December 4–Hope: Where do we start?

Hope is one of those words.  It is an Old English word, both as a noun, hopa,  and a verb, hopian. They enter the stream of our language in the 12th century as what seem to be entirely Christian theologically based words at the time.  The noun represents an expectation in God or Christ about future salvation.  The verb means to have that theological expectation of mercy and salvation from God.  I also would add that the 13th century was the period just after the work of St. Anselm became popular in Western Christianity–known as the substitutionary atonement theory of salvation–that the blood of Jesus was payment for original sin against God and that nothing else could satisfy this eternal debt.

We are Universalists.  We maintain that whatever an after life might include, it most certainly includes everyone.  It does not include eternal punishment.  If there is an eternal life, that life draws everyone into it.

I think we have to redefine hope.  Any concerns we might have about a future expectation of salvation are satisfied with a present confidence that dignity and worth belong to each person.  Our sense of hope then, becomes a present reality.  Hope is a reflection of that worth and dignity–perhaps not yet realized by some.  Hope is a life of action toward the realization of worth and dignity for all beings, freedom to search for truth and meaning, and a justice in which everyone has what they need to survive and thrive.

Bob Patrick

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