Rebellions are Built on Hope

By Bill Mefford

In what is becoming a Christmas tradition for us, my family and some friends of ours went to see a movie the morning after Christmas. This year, of course, we saw Rogue One, which is a fantastic movie. The action scenes are amazing and the story lines are pure Star Wars. I was confused at the beginning as I was trying to figure out where this episode fit with all of them, specifically in relation to the last one. I do think this film would have been helped with the screen roll at the beginning of the movie that has come to typify all Star Wars movies.

But besides that, this is a must-see film. In addition to being just a great film, this film has theological themes running throughout, none stronger than hope; specifically hope for those who are crushed by the oppression of the Empire. This resonated for me now more than ever especially as we enter into the trump administration. The dread I feel is palpable because I know the Electoral College has selected a man devoid of empathy, compassion, or even intellectual nuance. I am afraid for the people who will be directly impacted by his vitriol and his recklessness.

The man’s arrogance is seen first and foremost in the fact that though he lost the election – in fact, the man got his ass kicked – he is acting as though he won in a landslide. He is acting as though he has a mandate. He has assembled a Cabinet filled with known racists and affluent cronies who consistently are not qualified to lead the work of their agencies and who do not respect the work of the agency they have been assigned to. Indeed, several have expressed open contempt for the work of the people they willnow oversee. The next four years we will be hard-pressed to figure out if the harm they will no doubt inflict on this country and the entire world will emanate from their entrenched and willful stupidity or from their rabid ideological intention.

Regardless, for anyone who claims to follow Jesus we have no choice; faithfulness to the gospel means we must RESIST. To choose the solace of isolation in the hopes that we can just get through is to deny the real hurt and harm that people who are vulnerable in this country and around the world will be experiencing. To opt for the solace of isolation while too many others simply do not have the luxury to make that choice is to choose elitism over incarnation. This is simply not an option for people who claim to follow the one who said his mission has come to bring release for the imprisoned, good news for the poor, and liberation for the oppressed. RESIST or be faithless.

“Rebellions are built on hope,” is the quote I heard twice in the movie that I still find myself resonating with. It plays over and over in my head and heart. Make no doubt, for those of us who long for release for the imprisoned, good news for the poor, and liberation for the oppressed, we will soon be in a time of rebellion. And I am not talking about the Democratic Party who I fully suspect will be spending the next four years trying to thread the needle of how to message measured resistance to trump without being labelled obstructionist (all the while forgetting that being obstructionist is essentially what brought Republicans into power – they said no to President Obama from the very first day and then labelled him a failure at uniting the country).

No, I am not talking about following the lead of the Democrats. God help us. They will follow us.

Rebellions are built on hope, the hope that comes from the realization that Jesus’ ministry and teaching of a coming Kingdom came in the time when the Roman Empire was transcendent. Rebellions are built on the hope that comes from the Black Lives Matter movement, that in the face of police brutality without accountability, Black people have refused to allow their value to be discounted. Rebellions are built on the hope of the Water Protectors at Standing Rock who have braved police oppression, extreme weather, and the disregard of the media to win an initial victory to stop the routing of the pipeline through sacred land (though the fight continues!). Rebellions are built on the hope of undocumented students who, back in 2010, started coming out the shadows and revealing themselves, including their legal status. They refused to be talked about and not heard. They refused to have their destinies decided by those who did not know them or the immense value and contributions that have to give all of us. And on January 14 we all get to march with them to say they will not go away in the face of trump’s racist nativism.

Rebellions are built on hope. And hope comes often when we are stripped of everything else we depend on; our affluence, our reputation, our intellect, our networks. When we can depend on nothing else, we will have hope. We will be tested in the next four years. Hell, we will be tested in the next four weeks! But hope will not only see us through. Hope will fuel our RESISTANCE.

It reminds me of another film, The Shawshank Redemption, when Andy writes to Red, who was still incarcerated when he wrote it, “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”

May hope sustain us in 2017. 

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