Sunday, 15 December 2013

Scum of the Earth - 1 Corinthians 4:8 - 13

Last week the image was of the king in the victory parade giving out gifts to all. Here in 1 Corinthians Paul employs the same image but this time the focus is not on the front of the procession but on the end. The end would be where the prisoners of war were strung along, paraded and pilloried, sure to meet an ugly death in the arena. In both chapters the Christians are in view, but clearly the 'feel' of the image is quite different!

To the world Christians (especially leaders) are a laughing stock. Why do they forego safe incomes in cause of service to God? When the world offers them so much why do they accept less? They are ill treated, yet put up with it. Surrendering job or even housing security, they devote time to projects and seem to work themselves to the bone. They are nuts!

Paul pulls no punches, his Greek words are clear enough - as he sees it Christians are the scum, the garbage, the scapegoat, the dirty stuff left over that no one wants to see. This is your reality if you live in North Korea today, or other oppressive places. You'll get the most menial jobs, but Christian pastors will embrace this as part of their service.

Yet there is truth in this passage for UK Christian leaders too. Note the dialogue of this passage is with other Christians, and Paul contrasts himself with them. The harsh reality is that ill-feeling and attack can come from within just as it can from the world. My own experience over the years confirms this.

So an additional requirement for a leader such as an elder must be for someone so ridiculously sold out for Christ that they somehow embrace the prospect of being at the end of the procession, downwardly mobile to scum-hood! Responding to curse with blessing, facing the prospect of persecution, they must maintain kindness when people are muttering about their leadership.

All this raises our key question:

[OUT] Are you dying to success?

This is how Paul saw it! Yet he also saw it as God's way - the same way as Christ who gave up everything to be born in a makeshift manger, living purposefully to be led to a cruel death, a scapegoat on the cross. Somehow in actively facing rejection, slander and humiliation God's power is miraculously seen.

The Christian call therefore is to empty ourselves, to die to normal success criteria, to live with being the scum. Christian leaders must lead by example ... at the back of the procession.

[OUT] Are you dying to success?

Sunday, 8 December 2013

5-Fold Ministry - Ephesians 4:1 - 13

Everyone on the streets, happy, waving flags. At last the war is won and victory can be celebrated with a gigantic parade. The King comes into the square and their is a deafening roar. The King then motions for silence and proclaims that everyone will receive a gift.

This is the picture that Paul uses in v4-8, a classic battle scene reminiscent of ancient conflicts where it was typical for the king to mark a significant victory with a gesture of kindness to all his people. The victory here is that of the Risen Christ, now ascended over all. The gift is the Holy Spirit sent to empower their lives.

Everyone gets a gift to equip them to live a life worthy of their calling:
  • Apostles are sent, to declare the resurrection. Now Jesus is Lord new places, cultures and people can come under his Lordship. Kind of like being sent to play on a new playing field (using a football analogy here ...).
  • Prophets bring to fore God's insight. In this way they mark the boundaries of that new playing field.
  • Evangelists are literally tellers of the good news. They are recruiters, inviting people to join the team.
  • Shepherds are those who care and look after. Continuing with the football thing, a bit like the team physio.
  • Teachers are those who can understand and explain, unpacking knowledge. Kind of like the team tactician.
The church needs all 5, which is why Jesus gives all 5 through the Spirit. Note this empowering is not just for the expert few. Also note that these are not simply job descriptions, but come to us in the form of people - it is therefore important to see people as gift.

And also there is no gender in this passage: everyone is empowered.

But the empowering may be seen in different ways or degrees. All are gifted to minister to one another and the world, some are gifted in ways that lead the whole community, potentially taking on positions of responsibility in the church.

Responsible positions need leaders of character. That is why sections regarding elders such as in Titus specify aspects of character. Yet the requirement is effectively on two axes: we need the gifting (seeing something of the 5 aspects above) and the character to bear that gifting in service.

Such service is to the whole body, to enable the whole body to do its work - we all have a job to do! That is why we ask:

[IN] How has God equipped you?

To return to the football analogy, the match is not won by spectators in the terraces but by the players on the pitch. As a Christ-follower you are qualified to play, and he gifts his Spirit to you to equip you to play your part.

[IN] How has God equipped you?

