Hope is a gift from God for us in the bleakest of times.
Our reading from the Hebrew Scripture today was from the book of Isaiah which was written by at least three prophets over about three hundred yours. The reading came from the third writer and from the time when the people had returned from exile to Jerusalem. They had been hoping that things would be the same as before they left. But history has shown that things were never the same again. The Temple had to be rebuilt and that took hundreds of years. It was only completed about eighty years before it was torn down again. Worship for the people changed when they were taken into exile. They thought that to worship properly, they had to worship at the temple. Suddenly, they were in a foreign land with no hope of worshipping God in the Temple. They had to learn new ways of worshipping God. When they returned, they still did not have the temple that they had hoped for.
Hope for Christians, is about looking for the new thing God is doing and preparing for that thing rather than looking back to what was in the past. Christian life is an ongoing journey. It is not a short trip then back to what was. Things are never the same as before however much we hope for that, so one of the things we need to be prepared for is change. Like the budding shoots on the fruit trees, what brings you hope?
This Advent, may we hope that we will get better at hearing the pain of others so that we will work to bring them more hope through encouragement and care.
Rev Julianne Parker
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