I had the pleasure of going on the St Albans clergy conference a couple of weeks ago. It was entitled “Called to Hope”. As we emerge gradually from lockdowns and from the pandemic this was a timely reminder that we do so in the context of God’s hope. The keynote speaker for the conference was Paula Gooder, a renowned Christian writer and thinker. She spoke on a number of different biblical passages on the theme of hope. The one that is particularly resonated for me was:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1Peter 1:3
Paula talked about how often as Christians we believe that we should feel hopeful and should encourage others around us to feel hopeful as well. However, she explained this passage as a call to be someone who notices hope in the world rather than someone who generates that hope. She talked about how we live in a world that is full of hope because of the death and resurrection of Jesus; hope that has been won for us, rather than dependent on us.
Some of you may know that my husband, Lee, has very recently been diagnosed as having cancer. Feeling hopeful therefore is something of a challenge to me. It was an enormous release therefore to hear Paula talk about hope as something all around us, something inherent in this world. Something that doesn’t depend on my thoughts or feelings at a given time.
I don’t want to belittle cancer, the difficulties we live with or the challenges we face. But I pray that we can take seriously this call to notice the hope in the world, to be held and encouraged by it and to speak that hope into the lives of others. Amen