What gives you hope?
This question was asked of us this morning in our First Sunday of Advent church worship service. I knew as soon as I saw the question in the printed bulletin that I had an answer based on my last two days of classes with students at Columbia Bible College. The present students in my Anabaptist classes and my senior Faith Formation class give me hope. When I think of these students becoming leaders and contributors in our world, it gives me hope. Injustice and violence have always been part of our world, but the emerging generation are more aware and concerned than any generation before them.
On Thursday my Anabaptist students discussed peace theology initiated by their reading of the texts with questions prepared by students themselves. In my generation, and even when I first started teaching this course eight years ago the questions that dominated were much more fear based, often designed to stump the pacifist professor: What would you do if someone tried to rape your wife? What about Hitler? What about God telling the Israelites to go to war? Now the questions were love and justice based: How are we contributing to global injustices by our extravagant lifestyles? How can we show love to our enemies? They began brainstorming creative ways of thinking and active ways of responding that cut between the usual and wearisome flight vs. fight options often given in situations of violence and injustice. What a privilege to moderate such a discussion!
On Friday we had our closing retreat for the senior spiritual formation course at a local retreat centre on the theme of wounds and healing. Students decried the “pat answers” that are too often given in the church and displayed a willingness to embrace their own brokenness and to wait patiently with others who are in the midst of healing journeys. They honored each other by speaking with authenticity, vulnerability and courage, and listening to each other with compassion and patience. We laughed, we cried, and “ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” I went home tired after an intense day of interaction, but with a full heart.
It can be overwhelming and debilitating to think of the civil war in Syria or homelessness in Abbotsford [and the list goes on], but with these young people in charge, I have hope for the world. I am confident that they will take “love God and love your neighbour as yourself” to a whole new level; they have the courage, patience and the creativity to do it. My students give me hope and this will get me out of bed again tomorrow morning!
What gives you hope?