I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.
Today’s Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3-9
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice,[a] even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Although you have not seen[b] him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
The writer Annie Dillard once said that if we truly heard the radical character of the Easter story we should go to church wearing a crash helmet. It turns the world upside down. It helps us find life in the places we thought there was only death. It puts all of our life into a new perspective where we can be free at last from worrying about how long we can survive and about how much we can get. Through faith is Jesus Christ, God offers us a new birth into a living hope!
While we may recognize this truth, let’s consider what it really means.
If you look up “hope” in the dictionary, you’ll find some definition like this_ “A wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.” (American Heritage Dictionary)
Okay. But what is a living hope?
A living hope has as its basis the resurrection of Jesus Christ
First Peter addresses new Christians who are in danger of giving up their faith because of the hostility and persecution they face. The letter reminds them that their real hope lies not is some kind of wishful thinking, but in resurrection. No matter what happens in this life, Christ has won for them an inheritance in heaven that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. Because of the resurrection of the living Christ, they have a living hope.
The apostle Paul had this living hope, as well. As Paul wrote to the various struggling Christian communities he cared about so deeply, he urged them time and again not to “lose heart.” Paul was sustained by a living hope even though he admitted to having felt “afflicted,” “perplexed,” “persecuted” and “struck down.” [2 Corinthians 4:8-9]
Paul did not lose heart because Christ was at the center of his being, crucified and raised from the dead — the source of a living hope.
Karl Barth put it this way, “The Easter message tells us that our enemies—sin, the curse and death — are beaten. Ultimately, they can no longer start mischief. They still behave as though the game were not decided, the battle not fought; we must still reckon with them, but fundamentally we must cease to fear them any more.” [Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline (New York: Philosophical Library, 1949), 123]
A living hope is active
We must live with hope, yet we cannot live by hope. It is fine to hope for the best. That, however, is not enough. We cannot merely hope; we must take action.
It is sad how many things we tolerate in the hope that they will improve. Hoping for the best won’t do anything. Working and taking action, with living hope in your heart is another matter! A living hope is a hope that lives — that is accompanied by action and commitment.
One of the most powerful agents of hope is a fellow human being. That is the way God most often comes to us — through other people. They become God’s ambassadors of hope.
I have had these ambassadors minister to me. So have most of you. Usually, they are friends, fellow church members, people I already value. Indeed, that is one of the most beautiful ministries that God gives any of us — to become an ambassador of hope — to help a brother or sister through a difficult time. Often, that involves simply being present with them, reminding them of the comforting presence of God.
This is a difficult time for many people. God calls us to be messengers of hope and comfort to those around us, too. Isn’t that really our job, if we are to be Christians_ “Christ’s people?”
John Henry Jowett said, “God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.”
God calls us to be persons through whom the light and life and love of God flow into a world woefully lacking in hope.
A living hope enables us to know that the future is in God’s strong, loving hands
Gilbert Beenken once said, “Some see only a hopeless end, but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope.”
Perhaps that’s why we express this truth together nearly every Sunday in our church: “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us; we are not alone. Thanks be to God!”
Hymn: “This is a Day of New Beginnings”
Brian A. Wren (1978)
This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember, and move on,
time to believe what love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that’s gone.
For by the life and death of Jesus,
love’s mighty Spirit, now as then,
can make for us a world of difference
as faith and hope are born again.
Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring,
step from the past, and leave behind
our disappointment, guilt and grieving,
seeking new paths, and sure to find.
Christ is alive, and goes before us
to show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new.
Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these reflections on a portion of scripture. I hope you will carry these with you throughout your day and night.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster