Like much of the world, I was reflecting on the outpouring of deep emotion and sheer joy at the inauguration of Barack Obama last week. As I took it all in, my thoughts turned to how the disciples would have felt after the resurrection of Jesus. Imagine their joy. It was actually true! After 3 of the longest days spent in utter disillusionment at the death of the Messiah, they suddenly had the awesome realisation that what Jesus had said all along was actually true. Death really had been defeated. Joy inexpressible!
Whilst not putting too much of a spin on it, I reckon Inauguration Day was a tiny glimpse of that. Hope had been realised. The dream had taken a massive step to fulfillment. After all these years (and for so many, after the despair of the Bush years), the sun had finally risen. This was a day when African Americans, and indeed Africans everywhere, stood taller. Finally, they were being recognised as equals.
Of course, the fact that Barack Obama has become a Messiah-like figure is actually quite dangerous. The expectation on the man is simply enormous. Kevin Rudd even called him the hope of our time. What a weight to carry. After all, to paraphrase Brian’s mother (of ‘Life of Brian’ fame), he’s not the Messiah, he’s just the President. He will never be able to fulfil the enormous hope put in him, and for this reason, he will inevitably disappoint. It is only hoped that when he does, we will not become disillusioned for it.
But despite the burden this man carries, this was a day when we caught a tiny glimpse of hope, of what it will really be like when the world is put to rights. Suddenly, for a fleeting moment, we knew what it was to have hope renewed. We saw that, when a person has hope, the attractiveness of living purely for yourself fades hopelessly into the distance. You see that choosing war reflects a loss of hope, you see that giving in to temptation reflects a loss of hope. And you see that when you have hope, it really is something better, that you have finally found what you were looking for all these years. This is how it will be on an immeasurably larger scale when the new heavens and the new earth come together. What one President may be able to do pales into obscurity when compared to the glory that awaits (Rev. 21:4). Hope does not disappoint.