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Image of Salvation - Isaiah 35

Life can seem grey and routine. Of course there is ordinariness, but does it have to be endless monochrome? In Isaiah 35 we have a wonderful vision - the desert landscape suddenly bursts forth with life and colour, showing God's splendour.

Normal life is actually incredibly fragile. It takes just one event and things can be in a downward spiral, with seemingly no way out. Into this God drops a lifeline. It might be practical help, e.g. from a Foodbank or debt counselling, but it brings hope that surpasses the physical needs. It shows the prospect of life with God, arresting the disintegration happening around you.

For when God intervenes things change! From not able to see to having full sight, from deafness to hearing, the lame can leap, even the quietest can shout and rejoice with un-stoppable joy.

What was dry, barren, unable to sustain life now becomes a pool of living water, bubbling up God's goodness. Springing up, kind of out of nowhere, this water not only brings life for the individual but has a life-giving affect on those around too.

This is life on a new road, that Isaiah describes as a highway leading to God's eternal goodness. Not anyone can travel on this road, it is a special road for certain people who are pronounced 'clean'. In that way it is like a toll road, where only those who pay the toll can travel. Yet different, in that it is God who pays the toll through Jesus Christ. We might try to clean up our act, but try as we might we won't succeed. The fact is God invites us in, and makes us clean by what Jesus has done - that qualifies us to walk the road.

On this road we enjoy God's protection. The beasts and the lion cannot reach us. Yet so many of us, even those who have been Christians for a long time, seem to get distracted off the road. Hence the key question:

[UP] How easily are you distracted off God's road?

Whether it is to self-pity, looking down, or temptations to simply moan and complain, the simple fact is this is not the highway Isaiah describes. It is a different road that can lead to bitterness, a road on which the beasts and ravenous lion easily devour.

Choose afresh to walk on God's highway, walking in anticipation of God's all encompassing goodness, to where you can enter with singing and gladness. Isaiah has given a wonderful vision of salvation. Jesus makes that salvation possible: enter in and travel on that special road.

[UP] How easily are you distracted off God's road?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Forgotten Heroes - Rom 16:1 - 16 Part Three

In weighing the different scriptures, people may come to different conclusions. Having enquired with honesty and integrity, we may to have live with those differences.

There may be those who cannot decide. In that case they should turn to God, and ask God to reveal Himself. Now of course God is chiefly revealed in Jesus, and we get a very good idea of Jesus (and hence God) through the gospels. Of many incidents we could turn to, lets pick the resurrection story.

Women came to the tomb and found themselves meeting the risen Christ. Jesus tells them to go and bear witness to the resurrection. No remember that without the resurrection there is no Christianity!

So Jesus commissions these women to go and be 'apostles' - in a simplistic Christian definition an apostle is someone sent to witness to the resurrection. Yet that is a stupid thing to do! In those times a woman's testimony counted for nothing. In a court of law they could not give evidence.

THERE IS THE GOSPEL! Right there, Jesus says to the women 'YOU QUALIFY'!

That is surely a big decider: the gospel is not bound by culture but transforms it. Once again Jesus turns things on their head. Women can now join men as equals in proclaiming the things of God.

This is therefore a Gospel Issue. And its a justice issue too (potentially affecting 50% of the human race!). That is why it is important. I think Paul understood this, which is why he wrote up women as well as men as heroes in places like Romans 16, e.g. citing Junia as an apostle in the full Christian sense of the word.

To allow structures or thinking in place that might prevent women being co-workers with men would make those like Junia, Pheobe, Priscilla and others impossible. It is also a tragedy for the church, since it means consigning yet another generation to the ever increasing category of forgotten heroes.

Forgotten Heroes - Rom 16:1 - 6 Part Two

Some will find the highlighting of various women a bit confusing. After all, are there not clear passages limiting what women might do?

There are actually just two passages suggesting direct limitation: 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2. Interestingly the first, which is typically translated plainly as 'women should remain silent ...', is in a flow where Paul has women prophesying and praying out loud in public worship. So is Paul not contradicting himself?

