“Never Give Up Hope”
On Sunday, I told the congregation about a beloved friend Dwayne who died earlier this year while I was on my sabbatical. By the time I met him nearly 20 years ago, he had lost nearly everything that was important to him. His two sons died, his wife left him, he lost his job. He also faced some huge challenges in some of the jobs where he worked after his world seemed to come crashing down on top of him. Nevertheless, Dwayne was one of the kindest, most helpful and hopeful people I had ever met. One day I asked him how he remained so positive and hopeful.
Here is how I remember his response:
You know, Alan, I know that I could have chosen to have been bitter, angry and resentful, and I’m pretty sure that anyone who knew me at the time wouldn’t have blamed me because that was a really tough time. But I also knew that I could choose to trust that God had always been with me in love and would continue to be with me and continue loving me. I just had to believe somehow that my best days might still be ahead of me. And so, I chose to be hopeful. It was a choice I made. I knew I didn’t have to make that choice, but who wants to be around a bitter, angry person?
Dwayne’s response was a reminder to me that hope is something we choose. In fact, it is something we get to choose every single day, regardless of the circumstances all around us. In Sunday’s Gospel reading, Zechariah and Elizabeth were another reminder of this. They spent their entire lives being faithful to God while their greatest desire remained unfulfilled—a child. Yet they never gave up hope. At least, they had enough hope to continue trusting God, worshiping, making offerings and praying. I think that they too believed that their best days might still be ahead of them—and they were. God surprised them with an answer to their prayers and their lifetime of unfulfilled hope. Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist and was told by the angel Gabriel that he would bring joy not only to them but to many people. For John prepared the way for Jesus—and there was great joy for all.
This is our hope as well. God calls each of us to prepare the way for Jesus in one way or another—a way into our hearts and minds, a way into our line of sight, a way for people to hear of God’s love. As you prepare a way for Jesus during this Advent Season, may you never give hope; may you always believe that your best days might just be ahead of you.
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.
To see a video of Kahu Akana’s message, click HERE. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.
You are welcome to join us on Sunday mornings! To see our Sunday morning schedule, click HERE.
Kahu Akana is also an accomplished artist! He specializes in creating vibrant watercolors of the flowers of Hawaii and hosts a Sunday afternoon reception in a gallery at his home, the Smith Memorial Parsonage. He also meets visitors by appointment. Most of the profit from the sales go for the maintenance and upkeep of the parsonage. To see a video about his art and gallery, click HERE. To see the gallery website, click HERE.
To learn more about Kahu Akana (and the rest of the staff at Koloa Union Church), click HERE.