A Senior Moment
'Voice of Hope'
by Rev. Bob Johnston

November 27, 2016

New Perspectives

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Below the border, festivities are winding down. One hopes that peace and harmony have reigned undisturbed in those millions of homes across the “fruited plain” where families and friends have gathered sometime over the past four days to sit around that special table of Thanksgiving.  

Peace and harmony was maintained in many of those same households only because the host had wisely forbidden any discussion of politics as the turkey and pumpkin pie were being served. A widely-circulated research finding by the Maycocks Group In Iowa concluded that 30% of homes surveyed had banned election post-mortems for fear of provoking violent food fights between joyful Trumpians and angry Clintonites. Lizzie Post, the etiquette columnist for the Huffington Post, even penned a helpful column on November 21, listing practical steps for avoiding awkward political showdowns in this potentially explosive situation.

Regardless of which side of the campaign they found themselves, many voters and foreign onlookers can still feel residual despair over the divisiveness, low level of rhetoric and narrowness of vision echoing throughout that recent battle for the White House. I was reminded of a time when American politicians spoke more eloquently in a far different language, one of hope, reconciliation and wideness of vision.

Most everyone can hear even today the echo of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” Washington speech. Less well-known was the 1968 hastily-written address Robert Kennedy delivered to a shocked, disbelieving crowd at his political rally in Indianapolis immediately after King was assassinated.

A Google search will bring those poignant words of reconciliation and hope to life and once again move the listener to tears. Sixty three days later, Robert Kennedy was also killed. At the funeral, these were among the words of hope offered by his brother, Ted Kennedy, to a despairing nation:

Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.

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On August 26, 1980, that remaining Kennedy brother made an unforgettable concession speech during the Democratic National Convention after he had just lost the nomination to Jimmy Carter. Again, gracious words of hope and vision were offered to his disheartened multitude of followers:

The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

In the Christian Church year, the season of Advent begins today. These next four Sundays prepare the faithful for the miracle of the Christmas story. The traditional theme of this first Sunday is “Hope.”

Many folks in Bruce County can recognize with gratitude and satisfaction the fulfillment of past hopes in both their personal and vocational lives. Others live in excited expectation of future hopes to be yet realized---including that “bucket list” some have optimistically prepared. Many others live patiently with hopes remaining unfulfilled and dreams unrealized.

Hope is a powerful word offering light to those walking in darkness. This was the ancient message, voiced around 850 BC by the Biblical prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 9:2-7), bringing welcome words of encouragement and reassurance to the Jewish people about to be stranded in Assyrian captivity.

When gloomy headlines still continue to dominate our daily news, we long to hear authentic voices of hope and light from our leaders. While most of us will never speak to a nation, each of us can still offer words of hope, healing and reconciliation to one another in our daily walk. That would truly be a reason for celebrating Thanksgiving each and every day.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016