Systems are very difficult to change: systemic racism, systemic poverty, systemic political corruption come to mind. Social workers, community activists, teachers in poor schools, and random idealists work hard not to succumb to despair.
This time last year, profound hopelessness overcame many American voters who – whether they voted for the Democratic candidate or not – found it impossible to believe that a person like now-President Trump could be elected. Some churches even held prayer vigils. Some churches celebrated. Many were silent.
A year later, many who felt hopeless after the 2016 elections feel buoyant today. The state delegate who wanted to restrict public bathroom use for transgender people was defeated by a transgender woman. Another delegate who had been endorsed by the NRA was defeated by a candidate who ran on a gun control platform after his girlfriend was shot on live television by a troubled gunman.
These are dramatic examples of what some would call Hopeful Moments. But we need hopeful moments every day.
We can’t dismantle unjust systems on our own. When I talk with idealistic young teachers whose students are enduring multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences or social workers with overwhelming case loads, it’s clear that they entered their fields with the greatest optimism. But fighting unfair systems wears us down.
We have got to work together, and I’m talking specifically about the Church here. I’m not just talking about whole congregations working together; I’m talking about congregations partnering with other congregations and other faiths. Organizing for justice together is one of the marks of a successful 21st Century ministry. Organizing together makes those hopeful moments more prevalent. And more light in a dark world is always good.
A good question for us in the Church to ask every day: What did I do to bring hope today? What did my community do to bring hope?
If we are only about getting the church bulletin done and finding a coffee hour volunteer on a given work day, we’ve missed Jesus’ point.