February 2016

Dear Friends

 

Many of the school assemblies I've done have turned up some very interesting reflections. And this was true of one afternoon assembly I took with Key Stage 1 about two weeks ago at one of the schools in SPACE. 

 

The theme was ‘Revisit Resolutions’ and we were looking at the things that had passed now that 2015 was gone, and looking ahead to the future.  The children had a lot to say about what had passed and what they enjoyed, but when speaking about the future, most found it difficult.  Some needed to draw on the past to even begin thinking of the future, some could only see the past, they were at a loss to think of future, they could only see what they remembered from the year now gone.  But what truly fascinated me was what one child said; the child said that they were looking forward to “hope”.  It is a comment that I would have liked to explore in a bit more detail with the child along with the others in the year group to hear what was meant, or what the others made of the comment.  But sadly the comment came very near the end of our time together, and exploring that one comment would better be done as the main part of a session of its own.

 

What would you have done? 

 

I began to think about us, this church in SPACE.  Are we too looking forward to “Hope” and is that a major part of our experience as Christians?  We meet to encourage each other in the hope that we have, and that needs nurturing in these difficult times.  A

Theology Professor Daniel Migliore, in his 2004 book Faith Seeking Understanding, suggests, in a nutshell, that hope is a gift of God that waits in anticipation for the fulfilment of promises to the world and for the world.  He says that hope is a theological virtue that helps to transform human lives.  Now that may not be what the KS1 child was speaking about, but maybe it was something close.  Maybe it's about looking forward to better days ahead.

 

Looking forward to ‘Hope’! 

 

Is that where we are as we head into February 2016 and beyond?  Are we looking forward to hope?  What does hope mean to you and what will it look like?

 

Reflecting on what the child said, I realised that there are times when I feel truly hopeful, when I know that all will be well.  Yet there are times when I struggle, and it’s at those times of struggle that I look forward to Hope.  While I accept that it's good to look to Hope … I would much prefer to look forward in Hope.  If we are surrounded and clothed in hope, we are in a good place to see God’s Grace at work in our lives and the life of the world.  If we are looking to Hope, then we are not there yet. 

 

Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

 

Romans 15:13:  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

May you abound in hope today and every day.

 

God Bless you,

Mark

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