The Quest to "Hope" Somebody
Welcome to this seven-day collection of short meditations for those of you who work for justice, stand in the breach, and lead sheep—some of whom don’t want to be led!
The Rev. Dr. William Barber tells a story about how his “Grandmamma and her nieces always cooked for the whole family (and for anyone else who happened to stop by). They also had a ritual whenever the food was done. Grandmamma would take a bottle of the anointing oil that she rubbed on people’s heads when she prayed for them and slip it into the front pocket of her apron. She and the other ladies would take some money, a rag, and some of the food they’d cooked and they would say, ‘We’ll be back shortly. We’ve got to go and hope somebody.”
Of course, Rev. Barber, who was a wise little boy at the time, thought she was misspeaking. He thought she meant to say she was going to help somebody, but he was wrong. Grandmamma knew what she was saying. She wanted to take some hope to people who, like herself and everyone she knew, were struggling to survive. Barber writes, “My grandmamma knew that any prayers worth their salt had to be accompanied by food for the hungry.”
We are instructed to “seek the Lord and live” (Amos 5:6). It is a fact that if we do not seek God, we will flail in the waters of injustice and run out of strength. God needs for us to seek God so we will be able to go and “hope” somebody. The work you are doing is like standing in the kitchen and preparing food for your flock, people in your community who have been tossed and turned by corrupt and uncaring forces. The work you are doing demands the strength that only hope provides, because the empire is striving to fight back—fighting long, hard, and dirty—to shut you down.
It cannot happen. It cannot go down that way.
On this day, we pray, O God, that we remember the purpose for which You put us here. The arms of evil are too short to fight You; strengthen our arms so that we can sap evil of its strength. Stand with us as we affirm our faith in You and our determination to fight back against evil for the sake of “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40), who desperately need to know You are real. Help us to go out today and “hope” somebody.