Action Zones 

Reflections on Hope 

29th October 2020

HOPEIn the last couple of months, honestly, I felt I had nothing to say, life had acquired a sameness and routine and nothing seemed to inspire me to write. Writer's block, I suppose.  Pam Spychal reflects
 
My turning point came one Monday morning in September. I was out running on the beach and musing on Father Simon’s sermon about forgiveness the day before. Have you noticed that there’s nearly always one bit of a sermon that stays with you? The bit that stayed with me was when he described forgiveness as something that you give as well as receive, so ‘forgiveness in, forgiveness out’ is like a mantra that we should practise. So I did; and it’s been very helpful
 
I also realised that this approach could be applied to many words in the Bible, such as those lists we find in St Paul’s letters: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…” (Galatians 5:22). I know I must issue a word of caution here. In taking one word at a time we run the risk of missing something vital in the bigger picture. But, for the time being, one word at a time is enough for me
 
This month I am going to reflect on the word Hope
 
Hope appears in the Bible about 140 times, depending on which translation is being used. In the Old Testament, hope appears most frequently in the Book of Job, the Prophets, and the Psalms. In the New Testament it appears many times in the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Paul, Peter, and John
 
The word only appears 2 or 3 times in the Gospels and is used only once by Jesus when he is discussing the hope which the people had in Moses. Is it odd that Jesus did not say much about hope? I suppose not. Jesus was dealing with certainties – the Way, the Truth, and the Life. For Him, ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand’, not in the near, or even the distant, future
 
Hope is a word used by us imperfect believers in a world where the certainties of our faith are not always apparent. Job’s hope, for example, is a very bleak hope indeed. The best he can hope for is death. But God can use even this hopeless hope. In the end, Job is able to turn his life around and is blessed by God
 
The Psalmist has a more balanced view of hope. Life has its ups and downs and the downs are often very bad. However, the Psalmist returns time and again to a hope in God. We are promised a hiding place in God and a place to shield, God’s salvation, God’s redemption and his steadfast love
 
In the aftermath of the crucifixion and the persecution of the early church hope becomes a central tenet of our faith.  Jesus rose from the dead, so we can put our hope in ‘salvation’, the ‘resurrection of the dead’, and ‘glory of God’. These are indeed powerful theological themes!
 
However, in these New Testament writings, hope is also a practical and dynamic force within us. We are told that “endurance produces character, and character produces hope”. Then we are exhorted to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”, which will become “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul”. So hope is not just a fleeting, fingers crossed sensation we experience just before panic sets in. It should be part of our essence, our very being
 
In the words of St Paul “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
 



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