Friday snuck up on me this week. That is probably a good sign. Time is passing more quickly for me.
Last week I took an informal poll of folk’s opinions about a variety of ‘tag lines’ for Street Hope Saint John. The consensus was that there was no consensus. As I was puzzling over this in prayer I was drawn back to one reply from my friend Tim, who suggested that 1 Peter 1:3 provided a natural theme for our community. It reads “… In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The words ‘living hope’ (which I bolded for this very reason) leaped out at me. It strikes me that the idea of a Street Hope community is to be living hope out on our streets and the only way we can be living it out is because it is itself a living hope. The hope we have in Christ is so different from the hopes the commercial world sells. There is no best before date on our hope because it is a resurrection based hope. We have hope only because he lives!
The picture above captures for me the (pardon me President Obama) tenacity of hope! This little fragile flower, it’s very name ‘impatiens’ reminds me of ‘impatience’ which is the enemy of faith and killer of hope, grows in the most difficult of circumstances. It quite literally grows on the street.
When I first began to take folks from Up Town to Deer Island I had in mind that I wanted them to see God in nature. When the sun sets behind the abandoned building across the street it does not usually draw awe from the viewer! But I sense now that God wants us to bring ‘awe’ to the streets. With our living tenacious hope, this hope that does not disappoint, this hope that is producing His character in us, we live our lives before our friends on the streets.
The question arises how do we grow hope in this seemingly inhospitable environment? The answer is that quite simply we can’t, but God in his mercy can and does what is impossible for us!
Speaking of hope last week I was sharing about one of our ‘gentle giants’. It turns out that as I was writing he was in the local lock up. He had had a bit of a setback. At first he was embarrassed and ashamed and would not make eye contact with me. I asked why he was feeling so downcast. He felt he had let; God, me and himself down. I suggested that feeling embarrassed and guilty was probably a very healthy sign. The good news, this hope we have, is not for the perfect but for the imperfect! It is time to live in this ‘living hope’.