Summary: There are so many people in our world today who feel like giving up because they do not have hope. Hope is a core, basic need of all human beings.
Scripture: Titus 2:11-13.
This years week of prayer readings are on the theme ‘journey of hope’. As I have read through these readings over the past couple of weeks I have been impressed again and again with the value and need of hope. The message that comes through clearly from the various biblical characters in the readings is that hope is not an event, but an experience, a journey. The opposite of hope is hopelessness. There is nothing as empty and shallow as hopelessness. We are very blessed in Greater Sydney to operate the ADRA Centre at Blacktown. The volunteers who work and minister in this centre come face to face with hopelessness on a daily basis. For these people, the hope and faith of the volunteers is an elixir to the sickness of this world. Hopelessness. I pray that as you share in these readings that you will drink deeply from the well of hope, and that as you do so, that this hope will flow out of your lives into the lives of the people you rub shoulders with on a day to day basis. Our reading for today speaks of Eve, and has the byline of Hope Ignited. I believe that Eve had a very clear picture of what hope was, and then, beyond any shadow of a doubt understood complete and utter hopelessness. In the midst of her hopelessness she found hope. Hope was ignited in her soul in a way she could not have dreamed possible. God was able to plant in her soul hope, hope that there was a way out of the terrible mess that she created, hope that there was a way to recover that which she had lost, hope that she could see her Father face to face one day.
The Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, tells a parable of a theatre where a variety show is proceeding. Each show is more fantastic than the last, and is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager comes forward. He apologizes for the interruption, but the theatre is on fire, and he begs his patrons to leave in an orderly fashion. The audience think this is the most amusing turn of the evening, and cheer thunderously. The manager again implores them to leave the burning building, and he is again applauded vigorously. At last he can do no more. The fire raced through the whole building and the fun-loving audience with it. "And so," concluded Kierkegaard, "will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators."
It seems as though every week that goes by in recent years reveals another reason why, without Jesus, hope continues to evaporate. Let me try some words on you and see what connotations they have in your mind. Lebanon. Hezbollah. Airports and Toothpaste. London. Terrorists. We have become so complacent with the fact that there is another war, or another bombing, or another air disaster, or another natural disaster that we have been essentially desensitised. On one hand we are desensitised, but on the other we simply become disconnected from the world in which we live, because if we thought about the possibilities and potentialities we would build a bunker and hide from the world. In reality this is not possible; in reality we have a mandate. In reality we have hope, we often call it “the blessed hope”. We have been charged with the mandate of taking that hope to a world that is immersed in hopelessness. The other thing that seems to be grabbing our attention is a desire for increased and greater security measures and the need to prepare our country to cope with terrorism. I believe that people in this world today are looking for both security and hope. This focus on security seems to have increased at a similar rate to petrol prices, and now interest rates.
In the midst of this, life goes on as normal, or does it. I would like to reflect on a passage that will be familiar to many of us. Matthew 24:37-39. This is an important passage of scripture. Life is going on as normal. People are getting married, having children, burying loved ones, going to work, coming home and so on. There is no problem with this, we need to live our lives and be a part of the society in which we exist right up until the time that Jesus comes again. It is the next part of the verse that is the challenge. The challenge comes that one group of people are prepared and ready for this event while the rest of the world lives their lives oblivious to the soon coming of Jesus. This is what Noah and his family experienced, is it what we are experiencing today?