Only a few years ago the concept of hope was a strong force in our world. Barack Obama’s book The Audacity Of Hope set the agenda for his presidency in the USA – a vision for justice in race-relations, access to health-care and much more. Here in Europe governments enthusiastically offered hope for reconciliation and integration of formerly divided peoples, for significantly reducing world poverty and ending modern-day slavery.
More recently hope seems to have become a weaker, thinner, more desperate concept. We now hope that Brexit will be less damaging than many are predicting, that war with North Korea will be averted and that fanatical terrorists will be caught before they strike. Hope is less of a vision and more a cry of anguish, a tug on the emergency cord as a last resort.
Our Baptist Assembly this autumn is listening to Messages Of Hope from across Scotland. These are not the desperate words of a network of churches saying, ‘At a time when a record number of people claim they have no religion, we’ve just got to hope for the best.’ Rather, we are communities seized by the hope that God’s kingdom is coming. This is a ‘sure and certain hope’ that the end of history is the rule of Christ in every heart and every relationship. It is a visionary perspective. It leads us to seek first (and foremost) that kingdom and celebrate every sign of it here and now. So let’s join in the flow of God’s Spirit and make this our prayer and our ambition: Your kingdom come.