The Audacity of Hope
Readings: Hebrews 11: 1-7, 1 Peter 1: 3-9
The Audacity of Hope. This is the title of a book written by, the then, Senator Barack Obama in 2006, in which he expresses his hope for the American nation
The book, in a way, is a social political history from the the bases of the founding fathers to the present day, with very personal reflections about his and Michelle’s backgrounds. But more importantly, his hope and dreams for his country.
I found the book both enlightening and challenging because in many ways the UK seems to be heading the same way as the U.S. Fear of immigration, only the very rich, or those with rich backers, obtaining seats in government: Partisan politics that seem to disregard the needs of the poor and marginalised.
Although he, as we know, became “the most powerful man in the world” he couldn’t see his dreams fulfilled because the Republican Party held the power in government and vetoed many of his radical care plans.
But that’s all by way of an introduction to our thoughts this evening, because it’s the title of the book which set my mind to see if our ‘ “Hope” is full of “Audacity” ‘.
What is AUDACITY? ……. COURAGE……BOLDNESS…….DARING……GALLANTRY, and the one I thought best, EFFRONTERY! That best sums up our Christian beliefs. To say that Jesus born as we are was and is the Son of God, that he came back to life.
Then what is HOPE? EXPECTANT DESIRE?…….CONFIDENCE in the FUTURE?……FEELING of TRUST? But for most people hope is an uncertain thing. We talk about hoping the weather is going to be good for an outing, holiday, etc., ‘hope you have a good birthday’.
So we should have the Audacity of Hope in our lives. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in the first verse of chapter 11 says, ‘To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.’, then goes on to list the people of the Old Testament who were given a promise by God but which they won’t receive in their lifetime. They never gave up hope, trust, in God. We too have been given a promise by God of forgiveness, God’s presence with us and life with him after our human death. This is where our hope comes in, not in uncertainty, but in a positive way, we can be sure of God’s promise.
This is the reason Peter’s letter was written to the early Christians in what is now Turkey, as they faced persecution. Again in the first verse of the reading that word ‘hope’ appears, ‘This fills us with living hope’. The writer is full of thanksgiving and joy at the thought of what Jesus has done for him and all of humankind. The question that comes to mind is, do we truly believe that ‘this fills us with living hope’, if so have we the audacity to take this into the world?
Have the courage, daring, boldness, gallantry, effrontery even, to live lives so full of hope, confidence in the future, feeling of trust, that others will notice.
By this I don’t mean trying to badger people into believing, but by our lifestyle. There was a young Salvation Army Officer who was Paul O’Grady’s mentor on his TV programme, she was so full of laughter, joy and confidence in her faith that you couldn’t help being attracted to her, to find out the source of her joy.
In a time of upheaval in our country, uncertainty of the future, employment and social care; In the world with people becoming more volatile in word and action against not just people of other faiths and nationalities but just wishing to kill and harm others.
There is a need for the Audacity of Hope message from the Church, to live lives as well as preach to Good News, to remind people of the promises of Jesus. At the end of Matthews Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples, and us, that he will be with us the end of time and then for eternity.
So let us like Barack, have the Audacity, not just of Hope but TO Hope, in confidence in our risen Lord Jesus. AMEN