Some of you might remember when television was new in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. If so, you probably watched programs like Howdy Doody, Milton Berle and I Love Lucy. I also remember the ever-present western movies with Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger and less familiar names – Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard, Tim McCoy, the Rough Riders, etc.
Some of these were new productions. However, most were reruns of movies first seen by my parents generation on Saturday afternoons in the 1930’s in neighborhood movie theaters. When Joan and I first got cable TV about 1975, I was happily surprised to discover that one of the channels (TNN- The Nashville Network) was again showing those old movies. I stayed up late to watch them. I think the program was called Stagebrush Theater . I videotaped them for future viewing. I still have those videos.
My mother used to complain to my father and me – “How can you watch those all the time. It’s the same old story over and over again.” Many years later, when I was on a tour of Universal Studios in Hollywood, I discovered she was right. The guide explained that a few basic plot formulas told the same old story, which was : “No matter how bad things looked. No matter how much it looked like the bad guys were going to win. in the end, the good guys would always win”. This meant that the audience, whether watching in the neighborhood theater during the Great Depression, or on TV during the dangerous years of the Cold War, or on cable during more recent troubled times, was being given renewed hope that good would always ultimately triumph over evil.
Today, when I look at so much evil in the world, in distant places, close to home, sometimes even in the church, I begin to believe that the bad guys are winning. So I need to be reminded every day that no matter how bad things look, in the end, the “GOOD GUY” (who I understand to be Jesus), has already won. The prayer that millions of us say every week, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven”. will in the end be fulfilled. One of the ways I can be reminded of that same old story of good ultimately prevailing over evil is by reading the Bible. But I can also look once again at some of those old western movies I videotaped.
I am also reminded of this same old story as we come to the end of the Easter season. Most Christians around the world will celebrate May 20 as Ascension Sunday, remembering the day (about six weeks after His resurrection) that Jesus departed from this world in the physical sense, to return to heaven, where evil did not and cannot exist. Where there will be nothing but peace, love, and joy – forever. When Jesus announced His departure to His disciples, they were confused. Which is understandable. He was with them for three years, giving them hope for a better world. Then He was put to death and they lost all hope. But a few days later their hope was renewed, when they met Him again, alive and well. Now, about six weeks later, He tells them He’s going away again. Jesus knew this was confusing to them. So He explained (Mathew 28:19-20, Acts 1:6-8) that even though He was physically leaving them, He would always be with them through His Holy Spirit, who they would receive shortly, within and around them. However, the purpose of the Holy Spirit would not be to simply help them feel good again. The Holy Spirit would provide them with the instruction, guidance, direction, knowledge, resources – whatever they would need – to continue the work of Jesus. This promise was fulfilled a week later on the day known as Pentecost. On that day they became the church. They came to understand that, as the church, their purpose was not to rule or be in control of the world. It was not to establish an organization, buildings, or hierarchies. Their purpose was to participate with God, as directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, in transforming the world so that it would ultimately become the place of peace, love, and joy that God intended it to be. Their purpose was to give hope to the world by proclaiming the truth – through words and deeds – The GOOD GUY (Jesus) has already won. Evil doesn’t realize it yet, but on that first Easter day, about 2,000 years ago, the tables were turned. No matter how bad things look or feel, good will always ultimately prevail over evil. That has always been, and will always be, the purpose of the church.
Grace and peace, Ray
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
May God be with you,
Patty and Ray