Hope Rising in 2017
by Rev Dr. Ed Hird
ur hearts were created to be filled with rising hope. For each of us in this New Year 2017, hope is a choice. Will we be hopeful or hopeless, thankful or thankless, joyful or joyless? Billy Graham said that people in the most affluent societies are feeling this sense of despair and hopelessness. William Barclay memorably said that there are no hopeless situations, only people who have grown hopeless about them. After the fall of France to Nazi Germany, Britain stood alone. Winston Churchill said to his cabinet: “Gentlemen, I find it rather inspiring.” There is something in hope that not all the shadows can quench. Emily Dickinson wrote: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” Alexander Pope in his famous Essay on Man memorably stated “Hope springs eternal in the human breast, Man never is, but always to be blest.”
For many people, hope has become equivalent to wishful thinking. The term ‘I hope so’ often means ‘don’t count on it’. Real hope however doesn’t mean maybe, could be, or possibly. It is an assurance of what is to come.
Hope is a rising expectation of good things right around the corner.
Dr. McNair Wilson the famous cardiologist said in his autobiography Doctor’s Progress: “Hope is the medicine that I use more than any other – hope can cure nearly anything.” Dr. Harold Wolff, Professor of Medicine at Cornell University, commented: “Hope, like faith and a purpose in life, is medicinal. It is not exactly a statement of belief, but a conclusion proved by meticulous controlled scientific experiment.” You can take rising hope to the bank in terms of its practical impact on our lives.
In John Bunyan’s bestseller Pilgrim’s Progress, it was Hopeful who comforted Christian in Doubting Castle. We are called to be a people of Hope. As one song puts it, hope is a candle, a light in the window, showing the heart how to come home. With God, all things are possible.
Billy Graham, who recently turned 98, said: “I’ve become an old man now, and I’ve preached all around the world. The older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago.” Faith, he commented, points us beyond our problems to the hope we have in Christ.
Dr. George Johnson of Harvest City Church said recently that 2017 will be the greatest year that we’ve ever experienced. There are so many good things to look forward to, including Vancouver Missionsfest and the July 1st Canada Day Voices Together Celebration.
In just two months, there will be a Festival of Hope at Rogers Arena. The Billy Graham team, including his son Franklin Graham, will be there, sharing a message of rising hope and encouragement over the three nights.
I was privileged two years ago to be present at the well-attended Greater Toronto Festival of Hope. The music was impressive with top bands and local musicians involved. The spiritual hunger especially among the young people was significant. I have served over the past two years as a representative on the Greater Vancouver Festival of Hope Executive. You are invited to come on March 3 to 5 and experience a rising of hope in 2017.
Rev. Dr. Ed Hird is the Rector at St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, a member church of the Anglican Mission in Canada.