A God who keeps His promises - Revd Christopher Bryan
As we approach the season of Advent, Revd Christopher Bryan considers where Christians find their hope:
It is dark inside the church, and hushed, but with the background rustling and breathing of many people waiting in silence. A match is struck, and at the same time a soloist sings forth ‘Come Lord Jesus’. As candles are lit from one another, the choir sings, and light blazes through the building.
This is one of my favourite times of the year – the beginning of the Advent Carol service. Listening to readings and singing together, we celebrate the dawning hope of Jesus’ coming. The Bible readings speak of God’s relationship with his people, of his faithfulness over the centuries, and the promise that one day everything will be made new. It is a wonderful story of hope.
We live in a world where spiritual things are often conveyed by physical means; human beings are creatures within time. So we need signs of hope – the tangible things and occasions which help us to look beyond the immediate situation. We need stories to tell which change the narrative, moments of encouragement which renew our energy.
Such incidents strengthen hope, yet we do not base our hope on them. Christian hope is grounded on the character of God – a God who, as we hear in Advent, keeps his promises and is faithful. Advent calls us to believe that history belongs to God, that the Kingdom of God will come, and that the whole world will be healed and renewed. So Christian hope is not fleeting or uncertain (I hope I will win the lottery!) but firm because it is based on who God is. Even when the way ahead is unclear, or troubled, Christian hope makes the decision to trust in God. As a Cardinal once said:
To hope is a duty, not a luxury.
To hope is not to dream but to turn dreams into reality.
Happy those who have the courage to dream dreams
and who are ready to pay the price
so that dreams take shape in other people's lives.