Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
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Please read this passage in your Bible or follow it as a link: Romans 8:22-39
The Bingo Ticket
Agnes had played bingo her entire adult life. She loved the excitement of a smoked filled hall with everyone peering attentively at their cards as the letters and numbers were called out over a tinny loud speaker. She loved how the tension mounted, stretching tighter and tighter as the round went on until the moment of release when one lucky person would stand and shout that nonsense word, "Bingo!" Complete silence would blanket the hall as the winner verified her card. The click, click, click of chips hitting the tables would follow as determined players cleared their cards for another round. Tension and release. Tension and release. Most of the time she lost, but sometimes she one. It was a good fix.
Lately though, bingo had become something more than just a fun distraction. Agnes was going as often as she could. Central Catholic on Mondays. St. Rosalia on Tuesdays. The VFW on Wednesdays. If there was night of bingo Agnes would be there. With the stock market in the toilet her retirement savings were dwindling. She had less and less to live on each month. To make matters worse Agnes was spending way too much at bingo and winning way too little.
Her night at Central Catholic had gone badly. Agnes didn't know how she would pay her rent this month much less buy groceries. She thought about calling her son. She hadn't spoken with him in years. Allen had announced that he was going to be a movie star. Agnes had always wanted him to go into banking. She had no control over her money. She didn't want her child to live that kind of life. Money meant security in her mind. They had a terrible fight and he moved out the next day. They kept in touch through greeting cards mostly. Eventually, Allen had moved to Charlotte, NC and was the artistic director of theater. He wasnít exactly a movie star, but he was happy and making a living. She could call him. Then again, maybe her luck would be better tomorrow night. The bus pulled up to the stop and woke Agnes from her reverie. She dropped her bingo admission ticket as she searched for bus fare in her purse.
Agnes placed her hope in bingo. Others place their hope in the lottery, alcohol, manipulation of others, or any addiction that yields distraction or false promises but no help. What should we tell Agnes or people like ourselves? It's just too simple to say, "Hold on for the by and by. Trust in God and the sufferings of this world won't mean a thing." Ultimately this will be true, but that won't pay the rent now. A pie-in-the-sky religion won't ease the pain of this life and bring the reign of God among us.
In order to live with hope that is life giving and constructive, we need a faith and trust in God that means something for the here and now. We need to pay the rent. We need healthy relationships. We need communities that care for the weak and unfortunate. God provides us with friends and families God provides us with abundant resources. God provides us with communities. God even provides us with faith. God grants us the faith to actually believe that there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from God's love. God provides us with the faith to actually believe that God works through us to bring about good. That is where our true and useful hope lies--in that faith. It is that faith which allows us to let go of false hope and distractions and live the abundant life to which God calls us. The abundant life is one of good purpose, interdependence, and true relationships with others.
Pray for the faith to let go of false hopes and for renewed faith to live into an abundant life.
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