If you were to ask me, where does your hope lie? I would answer, my hope is in God. If you were to ask, how does God give you hope? I would answer, God inspires my hope through you, the people of this church. I have hope because I see the Holy Spirit active in you strengthening relationships, inspiring worship, creativity, outreach and loving service towards our community.
Advent is the Christian season just before Christmas when we remember the birth of Jesus the long awaited and hoped for Messiah. As a church we enter into the spirit of this, looking ahead, waiting, hoping and anticipating the birth of the Messiah.
Paul wrote, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13). God who we serve, and worship is called the God of hope. The hope we receive from God overflows in our lives, so we can be people of hope, bearers of hope who offer hope to others. God who imparts hope to us and works hope in us does so with plenty to fill and overflow from us. This is an overflow of hope, a spring of hope, a well of hope, a river of hope, a waterfall or fountain of hope. Abundant hope. Hope to spare and hope to share.
Hope is an important theme in the bible, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13) Faith, Hope and Love – all essential to meaningful human existence. All at the heart of the Christian faith. Good, positive and uplifting.
You might be interested to listen to a secular podcast from the BBC series In Our TIme. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00017vl In this podcast, experts from various universities discuss the history of hope
They begin with the mythical story of Pandora’s box, which once opened poured out all manner of evil and harm on humanity. When all the evil had escaped the box, the last thing remaining was hope. They contrast the Greek cyclical view of life with the linear Hebrew view, a journey towards an end. So in Judaism, and later Christianity, hope takes on richer meaning as life progresses towards a better end prepared by God. It is a good future, something of value to hope for.
In the bible hope is never wishful thinking. Biblical hope is based on revelation and reason. Hope is grounded in human history as people like Noah, Abraham, Moses and David experience the hope found in a relationship with God. Promises made and fulfilled give rational reason for hope.
Through hope there are things we have attained and some things we are yet to attain. Peace with God and forgiveness of sin are ours immediately in Christ. Hope is not like smoke that slips between our fingers and can never be grasped, rather it is like fruit that can be tasted and enjoyed. And yet there is also hope of things to come. The return of Jesus and life in the presence of God.
Part of the human problem is that some people are without hope and some others are misplacing their hope. While it is not true of everyone, most people have hope of some kind. There is a lot of hope in our community, but it is often misplaced hope. Perhaps it is a minor hope for lesser things. Perhaps it is hope that has been crushed by the circumstances of life. Much of this is short term hope. I think deep, lasting eternal hope is in short supply.
Can you imagine a world without hope? Perhaps there was a time when you lacked hope. The bible speaks of hope in Jesus as an anchor for the soul. When that anchor of hope is lost, the soul is set adrift.
Perhaps this Advent season of hope, you might find that anchor of hope in the baby born to save you and give you eternal hope.
What gives you hope?
Where do you find hope?
Rev John Malcolm