In the second Paul actually says (to Timothy) 'I do not' - instead of the 'no church must ever' that seems to be assumed. A universal ban would presumably seem odd to Timothy, since he would know first hand of Priscilla's ministry. In addition we know that Timothy's own faith is a result of Euodia and Lois (his grandmother and mother - see 2 Tim 1). In other words his own foundational teaching was received from women, a fact that Paul knew and celebrated.

Shouldn't we simply take 1 Timothy 2 literally? Well, since we started this session in Roman 16, lets take verse 16 literally too and ensure we all kiss each other every time we meet in church! The fact is, all of us apply a degree of interpretation to every verse we read. And that is correct: Scripture is not a download to program a robot. It is God-breathed to lead us to relationship with Christ, and relationships need working at.

The invitation is for us to engage the whole of scripture: reading passages in the light of each other. Some might say we are ignoring the Corinthian and Timothy passages: not so, we wrestle with them. In fact have not those same people made the mistake themselves of ignoring Romans 16, Acts 18, 1 Corinthians 1 and 16, Philippians 4, Colossians 4 and so on?

Forgotten Heroes - Rom 16:1 - 16 Part One

In recent years our remembrance of those who have fought in wars has been expanded to include a variety of groups previously overlooked: bomber command, the land army, home guard have all received recognition after largely being 'forgotten' for many years.

The church is not immune to forgetting whole groups of people either. Romans 16 gives us a significant list, but we only have to read a few verses and we should start thinking seriously about the text.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Justice & Generosity Leader: 1 Samuel 30:21 - 26

Disputes most likely kick off when people are tired, run down, have been busy. David and his men are no exception.

[OUT] How freely are you able to give away?

Sunday, 20 October 2013

David: Humility in Strength - extra questions

As well as the key question this week:

[IN] Am I making myself vulnerable to others?

we also asked what situations do we face. Are we in a red, yellow or green situation (very difficult, dodgy, or doing find):

  • What ways/situations may you need to show gospel leadership?
  • Do you need to respect people who are in positions, even if it seems they don't deserve it?
  • Is your confidence in God … let Him work it through in His timing

David: Humility in Strength - 1 Sam 24 and 26

Both Saul and David were anointed to lead, but Saul goes off on one and wants to remove David as a threat. He hunts for his life. On two occasions David has the chance to kill Saul but deliberately does not do so - instead choosing to call on Saul for a change of heart.

[IN] Am I making myself vulnerable to others?

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Found out in the end - Matthew 24:36 to 25:46 (second part)

God has made us human beings, not human doings! Yet who we are is seen through what we do. The same is true of God - we know of Him through what He does. Our faith is solid and certain by what Jesus has done: 'Jesus has died for me' - died is a verb, a 'doing' word!

Found out in the end - Matthew 24:36 to 25:46 (first part)

Rather than pull an individual story apart look at the bigger sweep. Jesus gives a long speech from Matthew 24 through to the end of 25. He talks about 'the end' when time as we know it is wrapped up.

Things pick up in v36 where he bids his followers to learn to live on the edge, expecting Jesus to return at any moment. All that follows then seems to make the same point: what will Jesus find you doing in the end?

[UP] Is our faith static (like a museum piece), or dynamic (seen in action)?

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Poles Apart Luke 16:19 - 31 Part II

The continuation of the story begs for a warning to be sent. Of course Jesus is actually warning his hearers by telling this story. The deal is already spelled out in the Law and Prophets - which we spent the whole earlier part of the year getting to grips with. So if we haven't twigged it yet, will we ever?

But note the interesting twist: the request to send someone back from the dead - to allow God's bigger picture to somehow break into the present.

That's exactly what happens in the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

God's right way up becomes visible through Jesus, with the ultimate and powerful good news story. God's purpose for us is to live in that same resurrection power.

Now we are finite and limited, so we will struggle. Yet having glimpsed the good news we will be restless with the gospel, longing to see the power manifested and situations put right. That is what we work for, even amongst setbacks and frustrations.

Yet sadly even with the resurrection, some peope just can't seem to see it. I wonder if a symptom of not breathing is blindness: not able to see the plight of the poor, not able to see that a change of heart is called for.

Hence the key question this week:

[OUT] Restless with the gospel … or blind?

