The Big Hope

Rev. Dr. DeWayne L. Davis

This Week at Plymouth, November 24, 2023

I linger over the meaning of my own life and the commitment to which I give the loyalty of my heart and mind . . . The big hope that never quite deserts me, that I and my kind will study war no more, that love and tenderness and all the inner graces of Almighty affection will cover the life of the children of God as the waters cover the sea.—Howard Thurman

During this Thanksgiving Holiday season, as I try mightily to keep my mind focused on gratitude and thanksgiving and sustain a hope that counters despair, I cannot deny that humanity must face the fell forces that have the potential to destroy. One word that keeps coming to mind when I worry about domestic political radicalization, economic uncertainty and insecurity, and the conflicts in Ukraine, Israel, and Palestine is enmity. Enmity is the active and mutual hatred or hostility among various parts of our electorate and the world family. We have seen on full display attacks and aggression among the people of this nation toward fellow citizens and among the nations of the world against other peoples, leaving death and destruction that frustrate our hope for peace.

But when I allow myself to return to a posture of gratitude and thanksgiving, I remember that the very foundation of our existence as koinonia, the gathered body of believers formed in response to the “love and tenderness and all the inner graces of Almighty affection,” is love and communion. It is the very nature of the church as being the body of Christ, of Jesus breaking down the dividing walls that separate us from each other, of being and proclaiming peace in our midst, that gives us a chance to overcome the grim and bitter hatred that prevails in our churches, in our politics, and in the world. From the fights between us in church to the fights among citizens of this world, we know the power of reconciliation, unity, and harmony. I know there will be people who will never be able to put aside their hatred, their pettiness, and their abuse. But we do not have to give into enmity ourselves. We do not have to be the source of bitterness and antipathy. We can be the revelation of a new social reality, the new beginning that unconditional love everlasting makes for all God’s children, no matter who they are.

So, we take the opportunity of this season to rejoice in God’s love and gifts, offering expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving as we gather with friends and loved ones. We hold on to the vital connection to Divine love, grace, and peace that fills us with a hope that never deserts us. I pray that we embark on a time of prayer, reflection, and discernment in anticipation of the seasons of Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas to give life to the big hope for peace for all.