Reflecting on Rejoicing in Hope

“Rejoice in Hope” is the theme of the Gathering, based on Romans 12:12–13, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” Be sure to sign up for Gathering emails so you’ll receive future reflections when they’re sent on the 21st of every month.

Feel free to share this reflection at your next PW meeting and encourage other women to join you at the Gathering!

Rejoice in Hope!

Carissa Herold is PW Marketing Associate and also serves on the CWG Activities Hall team.

My big sister isn’t big in a physical sense but she is big in goodness and smarts and for loving (and putting up with) her little sister (that’s me). Together we have mourned parents and friends, adjusted to changes in circumstances and dealt with knocks, soft and hard. On the flip side, we have loved parents and friends, welcomed changes in circumstances, and occasionally been made breathless by opening a knocked-upon door to something beautiful and unexpected.

A friend recently shared that “Desiderata,” a poem attributed to Max Ehrmann, gives her such peace that she keeps a copy close. Although the poem began circulating in the early part of the twentieth century, I remember its presence in the form of a sepia-drenched poster on the wall of my sister’s first apartment (I can still “see” the small tear on the top corner!). “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.”

Perhaps the author of “Desiderata” was inspired by Romans 12:13 (the scripture that guides the 2021 Churchwide Gathering)? “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers” (NRSV).

The Spirit provides wonderful ways to encounter scripture. I am a big fan of Eugene Peterson’s The Message. Peterson’s translation of biblical texts into contemporary language is, to me, a “knock on the door” to accessing scripture in a fresh way. When I looked up Romans 12 in The Message, two random thoughts surfaced: Had this translation been made available earlier, perhaps the poster on my sister’s wall would have been of Romans 12, because it encapsulates a good roadmap for living in a gentle manner. And second, every Presbyterian woman I know lives accordingly. Bring on new glasses and read for yourself!

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil, hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if [s]he’s thirsty, get [her] a drink. Your generosity will surprise [her] with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”*

Along the highway of life, we may have to cope with a flat tire or an unexpected detour. Keeping Romans 12 close may keep us from straying too far. Stray a little? That’s okay. It’s expected. And forgiven.

And sometimes straying a little off the real-world highway brings joy. I fondly remember a peach-and-pickle stand that I stumbled upon in Georgia and the lovely young woman behind the counter who shared about her courses at a local college.

Speaking of journeys and roadmaps and knocks on doors, let us pray that staying on course will lead us to the 2021 Churchwide Gathering of like-hearted sisters where we can be with one another, refresh our minds and hearts, and enjoy the destination. And if you do stop at a roadside stand, consider sharing a few peaches and pickles. “Your generosity will surprise [her] with goodness.” You’ll find me in the Activities Hall.

*Romans 12:9–21 from The Message Remix: The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene H. Peterson (Colorado Springs: Alive Communications, 2003).


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