My dear friends
I just happened to be in a garden centre the other day when they were putting out their Christmas stock, whether or not you agree with it being put out this early is for another discussion, but I couldn’t help thinking that it wouldn’t be long before the TV ads will start in earnest, trying to convince people that all they hope and dream about can come true, if you only get this or sign up for that and all of that fed into something I have been thinking and reflecting on for some time, something I would like to make the focus of Advent or thereabouts, HOPE! What does it mean to you? To others? And what do we mean when we talk of hope in a Christian context?
Experts, far more qualified than I, will quantify hope as aspiring for the betterment of your life in some way, believing that there is and can be something different and better out there for either the individual or the collective, and it is both attainable and achievable. And in order for that hope to become realised or fulfilled, then steps of how to get there can and need to be worked out and worked through to attain and achieve this. But do we, or do we just dream, and because the hopes seem so far-fetched, so unattainable, we only dream of ‘what if’s’ or ‘if only’s’ and do nothing more than that.
For Christians, it isn’t as simple as saying we all hope but do nothing to realise it, what do we hope for, in and how do we go about changing things for the better, not just for ourselves but for others? This is where hope doesn’t come alone, it has to come with faith and love as well, as hope without the others in a Christian sense makes little or no sense, or faith or love by themselves for that matter and two without the third is possible BUT, and it’s a big but, if hope is going to be realised then it has to go hand and hand with faith, faith in God, and Jesus Christ, that His promises are true and can come true no matter what, and love, God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, to be born and live among us and to die for us, and rise to new life for us and love of the Son as well, in that he was prepared to do just that and through it has changed us and the world forever and through belief in him, the world is a better place for us and others, and there’s more if we believe, hope and love but sometimes we don’t and hope is dashed.
In a world that seems to be crying out for faith, hope and love, and seems more and more hopeless not hopeful, with pictures filling our living rooms of people risking not just their lives but their children’s lives to take extraordinary risks, fleeing their countries, homes and more, for the promise of something more; and of payday loans charging extortionate repayment rates becoming the norm rather than the exception, robbing Peter to pay Paul so to speak, and the need for Foodbanks never being higher, where is the hope then? What can we offer, do we offer, will we offer? Where and how is our Christian message of faith, hope and love seen, can it be seen, will it be seen?
The experts tell us that hope for it to be hope, is not just an empty thing, dreams of a better life or way for the individuals and or the corporate and not being able to be realised but completely the opposite, it can be attained by doing x or y or z or by doing x and y and z. In other words hope can become reality by conviction or faith and action working hand in hand together, and this is where hope differs from a dream, a dream is something that happens for a short time, a wish, a pipe dream and when you wake it disappears like the morning mist but a hope that is and needs to be different. Our faith is founded on hope, a hope of a new way of living and loving and hope for our future not just in this world but in the next, a hope won for us and realised in Christ Jesus, that is there for any and all who believe. But as the hymn ‘Lord her watch thy Church is keeping’ says ‘Can they hear without a preacher?’ We need to be hope givers not hope takers, and to do that we need to put faith, hope and love in action, not just talk but show people we care, and we care because God cares, and God cares because God loves.
We can pray, we can donate time, money, food, clothing to others and more, all it takes is commitment, dedication and conviction, compassion and care, belief and trust and above all a hope that we can and will make a difference. Let’s all be of the opinion and belief ‘I can, because I think I can and because I believe God most certainly can’ and keep not only hope alive but bring it to glorious fulfilment.
Til next time…