I’m not sure why, but the Methodist year begins in September and it usually comes with a bang. By bang, I mean a large influx of work, administration, communications from TMCP, Church House and the District. After the last 18 months where everything has been different, September seems normal.
I opened my emails on Wednesday 1st of September and there they were; emails from TMCP, the Connexion, District and the United Reformed Church. In previous years when that happened I shut down again and went to drink strong tea; this year I actually felt exhilarated at the normality of it. (The feeling didn’t last long).
I want to begin this Methodist new year reminding us of an important Christian virtue: “Hope.”
Hope is much neglected and misunderstood. It so often means nothing more than a wishy-washy desire for something; whose strength lies in the strength of the person’s desire.
For the Christian believer, hope is precious. Paul writes: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12. Perhaps his most famous reference to hope is found in 1 Cor. 13:13 “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” From conversations I have had, I think some people are a little confused by Paul’s inclusion of hope, alongside faith and love. The latter two are clearly important but hope?
Psalms have many references to hope and they give us a clue to what Christian hope is. Two examples are:
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Ps. 39:7
My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. Ps 119:81
Christian hope is in the faithfulness of God and the truth of His word. What He has said He will fulfil. The bible is God’s living word to us: through it, He speaks to us, He speaks to the church; it is never out of date and is always totally relevant.
When Paul wrote: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” The tribulation he spoke of was of the most brutal and terrible persecution, how could he write; “Rejoice in hope?”
Paul, the churches he wrote to, and the Christians persecuted for their faith today had and have an experience very few people reading this will share; God was with them in their suffering in a way that enabled them to rise above their persecution and overcome: even when they faced certain death.
Let me remind you again what Pauls wrote: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Be constant in prayer, pray earnestly, remain faithful to God’s word; He is faithful, whatever the future brings in Him we are secure.
Last weekend we had a family service followed by a BBQ in the car park. It was a wonderful occasion; meeting friends for the first time in 18 months. Zoom doesn’t quite match the face to face conversation. I would like to thank the many people who were involved in the preparation beforehand, and on the day cooked, served, moved furniture etc. It was a great family event; I’m looking forward to the next one!