For the first time in more than 30 years I’ve had occasion to eat in college cafeterias this fall. Ithaca College and Tufts University, where my twin daughters are in their first year, allow parents to eat with their student for free when they’re on campus (although given the bills I have been paying I would argue that the cafeteria meals I have eaten have been pretty far from free).
So this week I was delighted to run across this story told by one of my preaching heroes, John Buchannan, Pastor Emeritus of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.
“When I was a college freshman,” Dr. Buchanan writes, “Dante’s, The Divine Comedy, was on the required reading list. In that great work, there is a classic description of hell with its descending rings and vivid torments—ice and fire. Over the gates of hell there was a sign with these words: ‘Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.’ I remember that,” he concludes, “not because I was such a good literary scholar, but because most of the freshman class was plowing through Dante at the same time, and it was a memorable evening when over the double doors to the freshman cafeteria, a place of no small suffering, there appeared a wonderfully ornate sign— ‘Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here!’”
Yet, on this second Sunday of Advent, we have not abandoned hope—we have lit a candle for hope. We have read from the great Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, about a shoot, a sapling that is growing from a stump, the remains of a once great nation.
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse…
You can check out the rest of the sermon here.