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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

13 January 2021: Rev'd Stephen Wright, Petersfield Methodist Church

Hoping against hope

For me the middle of January is the most miserable time of the year. Christmas is past; it is dark, cold and frequently wet. I’d happily hibernate until April. My wife on the other hand, says the hours of daylight are lengthening and Spring is ‘just around the corner’. I am not cheered! I suppose it reflects our differences in personality. I’ve never been a ‘glass half full person’. My football team (since youth - Leeds United) won promotion to the Premier League last year, but I quite expected them to slip up and didn’t believe they’d do it, until it was statistically impossible for them not to.

Despite this gloomy disposition, I still find that I am very capable of hope. I think we will to get to grips with climate change, that there are reasons to be optimistic about a future for our children and grandchildren, that even the church might revive and renew itself.

As I observe these contradictory elements within myself it made me wonder about hope: why is it so much a part of our outlook on life? Why do we always anticipate a happy ending? I suppose it could be some kind of evolutionary mechanism designed to keep us sane, although how it has survived the realities of the real world, I’m not sure.

My own view is that it is more likely to do with the story at the heart of the Christian faith. The victory of Christ on Easter Sunday (against overwhelming odds) told and retold by every generation has penetrated deep into our collective psyche. Our culture may have largely turned its back on the church, but the influence of its faith is still profound. And might it be, that its emphasis upon hope is just what we need in the grim days of January?

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