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October 21, 2009

The Bible's stories of hope

The stories about Jesus in the Bible conjure images of hope.

Time and time again we see Jesus welcoming the outcasts (and who decided they were outcasts in the first place?), healing the sick, restoring those who were spiritually or emotionally afflicted, forgiving sin and freeing people from shame.

Wherever Jesus went, people felt the presence of hope. In the Gospel of Mark, the Bible recounts the story of Jesus and his disciples traveling to Gennesaret by boat.

Mark says, "As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went — into villages, towns or countryside — they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed."

In his book "The Liturgy of Liberation," Theodore Jennings says of Jesus, "He comes to liberate. He liberates the blind from darkness, the lame from immobility, the sick from disease, the possessed from madness. He shatters the bonds of custom and of class; he breaks open the iron strictures of legalism. He summons the dead to life. He transforms water into wine and death into life. He announces deliverance to the captives and sets at liberty those who are oppressed."

Hope means that God is for us. In the Bible in 2 Corinthians we read, "...God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation ... We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

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