“I’m just disgusted with what’s going on.” I was chatting with a disgruntled man after the service at my church last Sunday. He was depressed about the state of our world. I asked him if he had listened to the sermon. Our pastor had done a first rate job of making us feel hopeful about humanity despite the scary headlines.
Our pastor introduced us to Govindappa Venkataswamy (Dr. V). Dr. V is an opthamologist who decided he wanted to eradicate blindness in India and set about developing a system that would allow him to perform inexpensive, quick and successful cataracts surgeries. His system led to the creation of a chain of hospitals in India that have brought sight back to nearly 5 million people. Two thirds of these surgeries have been performed for free and yet because Dr. V developed economical ways of producing supplies and efficient methods of training surgeons, his hospitals actually make money.
Our pastor also showed us a video of Palestinian women and Israeli women marching together for peace. This past October more than 5000 women from both Israel and the Palestinian territories arrived in Jerusalem after a two-week march through Israel and the West Bank. These women were of different religious backgrounds, different economic backgrounds and had different political affliations but they were united on one thing – they wanted to prevent another war in the Middle East and they wanted a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
Another nugget of hope in the sermon was our pastor’s description of the heart felt apology in Canada’s House of Commons the previous week, when our prime minister stood and recited more than twenty ways in which our country had acted reprehensibly and oppressively towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit communities. You could see many members of Parliament were visibly moved as our Primeminister declared, “We were wrong. We are sorry. And we will never let this happen again.”
Our pastor had other hopeful examples in his sermon. I pointed them all out to my disgruntled fellow church member. I also mentioned the heavenly music provided by a string and wind ensemble during the service. Hadn’t that given his soul a measure of peace?
I’m not sure I convinced him. We live in a time when we need to look for every sign of hope we can. I’m glad I attend a church that helps me do that but I realize that a lot depends on me too. I have to be ready to listen with a positive attitude and take to heart those nuggets of hope.