Saturday, February 18, 2012

About Jude's Name:
Reflections and Links from Day 2 at Council

Day two is in the books at the 108th Council of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.  Rotel and the Hot Tomatoes stole the show at the end, but session highlights belonged to the Bishop's Address, Bishop Bauerschmidt's extended consideration of hope over lunch, and informal Open Mic time with Bishop Lillibridge to end the day (which prompted the most interactive twitter conversations of this Council thus far - score one for social media).

My own reflections keep returning to Bishop Bauerschmidt's observaton that "hope is when one cannot visualize the route from the way things are to the way they might be."  The image of not knowing the road reminds me of Thomas Merton (1) and also of every day as a parent of small children.

Rebekah and I named one of our own small children "Jude."  His name means "praise" or "thanks," which we understand to be the heart of the identity of God's people.  Additionally, Jude is the patron saint of lost - or hopeless - causes; thus St Jude's hospitals which serve terminally ill children.  For Rebekah and me, an embodiment of what it means to have been given all the time in the world to be God's people occurs when Christians are present to others and one another when the road is hidden and hope seems lost.  (See yesterday's post on holy patience.)

Christians believe both in hope against hope and also that it is uniquely in the vulnerability of hopelessness that God's power becomes most clearly visible.  As Bauerschmidt noted, hope is able to name God at work precisely because it reaches beyond the optimism of linear human progress, which, after all, can be illusory.

Hope against hope is the distinct hope Christians learn on Good Friday; it is the hope of the People who are baptized into the death - and resurrection - of Jesus.  It is the hope which we pray will lead Jude, Annie, and their parents, to persevere in seeking Christ in all persons, and praising God for the new, unending, and unexpected, life we receive in him.

(1) Merton's famous prayer:

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart  from that desire. And I know that, if I do this , You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

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