Poles Apart Luke 16:19 - 31 Part I

The Good News of Jesus has a way of turning things on their head. Just in the introduction to this story this is wonderfully demonstrated: normally we all know who the rich and famous are, whilst the poor remain as a faceless statistic. Yet for Jesus it is the rich man who is anonymous, and the poor man is named - Lazarus.

The Good News turns things upside-down, or should that be the right way up.

The fact is there are two serious indictments against  the rich man:
  1. He obviously saw the plight of the poor, yet did nothing
  2. Even after death he still assumed Lazarus was there to be his servant - his heart was still just as hard as ever.
The first is also an indictment on us in the West: we know our unfair trade and other practices hold others in poverty, we know our relentless carbon consumption converts to climate change which hurts the poorest the most, and we know there is more slavery than ever - with many snared into a hideous sex trade.

Yet generally the society and political will is not there to change it.

As Christians we must wrestle with this, striving to live differently to turn things the right way up, e.g. through Fair Trade, living more eco-responsibly, and campaigning wherever we can against people trafficking.

Six months ago this series got going with the following key question:

[IN] How might your sensitivity/awareness of the poor be related to God speaking into your own life?

It is kind of echoed in our more recent question 'Are you able to breathe God's goodness in and out?'

It's worth thinking to yourself how much has your attitude changed this year, or is it that you can't or won't let God speak into your life on these issues?

[OUT] Restless with the gospel … or blind?

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Foolish Riches - Luke 12:13-21

We can all hold our breath, but of course we can't hold onto it for very long or we will die. To breathe properly we have to let the air out before we can take the next breath. People who live by faith for finances/possessions discover this principle: God often seems to let them get to rock bottom before the next phase of finance appears.

Jesus uses an interruption to lift the imagination of the crowd to Kingdom life. But note the problem with the rich farmer in the story is not that he was rich, or that he had a bumper harvest. In fact it wasn't even really that he upgraded his barns to properly store the bounty.

The problem was that the farmer wasn't breathing!

Verse 20 is interesting: 'your life will be demanded from you'. We know our lives are a gift from God, but are they also in some sense 'on loan' from God? Given for a purpose, they can receive God's goodness but also are to give it on to others. One day Jesus will call each of us to account for how we have used our lives.

To swim under water we have to hold our breath of course. Yet many of us seem to spend our whole lives 'holding our breath' when it comes to wealth and possessions, as if we were in some kind of toxic atmosphere, desperately trying to hold onto what we have got. We need to learn to breath! Surely as Christians we exist in the atmosphere of God's grace, able to receive God's abundant blessing, and so also able to pass it on freely to others.

Hence the key question this week:

[IN] Are you able to put God's abundance in you at His disposal?

Or to put it another way: Are you able to breathe God's goodness in and out?

This doesn't mean we can't be prudent with money or wealth, or we can't have savings or pension provision. But it does mean not allowing these to control our lives, instead having faith in God as our baseline principle and sitting light with all the rest.

Jesus didn't say it would be easy, but your life is a gift from God with a purpose. In His purposes you can discover the abundant riches of His Kingdom, and share them with those around you ... IF you learn to breathe!

[IN] Are you able to put God's abundance in you at His disposal?

Or to put it another way:

Are you able to breathe God's goodness in & out?

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Prophecy for Real - Luke 4:18 - 30

Quoting from Isaiah 61 Jesus opens his 'campaign speech' with the declaration that 'Today this scripture is fulfilled!'. In an instant he brings together hundreds of years of prophecy and waiting, converging it all on himself. The Isaiah verses sets his purpose squarely in God's bias to the poor. His life and his being was about being good news to the poor.

Yet the listeners didn't receive it as good news. In fact as Jesus spoke more they wanted to throw him off a cliff. The problem was that although they were awaiting the messiah, the messiah they expected was a warrior to kick out the Romans and bring blessing exclusively to God's people. Yet Jesus omitted the 'day of vengeance' bit from Is 61:2, and implied blessing can go out to the gentiles - offensive words to those who figured they were in the holy club.

Today some think that Jesus is just about saving people for eternity, seeing the Isaiah quote as metaphorical or to be read in spiritual terms. Yet Jesus didn't do that - faced with sick people he physically healed them! His intervention was practical in the here and now, not simply spiritual.

Do we have a pre-conceived idea of what Jesus should be like? Hence our key question:

[UP] Which messiah is your messiah?

