Looking back at 2016 we have had some momentous news headlines that have shaped and impacted our lives. Several talented and famous people died, to name a few: David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Terry Wogan, and Alan Rickman. Then we had the vote to leave Europe, a new prime minister in Theresa May, and Donald Trump was elected to the White House. Not to mention terrorist attacks, and the continued bombings of Syria, which has led to a refugee crisis in and around Europe. These news items can either leave us feeling angry and upset, or rather despondent by it all. As we head into 2017 you may be asking yourself where is the hope; in our world and for our own lives?
I don’t know if 2016 has been hard for you personally (I know for some of you reading this – it has), but I also know I can get rather bogged down with all the things that are happening and sometimes I need to gain some perspective again. Often friends can help me, and I’m grateful for those who do; but I also find relief in songs. The writer through his/her lyrics can help me to imagine another world that just might be possible, and music lifts my spirits bringing hope and meaning into the situation.
I recall the song by Bruce Springsteen: ‘land of hope and dreams.’ The song invites us to get on a train to the land of hope and dreams. This train carries saints and sinners, it carries lost souls, carries the broken-hearted, and sweet souls departed. In this train, Springsteen sings, people will be there for you, and stand by your side. There is hope in the song and I can’t help but think the train describes what the church is to be like: a community of hope. But the questions I’m left with are where is this hope and why is it more than just wishful thinking? The song doesn’t answer that.
As we go into 2017 it is good to remind ourselves of what hope is, and how we live hopeful in what seems like difficult times. So, as a church, we are going to be looking at the book of 1 Thessalonians which is all about hope rooted in the historical reality of the life of Jesus in the world. This hope is found as we participate in God’s mission, as we be God’s people, and anticipate the coming of Jesus again both as a present and future reality. Here is an invitation for you to join us on this train as we journey into hope, because we need everyone on board!