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Wednesday: living hope

If the purpose of the cross is that we might know and embrace the absolute gift of God’s saving love and forgiveness, then the purpose of the resurrection is that we might live – free and full of expectation at what God is longing to do in, with, and through a life devoted to love and to our Lord.

Consider these words from 1 Peter 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, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 

In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 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 honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

Although you have not seen 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, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Verses 3 to 9, New Revised Standard Version

If this living hope is the compass that keeps the resurrection community orientated towards the deep and eternal mystery of life with and within God, I can’t help but wonder why, then, so many of us find ourselves acting from a past that makes us feel guilty and ashamed or (maybe even worse) smug and self-righteous? Why are there patterns in relationships that we return to and re-enact even though we know that they were abusive and draining and destructive? Why are there critical thoughts and old, hurtful taunts that still undermine our choices and sense of belovedness?

One of the most vital truths that has been revealed over some 30 years of discipleship (through Bible study and silence and spiritual direction and, sometimes, just the stubborn and painful struggle between the sacred and the secular) is that life is not so neatly packaged into separate physical, emotional and psychological dimensions but is always intimately connected to the spiritual – that is, to God – at all times.

What I do with my body impacts how I feel about myself and how comfortably I enter into intimacy with God. 

What I fill my mind with in the books that I read, the programs I watch, the friends that I imitate alters my understanding of what is good and bad, right and wrong, God’s way and my own. 

How I am feeling in any particular moment has a profound impact on my choices, my relationships, my beliefs unless but my living hope in the One who is beyond this present time and circumstance can transform those emotions and give me a stable ground from which to act.

What are the constant, repetitive issues in your life that rob you of a sense of abundance and love and knowing God’s closeness?

Resurrection, for me, means moving out of an old and antiquated way of thinking that certain aspects of my life can be kept private, secret, hidden from God.

Resurrection, for me, means moving beyond the cross at Calvary to the empty tomb – not just saying over and over each year how sorry I am, how much I want to be different; but leaving behind the habits that bound me, the fears that imprisoned me, the words that defined me, the voices that drowned out the still, sweet sound of God’s Spirit.

Resurrection, for me, is the assurance that whatever trials or sorrows or worries this day might hold, God holds it all. 

What does resurrection mean to you?

Something new 
is growing inside you – 
a spilt seed you didn’t even know about.

Something unexpected 
is prising open the bars of your ribcage,
reaching beyond your notions of what is.

It needles you with possibilities.
Its roots unsettle your soil.
You find yourself breathing in an unfamiliar scent,
one that mystifies, tantalises, invites.

Marianne Musgrove, Abundant Grace Liberating Hope, 15th Assembly Worship Resource

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