>Spring Means Green and HOPE has Arrived!Image by cobalt123 via FlickrHope is the refusal to accept the reading of reality which is the majority opinion; and one does that only at great political and existential risk. On the other hand, hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretensions of the present, daring to announce that the present to which we have all made commitments is now called into question.


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>It’s Just Death


Had a business meeting this morning at the church. We seem to have a lot of those throughout this whole process of building a church. There’s always an issue of money or construction or some important decision that needs to be made. Today was one of those meetings.

The person I was meeting with was quite a bit older than I am. He’s lived a lot of life and the hope is that his perspective on some financial issues would be helpful to the congregation. This is someone I greatly appreciate and we were left making some small talk as we waited for the other parties to arrive. It seems this person had just lost a friend of his…someone he had known in the community for 40 years or so. Long-time friend. As he talked and shared some of the characteristics of the friend who had passed away, he kind of shrugged. He recounted that, upon his friend’s death he thought he might want to get in touch with some of the crowd the two of them had hung out with in the past. However, there wasn’t anyone left in the crowd. Everyone else had died.

I asked how a mutual friend was doing, someone who had been fighting illness for some time. What he said kind of threw me for a loop. He said, “We all know that [said person] is just going to go downhill and will then “pass.”. There was a nonchalantness to his voice. There was a matter-of-factness to the look on his face. It was if he was saying… “Oh well, it’s just death.”

Now I think I need to be clear here that this was really not some grand statement of faith, proclaiming that, since Christ has been raised from the dead “all will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well.” No, this was a perspective of one who had been around the block, who had seen a lot of life…and a lot of death. This was a perspective shaped by age. Everyone dies. It’s just death. It happens. What are you going to do? No tears. No emotion. Matter of fact.

While some might view this response, this lack of shrinking before the mystery of death as cold…callous…as I reflect on this conversation, I can’t help but find it somewhat refreshing. While my views might be more grounded in faith language, it is “just death.”. Sure, it can be more tragic–as when the deceased is young, or leaves behind a young family, or dies in a horrible way. Yes, that’s more tragic and will lead to other emotions and tears and anger. But for those who die of natural causes…even it it’s because of personal choices that had been made earlier (the friend who had died had been a smoker), the fact that we die shouldn’t be a surprise.

I hope that, because of my faith, I live as someone who is prepared to die. And perhaps, when I’m as old as the person I met with today, I can accept the simple fact that death is something that lies ahead for all of us. Perhap knowing that will affect how I live my life today.

>"HOPE…Next Year, Things Will Be Different" (Sermon from 28 November 2010)

>merry christmasphoto © 2007 David Lienhard | more info (via: Wylio)
Text:  Romans 13:11-14
Title:  “HOPE…Next Year, Things Will Be Different”

The Christmas season is upon us…at least that’s what my son declared as we watched the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It’s not really time for angels and babes wrapped in swaddling clothes quite yet, but it is time to stock up on all the gifts that we feel compelled to get.  Two days ago, the day after Thanksgiving, we had “Black Friday,” known as the busiest shopping day of the year and a make or break time for retailers nationwide.

My wife and I actually went into town to shop on Friday.  Did anyone else here?  But we weren’t really going in for the “shopping experience.”  I needed to get cardstock for the ornaments we’ll be doing each week and I had to get Advent Candles.  So, we weren’t in town until about 7 PM and I’m sure it had slowed down dramatically by then.  But some of the sales people talked about what it had been like in the morning.  It was crazy.  There was rushing and hoarding and pushing and shoving and some very happy people who walked away with what they were sure were good deals and some very unhappy people who didn’t get the latest and greatest thing that they were sure they or their loved one couldn’t live without.

So, that’s how this “Christmas Season” of ours begins.  It’s the same way every year.

At some point over these very long six days that the kids were home from school a discussion came up about “Carol of the Bells.”  Man, that’s a good song.  The discussion was about whether that’s a song that could be sung all or if it just needs to be instrumental.  I like it both ways but it’s most cool when it’s loud.  (Sing some of it).  That’s a song with some power, some gusto.  It’s frantic.  It’s like a ride you just can’t seem to get off of.  I love that song

And, you know, sometimes my Christmases feel just like that…driving, frantic, just can’t get off.  (Sing some of it).

