Christian Comment with Reverend Dr Simon Topping of Methodist Minister for the Stroud area Methodist churches

HOPE is a central theme of the Advent season.

Christians look with hope to a future in which the peace of God will descend upon our world and humanity will no longer choose violence as a means of resolving conflict.

We look with hope to a future in which God’s love and justice will shape human relationships, ending exploitation, oppression and inequality.

We look with hope to a future in which the natural world will be cherished and valued rather than depleted and exhausted through unsustainable human consumption.

But to prevent hope for the future turning into mere wishful thinking we need to act in ways that embody our hope.

We need to take practical action which anticipates the future we hope for.

There is a well-known story in the Bible in which the prophet Jeremiah buys a plot of land just outside the city of Jerusalem at the very moment when the fall of the city to the Babylonian army is inevitable.

He chooses to buy the land as a practical demonstration of his conviction that, despite the imminent fall of Jerusalem, there is hope for the future in the light of God’s loving purposes.

Martin Luther King was guided by the same spirit of hopefulness when he said: “If I heard the world was going to end tomorrow, I would plant a tree today”.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the world recently took to the streets to call on their governments to commit to a global agreement at the UN summit in Paris which would prevent runaway climate change and the devastating consequences which such climate change will have for people and planet.

Participation in those marches and demonstrations is an embodiment of hope – hope for a sustainable future.

During this time of Advent perhaps we can commit to act in ways which embody the hope within us.

These small steps of hope may feel insignificant in themselves but they are actions which anticipate the time when God’s loving purposes for us, and for the world around us, will come to fruition.