From the October Newsletter
I have written about hope before. I discussed how hope in not something we have to carry on our own. This time I want to talk about where my hope comes from. Now if you know the old hymn, you may anticipate that my answer will be that “my hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” And of course, that is true. My hope is centered on Jesus.
But if I am honest, somedays that doesn’t feel like it is enough. I look around at our world. I look around at our country. I look at my own heart. I find selfishness. I find pride. I find things not as they should be.
I look around and it is easy to want to give up. And honestly, some Christians have given up. Some Christians have given up on the redemption of this world and have put all of their hope in the future. Someday Jesus will return. Someday Jesus will walk the land again. Someday Jesus will put things right.
While, that is true. But what about today? Can I hope that today will be better?
One place I find hope is in the Muppets. You read that right, your pastor finds hope in the Muppets. If you don’t know the Muppets are a group of characters created by Jim Henson in the 1950s. They are rag tag group of misfits. Made up of dancing frogs and singing pigs. Oh, and there is a bear who tells jokes. What they do seldom works out. The songs are flat, and so are the jokes. Their guest stars are often unhappy, the audience is never satisfied, and the show seldom goes according to plan.
But the Muppets have hope. Week after week, the Muppets show up and preform or at least attempt to preform another show. They hope that this week things will work out. They have no reason to believe to believe that it will. But they aren’t driven by what they see around them. They are driven by what they wish to see. They see a world where they are stars. Where their songs bring tears and their jokes bring laughter.
The Muppet that best exemplifies this trait of hope is Gonzo. Most of the Muppets are frogs or pigs or bears. Gonzo is, well no one really knows what Gonzo is. Gonzo is an outsider even among the outcasts. Gonzo is the show’s stunt performer. He is the kind of person that knows how to fly a plane, but doesn’t know who to land one. He is also the kind of person who won’t let that fact stop him from flying a plane. He sets ups his feats of daring do, not based on any evidence that they could work, but on the hope that they might.
Gonzo has a role beyond his duties to preform stunts. At the end of each week’s theme song, it is up to Gonzo to play the final note on his trumpet. Each week he fails. Each week he is interrupted by explosions, malfunctions, and even the occasional interrupting cow. Each week he returns and attempt to play that final note. Gonzo sees the world not just as it is, but how it could be.
Now it may seem very silly to speak of singing pigs and joke telling bears while trying to explain hope. But the thing is, hope itself is silly. Hope doesn’t allow reality to stop it. Hope looks beyond reality. Hope recognizes pain and grieve. Hope knows that people are hurting. Hope is silly enough to believe in a world where those things are no more. And yet, hope doesn’t leave that vision of that world to work of others. Hope has the audacity to pick up its trumpet and play music. Hope has the courage to work to make the world it doesn’t see into a reality today.
Pastor Jesse Letourneau
Salem UCC, Westphalia, IN