Dave Ramsey, in the Financial Peace University course, makes light of those who overspend their budget at Christmas time…saying they went over because they just hadn’t prepared for the economic bite…that Christmas surprised them.  Like it doesn’t happen every year!  And I confess to you that sometimes the hustle and bustle, the HOOPLA of the season surrounding the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ…I can get all worn out…relieved when December 26th arrives and maybe, just maybe the kids will let us sleep in.

Denise Rogers wrote a poem about this experience.  It’s called “December Twenty-Sixth”:

I didn’t start my shopping
Till December twenty-first.
I haven’t baked a cookie yet;
Our tree this year’s the worst.

I’d better buy some Christmas cards
And get them out today.
There’s just no time for Christmas
As my life gets in the way.

The decoration bin is cracked.
The tinsel is all dusty.
My Christmas spirit’s all worn out.
My happiness is rusty.

I do love Christmas every year,
Although my feeling’s mixed.
(I think I’m looking forward to
December twenty-sixth.)

We may have our magical moments to Christmas…but it’s a lot of work and we can fill up our time and our space with SO MUCH STUFF that we just about miss the whole thing…at least the meaning of it.

While the advertising may tell you it’s the Christmas Season, here at the church, it’s the ADVENT SEASON.  This, as opposed to standing in line at the “Buy More” for the touch screen, big screen, big deal whatchamacallit, is about hearing the promise, with Israel, that our God is going to do something, and it’s SOMETHING BIG.  He’s coming.  We’re waiting.  And we look forward to see what he has in store.

Now for the Israelites, what he had in store was the coming of the Messiah…that sweet little baby in the manger who would grow up to be the suffering man dying on a cross and will come again as a king in glory.  And for us, it’s the promise that God is still acting with us, here and now and if we pay attention…if we listen…if we prepare ourselves for his arrival…we might just get to participate with what it is that God is doing.

But that Christmas train keeps rolling and you and I both know that, with the Christmas Bazaar and Christmas parties and food baskets and special dinners and people coming over and the shopping which we feel we just have to do and the skiing that we can now do and the work it just seems like it can be overwhelming and we can just about miss all that’s REALLY happening in our midst.

Peterson’s The Message translation of the Scripture passage we read from Romans, the one about waking up from slumber and the night almost being done, makes it sound like it was written just for us…just for now…as we look towards getting swept up in the momentum of this season.  He writes:

But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

Cool, huh?   “Absorbed and exhausted in taking care of…obligations…oblivious to God.”  “Be up and awake to what God is doing!”  Don’t “squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence…in bickering and grabbing everything in sight.”

It’s for us.

So, what if we paused?  What if we listened?  What if we watched and waited and looked for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, again in glory, just as Paul had hoped that his listeners in Romans would do?  What might we hear?  What might we do?  What might we expect?

In Advent we ask these types of questions…not whether we get the 40” or 50” TV.  On this first Sunday we lit our first Advent candle on our Advent wreath.  It’s the candle of HOPE.  Each of the candles, in one understanding, have been given a name of something this season is about.  HOPE, and Love, and Joy, and Peace.  But today it’s HOPE.  

Now, we’re used to throwing that word around this time of year.  I HOPE to get an in dash iPod adapter this Christmas.   I HOPE that I can have another turkey, soon.  That doesn’t quite cut it for us in the Christian sense.  THAT’S kind of like wishes.  Hope is more than that.

HOPE is the belief that a positive outcome can and will happen. 

HOPE, said George Iles, is faith holding out its hand in the dark. 

HOPE, said Emily Dickenson, is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops… at all.

HOPE is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier.

HOPE sees the light at the end of the tunnel and takes you there.

HOPE is what sustained the Hebrews throughout their captivity, when the Prophets spoke to them, telling them that, although it didn’t seem like it could ever be, that God would send a deliverer to them…a messiah…a savior.

