This was written for one of my church’s magazines in January, 2016. The church is continuing to discern God’s will for its future but I hope the message is relevant to everyone.
‘Christians, where is your hope?’ (Hilary of Poitiers, 365 AD)
This question was written nearly 1,700 years ago by the fourth century bishop and theologian, Hilary of Poitiers, in his commentary on the book of Psalms. It remains extremely relevant to us all in the 21st Century and especially at this time. What are our hopes for the coming year? What do we hope the future will be like for our church?
More importantly, however, the question challenges us all to reflect on where exactly our hope lies. Does it lie in buildings, in structures, in the past, in the future, in individuals, in money, in a win on the National Lottery? In a changing and challenging world, where hope often seems absent, the question is an extraordinarily pressing one. In the face of change, of terrorism and war, of illness and death, where can we find hope? The answer has to be the same one that Hilary of Poitiers gave all those years ago – Jesus Christ. Not because ‘Jesus’ is always the answer (!), but because in a world that never ceases to change, he alone remains unchanging and utterly reliable. His life, death and resurrection give Christians the hope that this world desperately needs: that God loves each one of us; that we are precious and unique in his sight; that there is nowhere we can go that Jesus will not walk with us; and that evil, suffering and even death will never have the final word.
As we explore our future together, let us never lose sight of that precious truth. Let us become known as a church marked by hope; a beacon of faith in a dark world, giving light and inspiration to others.
May the love of God, made flesh in the person of Jesus Christ his Son, fill your lives this year and always give you hope and joy.
Picture: ‘The Ordination of Saint Hilary’ from a 14th-century manuscript – Richard de Montbaston et collaborateurs. Source: Wikimedia. Public Domain.