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Saturday, September 6, 2014

May the God of hope go with us every day,
filling our lives with joy and peace.
May the God of justice speed us on our way,
bringing light and hope to every land and race.
Praying, let us work for peace;
singing, share our joy with all;
working for a world that’s new;
faithful when we hear God’s call.

Alvin Schutmaat’s “May the God of Hope Go With Us”
(tune: Argentina)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

I remember once, as a kid, seeing a book called Round Trip by Ann Jonas featured on Reading Rainbow. I was enthralled by this book, which told the story of a trip into the city, creatively illustrated with silhouettes in all black and white. The real twist of the book came when you reached the final page, only to realize, upon turning the book upside down, that the story continued in the opposite direction. The black-and-white silhouette illustrations on each page formed a different picture to tell a different part of the story when looked at upside down. As a kid, I was fascinated by the idea that something could appear one way and then look totally different from an opposite perspective, and yet somehow they could both be part of the same story.

I think often it can seem as though those of us who think first of God as peaceful, joyous, and kind and those of us who think of God first as one who calls for justice and uplifts the oppressed are worshiping different—even opposite—Gods. One image of God suggests that faithfulness means being kind and peaceful no matter the cost, while the other idea suggests that doing justice ultimately trumps kindness and peace. The truth is, it all matters.

This hymn serves as a reminder that there is only one God, who is both kind and just, merciful in the face of sin and compassionate toward those who suffer. Our call on this journey of faith—as we work for a world that is new—is to remember that we are all bound up in this one same God.

When we hear one another and encounter in one another different perspectives and stories, we are invited to know that even those perspectives that seem like the total opposite of our understanding might indeed be a crucial part of God’s story. And it is that one God—of hope and justice—who goes with us, not just on our own individual way, but on our collective way—on God’s way.

God of justice and hope, help us to know you better by coming to know one another better. Help us encounter, in each other’s stories and perspectives, an ever-expanding understanding of who you are and who you call us to be. Go with us on this way that you have called us all to follow as we move toward a better world. Amen.

Written by Layton Williams, Pastoral Resident

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