Probably not a warrior king, but for some the 'spiritual only' version above, and others the 'bless those in church' version. Yet for us our biggest threat is the bombardment of consumer thinking, leading us to adopt Jesus as a consumer commodity messiah: one that gives us religious 'feel good' factor, or a warm fuzzy feeling ... yet should something better in the future crop up we will happily ditch and switch.

With a consumer mentality we don't expect Jesus to make any demands of us, or require us to change in any way. Faced with the real messiah might actually annoy us ... to the point of wanting to throw him off a cliff.

Yet as in the passage Jesus will walk straight through and continues on his purpose: Jesus is the messiah regardless of what we think.

[UP] Which messiah is your messiah?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

God's Bias to the Poor - Psalm 113

Psalm 113 is representative of a number of psalms plus some verses in Proverbs that describe God as the one who rescues and protects, who helps and lifts up. The poor and under-privileged get a special mention as the very people God associates with, a kind of direct link between them.

So acute is the link that if you lend to the poor you are in fact helping God. Conversely oppressing them is an affront to God Himself.

This should be no surprise to us - God has a bias to the poor. Having looked through the Old Testament, in the Law, touching on the history section, drawn insight from the prophets, we now find ourselves in the poetry corner finding the same message.

Think of the Bible as a library, with different sections for different types of book. Whatever shelf or bookcase you turn to God has a bias to the poor. It's like He wants to tilt the scales, set the balance deliberately in their favour.

Such a bias is one of the big themes in Scripture that we need to learn to get hold of. Just as last year we used E100 to see the overall trajectory, so this year we find a big wide river running through with this poverty and justice theme.

So two questions:

  1. Having seen such a bias to the poor, what can we conclude about where we might expect to see God working the most? What parts of Ely are we likely to find God already working amongst?
  2. If God has such a bias to the poor, then what if He physically appeared, became a living human on earth. What would we expect to see in such a God-become-person, in the life they lived and in what they taught?

From September we will start to answer the second question as we follow the river into the New Testament.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Sabbath as Kingdom Release

In the story of the crippled woman (Luke 13:10 - 17) Jesus calls forward the woman in the synagogue and simply says 'Woman, you are set free'. This was a day of liberation: the woman, freed from her infirmity of multi-years, was restored from all that bound her.

Yes it was a day of glorious release - it was the Sabbath day.

Fitting because the Sabbath and liberation go hand in hand. Remember the Old Testament principles, e.g. Dt 15 where every seventh year debts are cancelled and slaves can go free. Our theme this year of poverty and justice is directly connected with the concept of Sabbath.

But for some its all rules and regulation, which in the Luke story leads people to 'tut tut'. Similarly in Luke 6, they argue with Jesus as he seems to sit loose with the Old Testament regulations - the very same regulations we looked at last week!

The point is that Sabbath points us to God and His work - like the work of healing they had just seen before their eyes. The Pharisees simply couldn't see it, no matter how miraculous it was. The sad fact is that if your life is driven purely by rules and regulations then you too will miss out on the wonders of God.

Furthermore it is when we are trying to max out on life, squeezing every last ounce of productivity, that injustices creep in: no space for God, no space for God's justice agenda.

Instead we are to be a liberation people, living the Sabbath, having rest and delight in God both for our own well-being but all pointing to God who brings possibility of release and rest for others. We are to be working like Jesus, declaring His Kingdom and releasing people into it.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sabbath as Sign - Exodus 31:12 - 17

The Exodus passage is pretty direct: 3 times it effectively repeats that breaking the Sabbath means death! Whilst we may not believe in actively executing people these days, we all know that if we over do it, or try to go on maxing out on life ... eventually will kill us. This is poignant in our culture, which actively bombards us all the time, making it all the harder to carve out Sabbath time.

We could just run away from it all, yet as Christians we need to make ourselves available. For the youth this may even mean having your mobile always to hand, ready to respond to a friend in need. After all, being available in the small things communicates that you will be there when the crunch comes.

So how do we make ourselves available, without burning out?

Perhaps the answer lies in the rhythms of life we make for ourselves. If we create the habit of having deliberate 'down time', it will have two effects. First it will build in space and capacity to be available for friends when they really need it. Second it will help regularly assert that God is Number 1 and can be trusted.

