How do you define the word 'hope'?

Posted: Friday, February 23, 2007

"It was a dark and stormy night."

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At least that is what I think Snoopy would write about the nights and weather we have been having over the last year. The darkness seems to be a little heavier than it has been in the past, and the storms seem to accentuate the feelings that trail closely behind. I have never been so glad to see the calendar come to a place where light was promised, only to wish I could notice change coming at a little faster of a pace. So I found it very interesting that I would stumble across a card that had a timely question written upon it.

Each week, in our church bulletin, there is a question that is added so people can take it home and think on it. They are what we call "Faith-Talk" questions. I have a bunch of cards that have questions written on them. I draw a card at random to see what question the congregation will mull over this week. So when I drew this card, the card that would spur me on to write an article about it, I quickly put the card back into the pile. I didn't want to deal with it. I didn't want to put it upon my congregation. I needed to not think about it. It seemed too much. Almost unanswerable. But alas, I could not escape it. It was too good of a question, and it attached itself to my mind.

What was written on this card? Here it is: "How do you define the word 'hope'?"

Wow. What a question. Sitting in this dark and stormy night, this question confronts me. It asks me to look beyond what I see, beyond the weather, beyond the darkness and this question asks me, "How do you define 'hope'?" Try as I might, I can't escape it. The question needs to be addressed. So, dear readers, I put it back to you, "How do you define 'hope'?"

Spending some time pondering this, here is how I define the word:

A group of pastors that meet on Tuesday morning, from different denominations to talk about what is going on in Juneau, for the sake of God and the Gospel.

A daycare for the children of single parents that are going to high school.

In the midst of a dog eat dog world, seeing a teenager opening a door for an elderly woman.

Being welcomed for who you are, and not what you have done.

That as strange as I seem to you, or you seem to me, we greet other with a warm embrace anyway.

I heard it said recently that there is no such thing as love, just acts of love. And it is in witnessing those acts that I define hope.

So as you travel through this life, please know that people notice those things you do. And even the smallest acts of kindness and love can affect someone's definition of hope. It is through your actions, through your acts of love that help bring the light into another person's day.

Thank you for the work that you are doing, and may you continue to be blessed by being someone's hope in this world.

• John Stevens is the pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church.

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