Mick’s Memo – Is Hope Rational?
Looking at recent headlines, whether local, national, or international, is not exactly a recipe for “tidings of comfort and joy”. They tell of mounting numbers of urban shootings, unstable stock market, increasingly polarized politics, global conflict and increasingly hostile rhetoric. Need I list more? Yet we are taking our annual pause for reflections on the birth of a child 2000 years ago, calling for joy and hope. Are you there yet or is your emotional tank empty, leaving you with a Scrooge-like “Bah Humbug” disposition? While we shouldn’t fake or force it; there is reason to find hope—but it involves more than looking back.
Our faith and confident expectation certainly involve belief in the events of the nativity. Historical evidence strongly supports the account of Jesus’ incarnation. Both secular and biblical accounts mention His name and the influence of His life in terms that correlate and reinforce one another. His followers’ faith in Him and their influence on the world around them is undeniable. They stood up to persecution, isolation and martyrdom. They changed the values and ethics of the culture. For an inspiring resource on this I would encourage you to read John Ortberg’s book, “Who is This Man?”.
But skeptics could and do regularly point out that despite Jesus’ coming to earth and His followers continuing presence, the world is still in a mess. So where’s the hope? In fact, that very attitude is anticipated by Jesus’ disciple; Peter…
I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. 3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:2-4 (NIV)
He then tells us why God’s anticipated intervention is postponed…
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV)
So where’s the hope? It is founded in the historical reality of God’s previous intervention. Jesus first advent was long anticipated. It was received with skepticism by many of that day and is viewed with skepticism by some now. His second advent, when He will return to make things new is also a source of faith and skepticism. My confidence, hope and joy look back on God’s past demonstration of divine intervention. It also looks forward to a future a time when Jesus will reign as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”, when justice will prevail. Pain, tears and conflict will cease. The influence of the Prince of Peace will prevail. Peter gives us guidance on how to anticipate this future…
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 2 Peter 3:14-15 (NIV)
We want to live in a way that demonstrates our faith in His long-awaited return and that points others to the salvation God longs to have them experience. As we celebrate the first advent this year, may our hope remain strong in the One who will return to reign!
My hope is also sustained by the faithfulness I see among you. I am constantly blessed by the level of dedication so many of you invest in the Lord’s work here. Thank you to our director, actors and actresses (younger and older), sound, video recording, stage and light crews who combined their efforts to produce the inspiring rendition of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” last weekend.
Thank you to our volunteers who have invested sweat equity in the expansion project this week; hanging sheet rock and insulating outside walls. Work days are planned for next week between Christmas and New Years so if you have time and sweat available please contact Eric Carr or Rochelle in the office so that we can have things ready for you!
Thanks also to those who have made special year-end donations to the expansion project. Your generosity is inspiring. You are helping us progress toward the funding needed to complete Phase 2, which will make the new lobby available for use!
I look forward to seeing you this weekend at regular services and at our services on Christmas Eve.
God’s blessings and Merry Christmas!