On Thursday evening this past week de la Salle Br. Peter Bray, Vice-Chancellor of Bethlehem university spoke in Christchurch. His visit was timely given last month’s terrorist attack in our city since the student population of Peter’s university in the birthplace of Jesus are 75% Muslim and 25% Christian.
The homepage of the university website of the university presents the vision for the community: “Our vision emerges from our unique and critical mission as an oasis of peace and a beacon of hope, which provides quality higher education to prepare our students to create the future of Palestine”.
Peter titled his presentation “Keeping Hope Alive”. Many would say that peace is not possible in this holy land. But in one of his many inspiring reflections of the evening Peter gave examples of other places in the world where hope kept alive enabled remarkable transformations to happen.
We never imagined that Apartheid in South Africa would be overturned.
From 1961 the Berlin Wall seemed like a permanent barrier in Berlin.
The fall of communism was not held as a realistic dream by anyone apart from the most hopeful freedom-fighters.
Yet all of these apparently impossible dreams have been realised because hopeful people kept hope alive.
Christian hope is not the power of positive thinking, but a deep knowledge that God will carry us through situations that seem hope-less. This knowledge is based on evidence in our own past experience, and when this personal evidence is limited we look to our past communal experience of the power of God bringing life in situations where death seems immanent.
The scriptures are full of of similar triumphs over adversity and impossibility. Remember the Israelites escaping Egyptian captivity and coming up against an ocean blocking their road to freedom. As the Egyptians closed in on them God parted the ocean opening their path to freedom.
Remember Jesus, hanging dead on a cross. All the evidence shouted death, but for God death is not an end but a pathway to life.
- Call to mind situations in your own life where you find it difficult to maintain hope, situations that for you feel like a dead end. Now remember that for Jesus nothing is impossible. Decide now to keep hope alive by looking at your impossible situation full of hope-filled expectation, and now watch full of curiosity to see how Jesus will bring life from death for you.