Christmas Eve 2016
Noisy Hope in the Deep Darkness
Bonnie A. Perry
May the God who creates….
Please be seated.
Its kind of dark out there isn’t it?
Metaphorically, physically, politically, there aren’t a lot of candles punctuating the veil of uncertainty that has seemingly settled over our world.
The poet, Mary Oliver in her book Upstream writes, “In the winter I am writing about, there was much darkness. Darkness of nature, darkness of event, darkness of the spirit. The sprawling darkness of not knowing. We speak of the light of reason. I would speak here of the darkness of the world, and the light of _______________. [But] I don’t know what to call it. Maybe hope. Maybe faith, but not a shaped faith—only, say a gesture or a continuum of gestures. But probably it is closer to hope, that is more active, and far messier than faith must be. Faith, as I imagine it, [she writes] is tensile, and cool, and has no need of words. Hope, I know, is a fighter and a screamer.” P 147 Upstream
“And the Angel said to them…
Unto you, is born this day, in the city of David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you: you will find the baby wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’
And there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on Earth, peace and good will.”
Hope--Hope is a fighter and screamer.
Hope is a baby born in a barn.
Hope is remembering again that God risked everything coming into this world as a helpless infant, born to a family without wealth or power.
The way Mary Oliver depicts faith it feels as if faith is much more about acceptance; whereas, hope is anything but acceptance.
Hope is the Northside Housing and Supportive Services, One Northside, the Tent City organizing collation and the members of People’s Church refusing to accept the closing of a much needed homeless shelter.
Hope is the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies refusing to say ok to risking their water supply for oil passage.
Hope is the city of Chicago declaring itself a sanctuary city in the face of possible federal deportations.
Hope is this church deciding to invest more of our time and energy into refuge welcome and resettlement.
Hope is saying we will neither acquiesce to the state, nor become agents of Cesar,
For unto us a child is born
Unto us a son is given
And the government will be upon His shoulder
And his name shall be
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The prince of peace.
Hope says, loudly, in as many languages as possible, “Hate is not welcome here.”
Hope. Hope is a fighter and a screamer.
I don’t know about you, but right now, hope is sounding, not only noisy, but also like an awful lot of work. Perhaps you just came here to sit in the dark amidst the flickering candles and twinkle lights. Perhaps you came here needing rest.
And so you can. So you must. For hope needs a home. Hope needs a bed. Hope needs to be fed. Hope needs to come together to say, “I am weary, I am worn. Hold me tight and tell me it’s going to be alright.”
Welcome. Welcome all of us who long for hope. We come for nourishment. We come tonight to hear ancient words that may soothe our souls, and sing familiar carols of long ago.
Have you ever noticed how good we all sound when we sing together? This wonderful directed energy, so much more than anything anyone of us could muster on our own. Those of us who have thinner, less dependable voices, are able to join our notes with the other rushing wavelengths of sound. And those with full voices, who shy not from highs or lows even you are bolstered by our enthusiasm.
Hope, I think, is like congregational singing. The more who gather, the more who focus our energy, our fear, our talents and dreams, the greater ability we have to make our hopes embodied realities.
Together we sing, together we hope. Together we change the darkness to light. We’ve come tonight, all of us, trying to remember how it all began, so that we may be the ones who do it all again. So that we may be the ones who make haste through the night fields, and find him, the baby, wrapped in bands of cloth, lying in the manger.
Then we know that it is all true, what we have been told. So we leave there, we leave here filled with some hope. Not quiet passive faith, but loud, noisy hope, that we with God and God with us, we who have walked in great darkness will create a light, an eternal light. A light to enlighten the nations,
Glory to God in the highest heaven and Earth Peace and Good will.