It's been a challenging week for my church and my family. The challenges to our family have been external, which unfortunately is sometimes the case when you're a foster family. You have a whole range of extended family that you kind of know in some way, and their well-being affects the child you are caring for, so it matters, but you have absolutely no control over it. If it were my brother or my brother-in-law, I could at least speak with them and try to help. And I would really know what was going on. Because of confidentiality, we are often given the barest glimmer of the full story, which generally is fine. All that is to say, this week has been kind of challenging on the home front for our kiddo, in ways that at such a young age, the kiddo can't really understand or articulate, but does know on some level. This is hard for the fixer in me.
My church is facing some serious financial challenges. We are a small church, and have always existed on the edge of financial solvency. But we do a lot of work in the community and I'm very proud that while we are small, we are strong. Except financially. And that's important, obviously. We had a good stewardship campaign, more than half of the pledging families raised their pledges, which was the most that had ever done so. Proud again. But it's not enough. Tough questions, hard week.
In the Board meeting today, I said (along with a lot of other things) that we need to be hopeful and practical. These things, along with some other things that have happened in the last year (or not happened) have forced me to think of hope in a different way. I love, love, love talking about hope. I talk about it all the time in sermons. But it wasn't until recently that I really thought about how stupid and robust hope is.
It doesn't make sense to be hopeful in most of the situations we have to be hopeful in. And yet, hope is sometimes all we have. This is from a sermon I gave last month:
Hope is not naive. Hope is a choice to see the world in a certain way, full of possibilities and kindness and God's promises. Hope trusts that the future will be better than today, and that today is also the Lord's. God is God, today and forever. This is the good news.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 NRSV.