HOPE is what sustained Paul, as he was arrested and abused and worked for the sake of Jesus Christ. Because, like in Romans, he said, “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.”  Jesus was gonna’ come.  It was all going to be all right.

HOPE is what is offered to those who have lost loved ones, even just recently in our community of faith, and they were told, it’s not going to get ALL better…but it IS going to get better.

HOPE is what is offered to the many hungry and poor and dying in this world.  We say it is not better now.  But it will be better someday. 

HOPE is what we have when we look at this world of ours, the political infighting, the sadness, the grief, the pain, the hurt, the robbery, the violence, and we still say that ALL WILL BE MADE WELL.  Julian of Norwich, famously heard God say to her, and she wrote: 

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

That is HOPE.

Let’s be clear, this is different than wishful thinking.  This is different than looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.  This is different than being a card-carrying member of the Optimist Club.  This is grounded in the knowledge that we have a God who loves us and will provide for us.  It may not be in the time frame that we like.  It may not be the way we’d like.  But our God will provide and there is nothing that can separate us from him.  Our hope is, like the old song says, “Built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  It is shaped by Scripture.  It is proclaimed by persons of faith.  And we know that, whatever, else happens in this life and the life to come, our God wins.

As we make out our WISH LISTS, we may miss our HOPE LISTS.  As we’re thinking about all the different things we might LIKE to have under the tree (and really most of them we could entirely live without) as we’re thinking up these things we might miss out on reflecting on those things we don’t just want…but things we really HOPE FOR.  

The Israelites HOPED for the coming of a messiah to save them from captivity.  That’s great.  Our New Testament brothers and sisters HOPED for the coming of Christ again.   These were things, events, people, in fact, were the deepest longings of their souls.  They were, when centered on God, when lifted up by fellow travelers on the way, when quiet, the future that they expected God to provide.  They were what was hoped for.

We don’t often get a chance to HOPE during this time of year.  Think, just for a second, of just a few of the things you need to accomplish over the next 26 and half days.  Think of the places you need to be.  Don’t think too long…it will blow your mind.  We are just beginning here.

But what if you were given the freedom to HOPE a little bit this year?  What if you could think about a friend who is going through a rough time and pray, deeply pray, that this season her burden would be lifted or his grief would be gone?  What if you, when seeing the longing persons had, the real, visceral, tangible longing they had for a Savior to free them could focus all of your being on persons in this world who are longing to be made free?  What if you, as you looked at your own life, at your own siblings, at your own parents, at your own relationships could invest your spirit in living into a new reality?

But don’t leave it with your feeling and your thinking.  HOPE has legs. HOPE has hands.  HOPE works.  HOPE expects.  HOPE acts.  HOPE moves.  HOPE lives and breaths and walks and jogs and runs to the reality that God has promised.  Be the HOPE in the lives of those who need it.  Be the HOPE for that hurting family.  Spread the message that not only does God provide, but God’s people do and so will you.  

(Sing carol of the bells).

This season can suck the very life out of you.  In Advent, we hope for the very life God wishes to give us.

As we close out the sermon, I invite you to think about something that you HOPE for.  Is it relief for someone…or a whole group of people.  Is it an end to something that causes pain…maybe for a person or for a country?  What do you hope to see in your family this coming year?  Not a trip to Hawaii, but maybe a healing of relationship.  Pick one thing right now to HOPE for.

I’m not going to ask that you share this with everyone. 

What I will ask is that, if you’re able, could you write that one thing you’re hoping for right now, could you right it on the ornament that I’m going to hand out.  Our Christmas tree is going to be different, this year.  This year, it will have brightly colored ornaments. Each one with a prayer.  And, I’m going to ask if there are people that would come in and pray over these that are offered.  Weekly…every once in a while…once. 

The Hebrews hoped that God send a Savior.  Jesus came.

Paul hoped for the coming of Christ in glory.  Which we still hope for to this day.

