From the Very Rev Kristina Maulden
Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence 1 Peter 3:16
I think this verse from First Peter speaks to the heart of who we are as Christians. Think about that wonderful word: hope. What are those things that we hope for? What has Jesus promised? What do we see as hopeful in our own day? And how do we articulate that hope to others? These are the questions that came to mind when I read this passage again this week.
We have this hope that God abides in us. No matter the circumstances or even outside evidence to the contrary, God dwells in the hearts of the people. The lectionary readings for daily Morning Prayer have been taking us on a journey with Moses and the Israelites into the desert as they head toward the land of promise. God’s presence with them was depicted as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. The fire at night was so that God’s presence could be seen even in the darkness. The light from the fire was also a guide to keep them safe. In a very mystical way, the wind and fire of those pillars manifest in us as the presence of the Holy Spirit. Fire and wind mark us as belonging to God’s family, guiding us when the world grows dark and fearful.
We have the hope that God’s promise of forgiveness never runs out. Some of us might be prone to test the limit of God’s ability or desire to forgive. We may willfully turn away to do our own thing. We might ignore the command to love others and look only to ourselves. We may intentionally harm others by our words and actions. Even when we are at our worst behavior, God’s forgiveness is there for us. We simply need to turn back around and ask. Of course, it would be a good thing for us to turn away permanently from those behaviors and walk always as children of light. Or at least, wake up everyday with the intention of living our lives in love towards God and neighbor. We may need to renew our intention at regular intervals throughout the day, because some people and some situations need extra grace. Fortunately for us, God’s forgiveness is not limited in any way.
We also have the hope of eternal life. This is Easter season! God’s promise through Jesus of life never ending begins with an empty tomb and continues with the abundant life in the Holy Spirit. We are connected to God forever. And so we are connected one to another through our love for God and God’s love for us. This is the deepest hope that resides in the promise of resurrection. It is a hope that is to be shared as 1 Peter reminds us, with gentleness and reverence. Even in these uncertain times, remember this God of all hopefulness, and share that hope with someone else.