Faith, hope and love…

Anniversaries are an opportunity to reflect on how far we have travelled and to prepare for the next stage of the journey. The church at Reigate Park celebrated forty years in its present building at a service which included the dedication of new lectern and pulpit falls. The imagery of ’faith’, ‘hope’ and ‘love’ in the embroidery is a modern setting for a familiar phrase. It is perhaps easier to imagine a new setting for this poetic and challenging affirmation of faith than to imagine how the church might re-imagine itself to face the challenge of the present.
As Advent beckons I was invited to speak to the community at Luther King House and reflected upon the phrase from Jeremiah: ‘the days are surely coming says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise…’ At a time of increased tension in the world and our own wresting with the future direction and shape of the church Advent invites us to ask of each other if we believe that the promise of God will be fulfilled. Advent is less about waiting and more about knowing and articulating our deepest longings. If we don’t know what we long for how will we know if the Hopepromise is kept?

Faith, hope and love must shape our deepest longings and so it must be possible to live expectantly and hopefully with our horizons broadened by a God that tramples through our defences and shatters our small mindedness. We live in a time when trust is demanded of us, trust that peace can embrace the world, that faithfulness will have its reward and that vocation, as Frederich Beuchner once asserted, is “the place where your deep gladness meets the Loveworld’s deep need”.

Expecting the world, the church and us to be changed by Advent longing and Christmas promise is the least we can do.

David Grosch-Miller

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