“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.” - Hebrews 10:23
Our 2017 Annual Conference theme was “Risk Hope.” During our Sunday morning worship on August 20, we will spend some time reflecting on the week of Annual Conference, both the business and the theme. To prepare for this time, I am going to give you some of my initial reflections from the week of conference. We don’t often think about hope being a risky venture, but it is, in fact, something that comes with a cost. Hope often means looking beyond what seems to be our current reality. The word hope is defined by dictionary.com in this way: “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” Sometimes we confuse hope with a wish. If I just hope hard enough, the deepest desires of my heart will come true. But that is not the nuance of hope. Hope is putting stock in possibility instead of impossibility. Hope is more about faith than it is about wishing.
The favored hymn by many, Great is thy faithfulness, combines faith and hope, naming God’s faithfulness as a reason to have hope in all circumstances. This is the foolishness of hope: that no matter what today brings, I know that God continues to be faithful. Knowledge of God’s unchanging and unfailing faithfulness gives us “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” for we know that through Jesus Christ, God is working to restore all things. In God, through Jesus, we have faith that God will make all things whole and right in the end, no matter what we face today.
This is a very interesting time to be a part of the church. Many of us are afraid as we look around at the empty spaces in the pews, the vacant classrooms, and the increasing distractions that pull people away from active membership in a church. Pastor Tim and I were asked to participate in an insight session at Annual Conference sponsored by Bethany Seminary about what it means to be young ministers during a time when the church seems to be in transition. The assumption from many is that we are partly crazy to invest our time and talents as young ministers in a church that looks a little bit different each day. This is one place where I am risking hope. God is working in this change and to be afraid is to lose faith. To succumb to fear is to forget that God is faithful in all circumstances and that God is always working for good even in the darkest of times.
I invite you to risk hope with me. To step out in faith even when the future seems unclear and remember that God will be with us tomorrow and every tomorrow after. Morning by morning, even as the seasons come and go, God’s will be done. Holding fast to our confession of hope without wavering, we proclaim to the world that we have faith in a God of mercy and provision. For great is God’s faithfulness, each day, unto me… unto us!