December 2014 / January 2015 - Vol. 77
sunruse through the trees
 A Living Hope that Doesn't Disappoint 

What can we confidently hope for in this Advent / Christmas season and in the coming New Year? Optimism fails us when our wishful desires, dreams and plans are not fulfilled. Fortunately our hope in Christ offers us a more solid foundation and confident expectation that we will obtain the gifts and graces we need to live well as pilgrims and citizens of a heavenly kingdom that awaits us at the end of our journey of faith. In the meantime hope does not disappoint us because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit which has been given to us (Romans 5:5).

God places in our hearts a hope and a longing for something far greater and far more glorious than anything we could imagine or wish for in our small and fast moving world that speeds by and then fades away like a speck of dust lost in the vast cosmos somewhere between time and eternity.

Paul the Apostle tells us that God the Father “chose each one of us in Christ before creation began” (Ephesians 1:4). We were created for a life of glory with God in his everlasting kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. We hope and long for the day when we and all creation will share fully in the glory which God intended from the very beginning.

Hope is a supernatural gift and strength that we must exercise
The hope which God gives is a supernatural gift and strength which enables us to grow in faith and love as we pursue God's will and plan for our lives. Peter the Apostle describes the nature of this supernatural hope:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Hope is the trait of relying on God's help for those things which he has promised and so confidently expecting to obtain them, even in the face of difficulty or in the face of their being beyond our power. If our hope is rightly placed in God, and not in ourselves, then we will not be disappointed, even if everything around us should fail. Hope is the anchor that grounds us in God's heavenly kingdom. 

There are numerous examples of godly men and women who persevered through hope, courage, and patience in the midst of severe trials, persecution, and hardships. Their faith expanded in the furnace of affliction, and their hope became strong like steel when struck with the hammer of testing, and their love overflowed with the fragrance of Christ's mercy and kindness under the weight of abuse and persecution. May we be encouraged by their example and not be afraid to suffer for the name of Christ and the gospel he calls us to proclaim through word and deed.

In this issue

This issue focuses on how we can grow in hope both individually and together as brothers and sisters united with the Lord Jesus in Christian Community. 

Daniel Keating and John Yocum open the Scriptures for us in explaining how hope orients us to look with eyes of faith towards the fulfillment of Christ's promise to come again to raise us up with him to everlasting life and joy in his heavenly kingdom. 

The testimony of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Edith Stein, and Corrie Ten Boom - who endured unimaginable suffering and trials under the persecution of the Nazi regime, give witness to the power of Christian hope in the face of difficulty and challenges to our faith.

Eberhard Arnold, founder of Bruderhof, points to the renewal of Christian communities today as a living sign of the coming Kingdom. Bob Tedesco, one of the founding leaders of the Sword of the Spirit, explains how the Holy Spirit is equipping Christians to live and serve together in community as disciples on mission. Paul Jordan, mission director for Kairos outreach to young people, shares the stories of several young people who are actively engaged in mission work locally and around the world. These are some of the sign's of God's action today to renew his people and to give all of us fresh hope that we, too, can make a real contribution to the spread of God's kingdom in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, and wherever the Lord sends us as his ambassadors.

Let us celebrate Advent and Christmas with the Lord Jesus Christ knowing that he will supply all of our needs and strengthen us for the coming year of grace and mission in his service.

Sincerely in Christ,
Don Schwager

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