What is the mystery of hope?

Members and friends of Penn Central Conference,

 

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. God will dwell with them; they will be God’s peoples, and God will be with them and be their God; will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

 

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life." - Rev 21 selections from 1-6

 

I like a little bit of mystery. I read Nancy Drew and watched Scooby-Doo. I appreciate the methods of Father Brown and Angela Lansbury. I want answers as much as the next gal, but when it comes to faith, well, I think a little mystery is what makes me able to repeatedly turn to hope.

 

Reading and studying the book of Revelation reminds me of that mystery. Eastertide points me toward comfort in the mystery of resurrection. Spiritual mystery and comfort are one thing, but here lately I need a little less real world mystery and a lot more real world hope.

 

In the lectionary text from Revelation this week, we read about the former things being no more and God doing new things. I'm about ready for this. The former things are getting old. I don't want any mystery here and I want to write this out plain and true: this season of COVID is awful, I'm over it, and I am ready for this new thing that God has promised!

 

No more mystery, or waves, variants or mutations. I've been running low on hope and I am so thirsty for this new thing to be tangible and available right now, preferably in the Super Big Gulp size.

 

Last week I gathered with about 90 clergy from Penn Central, Penn Northeast and Pennsylvania Southeast Conferences. We were discussing the contemplative life and looking to mysticism and the movement of the holy to quench our thirsty souls as we rise like the phoenix from the ashes of COVID life. Byron from Hearts and Minds Bookstore gave book talks. Cindy Garis August led us in silence and meditation. Nick Pence asked us when we knew we had been in the presence of the holy.

 

And in the midst of the chaos, my spirit stilled and I was drawn to the a new thing that God promises, the not yet known that I hope for. In the hug of a friend I found hope in the moments that seemed most bleak. And I knew that God is still here working mysteriously among and through us. I didn't just think God might be bringing something new to life, I knew it and felt it. My thirst was quenched.

 

Hope is a mystery. Where have you found it recently? How do you see God moving beyond the former things and doing an absolutely new thing, tangibly or mysteriously? This passage tells us of John's vision where God dwelt with people in the New Jerusalem. That might be mystery for us literally, but how does God dwell with us today? How about in this moment as you sit at your computer reading?

 

Find hope in the promise that God is working something new right now. Find comfort in that mystery and truth.

 

Shalom,

 

Nora

 

Rev. Dr. Nora Foust

Associate Conference Minister

Penn Central Conference