Bishop’s New Year 2021 message of hope
The Bishop of Plymouth, the Right Reverend Nick McKinnel, shares a New Year reflection to mark the start of 2021. At a time when there is still so much anxiety and uncertainty around coronavirus, it is a reminder that we still have good reason to be hopeful:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
What a great text for a new year. Paul’s heart-felt desire for the church in Rome is that they would be a people of hope.
He has already written of the way that hope is rooted in the Bible’s teaching, that “through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (15:4).
Now he adds that God is himself the God of hope, who looks to the future and has so much in store for those who trust in him.
To follow Christ is to be “a prisoner of hope”, and as a Church we are called to be people of hope, able to look forward confident in the loving purposes of God.
In the words of William Barclay, “The Christian hope is not simply a trembling, hesitant hope that perhaps the promises of God may be true. It is the confident expectation that they cannot be anything else but true.”
The Shawshank Redemption is many people’s favourite film and in the midst of his long prison sentence it is hope that enables the film’s hero, Andy Dufresne, to survive.
Hope for him is like a piece of music that remains in your heart, that enables you to know “that there are things in this world not carved out of grey stone. That there’s a small place inside each of us they can never lock away, and that place is called hope.”
Back to Romans chapter 15, and my hope is that our churches across the Diocese may grow more and more into the Christian communities that the apostle Paul describes, marked by endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures (v4), by a spirit of unity which glorifies God (vv 5-6), by accepting one another (v7) and by that joy and peace which enables us to overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (v13).
It is a great vision for a new year.