This is the third of my musings based on the sermon I shared in August. In the sermon, I suggested that the Church exists for three reasons: to wrestle with God (as Jacob wrestled with God); to feed the needy (as Jesus did to the multitudes); and to give hope to the world. This month, in the final instalment, we think about the idea of hope, about the Church’s role, and how we too can live it.
Give hope to the world
When we explored hope in August, we used words from Isaiah 55 where the Prophet invites us to remember the covenant God has with the people. Then Isaiah goes on to say that nations that are unknown will be brought into relationship, and there will be a new bond between peoples. The covenant of God, with the people, will bring new relationships with those unknown.
The image of covenant – marked most dramatically at the end of the flood with the sign of the Rainbow in the sky – is one that appears throughout the Hebrew and Greek scriptures that make up the Bible. We hear assurances of the covenant with the people who have been led into the wilderness, and people who have been shown assurance of the coming of God in the form of a Child. In all of these cases, covenant means not only a relationship with God, but a hope, a future relationship that is full of promise, full of richness and full of plenty. Covenant means being aware of the coming Kingdom of God that will offer transformation and new life.
The Christian story, focused on the life of Jesus, is one of hope: death transformed into new life; the old ways turned into new ways; the place of all in the kingdom of God. It is a message that is about how the ways of the world can be changed to offer a welcome and a place for all, whether that be those who have been hurt by the world or the Church, or those who could find the life-changing transformation that comes with faith.
So hope is something that we can have among ourselves, as followers and believers, but it’s also something we can share with the world. In a society where there is a high call upon the resources of Foodbanks, the Church can do much to speak of hope for those who are in need, and speak of transformation of the systems that cause the needs. Hope is something that fires us up to live for justice, to seek the best in the world and in each other, and the positivity to seek ‘the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.’
I think the hope that we find through faith is the motivation that many of us have for the life we lead. I am inspired by the hope of bringing the kingdom to earth, through transforming unjust structures, by offering a transformative experience of faith to the world around, and through living like we seek the Kingdom in all we do. That doesn’t mean we find it easy, or don’t occasionally fail in the challenge – but it is hope that inspires and scintillates us into being a Church that has a message for the world. We are neither a place looking only to wrestling with God, nor only committed to offer help in need, but we’re a presence of hope in a community – a place that offers a vision of something life-changing and transformative, looking to what good the future may hold and how we can all make it happen to the Glory of God.