A New Hope + Sunder Krishnan
Dear Minster and Friends,
First of all, I wanted to warmly commend our Guest Speaker for this Sunday- Sunder Krishnan. Sunder has been the preaching Pastor of Rexdale Alliance Church in Toronto for many years after a career in Atomic science. Amy and I consider him to be one of the most gifted Bible expositors alive today, and for years we have listened to his sermons online and the podcasts from his church. His sermon series on Genesis deeply influenced us both and taught us to love and understand the book so much more. He has graciously accepted our invitation to come to the Minster this Sunday, after several days of teaching in Oxford, where he will be speaking to us about prayer from Jonah chapter 2 – and I will be bringing my notebook and a hungry heart. Feel free to spread the word and try to make this Sunday a priority. You will not regret it.
This weekend is a national prayer initiative, so we will be praying together in our morning service, and also at the ‘Encounter’ worship evening from 6.30pm.
Please also pray for me as I travel to our Walsall churches on Sunday evening, preaching at St Chads, then having supper with Christ Church.
Those aficionados of sci-fi will already have made the ‘A New Hope’ connection. It was the name of the first 1977 Star Wars, confusingly called Episode IV, in which Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and the gang were all part of the rebel alliance, fighting a mighty evil Empire overrun by storm troopers. Scroll forward a generation and the Star Wars Sagas are still being made, but they have returned to the theme of Hope. Jyn, the heroine of Rogue 1 (2016) persuades a leadership laced with despair that there is hope:
“Rebellions are built on hope. And so, in the saga, the overturning of Evil control begins.
When Jesus walked into the synagogue in Nazareth, and began his public ministry – he started with a speech ringing with profound hope and raising the possibility of a new way of living and being and facing challenges. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me’, he said, ‘to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, and to set the oppressed free and to declare the year of the favour of our God.’ (Luke 4:18)
I’m not sure we have fully grasped how disruptive hope can be. In Nazareth the town wanted to shut him up… physically …using a cliff. While hope brings energy to those in despair, when it starts to motivate us to wake up and act differently, the status quo has to change. Hope allows us to be positively unsatisfied with the way things are, and opens us up to transformation. It turns an idea into a plan.
Paul can say resoundingly that Christian hope isn’t just wish-fulfilment or the delusion of a Disney story, but is realistic and evidence-based: ‘Hope will not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.’ (Romans 5:5) My prayer for us this week is that we would face the practical and spiritual circumstances of our lives with this realistic and vigorous Christian hope.