Season 11 - Week 1
“Hope in Broken Times”
Snot is spilling down my face. Cold medicines are crap. It’s not touching it at all. I drag my weary bones around the last supermarket I can stomach. It’s January but for some reason the Christmas Carols are still filling the air. I find myself humming the line ‘A thrill of hope…’
Is that how hope feels, like a thrill? I’ve sung that line so many times and never really thought about it. How do I know that what I’m feeling is hope? I guess it’s because I feel something good. Something positive. Something that makes me feel everything is going be OK. Hard to drum up that feeling when everything feels very much not OK. It’s the dawn of a new decade and there’s a chaos in the air. We’re weary of it all, and it’s only just beginning.
I don’t think it’s my head cold talking. There’s a collective finger on the pulse uncertainty, even dread. Politics, nativism, environmental issues, injustice, crime, refugees crisis. There’s so much we fear for, so many young people our hearts break for. ‘Is this is how it will be from now on in?’ we ask to no one in particular, ‘Nothing will change. The system is broken, the earth is broken, my heart is broken, my church is broken…’
But we’re Youth Workers. We caught up in the busy-ness of Hope; building the expectation that something better is going to happen. We work for it. We cheer it on. We tell stories of hope and invite the weary world to be thrilled again by the young Hope Heralds who remind us that all is not lost. Like Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the cello prodigy who played at The Royal Wedding in 2018 (and won the title #cellobae). He could be speaking of hope when he says, ‘The music itself can appeal to anyone. It’s just a case of people having the chance to hear it or see it.’
So here’s my thought for you for today; Hope doesn’t need to happen. Hope is happening. We need to tune our hearts to hear it. Hope is happening outside of us in the faithfulness of Christ who entered a weary world and revealed the heart and purposes of a God who never fails us. Hope is also happening in us as we deepen our experience of God, and somehow through us as we live out the truth of who God is and who we are.
For the reality of the truth of Christ is seen among you and strengthened through your experience of him. So now you aren’t lacking any spiritual gift as you eagerly await the unveiling of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He will keep you steady and strong to the very end, making your character mature so that you will be found innocent on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is forever faithful and can be trusted to do this in you, for he has invited you to co-share the life of his Son, Jesus, the Anointed One, our King!’(I Cor 1:6-9 The Passion)
It’s not our job to make hope happen. That’s liberating, isn't it? I’m sure I’m not alone in wrestling with that old guilt-and-Messiah-complex thing. We desire so much more for the young people we serve and we despair at the world they’re inheriting. It drives us forward, sometimes at the expense of our own trust that it’s not all on us.
But being called into the role as a minister to young lives is a mighty thing. We’re drawn into the family business of making all things new, one heart at a time. Our job is to be expectant that God will continue to be true to God’s nature. That the faithfulness expressed by God to creation throughout history will not cease just because things seem dark and beyond good outcomes that we can imagine.
So I’m inviting us to notice the hope that’s happening. To look for the signs of hope in the places we feel most hopeless. I’m not talking about the good things that feel nice or the images that make us feel comfortable. That’s shallow hope and to be honest isn’t hope at all, just positivity. Like the Flu medicine that’s finally kicking in and making me feel light headed and sleepy. Let’s not sleep walk at such a time as this. Let’s look forward, let’s wake up to hope, to look for where people are building a strong hold of resistance in the enemy camp of despair and then living out that new reality, that certain hope.
‘Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is.’ C. S. Lewis
'For the reality of the truth of Christ is seen among you and strengthened through your experience of him. So now you aren’t lacking any spiritual gift as you eagerly await the unveiling of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He will keep you steady and strong to the very end, making your character mature so that you will be found innocent on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is forever faithful and can be trusted to do this in you, for he has invited you to co-share the life of his Son, Jesus, the Anointed One, our King!'