Years ago I sang in the choir at Elizabeth City State University. We sang a song about hope. I don’t remember the author. The song was sung in a round. The lyrics, beautiful in their simplicity are hard to forget. “There is hope, there is hope. There is hope, there is hope. Call him in the morning, call him late at night. Call him in the morning, call him late at night. The savior is with you. He’s there all the time. The savior is with you he’s there all the time…”
It had a changing rhythm and meter. The pace of the song built, and at times it felt frantic. The frenetic pace seemed built on the desperation that only those who are oppressed, whose backs are or have been against the wall understand. It is the recognition that the help you need doesn’t exist on this earth, and that your only Hope is in Jesus.
When I think about racism in a North American context, specifically the church’s role in creating, maintaining, and orchestrating these systems of oppression, I have realized that the only way these systems will be dismantled is through the transformation of hearts. This is the work of the divine, and this is where I place my hope.
We take part in the transforming work. It is work that brings together black and brown people here in North America, and globally along with white allies. It is work that recognizes there is more that connects us than divides us. It is work that reminds us that the burden of dismantling racism and white supremacy is on all of us and that our work every day, whether as religious professionals, environmentalists, laborers, retail, construction, or public service should be leading us toward more just communities. If this was an article about global migration, I’d talk about blurred lines between countries, the need to welcome the stranger, and fixing immigration policy that seems to place a higher value on white skin than it does other types of immigrants and why this is a danger to people of all race and nations and sets up the systems of oppression to continue. I’d talk about a changing world and changing countries that are becoming more black and brown as the lines are becoming blurred between countries due to global migration. But it’s not an article about global migration it’s about Hope. Placing our hope in systems and people is perhaps what has caused us these problems in the first place.
It’s where we miss the mark, placing our Hope in people. It’s sin, to place our hope in people instead of God. The transforming work isn’t ours, it belongs to God. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have a role in the work. What it does mean, however, is that we put the parts of our bodies and our minds that are able to do the work of God, and then rely on God to do the transforming work that God has done since the beginning of time.
It can be daunting to fully place our trust in God, while the world rapidly changes around us. But God is the same yesterday, and today, and he’ll be the same tomorrow. God is a just God. I am confident that when we set about being God’s love in the world, God sets about transforming hearts, minds, communities, and families. God transforms the world.
There is hope because there is a Trinity that feels the frenetic desperation that is present in the world. There is hope because there is a God that knows justice, love, and loss. There is hope because the Holy Spirit sits with us in our grief, and pours over us so that we might experience an outpouring of God’s Love for us. There is hope because Jesus experiences all of our emotions, and lives so that we might have an example of what it means for us to live in the world, and dies so that we might experience freedom.
There is Hope.
By Rev. Dr. Michelle Lewis