Dear Friends in Christ,
In a recent meeting, the convener began our work saying, “I have been feeling very overwhelmed and disheartened by all that is happening around us. So I want to open us with this prayer.” She proceeded to read the Prayer for the Human Family from The Book of Common Prayer. After the meeting, I reflected on her words and the prayer she chose. I appreciated her matter-of-fact confidence in knowing that in the midst of chaos, uncertainty, discomfort, and discord our core response ought to be prayer.
The next morning, I read this scripture verse for my usual devotions and it seemed as if I was reading it for the first time: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)
In that moment the words “living hope” leaped off the page.
We refer to hope, hoping, and having hope a great deal in our everyday lives. “Let’s hope it doesn’t rain on game day.” “Hope you feel better soon!” “Hoping all will work out fine.” In these and so many other uses of the word, we are signaling our understanding that we are not in total control. There is an almost passive nature to hoping in this way. These secular references to hope are perhaps obvious in their acknowledgment of those things we cannot control.
But what does it mean to us as followers of Christ to be born into a living hope?
If our hope is alive, then we are meant to participate in this hope. Our participation is active; it is alive because Christ is alive in us. There is nothing passive about a living hope because this kind of hope is stirring up within us a desire to participate in life as revealed to us by God. To have a living hope is to embrace the work of this world, as mundane as it may be at times, with hearts that seek to truly see how we are called to love in this place at this time.
To have hope is to look ahead and wish for something good. However, a living hope calls us to look ahead with sure and certain confidence in the Good News of God in Christ. It is to know that God’s boundless mercy, known most assuredly in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, breathes new life into us even on our worst days. To be sure, I do not believe that having a living hope suggests that we ought to be jocular and upbeat all the time. It does ensure that whether laughing or solemn, we carry within us the quiet and undying confidence that following Jesus is how we know God. And this is, I’m fairly certain, the reason that having a living hope feels like hard work by which we float into God’s grace-filled embrace.
“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength;
they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired;
they will walk and not be weary.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)
image from pptxworship