our hope for 2013…

…isn’t new. But it’s one that has stood the test of time and will continue to do so. This hope is Jesus – the Saviour of the world. Yesterday, today and forever the same – mighty to save and at work right now. Whatever the situation, wherever the country, however desperate the crisis. This is the hope to which we cling.


It’s our second day back at the Sanctuary. Morning worship was characterised, as it so often is here, by an echo of the ‘love and sorrow flowing mingled down’ that it is our privilege to share as we walk the way of, as well as ‘survey, the wondrous cross’*.

It’s a heavy day for headlines… each morning as we prepare to respond to the news we search both UK and World sections of the BBC for all the injustice related issues that are flagged up. Most mornings there are several. Today there were eleven – and they spanned almost every region, and many of the major themes that we return to again and again.

How do we continue to pray with faith and courage? How do we continue to act for change in the face of such suffering? It can be tempting to simply mourn with those who mourn and do nothing more… and perhaps sometimes that’s the truest reflection of the God whose heart we seek to reflect.

But we know that his love is stronger even than his sorrow – that his transforming power is greater than the greed, violence and apathy that lie behind each prayer need on our whiteboard. That he is – and always will be – the Saviour of the world; the way, the truth, the life – the hope.

And so our loving hope must also be stronger than our grief. Our faith that change is coming and that we can be part of the answer must be greater than our heartbreak.

A few weeks into our centre being open, one of our regular pray-ers helpfully challenged us to add an item of good news, a testimony, or an answered prayer to our board each day. (Alongside the daily foci on elements of God’s character, particular scriptures, specific areas and news headlines…)

He felt, quite rightly, that we were not focusing enough on testimony and that it could be discouraging to focus so much on the bad news and brokenness in our world.

We’ve been trying to do this but it’s challenging for a number of reasons.

The first in all honesty is that most days it feels like there are more needs for prayer than answered ones. Our world is broken.

The second is that for many of the situations we pray for, we don’t get to hear specific feedback. Our culture is more interested in bad news and often the media do not report the positive stories. We have to dig deep to find them if we don’t have personal connections into a particular situation or nation.

And the third is that sometimes the answers we see – whilst amazing – often (though not always) relate to individuals or local situations. To rejoice in these breakthroughs right alongside the huge issues we are interceding for can sometimes be uncomfortable. Even though we know that individuals loved by God are at the heart of every situation. And we will always face the tension of joy and sorrow together. Until there are no more tears.

Yesterday we gave thanks for an amazing answer to prayer in the Central African Republic, where the rebels have not yet reached the capital and so there has been time for people to prepare or flee.

But today there was nothing specific besides our general ongoing thankfulness to God for his continued presence, provision and purposes at work in and through us…

However, what exactly could have sat alongside eleven headlines testifying to such brokenness in five continents?

There is only one answer to prayer that can match and conquer today’s sorrow with its unparalleled hope. And that’s the answer we were celebrating over Christmas…

Jesus came. He saved. And he is still here. And he is still saving…

And so he was both our answered prayer and our intercession this morning… standing on the truth that he is at work in the present – as well as the past and the future – even when we don’t know it…. some of the following song words resonated powerfully in the light of this realisation this morning.

We pray they will help you, like us, focus on our hope for 2013…

‘God so loves that he sends his Son
To lay down his life for the sake of us
He bears the weight of our sin and shame
With a cry he says ‘It is finished’.
Christ the Lord overcomes the darkness
He’s alive – death is being defeated…

‘For he makes us a way by which we are being saved
He’s the Saviour of the world.
So we lift up a shout for his praise and renown –
Christ the Lord, Christ the Lord
Jesus – Saviour of the World.’**

‘And You are the one behind each miracle (seen and unseen)
Each sign and wonder, each good gift of transformation is sourced in You.
And You are the one behind each softened heart
Moved to generous acts of mercy
And the one who brings the intercessors to their knees –
Begging you Lord, crying out Lord, please – do what’s already on your heart’***

This is why today and every day we will ‘ask and keep on asking and pray and keep on praying’. 

We are confident in the knowledge that Jesus is contstantly interceding for everything we lift to him already; the assurance that our Father hears every heart-cry; and the conviction that our God is answering.

Both directly and perhaps most miraculously of all – indirectly – through millions of softened hearts choosing the justice, mercy and compassion that his Spirit is always prompting us to move towards.

This is our hope. He is our hope.

*(Words alluded to are from Isaac Watt’s ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’.)

**(Adapted into the present tense for the purpose of emphasis in today’s worship from Ben Cantelon’s ‘Saviour of the World.)

***(Adapted from Liz Baddaley’s ‘Ask and Keep on Asking’.)

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