So, this week there is a lot to take in, but I want to focus this reflection on the themes of HOPE.
What is Hope?
In everyday speech we say: ‘I hope it doesn’t rain today’ or ‘I hope my bus comes soon’.
Christian hope is more than wishful thinking. Wishful thinking is often an avoidance of reality.
It is passive in nature. It expresses a belief – or doubt – in the hand of fickle fate. It tends to have a fixed understanding of what the desired outcome is and how it will be achieved.
Christian hope begins with what ‘is’, facing this reality. Hope sees not just what is, but what can be; it is not blind to obstacles; it takes them seriously and is practical in addressing them.
Hope is active, flowing from the activity of the Spirit within us. Hope is an expression of God who
is enduringly creative and resourceful within what is. Hope flows from belief in God who is ever incarnate in what ‘is’. In Christ God continually enters our broken, suffering and disunited world and by his living, dying and rising makes all things new. Hope is a work of the Spirit within, drawing all that is dead into being, and leading all that is divided into unity. Hope is not only about what we
believe but what we live. Hope is the overflow of the Spirit engaging us in bringing about a new creation in Christ. Hope moves us into God’s vision for ourselves, our church and our community.
Hope is a cooperation with the Spirit. Hope expresses the willingness to work in partnership with God. In our lives and in our work we seek to understand what the Spirit is doing and to co-operate with this work. Hope involves waiting, we wait actively...working, and searching, for life is in our hands. It is the one who seeks who finds, and the one who asks who receives, and the one who knocks who will find the door opened. And yet we also wait passively – for the right time to come, for growth to take its course, and to receive by gift what cannot be ours by effort alone.
Hope leads us to act purposefully in the present as we anticipate the work of Love in the future through drawing on the memory of love received in the past.
As we continue with our Lenten prayer, may I suggest this reflection as a way to further recognize what hope is and how it is an indispensable part of our Christian lives.
Living in Hope: Prayer and Reflection Exercises
1. Witnesses to hope
Read through some bible passages about hope in a prayerfully reflective way – in God’s company. You might want to take one each day and reflect on it. As you begin, ask God to deepen your ability to see and act in hope. Consider what they say and how this speaks to you – share with God
thoughts and questions that emerge. Then read the passage again and let it lead you into a time of simply resting in God’s presence.
2. The hope we carry
Look back with God on your life and faith journey. As you reflect on your experience of life and the goodness of God what is the message of hope you have to share with others?
3. Waiting and working
Hope involves waiting and working. Gardening symbolically expresses this partnership in hope. We sow seeds and nurture them as they grow, but the growth itself is a work of wonder.
Identify a hope that you sense God has planted within you. It might be to do with your own life and growth or about others whom you labor and care for. Sow seed in a seed tray or small pot, following any instructions supplied with them. When the seeds are big enough plant them out in your garden or in a larger container.
4. The light of hope
Bring an area of your work before God in prayer. Imagine hope to be a light. Where are the darkest corners in need of this light? Move the light of hope so it shines into these dark places – into every deep recess where light has been absent. What hope do you begin to see revealed?
5. Acting in hope
Hope is an action more than a feeling. We remember the works of God in the past and so anticipate the work of God in the future, leading us to act purposefully in the present. We recognize that we are invited to cooperate with what God desires to bring into being. Read one or more of the biblical stories about acting in hope – for example Jeremiah buying a field in a besieged city. Ask God to
show you an action you can take as an expression of hope, whether this in relation to your own circumstances, or someone you care for or the community or the church you are part of.
I hope these exercises can lead you to place of renewed and strengthened hope in God and in others. May your today be filled with hope-filled expectation of all of the amazing things God has in store for you.
Music for the 3rd Sunday of Lent
Processional: Somebody's Knockin' at My Door
Offertory - Let The Church Say Amen
Communion - We Come To Your Feast
Meditation - Hiding Place
Recessional - Oh How He Loves You and Me