Tumbling in the Sand
Text: Micah 5:1-5a
Hope. I think it’s human nature to hope. In fact, I was just looking around online and came across a quote in Latin from Cicero: “Dum spiro, spero.” While I breathe, I hope.
We don’t live without hope … at least not for long. But, it is easier to hope at sometimes than at other times. It is easier to hope when things aren’t so bad. It is easier to hope when you see an obvious fix to the problem. It is easier to hope when you haven’t been waiting forever. It is easier to hope when you haven’t been disappointed again and again. It is easier to hope when your trust hasn’t been violated.
It is also easier to hope in some things than in other things. We find it easier to hope in powerful things, in wealthy things. We tend to hope in armies and governments and corporations (you know, “job creators”) or in heros: in saints and charismatic leaders and seeming super-heros.
And we also tend to hope in a God who walks softly and carries a big stick—a God who is omni-present, omni-powerful, omniscient, omni-everything.
But into this season of Advent, from a place where despair seems far easier than hope, the prophets whisper a different kind of hope, in a different kind of God.
Micah comes to speak to Jerusalem, the great capital city of the Southern Kingdom of Israel, when it is under siege by the Assyrian empire.
It looked hopeless.
The Assyrians were anything but nice people, if you might remember.They were the ones who like to impale people they didn’t like and leave them on poles…
The people and the King in Jerusalem were trapped, like a bird in a cage, the Assyrian side of the story describes: surrounded by an invading army, food supplies running out, death all around.
And worse, the people of Jerusalem had watched the Northern Kingdom fall, destroyed by the Assyrians. And God had not seemed to intervene.
If anyone would lose hope sometime it would be then.
But there, in the midst of that, Micah speaks:
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah…
But you, O totally po-dunk little town by the wayside.
But you, O so small and insignificant place that the Assyrians probably wouldn’t even notice you.
But you, O little place where we should least look for hope
Out of you shall come One who will rule
Out of you shall come peace
Out of you shall come hope.
It’s as if Micah is saying: feeling a little hopeless? Then look!
Look at the most hopeless place you can imagine: look at the most abandoned, barren place in your life, in your community, in your world and from there—from that darkness, from that dryness, from that breathless place, you will find the living breath of God.
Featured photo modified from IISC Blog post: Havel on Hope.