But, we have hopes for this world of ours, that something about next year will be different.  And we hope knowing that our God isn’t done with us.  In fact, he’s coming now.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

>Scripture for Sunday — Jeremiah 29:11-14

>Sidewalk Stencil: Your existence gives me hopephoto © 2006 Franco Folini | more info (via: Wylio)

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.  When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,  I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

>The Root & Branches of the Church

>Mission Santa Barbara Also known as  "Que...Image by kevincole via Flickr

“The Christian community ‘has its roots in the future and its branches in the present.,’ writes John D. Zizioulas. The ecclesia (church, community) of Jesus finds its origins in the future. And that future is bright, certain and unshakeable because of Jesus and his finished work. Hope is the bridge from the future into the the present, and the branches of that hope are faith and love.

“N. T. Wright says that ‘a mission-shaped church must have its mission shaped by hope; that the genuine Christian hope, rooted in Jesus’ resurrection, is the hope for God’s renewal of all things, for his overcoming of corruption, decay, and death, for his filling of the whole cosmos with his love and grace, his power and glory.’ Roots in the future, roots in the resurrection, roots in the eternal victory of Jesus, roots that are firmly planted in eternal life, roots that nourish the trunk and branches, and ultimately produce the fruit that draws others into the story. Wright concludes, ‘To be truly effective in this kind of mission, one must be genuinely and cheerfully rooted in God’s renewal.’ We have a real reason to cheer. The more we know the story, the more we rejoice.’”

From “The Good and Beautiful Community,” (2010) James Bryan Smith by way of NextReformation.com

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>"God Gives Us Hope" Sermon for 7/11/10


Joseph_Coat_Of_Many_ColorsImage by Forrest McDonald via Flickr

Text:  Genesis 40:1-23; Jeremiah 29:11

(Interestingly, we had VBS Sunday BEFORE VBS because of Scheduling Issues. I’d never done it this way before and I hope I don’t do it that way again. You really lose some of the energy that comes from just having completed VBS)

Up until today, we’ve been preaching on the parables this summer.  And, every week, as the sermon begins, I’ve been saying that stories are an important part of how we learn as human beings, not just Christians.  And, since that is the case, it’s no wonder that Jesus used so many stories when he was teaching those around him.  These parables, we’ve been saying, are “stories with a purpose.”  They have a point.

But, you know, when it comes down to it, all of the stories in the Bible are stories with a purpose.  All of these, from the very familiar to the very obscure were deemed important in the shaping of the people of God.  Therefore, it was important for the stories to be taught again and again and again.  It was important to tell it to your children and important to tell it to your children’s children.

It’s still that way today.  And, in our culture it’s clear that one of the prime ways that children get introduced to the stories of the Bible is through Vacation Bible School.  They come and they sing the silly songs and they shout and run and they make their crafts and they play their games…but through this, through all of this, they hear about our God…they hear about Jesus and what he’s done for us.  And for some kids, not just here but all around the US, the few days they spend at the the local Vacation Bible School may be the only days they hear how much God loves them and cares for them…all year.  It’s important to tell the stories.

I’ll admit to you that I struggle with some of the VBS themes out there these days.  They have all of the right packaging and they have all of the right music…but sometimes they seem to stretch the story in a way that just doesn’t make sense to me. 

Cokesbury, the United Methodist Publishing House, has a space theme this year.  Their website says:  “At Cokesbury’s Galactic Blast Vacation Bible School 2010, your cadets will voyage into outer space praising God.”  It gets into creation and caring for the earth, but it seems a little contrived.  I have good friends in ministry who have used this material and have loved it.

LifeWay Christian Stores, of the Southern Baptist Church, had one called “Arctic Edge” a few years back, “where daily excursions from Big Bear Lodge will have kids hiking across the tundra, exploring the seascape by kayak, and skimming the backcountry in a float plane.”

I’m sure these were FUN.  But, if we get one shot to tell kids that God loves them, what better way than using some of the already very good stories and themes we have in the Bible?  That’s what we’re doing at Girdwood Chapel this year as we look at Egypt and “Joseph’s Journey From Prison to Palace.”  It’s a great story.  And the fact that the theme is “Egypt” we have a build in coolness factor.

