“Is there any hope?” That was the question that was put to me by a friend and colleague. We were having a meal together after a long day of meetings filled with facts and figures, joys and sorrows in life and ministry. We spent hours sharing, talking and eating. Eventually I answered his question and said, “Yes there is hope. But remember: Love God and pray for the Church.”
When I look at the descriptions that Jesus lays out for us in the Gospel (Luke 21.25-40) it might be frightening. It might be hard to remember that there is good going to come from the upheaval of not only this world, but of the entire cosmos. Looking at the state of the okiumene (Empire, the world) it is easy to get discouraged and doubtful. We spend some much of our lives trying to making ourselves feel safe and secure. Yet the world and its ways always seem to manage to ravage what we have and what we are leaving us on the side of the road like an abandoned child.
We do need to stop and recognize that there are things that we can do and situations we can exercise authority in but we can never have control. And when we recognize that we see that there is nothing in this world, this transitory life that we can honest have dominion over. Nothing of this world, this life is permanent: not the sun, the moon, the stars, this planet. Not the kingdoms, empires or nations of the earth. Nothing will remain. There will be signs that this life will pass away. There will be signs that things are about to change. No one will be left out of the judgment – not one person.
But lest you think that we are left without hope, we are not. That is why we are getting ready for the coming of the King – and I don’t mean Elvis either, thank you, thank you very much. God decided that he was going to send his Son to “stabilize” the situation (and yes, the pun is intended). Jesus is our hope and there is no one and nothing better than that. The King is coming and is coming soon. We can expect to see great and awful things happening. Signs in the sun and the moon and the stars. We will see things happen between nations and kingdoms both earthly and spiritually including wars and rumours of wars. There will be earthquakes, acid rain, global warming and so on. Things are not going to get better soon. They will more than likely get worse.
Where is the hope? As I have said, it is in knowing that Jesus is coming and the sign of that is the cross. Jesus through his own life staked his claim to this earth and all that is in it. He brings with him his rule of the new earth and the new heaven. Our hope is in Jesus. The important part for us to play is to be willing and to actually seek out Christ to find in him something more profound than that which we call ‘Merry’ or ‘Happy’. We seek his presence. We want and desire his divine presence. We seek the serenity and calm of his presence. We seek to be in that place, in his presence for eternity. This is why it is our parish’s mission to seek, to see and to serve God in Christ – to find our perfect freedom. I pray that you rediscover the hope and the peace that God offers in Christ by loving us enough that he did not withdraw but give himself completely.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)