December 2015

February 23, 2016

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

We are in Advent, the season of hope. Unfortunately Advent has become about looking forward to Christmas when in reality it is about looking forward to the return of Jesus Christ, sometimes known as the Second Coming. The word Advent derives from the Latin word advenire which means ‘to come’. Hope, according to the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen’. This cannot refer to something in the past, it has to refer to something in the future. Therefore it relates not to Christmas, the birth of Jesus, but to the second coming, the return of Jesus. Having said that it is quite right that we should look forward to Christmas, it is a time to meet up with our families, to exchange cards, presents and greetings as a sign of our love for one another and, most importantly, to remember that second great gift of God to the human race, his son Jesus Christ to be our Saviour. In case you are wondering the first great gift of God to the human race was this world.

We all have hopes, without them we would be miserable, pitiful people. It is our hopes that make us happy, joyful people eager to enjoy each day God has given us. Our hopes are varied and manifold. We might hope for better weather, good neighbours, a great holiday, a long life, to find the missing item, that our football team wins, that we enjoy good health and so we could list a thousand things. Moving away from ourselves we might hope for peace in the world, that famine and disease is eradicated, that poverty is wiped out, that no-one is homeless and so on. Ultimately our hopes lead us to do something about achieving them. For years I had hoped to ride the longest trolleybus route in the world fifty miles from Simferpol to Yalta in the Crimea. I only realised that hope when I booked flights to Kiev and armed with maps, travel guide, train timetable and a dictionary made the journey from Kiev to Crimea and back booking tickets and hotels as I went. I am so pleased that I did that in 2013.

An Advent Hymn begins ‘All My Hope On God is Founded’, it was written around 1680 by the German Poet Joachim Neander’. The Advent Hope Church on East 87th Street in New York says ‘Hope – We recognize that God has the future in his control and that regardless of our circumstances God has an ultimate plan for our lives’. That is absolutely true, but the strange thing about putting our hope in God is that like my hope of going to the Crimea he expects us to do something achieving it. In this period of Advent we are loudly proclaiming the hope of God’s Kingdom being fully established here on earth. We are also declaring our hope that we will be part of that Kingdom, both on earth and throughout eternity. We declare that hope in the way we live our lives, cheerful happy Christians always willing to welcome and support both friend and stranger, people who use words that encourage and build up one another, always willing to go the extra mile and share one another’s burdens. The great news is that we have a loving generous God who wants us to share his Kingdom now, who draws us to himself and has given us the model of how to live our lives in the gift of his son Jesus Christ.

Enjoy the season of Hope, not just in the period of Advent and Christmas but throughout your life, both here and in eternity.