German theologian Jürgen Moltmann said this:
Reading the Bible with the eyes of the poor is a different thing from reading it with a full belly. If it is read in the light of the experience and hopes of the oppressed, the Bible’s revolutionary themes—promise, exodus, resurrection and spirit—come alive.
—Jürgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit
Promise, exodus, resurrection and spirit. These are the central themes of our Christian scriptures, but they are also central to all faiths and to the lives of people who claim no faith whether they use these specific terms or not. We come into the world as children of promise. Here at Pullen, we believe we are born with “original blessing” rather than “original sin.” Just as God promised Abraham and Sarah that they would be accompanied by a Sacred Presence throughout their lives, we each received this promise as well – and that includes the young people we serve as the Hope Center at Pullen.
At some point in our lives, we all leave home in our own exodus. Unfortunately, for these young people, that exodus comes too soon and like Abraham’s heirs, it comes as the result of trauma and pain. As the writer of Hebrews says of Abraham, our foster youth have been forced to “set out not knowing where they were going.” And like the ancient Israelites, some have “wandered in the wilderness” trying to find their destination – trying to find the “blessing” they were promised.
For the 60 young people who have found it, the Hope Center has become their Promised Land and as a result, their resurrection. This is not in the sense of things being perfect here; not in the sense that we can identify much less provide everything they need to claim their blessing; not in the sense that there won’t still be some wilderness wandering in their lives even as they journey with us. But it is in some ways a rising from the dead end life they will experience unless something changes.
But the journey doesn’t end when resurrection comes or even when you reach the Promised Land. That’s when the real work begins. It is my hope – and I know it is your hope and it is surely God’s desire – that we will provide for them a spirit of love and acceptance; of support and encouragement; of challenge and self-discipline; and of possibilities and a vision for the future so they can reclaim the sacred promise and blessing that was theirs at the beginning of their lives. May it be so.