Isaiah 2:4 – He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (NRSV)
Part of the theme for the Eighth Assembly of the World Council of Churches was "Rejoice in Hope." The Assembly study says; "It is a radical hope, a hope based not on human possibilities but in God's faithfulness and mighty deeds. In raising Jesus to new life, God affirms the way of the cross, the power of Christ's self-offering love. It is an inclusive hope, one which insists that all are brought within the scope of God's love and care."
Isaiah offers a vision of hope for the future in the reading we shared above. It is a hope for humanity that must lead us to the millennium.
Hope comes in many forms. One such form I'd like to share with you comes from the words of the guest speaker at the "Celebration of Hope" service to begin the Cancer Society month:
- Hope does not mean hoping I won't die from cancer, for we will all die at sometime.
Hope means living each day to the fullest and not wasting a minute.
Hope that I was the best mother I could possibly be.
Hope that my children may remember my love and my goodness and not the days that I was cranky and tired and sick.
Hope that I can be a loyal friend and have the courage to walk others through the same journey even if it ends in their death.
Hope my friends will support and try to understand the pain and the fear which at times take over my mind and my body.
Hope that those whom I've hurt will forgive me and I've made right that which I could.
Hope that I can forgive those who have caused me pain and suffering.
Hope that death will be peaceful and kind.
And above all, hope I was able to make a difference, even if it was in the life of one person. And that, my friends, is what hope means to me.
Our hope is not for this time only and the years granted us in this life. Our hope is for eternity, for the age to come. Ralph Stockman in a message called "Too Great for the Grave", wrote: "There is a quality of life which is independent of the quantity. And that quality which lifts us above the limitations of time and lessens the fear of death, which makes us feel the nearness of heaven and the "nowness" of eternity – that is what Christ imparts to those who cultivate his company."
Prayer: God of Hope; fill us with hope as we enter this sacred season of hope and incarnation. Help us to look to Jesus for all that we need in this life. Amen.