We’ve just been on holiday in Hope Cove in the South Hams of Devon. Hope Cove itself is divided into two distinct places. So, as you approach along the road we drove along to get there, you are asked to choose as one road sign points towards Inner Hope and another points towards Outer Hope. We’ve been to Hope Cove before and the sign always makes me smile; and think.
When I was growing up it was common when somebody might say wistfully we ‘live in hope’ the retort ‘it’s a place in Derbyshire’ would be heard.
A number of baptisms are taking place at Longcauseway this year. Because baptism is a sacrament, it is often described as ‘an outward sign of an inward grace’, which is a way of describing what is happening in baptism and other sacramental moments. The phrase describes what is happening and that God is the primary active participant in what is happening. The act of baptism and the promises that are made are a response to grace; that free giving of the Lord himself from his own generosity and love. But for a sacrament to be truly inhabited the outward sign and the inward grace need to be fully lived in and lived out; that the grace of God is fully within us and without us.
So, to live in hope should be, not just the address we hail from (whether in Derbyshire or not), but should be the place that we are living in all the time and at every moment. We are always standing on Holy ground, as we sense both within us and without us we are standing in the presence of God.
The sign that greets you as you arrive at Hope Cove asks you to choose between Inner Hope and Outer Hope. Arriving at a sacramental encounter with God asks no such question. His grace means that the encounter is about Hope being both inner and outer; felt within and witnessed without. When we experience sacramental love it cannot be something that happens inside, with nothing visible outside; nor can it be something that happens outside that everybody has seen but makes no change inside.
If it were not for the sign as you approach Hope Cove you would only see and experience it as one whole place rather than choosing which way to go inner or outer.
Let our ‘living in’ and our ‘living out’ grace be a whole experience of faith, hope and love being poured into our lives; and faith, hope and love being poured out though our lives; both as gift and giving. Let us live in Hope.
Blessings of peace and grace.
Rev Nigel Rodgers