Anyone who’s seen “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” has been let into the story.  But there are many of us who know the story well just because it’s a great story of what God can do.  It’s a great story about perseverance.  It’s a great story about family and sibling rivalry.  It’s a great story about grace and trusting God.  It’s got all of that.  And it’s pretty much about one guy…Joseph.

So, for those who aren’t too clear about the story, let me get you up to speed here. 

This is a whole story found in the book of Genesis and is one of the larger stories in Scripture.  It begins with Jacob, one of the patriarchs, who had 12 sons.  But out of all of them, Joseph was the favorite…because he was the first son of his wife Rachel.   If there are 12 sons and just one of them is dad’s favorite, it had to make for some uncomfortable dinner time conversations. 

These conversations were no doubt made all the more uncomfortable because of the dreams that Joseph had.   He went up to his brothers one day and said, paraphrasing, “Hey guys, guess what?  I had a strange dream last night that will blow your mind.  There were 12 ears of corn, one for each of us and, all of yours were bowing down before mine.  Isn’t that just crazy?”  Or, again he came to them and said, “I had another dream.  I don’t think you can read too much into this, but I dreamed I saw the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowing down to me.  I think I need to go easy on the roast lamb before bedtime if you know what I mean.”

Well, he brothers thought they knew what he meant.  And they plotted to kill him, but thanks to Rueben, didn’t go through with it.  “MUCH BETTER,” thanks to Judah, they made it look like he was killed so they could get some profit out of it.  They smeared blood on the “coat of many colors” that Jacob had specially made for him and sold Joseph to some Ishmaelites who then take him to Egypt.

But, we’re still not to our place in the story yet.  When the Ishmaelites take Joseph to Egypt, they sell him to Potiphar, an Egyptian, one of Pharoah’s officials and manager of the household.  And Joseph is a smart young man, and good with money and pretty much everything else.  Soon he was managing Potiphar’s whole household.  Not bad for a kid whose brothers plotted to kill him, was sold into slavery, and whose father now thinks he’s dead.

But, it gets worse.  Potiphar thinks Joseph is a great young man.  But, so does his wife.   When Joseph won’t return her advances, she lies about him making advances at her, and that’s the end of his rise in Potiphar’s house and he’s sent off to jail.

So, in just a few chapters of Genesis we have favoritism, dreaming, jealousy, violence, slave trading, lies, and prison.  We’re a long way from those bowing ears of corn at this point, aren’t we Joseph?

That’s where we are at this point…prison.  It’s rough.  In the broadway play, it’s here that Joseph sings (I sang all of this in my most melodramatic voice):

Close every door to me

Hide all the world from me

Bar all the windows

And shut out the light

Do what you want with me

Hate me and laugh at me

Darken my daytime

And torture my night

If my life were important I
Would ask will I live or die

But I know the answers lie

Far from this world

A tad melodramatic?  Yes.  But you get the point that it’s rough for poor, poor Joseph.

However, in prison, that gift of interpreting dreams comes in handy for the kid.  In prison with him are the king’s cupbearer and the king’s baker.  Each had had dreams they couldn’t interpret and they go to Joseph to see what he could do with them.  For one, the cupbearer, it was good news.  In three days he was going to be back at work.  For the other, the baker, it was not good news.  In short, it involved beheading, and impaling, and birds.

And, three days later, it all came to pass just as Joseph had said.

It’s interesting that we’re talking about hope, here as we sit with Joseph in prison, singing, “Close every door to me…”  It’s a situation that seems pretty hopeless to probably anyone but Joseph in the story.

And I think part of our problem with understanding this to be hopeful is our our understanding of the word HOPE in the first place.  We often treat HOPE like a birthday wish.  “I HOPE I GET A BIKE!”  Or, “I HOPE I DO WELL ON THAT TEST.”  Or, “I HOPE we don’t have pork roast for dinner again tonight.”  Those aren’t necessarily bad wishes to have (the pork roast really wasn’t all that good.  It was cooked fine but wasn’t a very good piece of meat).  However they’re a pretty shallow understanding of HOPE.

Hope goes deeper than this.  Hope is the thing that gives you strength when you’re feeling bad and when things aren’t going your way.

