“…if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
– 2 Chronicles 7:14

A team within the Annual Conference just finished reading a monograph entitled Reservoirs of Resilience in Uncertain Times by Bishop Janice Riggle Huie. As part of this reading, Bishop Huie provides deep thought and reflection around this understanding of hope. I would suggest, oftentimes when we talk about hope, it is out of an ideology that “Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large” (Wikipedia).” However, Bishop Huie offers that “such hope is more rugged than simple optimism.” She goes on to state, “It (hope) is the choice to believe that even when things aren’t turning out the way we desire, we will endure through times that disappoint and threaten us…we believe God’s infinite love and grace will prevail.”

I must be honest, over the last several weeks, my hope has been weaning because of the many uncertainties and the complexities of hard times this country is experiencing. My hope weans as the hue of one’s humanity continues to be fraught by judgments, recorded murders, or continued disenfranchisements and criminalizations. My hope weans, when we, in The Church, constantly perpetuate fights around foolishness and fail to remember the focus of our core identity as followers of Jesus Christ. My hope weans as there are heightened fears and anxieties when going to places of employment, grocery stores, schools, or even entertainment venues as we look over shoulders, praying we are not faced with senseless violence. My hope weans when we fail to pay attention to those who are crying (particularly young people) out for help and provide resources for those who are struggling with mental health differences and difficulties….Lord In Your Mercy, Help US!

Bishop Huie says it best, “hope as a verb grows out of the faith that God hasn’t quit and light does shine in the darkness. People of hope make a deliberate choice to move toward the light—they act.” So, Friends this understanding of hope moves us beyond simply rendering thoughts and prayers for the matters I raised above, but I believe true faith and greater hope, is putting feet to our prayers, lifting voices for accountabilities, extending a hand of care beyond our pocketbooks, and seeing all persons as beloved children of God.

The sound of hope is…”ordinary Christians moving toward the pain and discomfort in our world instead of remaining comfortable in our safe places.” Friends, if we indeed want change to happen in this world, we will need to act like Jesus. If indeed, we desire for all to experience the love of God through Jesus Christ, this can not be contained in our hearts, we must show the true meaning of this unfailing love. The sound of hope is bringing all our different understandings, laying aside our personal agendas, seeking the face of God, and being the hands of feet of Christ. There must be a new sound emerging across the airwaves, beyond the narratives of more killings, church bickering, and senseless killings. The new sound must come from those who profess to follow Jesus, that is in sync and harmonious for others to want to listen. The sound must reverberate as a reminder that God is still active and alive. It must echo that Christ indeed is Risen. It must be the sound of hope, so others will want to hear it and share it…if not, people will continue to grow deaf to it.

We have a choice…how will hope sound from you?

In Humble Service,

Dr. Aleze M. Fulbright
Conference Superintendent serving Central and West Districts