Do you have a favourite quotation? This is one of my mine. It is etched above a church doorway in Leicestershire, England, and it reads like this:
This has always been the calling on God’s people…to be faithful hope-workers for Christ.
This should be the serious calling of every Corpath member.
In his famous work, Divine Comedy, Dante wrote over the entrance to hell, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”
In contrast, the Apostle Paul wrote, “There three remain, ‘faith, hope and love.’” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Christian hope is no arid philosophy. It is not a psychologically-induced, self-help program to drum up meaning for your life. Quite the contrary.
Christian hope is a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3) It is a hope that fuels the Christ-follower to live and love and serve as Christ did, no matter the time, no matter the circumstances.
Paul talks about our “endurance inspired by hope.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3)
It was that an endurance fuelled by hope that inspired Sir Robert Baronet to build that church in 1643 when all looked calamitous.
It was hope that inspired him to do the best things in the worst times, to make a statement for God and his kingdom, that all is not lost, that there is a better day coming.
How about us?
From a spiritual perspective these are dark and troubling times…the storm clouds are no longer on the horizon; they have arrived. In the face of rising moral calamity, when the centre no longer holds, how do we respond?
There is a tendency in all of us to give up hope, to lose heart when the signs are not good. To retreat into the sanctity of memories of a better time. To close ourselves off from a world in crisis. To shelter ourselves in the cocoon of family, close friends, and church. To succumb to the numbing temptations for personal peace, pleasure, and affluence, like Demas did, whom Paul said, “having loved this present world deserted me.” (2 Timothy 4:10)
But hope, as Soren Kieregaard said, is “passion for the possible.”
I’m always captivated by the true story of John Chapman who lived beside a cider mill in western Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. He saw piles and piles of apple seeds left over beside the cider mill. After extensive planning, he filled large bags with seeds and headed west, planting apple trees all along the way. Clear in his purpose, he knew there would be little to sustain the multitudes who migrated westward to open the new nation. So all along the trails, and where farms would eventually spring up, he planted seeds randomly and in complete orchards, believing fruit would be waiting for the pioneers who followed.
He was a hope-worker, a man with a vision for the future, seeing tomorrow’s possibilities and sowing into the future as an act of faith. Today you can visit his burial site in a small park in Indiana, and on the grave monument is the name that settlers gave him over two centuries ago – Johnny Appleseed.
I’m inspired when I hear of the many ways in which Corpath members are sowing into the future, seeking to see God’s kingdom come and his will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.
Some help build hospitals in the Middle East.
Some support micro-credit investments in Central America.
Some help rescue women from sexual abuse.
Some serve the ongoing work of their local church.
What can you and I do to sow seeds into the future as hope workers for Christ?
Could the following be said of Corpath members this year?
In the year 2019, when the world was in turmoil and a deep spiritual recession had settled upon the land, these Corpath members did not lose heart, and it was to their singular praise to have done the best things in the worst times and to have hoped them in the most calamitous.