What do you hope for? Are there trivial things? Are there things that would change everything?
What would you do if things did not work out the way you hoped?
I truly believe that we are supposed to live “as if” ... “as if” good things are always going to happen; as if the thing we hope for is right around the corner... Some people call this positive thinking, another person made a fortune writing a book called “the Secret” and had some of her own hopes come true because of it.
However you look at it – there is some sense that life flows positively or negatively depending on how we approach it.
So our attitude truly makes a difference.
There was an expression once that said that faith is the assurance of things hoped for.... in other words, to have faith is to believe it is going to happen...
So what do you believe is going to happen?
Once upon a time there was a dear little chicken named Henny Penny.
One morning as she was scratching in her garden, a pebble fell off the roof and hit her on the head.
"Oh, dear me!" she cried, "the sky is falling. I must go and tell the King," and away she ran down the road.
Turning up a shady lane they met Cocky Locky. "Where are you two going?" asked Cocky Locky.
"Oh, we are going to tell the King the sky is falling," answered Henny Penny. "How do you know?"
"A piece of it fell on my head," cried Henny Penny... and Cocky Locky decided to go along.
By and by they came to a pond where they met Ducky Lucky. "Where are you going?" he asked.
"The sky is falling and we are going to tell the King," answered Cocky Locky.
"How do you know?" asked Ducky Daddies. "Henny Penny told me," said Cocky Locky.
"May I go with you?" asked Ducky Lucky.
"Certainly," they answered.
By and by whom should they meet but Goosey Loosey, carrying a basket of gooseberries to market.
"Where are you four going?" she asked.
"The sky is falling and we are going to tell the King," answered Ducky Daddles.
(and what do you think Goosey Loosey did?)
Who do you think they met next but... Turkey Lurkey.
"Where are you going?" asked Turkey Lurkey.
"The sky is falling and we're going to tell the king," answered Goosey loosey.
"How do you know?" asked Turkey Lurkey.
"Ducky Lucky told me so," answered Goosey Loosey. "Cocky Locky told me," answered Ducky Lucky.
"A piece of it fell on my head," cried Henny Penny! "May I go with you?" asked Turkey Lurkey.
"Certainly," said Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky and Goosey Loosey.
(we could go on this way forever...)
By and by they became tired, and sat down to rest, when out from behind the rocks jumped Foxy Loxy.
"Where are you all going?" he asked, with a sly grin.
"The sky is falling and we are going to tell the King," they all replied together.
"You are not going the right way. Shall I show it to you?" said Foxy Loxy.
"Oh, certainly," they all answered at once and followed Foxy Loxy, until they came to the door of his cave among the rocks.
"This is a short way to the King's Palace; you'll soon get there if you follow me. I will go in first," said Foxy Loxy.'
Just as the little feathered folks crowded around the dark narrow hole, eager to follow the sly fox, a little gray squirrel, with very bright eyes, jumped out from behind the bushes and whispered to them: "Don't go in, don't go in, all your little necks he'll wring, and you'll never see the King."
Happy to escape from the wicked old fox, away ran Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and all the rest...
By and by they came to the beautiful palace in which lived the wise King, and upon being brought before him, they all shouted at once; "Good and wise King, we have come to warn you that the sky is falling!"
"How do you know the sky is falling?" asked the King. "Because a piece of it fell on my head," said Henny Penny.
"Come nearer," said the King and leaning from his velvet throne, he picked the pebble from the feathers of Henny Penny's head.
"You see it was only a little pebble and not part of the sky at all," said the King. "Go home in peace and do not fear because the sky cannot fall; only rain falls from the sky."
Weary but wiser, the little feathered folks left the palace and started on their long journey homeward.
SO – WHAT IS THE MORAL OF THE STORY... and I have to warn you, there is more than one....
- Don’t believe everything you hear?
- Be careful who you ask for directions...
- Panicking only makes it worse... check out the truth...
A Little Bit Deeper Now
But let’s forget about blame – I want to talk about attitude... that is what today is all about. Henny Penny, the Little Engine that Could, Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Lattes... and a thousand other examples talk to us about how the positive can turn around the negative.
What we are really talking about in all this is hope... and there is no better story about that then Jeremiah buying the field.
Everyone in the world says that Israel and Judah are going to be taken over... some army or other will march in and destroy them in just a few days.... so what does the King’s prophet do? He buys a field; plants a garden...
It is as if Al Gore suddenly bought property and moved lock stock and barrel to the sea shore. Or Ken Tobias moving back to his home town of Saint John.... it is a powerful statement of ‘believing in.’
And it is a practical example of it... Jeremiah puts his money where his mouth is; he does not just say that God will be with them in the future – he buys land, he plants crops – he puts effort and energy into something that a lot of people might think is dumb – the sky is falling after all... But essentially, he models hope.
Jesus always Takes it Further
Jesus always takes things further - right? Too bad too – because he is always making it harder... Ten Commandments tell you to honour your father and mother? I tell you not to even think bad things about them... as if.... Lusting is adultery, wishing is coveting.... in Jesus world we have to try and be perfect and that is just not a lot of fun....
Of course, Jesus was answering the question – always answering the question – that we keep asking: How can I be happy? How can I do what God wants? And his answer is to work at it... BUT... and this is a big interjection – to work at it in the here and now.
It is not like you can “hope” to get around to it one day – and that is the cautionary tale of the Rich Man – who has his hopes set on the future, and fails to see Lazarus sitting in his doorstep.
It is not enough to know that one day you will get around to repenting, to acting properly, to noticing... because what if you die – and find yourself unable to get around to all those things you wish you had....
This Lukan passage is essentially the story behind A Christmas Carol – where the Ghost of Marley comes back and gives his business partner Scrooge a chance to repent...
But in the original – in Jesus’ version – there are no second chances....
I want to invite you to live AS IF every good thing has already happened – as if God was right this very second helping to bring your hope to fruition – as if the good always wins.
This is the way we are intended to live, and it is the counter to the negativity that surrounds the world each and every day.