MennoNerds Lent Vlog – Rebellions are Built on Hope

The following was written for a MennoNerds vlog.

This is probably my favourite photo I’ve ever taken. It was during a thunderstorm last summer with an amazing purple sky, looking out from our balcony. In the centre of the shot is the cross at the top of the Lutheran church right beside our apartment building.

3-dimensional cross from church in front of purple stormy sky

I’m not particularly artistic, but I couldn’t help but see some meaning here in the way this photo turned out, a message that seems particularly strong during Lent.

We have this incredibly violent backdrop. Lent is a time when we are particularly aware of the suffering in the world, much like Jesus suffered in the days leading up to his death. But then, in the middle of this photo is a cross. On one hand, the cross is the ultimate symbol of suffering. It’s an execution device, and an especially brutal one.

With resurrection coming, though, we know that this cross is also an incredible symbol of hope. And that hope, standing tall in the middle of a storm, is fascinating and vital.

Last time I vlogged was about movies and TV. I did not mention the newest Star Wars movie, Rogue One. It was a good movie, but probably not one of my all-time favourites. One line of the movie really stands out, though:

Rebellions are built on hope.

This is a valuable reminder particularly in times that seem like hatred and violence are on the rise. Rebellions need to be keenly aware of the evils against which they are rebelling. We can’t dress wounds and pretend they aren’t serious, saying there’s peace when there isn’t, an attitude that Jeremiah 6:14 condemns. We need to stare at that thunderstorm, acknowledge the harm it will cause, and be ready to truly help those who have experienced that harm. We need to be ready to the point of picking up our own cross, as Jesus was. This is one of the reminders of Lent.

We can’t do it without hope, though. Rebellions don’t last long without hope. It makes sense. If you don’t have a vision of a better world, the best you can do is dismantle the problems with nothing to replace it. Think of the death of important leaders throughout history like Alexander the Great. When he died, his generals divided up his lands and then continued to fight each other over them. If there’s a vacuum, somebody or something will fill it.

The prophets of the Bible seem to get this. There are a few exceptions, but most prophetic texts have both elements. They call out evil with no reservations. They also help us imagine a better world. Without that imagining, it is so easy to become discouraged and bitter, waging our Twitter fights but not actually knowing how to make the world better.

Jesus is the best example, of course. He challenges the powers of the world, political and religious. He points out the ways in which they dehumanize and exploit others for their own benefit. He is unapologetic about it and it gets him killed. And yet, he also proclaims that the Kingdom of God has come and this Kingdom is one of hope. Jesus gives us a vision of a God who loves all, a God who blesses the poor, the meek, and the peacemakers, a God who will even die to rescue us from those worldly powers that stop us reaching that vision. That is a glimmer of hope that can grow like a mustard seed, keeping us going even during the dark and stormy seasons like Lent.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.