If you’re a kid, then perhaps HOPE is the encouragement that you get from your parents when your best friend doesn’t act like they like you anymore.  Perhaps it’s the friend who comes to be by your side when you break a bone at the beginning of summer and you think you’ll manage to make it through…even just barely (more melodrama).

If you’re a grownup, then perhaps hope is your spouse who tells you that they are sure you’re going to find a job.  Perhaps it’s that look you get from your kid that tells you, you’ve done a good job raising them, but it’s time to let them head out on their own.  Perhaps it’s that prayer which is offered even in this place when it seems like the whole world is crashing in around you.  It lets you know that it’s all in God’s hand.  It lets you know YOU’RE in God’s hands.

There’s a picture by George Frederick Watts from a century ago which is called “HOPE.”  You can see it on my blog.  The picture is interesting because it’s a lady sitting on top of the world, playing a harp.  And, at first glance, one might think, “Well, it’s easy to be hopeful when you’re sitting on top of the world playing a harp, with everyone listening to your music.”  When I’m on top of the world, when things are going my way, when the kids are behaving, when I know where all of my money is going, when my sermon is not just mediocre but is OUTSTANDING, well, I am very HOPEFUL..that it’s going to continue that way.  It’s good being on top of the world!

However, upon closer examination of that young lady, sitting there on top of the world, you will notice that the world is not bright and sunny.  It’s dark.  It’s worn.  Probably more like our world really is.  We have hunger in Africa.  We have war in the Middle East.  We have totalitarian governments in Asia.  We have homeless people sleeping in parks in Anchorage tonight.  Our world, too, has problems.

And that lady is in tattered rags.  She is blindfolded.

And that harp of hers?  It’s just got one string.  Can it even play music anymore?

According to London’s Tate Museum, perhaps the piece is more appropriately entitled “DESPAIR.”

But, isn’t that the precise moment that hope comes?  Isn’t there some fine line, some boundary that we get to in our troubles, when we could very easily turn to despair and regret and resignation, but our God comes to us and tell us that there is more, there is better, there is God?

This is the first day’s lesson of Vacation Bible School.  As opposed to most Vacation Bible School Sundays, we’re having this BEFORE VBS because of scheduling.  And the Bible Verse the kids (and adults) are learning today is the verse from Jeremiah 29:11 as God tells the exiles in Babylon that he will release them after seventy long years in captivity:  “For I know the plan I have for you…to give you a future and a hope.”

Last Sunday we had Shane Claiborne here in the evening, and it was AWESOME.  We had over 140 folks show up…most of them young people.  There were great stories.  That was at 6 o’clock.  Earlier that day, at 4 o’clock I married off two folks up at Raven Glacier Lodge…discovering that the brides’s father is _____________, with whom I was in Lions Club a few years ago.  But, before that, a little after 2 o’clock I was holding onto and praying with an elderly woman who had just watched her husband die.

I think, maybe I bring that up because I was there for a while, and it was kind of traumatic for me.  But, mores, I bring it up because, in the midst of that trauma…perched on a broken world in tattered clothes with a one-stringed harp…in prison, as a sold slave, dead a family…in those times, I do believe that God enters in and will pull us out.  And I have hope that God will do so, not just in the “Sweet By and By” when we all get to heaven, but will do so in the world, in your life, in my life today.

God gives us hope.  God gave hope to Joseph.  In that prison cell, he knew it.  He had hope that God had something better in store for him.  And, over the next several chapters of Genesis, the kids this week will see just how God blessed that prisoner Joseph all the way to the palace.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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>"Hope" — Painting by George Frederick Watts


George Frederic Watts: HopeImage by freeparking via Flickr

According to London’s Tate Museum, where the painting is displayed, Mr. Watts had this in mind:

The figure of Hope is traditionally identified by an anchor. In this picture she is blindfolded, seated on a globe and playing a lyre of which all the strings are broken except one. Watts wanted to find a more original approach to symbolism and allegory. But Hope’s attempts to make music here appear futile and several critics argued that the work might have been more appropriately titled Despair. Watts explained that ‘Hope need not mean expectancy. It suggests here rather the music which can come from the remaining chord’.

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