be. Kindness becomes a political act that says we will not act in the ways of anger, fear, hate that tear down others even as we stand with and for others. It looks like John Lewis causing “Good Trouble” and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letters from Birmingham Jail.” It forms a community of those who look to see what they can do, even if it is “only” doing the right thing and leaves the rest for those who come after.
Already another contentious political season has kicked off, I wonder how different our actions and reactions would be if we consciously express our faith as “Hope Punk. Then whether “our” candidates or “our” side ends up winning, we continue to do what is right just because it is the way God calls us to live. It is a hope that knows that God’s will resists death and destruction and refuses to let them have the final word. It is the hope founded in God’s promises, not our efforts. It is whenever we “fight the good fight” because it is right, not because we think we can win it. Because we know that God already has that in hand.
God’s grace and peace.
Pastor Deb Kunkel
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