'Work with Hope'

posted Sep 10, 2021, 8:43 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you!

As many of you have heard, New Jersey Pride made the difficult, yet wise decision to cancel the Asbury Park Pride Parade/Festival scheduled for October 10. When I received the news yesterday evening, I let out a long sigh, and not one of relief. It was a sigh of weariness, frustration, fatigue . . . you name it . . . at a pandemic that keeps going on and on with seemingly no end in sight. And then I remembered an article one of our members sent me earlier in the week called  “Work with Hope” by Rutgers University professor Rachel Hadas. She begins,

Patience is wearing thin. Not only are we all bone-weary of the pandemic; rising hopes have made the current precarious state of confusion and fear, vigorous variants and stubborn vaccine rejection all the more frustrating.

We thought we were almost out of the woods, but there’s no clear end in sight to this forest. And there’s no shortage of other bad and worsening news too, notably the dramatic daily evidence of the catastrophic results of climate change.

How do we weather this welter of bad news? How do we adapt? The same ways human beings always have adapted – grudgingly or stoically, fearfully or fatalistically or frantically.  

Hadas goes on to say, Human beings are more enduring, more adaptable, than we give ourselves credit for. 

And then she challenges us to remember the gift of hope: Yes, hope can be mocking, frustrated and frustrating, when it’s disappointed, when it turns out to have been premature, as happened this summer. But a year ago, who would have dared to hope that the vaccines would be developed so swiftly? What was our hope then? We forget so quickly.

We must try to find a balance between hope, which looks ahead, and the tasks of the present. We must, Hadas adds, Work with hope.

So, after a night of sighing, today I am choosing to “work with hope.” But not just any kind of hope, but hope that surpasses all understanding; hope that believes even when there is unbelief; hope that sees God’s presence in the gloomiest of times; hope that is fierce, relentless, Holy-Spirit-hope; hope that sings — “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ love and righteousness.” 

I look forward to worshiping the God of hope with you at 10:30 AM this Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The Joyful Noise Adult Choir is back in the house and they will be singing “Will You Come and Follow Me?” for our anthem. I will be preaching from Psalm 145.8-21 and Mark 8.27-38 and my sermon title is God’s Porch. In addition, we shall resume congregational singing and since the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is present in our state, and Monmouth County is a high transmission zone for the variant, everyone must wear a mask for worship and indoor church events. Thank you for your cooperation in loving yourself, your neighbor, and keeping everyone safe and healthy.

Come, beloved one of God, let us work with hope together!

In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish