I wish and pray that 2014 brings you renewed hope
With Rev Andy Machin Downend Baptist Church
The new year brings new possibilities and opportunities. At the Baptist Church we have begun the new year by asking our congregation to express their hopes and dreams for 2014 in the shape of a banner, made up of each individual’s and family’s hopes in a pictorial format.
Some of these hopes relate to world events, hope for peace in Syria, where so many have been left without hope by the bitter civil war; some of these hopes are individual, for restored health, for new job opportunities, for a deeper relationship with Jesus; some are for our church, where we hope that next year will bring to completion a long standing project to build a new hall, which will be used not just by the church, but also by local community groups.
What do we base our hopes on? Are they simply wishful thinking? Sadly some of you reading this will have unfulfilled hopes, or even lack hope altogether because of the difficulties you have encountered in your life, and so hope is almost extinguished for you.
For me, hope is not simply wishful thinking; it is based on the reality of a living faith in God, who promises to be with me through all the difficulties I encounter. As a follower of Jesus, I am not immune from life’s vicissitudes; in fact, as a Christian minister, I am often confronted with these on a weekly basis as I try to care for the folk in our congregation.
My hope is based on the fact that Jesus, as God’s Son came to earth, died, and was raised to life to give everyone the possibility of a living relationship with Him now and into eternity. One of my favourite songs, written by one of our most popular modern Christian songwriters, Stuart Townend sums up this hope:
There is a hope that burns within my heart, That gives me strength for every passing day;
A glimpse of glory now revealed in meagre part, Yet drives all doubt away: I stand in Christ, with sins forgiven; And Christ in me, the hope of heaven! My highest calling and my deepest joy, To make His will my home.
May you experience renewed hope this year, whatever your circumstances.