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Living Hope




Living Hope

1 Peter 1:3-9


Uncertainty. Life is certainly filled with uncertainty. Always has been... that’s nothing new. But, it seems that more and more, many things in life that we could trust to be “certain” no long are...


Our world has become a very different place over the last year, mainly because of uncertainty.


We’re not quite sure which voice (or voices) to listen to! We hear the “talking heads” on the network news... we listen to politicians, and doctors, and lawyers... and maybe even preachers...


And... even-though uncertainty isn’t new... too much uncertainty can be hard to live with. We need a certain amount of certainty in life... stability... we need a foundation on which to stand.


We need... hope.


It’s so difficult to live in the midst of doubt and apprehension. Not knowing quite whom to listen to... whom to trust... in regards to our own well-being and future... our family’s well-being a future.


But there is a Voice we can always trust... a Voice that calls out to us... encouraging us... assuring us, and re-assuring us... during all the various uncertainties of life.


I want you to listen for just a moment... just listen... as I read a few scriptures, before we get to First Peter... and I don’t want you to look them up... I don’t want you to want to do anything other than just listen to the words...


Words like these... from the letter written by James, that call us to “consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2ff)


Or these words from Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica: “we continually remember you before our God and Father, your work produced by faith... your labor prompted by love... and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 1:3)


And these words from Romans 5, that remind us... “we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know (we are convinced) that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope.”


Of course, our 2nd Scripture Lesson for today, that reminds us... “In his great mercy he has given us new birth, into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...”


I wonder if you... like me... are reading (or hearing) these words... these expectations... these “calls” to persevere... to have hope... differently? Are we hearing these words differently than in the past? Differently than we heard or understood such words, even 12 months ago?


I wonder NOW... today... if these ancient words of encouragement, from a context that used to be foreign and difficult for most of us to imagine, are somehow clearer? More pertinent. More applicable to our lives.


Back in New Testament times the church was scattered across the Roman empire... the followers of Christ found themselves living in hardship... hiding from persecution, and wondering if it was safe to live life beyond their homes, and the safety of their immediate circles.


It makes me wonder if these words are not resonating deeper within us, as we think about how these words have been held onto by the church through the ages (and even today) as it’s been sustained by grace through all sorts of hardship and tragedy.


Do the words suddenly feel more real...?


As we worship from our homes via Facebook, or spread-out (socially distanced) in the sanctuary... as we struggle with simply doing ordinary things that we used to take for granted - like going to the Theater to take in a show or a movie... or gathering with an extended group of friends at a restaurant, for birthdays and anniversaries and, well, just because! As we continue to adjust travel plans (etc.)... When (if ever!) will it be safe to resume life? Normal, everyday, life.


I feel in my own life (and maybe - hopefully - you can relate) that I’m no longer interested in studying these words... these holy words... simply for their historical or religious context... but to experience and understand the scripture in a relational way... seeking to embrace the comfort these words offer... for the strength to stand firm, in my personal faith... as I read, and hear, and attempt to live-out the promise that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ we have been given a Living Hope.


Living Hope... that’s a wonderful phrase, isn’t it?


If something is living - it’s in the present... the now... this moment! If it’s alive, it’s breathing, it’s functioning, it’s moving! If it’s “living” it’s active... it’s participatory. Living denotes engagement... purpose...


Our’s is a Living Hope... that’s not grounded in ourselves... it’s not dependent on other people... it’s not something we’ve imagined or concocted or something we can manipulate. Our Living Hope is not subject to our circumstances, our sorrows, our worries...


Our hope comes from a permanent, fixed, certain and unchanging reality... a hope (an assurance) that’s anchored on the actuality that the promises of God are real... and will never fail us.


As the old hymn reminds us... {Our} “Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness!”


Our Living Hope, our active hope, our present hope... is established on the FACT that Christ is risen! Christ has overcome this world - and death itself! Christ is alive through the Holy Spirit... he’s within us via that same Spirit... he’s among us... and at the same time we live in the assurance that’s not only grounded in a certain, guaranteed reality... but it points us to the promise that Peter calls “a glorious inheritance” - it’s the promise that we will be with Christ, always...


You and I, as Christians... will see his face... the day’s coming when we will no longer “only imagine” our Living Hope... or even rest in the assurance of our Living Hope. The day is coming when we will see him, face to face... we will gaze upon the face of the only One who could deliver us (save us) from the evils of this life.


No matter our circumstances, no matter our concerns... regardless the condition of the world around us with it’s endless uncertainties... we have this Living, Active, Engaged HOPE... that is the assurance of our faith, and the affirmation of our future with the “one who loved us first, and loves us most.”


Do you know this Living Hope?


Have your placed your life, your faith, your joy... in this Living Hope? And are you and I relying... fully relying on Christ to strengthen us... to comfort us... to carry us... in spite of all our uncertainties?


“In his great mercy he has given us new birth, into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...”


Amen.



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