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prisoners of hope

I will free your people from the pit of exile. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope. In the midst of your losses, hear the Lord announce: I will repay twice-over with blessing for all you have suffered.

~ Zechariah 9.11-12 (paraphrased) … Old Testament prophetic book.

12/3 is the first Sunday of Advent. Hope is the traditional theme. Five centuries before Christ’s birth an obscure Jewish prophet identified the people of God as prisoners of hope.

Bishop Desmond Tutu speaking at the 2011 Social Good Summit announced, “I am not an optimist.” He went on to explain, “But I am a prisoner of hope. Which is quite different, because optimism is very wobbly.

“At the heart of our Christian faith is what appeared to be one of the worst failures. Jesus’ crucifixion looked like evil accomplished all that it sought. But when you believe Friday was followed by Easter, then forever you are a prisoner of hope. Even when we say to God, ‘I believe You are in charge. But why don’t You make that slightly more obvious?' Frequently, you hold on to hope by the skin of your teeth.

“It is quite amazing as you look at the span of history, how ultimately good prevails. History is littered with awful people who thought themselves invincible. But all of them bite the dust. That is important. Even when the stakes are against us, good prevails. Hold on to that.

“Each one of us has an instinct that hones in on goodness. The people we admire aren’t usually the powerful, the macho. You can say a lot of things about Mother Theresa, but macho would not be one of them. The Dali Lama—I try very hard not to be jealous, guy who can’t even speak english properly—is admired because he communicates goodness. And we have an instinct that connects. Integrity, gentleness; these are the things that really make the world go round.

“It’s going to be okay—eventually. All of you are recruited by God to make this world that kind of world. Fantastic! God looks down and celebrates.”

Prisoners of hope are confined by the conviction that God is accomplishing His promises. In the short-term it will be messy, even brutal—consider the Cross. But the Kingdom of Heaven is coming. People of God are prisoners of that glorious hope. ~

Dan Nygaard