Happy Easter! This is the second week of Easter, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. We’ve followed Jesus into Jerusalem, faced the anguish of his cruel execution and rejoiced when he is raised from the dead. Hope had vanished, and now it has been restored. The powers of death have been overcome – human suffering and pain are not the end. Jesus is victorious.
Hope is at the very heart of the Christian faith. But what do we mean by hope? We might say that it has something to do with joyful expectation, looking forward to something we know will happen – and this is true. So it is that Christians believe that they have a hope for the future. We look forward to the time when Jesus will return and God’s justice will be vindicated.
So we have a message of hope about the future, but what about now? What about living in the real world here and now? Christians are called to bring glimpses of that hope into people’s lives now – how can we do it? Staff and volunteers at Glasgow City Mission see it as their raison d’etre to bring hope into people’s lives every day – but how? How can we bring hope to the young woman who is fleeing domestic violence? How can we bring hope to the child who is neglected or abused at home? How can we bring hope to the young person caught up in addiction? How can we bring hope to the refugee who is making a claim for asylum? Day by day we meet problems like these and long to bring hope into their lives.
And so we deal first of all with the immediate need – a bed for the night at the Overnight Welcome Centre, security and fun at the Child and Family Centre, help to find a bed in rehab, and assistance in making asylum claims. These things can be and are done daily. But bringing hope into people’s lives is so much more than just meeting immediate needs. It is also about providing community, a safe place in which people can learn to see that there is a reason to keep going, to put one foot in front of the other, and once more to look to the future. A place where the love of God is tangible.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians 1:2-3, Paul looks back on his time with the church in the Greek city of Thessalonica and says,
“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The evidence of their faith, hope and love is a great encouragement and gives him hope.
This Easter time, it is our prayer at Glasgow City Mission that the people who come through our doors, however briefly, will themselves be given hope by witnessing “work produced by faith, labour promoted by love and endurance inspired by hope in Jesus Christ.” But we know that this cannot be done without the amazing generosity of the many people who support our work through prayer and financial giving. This too is a “labour prompted by love”, and we are deeply grateful to each one.