Signs, Symbols and Hope
(Posted March 22, 2019)
One thing we humans are good at is finding a reason to hope. Just as I sat down yesterday to write this message, I looked out the window and saw a flash of yellow in the sun, at the back of the Manse. Sure enough, crocuses had not only pushed their way through the dead grass of winter, but were in full bloom. As I headed outside to get a picture, a white-throated sparrow (we think of them as song sparrows) was singing her hymn to the first day of Spring.
Church Services on Sunday
All are welcome to worship with us. Service begins at 10 a.m.
The wonderful thing about signs and symbols is that they stand in for ideas and hopes that are far bigger than what we might have at the moment. One crocus does not a garden make. One songbird doesn’t bring on warm sunny days. But when we have a sign, a symbol, we have a promise of what is to come. Even in a downpour on a gloomy early Spring day, we remember the first garden blooms and we hope: That’s why signs and symbols fill our Christian prayers and hymns. This Sunday, the Psalmist of the Hebrew Bible speaks of yearning for God the way a thirsty person longs for a deep drink of water in a drought. The author George Elliot said, "It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are still alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them." That is the purpose of signs and symbols – to remind of us of the good, even when the rain falls.
This Sunday we explore that hunger for hope in our service, but we also continue the topic in a Second Hour Powerpoint show on some of the mystifying symbols of Christianity and what they actually mean, as found primarily in the great works of art. Symbols were essential tools for early Christians to locate in the Catacombs as a sign that a particular place was a safe worship space where the name and deeds of Jesus could be uttered and praised. We will also spend a few moments understanding the meaning of symbols from other religious traditions. So join us not only for the service but for the coffee and community that follows after.