On the first Sunday in May St. Andrew’s celebrates its anniversary. For 183 years St. Andrew’s has existed as a community of faith, proclaiming God’s goodness and serving the community. It is fitting that this Sunday we are continuing our look at Revelation and its theme of hope and worship.
Hope is defined as ‘a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.’ It can also be expressed as ‘a feeling of trust.’ In life we hope for a great many things. We hope for good health, loving relationship, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Some hope for wealth or prosperity, others hope for security. Students hope to be accepted into a university, then they hope mom and dad will send money and then they hope for good marks! Children and adults alike hope to be accepted and understood. Most people hope for happiness, which might include hoping for a great many other things.
In life we all want certain things to happen, these are the things we hope for. Often we share our hopes with others, our spouse, parents, children and friends. In these instances we trust the other individual and work towards our common hope.
Working towards our common hope is a part of the equation that we often don’t think about. Hope, without action is really just wishful thinking. I Googled the word hope, looking for an articulate definition which I’ve shared. However, as if often the case an example of the word in use is provided. The example that was shared about hope was, “he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information.”
That example made me wonder what the overall context of the example was. Though I admit that at times I’ve had to look for something in Kate’s purse, always with her knowledge. I have hoped that I might find what I’m looking for, but I must confess that I simply don’t understand her filing system.
What I am trying to imply is that ‘hope’ often has an active component to it. We are actively hoping that something will happen and we are willing to do some work to ensure that it happens. To this end we look after our health, we care for our spouse and children. We work hard to earn a living, to provide security. We study so that we’ll earn good marks and then mom and dad might be more agreeable about sending money. We aren’t above doing a little bit of work to see our hopes come true. By doing the work we demonstrate our trust in the things we hope for.
Now, before I continue I want to cover off another aspect of hope. That is hoping the Blue Jays might actually win a game or that the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup. Friends, that’s not hoping. That’s wishful thinking and we should be mindful of the difference.
This morning both our reading from Revelation and John contain passages which are full of hope. As Christians hope is central to our faith. During Advent one of the Sunday’s is dedicated to hope, that is the hope we have in Jesus Christ. During a Bible Study last year we examined the question what do I need to believe to be a Christian? As part of the process we watched some videos from various sources. One of the videos featured Stephen Fry, the English comedian, who is also an atheist. The video featured a scathing attack by Fry on God and God’s goodness.
After watching the video we discussed his comments and thought about how we might respond. Were the comments that Fry made reflective of how we understand God. One of the participants made the comment that Fry was unable to express or experience hope. As Christians hope is central to who we are as God’s people.
In our reading from John’s gospel we hear about the promise of the Holy Spirit, of the Advocate who is to come and continue to inform and challenge our living. In Revelation we begin to see the promise that is the ‘new creation’. A creation in which there is no longer a need for the temple, because God will dwell with us. A future hope in which we will find God present with us.
As Christians our lives, our worship, our prayer, everything we do all point to the glory of God. Glory which is both here and now and still to come. This is the duality in which we live as Christians. Recognition that the Kingdom of God begins at the events of the cross, but is also still yet to come as described in Revelation.
We find ourselves and our lives in between these two events. As Christians we hope for the promise of the kingdom and of the future glory which awaits. However, we acknowledge that we need to work towards our future hope. We are active citizens in the kingdom of God and we participate in hope for the coming of the kingdom.
This is who we are as Christians. Today this message has special significance as we are celebrating 183 years as a community of faith. 183 years of worship, service, care and love rooted in the hope which we have in Jesus Christ. Today we celebrate our accomplishments as a community of faith and how they reflect God’s character into this community.
Let’s consider the ways that we as a community of faith demonstrate our hope in God back into Cobourg and the world:
- We worship faithfully each week
- We engage in study of God’s word
- We pray faithfully
- We host a Soup Kitchen
- Refugee sponsorship
- Community outreach
- Our presence at the Waterfront Festival
- Our engagement on issues of importance
- The petition regarding hospital cuts that many of you signed
- Advocating on behalf of the homeless
- Financially supporting many local charities
- Community Care
- Transition House
- Supporting our denomination and its mission efforts
- Last week we heard about what the WMS is involved with
- Supporting relief efforts through PWS&D
- Enabling mission work through Presbyterian Sharing
These are things which we put our time and effort into. These are all things that we work towards and all of these things point to our hope and trust in God. A hope which says all things will be made new, a hope which says we are forgiven in Jesus Christ.
Within the passage from Revelation are found what I find to be two of the most inspiring promises in scripture. John tells us, “…the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life…” This passage reminds us that life springs from God, that God is the source of life. And that on every side of the river is found the ‘Tree of Life’, a tree which was lost to us when Adam and Eve were exiled from the garden. This is the promise of eternity. John tells us that the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. A reminder that God is interested in healing, that God desires peace.
Finally, we read “and there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light…” Imagine not needing these lights because the very presence of God will illuminate everything for us. We speak of that metaphorically in Psalm 119, that God’s word is a light to our path. But just imagine what it will be like.
Today we celebrate 183 years as a community of faith. We hope for the future coming of the Kingdom and we actively work towards it. For our hope is founded on nothing less than Jesus Christ, who is our rock and our redeemer. Amen.