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Hope - Romans 5 : 1-2

The day after tomorrow I shall be laughing - giggling with glee because the world and life is a deep comedy. That life is not a tragedy should cause the deepest belly laugh to erupt from all of us, for there are no fickle gods worth worrying about, and there is no such thing as irrevocable fate, and the reign of death has been utterly trounced by the resurrection of Christ. And the world shall be renewed one day - renewed, mind you, not destroyed.

And I shall go on laughing because a giddy hope has gripped me. And my source of deep rollicking contented chuckling is no less than the God of hope himself, who simply loves us and the world he has made, and he can’t help himself. He can do nothing else for we read that he subjected the world to hope (in Romans 8). God is love and only love. And as Henri Nouwen says, “every time fear, isolation, despair begin to invade the human soul that is not something that comes from God.” And fear that the world is going to end in anything but a marvellous party, a wedding feast to end all celebrations, comes NOT from the God of hope. And so I shall laugh and laugh till Christ be all in all and there shall be no room left for tears, or pains, or suffering.

I once saw a cartoon in three frames depicting a snail getting on with its ‘snailish’ life. In the first frame, you just saw the snail. In the second frame, you saw a huge rock, many, many times the size of the snail, falling from the sky and about to crush the snail to smithereens. And finally, in the last frame, it is the rock that lies shattered as the snail calmly moves on. The cartoon was called “The power of Hope.”

Adventurers don’t know where their quests will take them. Columbus never discovered what he set out to find, but in his error he discovered a whole new world. And those who hope in God are the best adventurers imaginable. Like the experience of the snail in the cartoon, we shall know the power of hope to see us through the fiercest of trials.

Hope comes from being caught up in the God of hope - the Father, if you like, who places all his bets on the Son, and the Son who exults in the Spirit. To live in hope is to live towards the future, desiring and expecting God to fulfil all his promises. Hope means that God will provide us in the present with everything we need to reach his future promise. Hope gives us everything necessary as we wait for God’s eternal and pleasing purposes to come about. Hope fills us with life and a joy inexpressible. Therefore we laugh.

And I laugh because God is here, near me, near us, closer than the air we breathe; and he is so loving. I am a man of hope so I laugh. Don’t get me wrong: I laugh not out of any human optimism, or natural buoyancy. NO! I laugh because I cannot dare to say that the love and imagination of God are exhausted. To hope is a delight-filled duty, not a luxury. To hope is not to dream, but to turn dreams into reality. Where there is God, there is hope.

It’s high time we turned to the Scriptures and I want to draw your attention to the words found in Romans 5 and the end of verse 2, “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” It is clear here, isn’t it, that the object of our hope is the glory of God. That’s exactly what the marvellous General Thanksgiving Prayer says in the Prayer Book … “We bless Thee for…the means of grace and for the hope of glory

Well, then, what does this word “glory” mean? A great definition is “the outward shining of the inward being of God.”The glory of God is his effulgence, the dazzling emanation of God in his light-filled splendour, God as he is, with the wraps off, God astonishingly pure and holy. Of course, the Bible record is that we all fall far short of this glory as sinners. Yet one day, (oh glorious thought!), one day we shall see this glory of God and we shall share in it. And that is our hope. The glory of God in the Bible is seen in creation (“The heavens declare the glory of God” and “the whole earth is full of his glory”, Psalm 19:1 and Isaiah 6:3 respectively). The glory of God is seen in the birth, miracles, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ - as John 1:14 reminds us, “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Yet even so, it is still only a partial revealing. One day the glory of God shall be fully, finally and wonderfully disclosed - and we shall share in it. And that is our hope.

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