1 Peter 1:13: Day to Day Living
Therefore, preparing your minds for action,and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
When I think of the work downtown, I think of the people I’m with, and I think of how they have not been taken seriously. There are a lot of things that have happened to the poor, but among the cruelest is they have been ignored, been moved on from. And if the poor are not taken seriously, if their day to day struggle to live and get by is not taken seriously, then their life in Christ is not taken seriously. Peter here asks for anyone who is in Christ, “to prepare [their] minds for actions, and to be sober minded.” Our life in Christ is to prepare us, to gird us for the crucible of day to day living.
I remember my friend downtown getting baptized, the water going down his head from the preacher’s hand, and I remember thinking that here, with us all waiting, with us all watching, his life got taken seriously.
And I remember, as the preacher spoke of the mysteries of sin and salvation, how seriously my friend took what was being said. Maybe I have taught my friend a few things. But he has taught me reverence.
There is a woman in our prayer fellowship who is, along with many other things, very shy. She wears a hooded sweatshirt even in the summer and brings a blanket out to the stoop stairs where we sit to pray, and when we she reads she sits up straight and puts all her attention into exactly what she is saying:
“Lord Jesus stay with us, for evening is at hand at the day is past. Be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love. Amen.”
She led Evening Prayer for the first time yesterday, though she was nervous to. And though it took longer, we were the richer for it. She pronounced each word slowly and each sentence was given its tender, solemn dignity. And I felt, in hearing, that I had received Christ twice: in what she said and how she said it. I felt I had been prepared for action by the way she spoke, and girded again with my baptism. The strength of a Christian’s life is being spoken to by other people.
And maybe we all felt, then, like we could get on with the task of living.
It is a strange kind of Hope that we have. And I am glad that is not a feeling, and that we are not burdened with having to feel it all the time. That sometimes Hope is not being hopeful but just getting on with the task of living. Hope is simply what life is like now that Christ has risen. Life has been so inexplicably transformed by Christ’s resurrection that it is not, by definition, one of Hope. And because that Hope is all about what Christ has done, that Hope is set not on what you will think or feel but on what will Christ will do next. All that Hope is set upon Christ’s return. What kind of Hope is that?
This life in Christ that begins with a Word of Mercy will be perfected not when we get our stuff together or try harder or when we stop being poor or start being marketable, when but when Christ comes back. The Hope is Christ returns for people trying to get by. What began with a Cross will be completed with a Return.