THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE
What do you hope for? I wonder what your response would have been two years ago before the COVID pandemic hit the world? Good health maybe? A nice time with family and/or friends over Easter? A lovely holiday to look forward to…?
How times changed! How much smaller our worlds, and closer our horizons, became. As the impact of COVID hit the world last year, many hopes were dashed, many plans were undone, and assumptions about the world and the normal rhythm of things changed overnight as the first lockdowns began. Certainties were challenged, perhaps for the first time, and many experienced a sense of powerlessness that they weren’t used to.
But for lots of people around the world, certainty is a luxury – powerlessness is the norm. Whether that’s because of war, poverty, natural disasters (often caused by the effects of global warming), or unfair political structures. And here in the UK, life has got harder: for example, many whose jobs were under threat before the pandemic have become unemployed, and the numbers of those having to decide to ‘eat or heat’ have increased.
And yet, there is hope. We in Church Army have been working hard to improve the circumstances of those most affected by the pandemic. Here in Coleford in the Forest of Dean I’ve been involved in a number of initiatives to bring light in the darkness: before Christmas I asked people (many of whom were shielding) to knit angels that were then hidden in the shop windows for children to find; I’ve also been coordinating the delivery of chilled meals, cooked in the local community café, to those struggling to put food on the table. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been facilitating well-being sessions in the local primary school.
Right across the UK and Ireland, Church Army Evangelists and their teams have been demonstrating the love of God and helping people to transform their communities through faith shared in words and actions.
What is our motivation; why do we have hope? Well I'm writing this for Good Friday, when we remember Jesus entering into the suffering of the world, experiencing hopelessness and abandonment. Who can forget the agonising words "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?". This is ‘good’ because, amidst the awfulness of that day, Jesus bore the weight of the worst of human experience. We can tell people good news about a God who doesn’t sit on a fluffy cloud, miles away from our troubles, but a loving parent who has become one of us, who understands our situation, and is with us in it. And the story gets better because Jesus defeated death, and offers that resurrection life and hope to all.
This Easter, Church Army is focusing on the theme of 'hope' and we wanted to make a splash over Easter on social media by sharing what hope means to us all as Christians. We asked you to let us know what hope means to you and we have been blown away by all your responses. I'll leave you with a small selection:
“Hope is that little flower growing in the crack of a wall or pavement, that catches your eye and says, "Against all the odds, I am here and flourishing!” - Helen
“It [hope] means wherever I am whatever I do I can count on God’s unfailing love for me, a love expressed through his Son Jesus on the cross and maintained by the presence of the Holy Spirit.” - Keith
“Hope is so often about noticing the small things that God does for us every day; they remind me that God’s always there beside us, whether we notice or not. That’s faithfulness.” - Norma
2 April 2021
Debbie is Pioneer Evangelist for the Gloucester and Forest Centre of Mission, a partnership between Church Army and the Diocese of Gloucester. Her passion in ministry is to enable people to discover that God loves them to bits, help them to grow in their faith, and live as Christ’s followers. Debbie embraces Christ’s offer of ‘life in all its fullness’ and does a new thing every month!
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