God told the Israelites to keep the Sabbath: with it acting as a 'sign', reminding them that God is in control. Maybe we should structure our week around our Sabbath times, making it the centre of our week reflecting how God is centre of our lives. This will communicate a different rhythm, an alternative drumbeat to the world - perhaps even acting as a sign to our unbelieving friends that things can be different.

Living this difference allows us to be open: potentially open to have our hearts broken by the same things that break God's heart. Hence the key question this week is:

[OUT] How do you make yourself available for others – without hurting yourself? Are you prepared to have your heart broken for others … or are you too busy?

[OUT] How do you make yourself available for others – without hurting yourself? Are you prepared to have your heart broken for others … or are you too busy?

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Every Member Contribution 1 Cor 14:26

Every wonder why TV news presenters are always smartly dressed, and these days have a laptop on their desk? Especially as they never use the laptop!

I believe it has to do with a key principle noted by social commentator McLuhan in the 60s, who coined the phrase "the medium is the message". You trust the news because of the way it is presented - the laptop in our culture subconsciously confirms the credibility.

What do we communicate in our churches? Jesus is Lord, we hope! Yet looking at the medium typically used, with its emphasis on the gifted preacher broadcasting a monologue, might we be communicating that only a few, special, properly qualified experts have what it takes to do God's work. With such a weekly diet might you end up believing God can't speak through others, e.g. someone who is not so eloquent, someone not trained, or a woman, or a young person ...

God was 2000 years ahead of McLuhan: 'He so loved the world that He gave His only Son ...'

Jesus came in person: the medium is the message!

What is the medium later in the New Testament? 1 Cor 14:26 (with echoes in Eph 5:18-19 and Col 3:16) suggests that as well as obvious preachers like Paul or Peter, it is spirit-filled community. 'When you meet each has different things to offer ...'. The medium is 'each other', conveying the message of 'Christ at work in you'.

That's much more healthy!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Why We Meet - Hebrews 10:11 - 25

Embraces, intimate moments, undefined by normal wall clock time. Rare for us in our time pressed lives; on average we give our kids just 36 minutes quality time per day. So when it comes to embracing God, do we fall into God's loving arms for however long it takes, or go for just a quick peck on the cheek?

[UP] Do you have the confidence to draw near to God, to 'enter in'?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Vision for Worship

Our vision for worship at the Countess is

All of us for all of Him

Learning to live lives as worship. Stopping to see God at work in the regular, even in the small things. There may be both joys and trials, but in either if we look we can see how God makes the ordinary extraordinary.

Paying attention to rhythms, we learn to God-orientate our lives. Inevitably that involves becoming sensitive to God's heart, thus to justice and poverty issues in whatever context we are in. We get involved, we serve, not because we ought - but because we worship. Full stop.

We are invited to come close to God, to gaze on Him. We desire to be intimate with the ultimate.

So our corporate gatherings (currently our Sunday mornings) become an overflow of these lives of worship. Leading these then becomes about facilitating expression of this - in whatever ways make sense. Three key phrases are helpful here:
  • Providing 'stop points' - enabling us to pause, to reflect, to take in, providing moments of decision and surrender
  • Encouraging us to 'Enter in' - bringing the trials and joys of the week into the arena before God
  • Helping us to 'Gaze on God' - using music, words, art, post-its ... whatever we find helpful.
Hopefully the poster on this page in some way charts out this thinking.

It doesn't need us all to be extroverts, but it does bid us to come open and desiring, allowing things from the week to bubble up as we gather together.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Meaningless Offerings

Which is more likely to be the life of true worship? The guy who wanders the slum praying for insight, and is led to open a school and feeding station for children in a dis-used local pub, or the person who attends the prim & proper organised worship week by week?

[OUT] How is your worship worked out through your life week by week?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Hope II

The OT Law can helpfully be understood as a hard boundary over which God's people should not cross. Kind of like the walls of a play-pen - outside is simply unsafe, so best stay inside.

Monday, 13 May 2013


The OT prophets contain all kinds of passages dropped in, sometimes in the middle, sometimes towards the end, that speak of HOPE. Hope that one day God will act, will change things, will correct wrongs, will restore.