Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Hope that never dies


"Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah.-Luke 2:25-26

By Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr.

Again we find ourselves thrust into a new year, and I want to share with you what I believe is the one thing most well-intentioned Christians will search for in 2007: HOPE.

If you look closely, you will see in our faces how we long for hope; if you listen well, you'll hear in our voices how desperately we desire it. Each day, we are challenged by the pressures and stresses of our lives to find the hope we need to carry on meaningful, happy, and significant existences.

It seems to me that we are better able to live righteous lives when we live in the hope that God's tomorrow will bring something better. It also seems to me that we are better able to endure trials and troubles when we believe God's eternal kingdom will come and God's will shall be done.

But how long can we hold on to this thing called hope before optimism turns into anxiety and anxiety into fear?

How long do we challenge our faith to withstand disappointments before we turn into that cynical, spiritually empty person we encounter in our work, even in our churches?

A righteous and devout man

Let me introduce you to Simeon. His is one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible. It is rooted in the hope of one man who believed in God's promise. His entire life is an inspiration for people who have all but given up.

It is clear from his introduction in Luke's gospel that Simeon's piety so pleased God that God revealed to him (by way of the Holy Spirit) that he would not die before seeing "the Lord's Messiah."

So, as was his custom, Simeon went to the Temple every day, looking for God's promise to be fulfilled. The writer of Luke does not say how many years, months, or days Simeon spent in search of the Messiah. The Scripture does tell us the hope he held in God's word kept bringing him back, time and time again.

Then -it happened! A couple, Mary and Joseph, brought a child named Jesus into the Temple and handed him over to Simeon, to perform the customary ritual. When Simeon peeled back the cloth covering the child's face, he beheld God's Messiah!

Simeon's response to God is unforgettable: "Master, now you can dismiss your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

Simeon's hope didn't die because he would not let it die. He remained faithful to God's promise.

What about you?

I wonder if you entered this new year hopefully anticipating a better tomorrow. Is there some promise that keeps you going, some belief that God has something better in store for you?

Don't let go of it! Cling to the knowledge that God is still in the business of not only making promises but also fulfilling them! It will bless your soul to realize that, for life to have meaning, there must be some measure of hope.

In his book "The Christ of the Centuries," author R.C. Campbell tells of a woman saved by hope. He writes about a destitute woman in London who was in such despair that she determined to take her life by jumping into the Thames River.

However, she was distracted by a group of people looking into a store window. Curious, she stopped to see what attracted them. It was a painting titled "Hope," by George Frederick Watts.

In the painting, a woman sits limply atop a globe of the world. She clutches a lyre with all its strings broken-except one. She plays her music as best she can on the only intact string.

Through that picture, God spoke a message of hope to the suicidal woman. She left the crowd at the window and went home, determined to do the best she could with what she had.

Are you prepared to do the same? Will you go with me into 2007 determined to discover the promises God has in store for us? Will you journey with me faithfully until God reveals all the hidden possibilities and unlimited opportunities that await us?

I certainly hope so.


Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

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