“H” is for Hope (March 2, 2012)

…Opening To…

Now let us all with one accord, in company with ages past, keep vigil with our heavenly Lord in his temptation and his fast. (Gregory the Great, from The Hymnal 1982)

…Listening In…

Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness combined with our faith. we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5; context)

…Filling Up…

This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “H” is for hope. First things first: hoping and wishing are two different things, though we tend to use the words interchangeably. “I hope it snows tomorrow” really means “I’m wishing for a snow day.” But the kind of hope we are talking about where following Christ is concerned is quite a bit bigger than simply “wishing.”

A wish is single, solitary thing. You wish for something to happen (or not happen). Hope, on the other hand, is the framework that supports the act of wishing. Hope is the expectation that the bounds of possibility are far wider than we can perceive. Hope is the act of trust taken out of the present and projected into the future.

The Outline of the Faith in the back of the Book of Common Prayer defines Christian hope in this way: “The Christian hope is to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God’s purpose for the world.” Confidence here is another word for trust. When we trust, we make ourselves vulnerable. But hope gives us the courage to keep on trusting. Hope does this by wrestling vulnerability into a little box on the corner of the shelf. When trust shines out in our lives undimmed by things like vulnerability, we can invite God to cultivate within us that expectation about the bounds of possibility. We limited humans might perceive boundaries. But hope tells us that in God, the boundaries are so much more expansive than our perception allows us to see.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you are the source of all hope. Help me to trust you in the present so that I can rest assured in the hope that you fulfill all your promises. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, nourished by your Spirit and willing to open up a larger space within for you to dwell.

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