For some reason I had been told that the movie “The Passion” did not include the resurrection but finished with the crucifixion of Jesus. So there I sat in the Cinema on a weekday afternoon absolutely emotionally drained after watching a couple of hours of brutality and torture. The screen went black after a few moments of staring at Mary holding her disfigured and bleeding son. Then there was the rumble and a small light appeared on the screen culminating in Jesus standing up from the grave clothes with just the scars on his hands visible. I don’t think I have had such a physical reaction in a movie before or since! I gasped and tears filled my eyes and I very nearly stood up and cheered! It may sound crazy to you but in those few seconds I like to think that I experienced something, even the faintest whisper, of the emotions of the first witnesses to the risen Jesus! I hadn’t expected hope to break into that moment but it did.
The great message that we as the church have is hope. Hope in the midst of death. Hope in the midst of pain, suffering and brokenness. Hope in the midst of tyranny, injustice, terrorism and financial ruin. Hope in the midst of corruption, feeling marginalised and forgotten. Hope despite delay, disappointment and frustration. It is a hope that is not ultimately about what we can do or achieve but about Jesus and what he has done and achieved. It is an indestructible hope. It is a hope that not only says the most evil actions are not the final word but also that even in this life the impossible is possible.
The type of hope I am talking about does not relate to marginally likely events eventually taking place but rather the impossible made possible. That is the hope the Bible speaks of and that is the hope we bring because we bring Jesus. As Paul the Apostle says, it is a hope that never disappoints. The movie Dunkirk has a tag line that says “Hope is a weapon”. When I saw it I thought that it was such a wonderful way to describe hope – that weapon that enables us to take another step, to start again, to look beyond the here-and-now and know that today is not the final story.
The question is do we put ourselves in a position to be invaded by hope? Although as God’s children we have continuous access to hope because we are “In Christ” – the Hope of the World – circumstances, difficulties and apathy can cause us to drift off into a dark corner. Even though some of these reasons are more than understandable, I was so challenged by a quote from Viktor Frankl which says: “Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.” No matter where we are or how dark it may seem we have a choice to start walking towards the Light that is always shining for us.
These are some very simple ways in which we can put ourselves in a position to be invaded by hope – to start walking towards that Light:
- Community. God intended church community to be a place of encouragement where we are lifted up by our brothers and sisters and in turn we lift them up. In times of hopelessness we often remove ourselves from the very place where God intended we would find help. We can’t and were never created to make this journey of life on our own. Be brave to put your hand up and to say I need help and be present so that you can put your arm around another.
- God’s word. Exposing ourselves to God’s word has the potential to replace the narratives that we have allowed to grow in our heads with a picture of who he is and how he views us. Recently I have been reading through chapters 40 to 49 of Isaiah which have been so encouraging. So if you are looking for a place to start then that is as good as any!
- Be careful of the words you speak to yourself. Get into the habit of everyday:
- Thanking God for three things,
- Remembering one testimony of God’s goodness – an answered prayer, a healing, a miraculous provision or deliverance of some nature,
- Spend a couple moments each morning speaking the truth of the Gospel over yourself e.g. “you are precious to me. You are honoured, and I love you.” Isaiah 43:4
- Be careful of what you expose yourself to. I know the movies I watch, the books I read and the music I listen to have a huge impact on my mood. Ask yourself does this book, movie or song edify and build hope in me,
- Finally, and very importantly, worship – even if it is only 30 seconds and in a whisper!
Hope is our message for all seasons however I have felt a prompting, I believe from God that this is a message that God particularly wishes to emphasise among us at KingsGate at this time. And not only God speaking over us but importantly through us to this great city in which we live. As we head into the summer holidays let us take comfort in the hope we have in Jesus and equally demonstrate, declare and share this hope with a city that is in need of Good News!
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13