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Hope from Here -- 2 Corinthians 4:6-18 (Fourth Sunday After Pentecost)

The following homily was offered as an introduction to the Choir's presentation of a musical program, entitled: "Reflections of Hope."

In the Apostle Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, he doesn’t shy away from talking about the hardship and challenge and struggle of life. He wades into the mud and the muck. Paul does talk of big things, beautiful things – Resurrection and love and hope. But always, always, he’s talking about all that out of the context of real life – real people, living real lives together – doing the best they can – in a hard world.

Sometimes Paul writes of the struggle of life together – learning to live in a world of economic injustice so that everyone might have enough, learning to live in a world of disagreement, striving for elusive reconciliation.

Just as often, Paul writes about the struggles he has known in his own life, in his own bones – illness, opposition, beatings, imprisonment, shipwreck, sleepless nights of worry, hunger, and even death. In his letters to the church he loves, the Apostle Paul talks about hope in the midst of real life. He enters into the hard things of life, and hopes from there.

The Scripture that Ralph read holds hardship and hope together. And so, Paul can write:

We have this hope, this treasure, in clay jars,

because the power of hope comes from God

it doesn’t come from us.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;

perplexed, but not driven to despair;

persecuted, but not forsaken;

struck down, but not destroyed;

We are mortal, and carry death with us,

but more powerful even than that,

we bear in our bodies, the life of Christ,

the Resurrection life of Christ.

In Resurrection, and in love, and in Christ, the Apostle Paul can stand in the midst of hardship and challenge and struggle and say: We do not lose heart. He enters into the hard things of life, and hopes from there.

The choir brings to us today music that arises out of the hardship and challenge of this year – in what they are calling Reflections of Hope. In our life of music this past year, we have faced a particular challenge and hardship – the pandemic’s limitations on singing. At first, we couldn’t sing together at all. Then, the choir, collaborating with folks like Martin and Tom, learned to sing together in a new way, each from their homes, to make recordings from there. It was not easy to say the least, but they created beautiful music. Then, they found special singing masks that enabled them to sing together in person outdoors, and then, since Easter, indoors – and then, in recent days, singing their way into the new opportunities of California’s Reopening.

As we all travelled through pandemic together, the gift that Daniel, Natsuko, the choir, and so many others given us has been... music. Against all odds. In the hard things of life... music and hope. “We are afflicted in many ways, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not driven to despair. Therefore, we do not lose heart.”

This morning, the choir invites us into that blessing again – to stand in the midst of real life... our life ... and hope from here.

© 2021 Scott Clark

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