Church as People of Hope

Hope in the Prison of Despair by Evelyn Pickering De Morgan

It is no accident that we’ve been born in these times, that we find our lives unfolding now, with our particular histories and gifts, our brokenness, our experience, and our wisdom. It is not an accident. In talking about the fate of the earth, we know that its fate is really up for grabs. There are no guarantees as to its future. It is a question of our own critical choices. Perhaps what we need most is a transforming vision, a vision that’s deep enough, one that can take us from where we are to a new place; one that opens the future up to hope. More than anything, we must become people of hope.
-Miriam Therese MacGillis

Psalm 33:18-22 NRSV
Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield. Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Hope is patiently waiting expectantly for the intangible to become reality.
– Avery D. Miller

Hope lifts our eyes above the present human condition and circumstance. … Without hope, there is little motivation for patience. But where hope is present— and hope is a gift of God (1 Cor. 13:13)— there is a will to continue and a path forward.
– Kenneth H. Carter Jr., Pray for Me

What is hope? It is the pre-sentiment that imagination is more real, and reality less real than it looks. It is the suspicion that the overwhelming brutality of facts that oppress us and repress us is not the last word. It is the hunch that reality is more complex than the realists want us to believe. That the frontiers of the possible are not determined by the limits of the actual. And that in a miraculous and unexpected way, life is preparing the creative events which will open the way to freedom and to resurrection. – Ruben Alves, Tomorrow’s Child

Psalm 62:5 NRSV
For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.

When most people talk about tomorrow and wanting something in their lives to be different or to get better, they use the word hope. Dictionary definitions of hope contain two elements. The first is a “desire or expectation” for something in the future to occur. “I hope this thing turns around.” The second is usually “grounds for believing” that something in the future will occur. “She sees some hope because of next year’s product line.” The real problem is when we have one without the other: a desire without any grounds. That is hope based not on reality but on our desires, our wishes.
– Henry Cloud, Necessary Endings

Romans 5:1-5 NRSV
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Hope opens something in the human heart. Like shutters slowly parting to admit a winter dawn, hope permits strands of light to make their way to us, even when we still stand in cold darkness; but hope also reveals a landscape beyond us into which we can live and move and have our being. With hope, closely held interior thoughts are gently turned outward; deep desires, perhaps long hidden in secret corners of our heart, might be lifted up to the light. At times, hope peels back the edges of our imagination to free what waits underneath — a changed life, a new resolve, a yes pregnant with possibility. In other moments hope dares us to unfold a layer of desire — for relationship, for clarity, for courage. – Pamela C. Hawkins, Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent

Maybe the way suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope is that suffering, endurance and character actually free us from the burden of having to be naively optimistic. Maybe if hope isn’t a very reliable starting point, then hope is not something we strive to muster up for ourselves. Maybe real hope is always something we are surprised by. This week I started to think of Hope as that which is left after all else has failed us. And that is an Easter hope…. The Christian faith is one that does not pretend things aren’t bad. This is a faith that does not offer platitudes to those who lost children this week to suicide or a tornado. This is not a faith that produces optimism it is a faith that produces a defiant hope that God is still writing the story and that despite darkness a light shines and that God can redeem our crap and that beauty matters and that despite every disappointing thing we have ever done or that we have ever endured, that there is no hell from which resurrection is impossible. – Nadia Bolz Weber, Sermon on Why Hope and Vapid Optimism Are Not  The Same Thing

Lord, I need a big dose of hope today.
None of the pie-in-the-sky kind.
Not even a pretty-sure guess.
I need the real kind of hope that brings lightness to a heavy day.
I am tired of gritting my teeth,
trying to swallow the pain that is my reality.
When I look back on my life,
I see how you proved faithful time after time.
There were moments I thought you had forgotten me
only to discover you were holding me so close I couldn’t see.
So if the stubborn pain refuses to subside for a while,
I will still whisper your name in praise.
Refocus my mind on you, Lord. Only on you.
It is there I find hope.
– Missy Buchanan, Living with Purpose in a Worn-Out Body

Romans 15:13 NRSV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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