The hope of real love.

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Picture by Ellie Leach


The Word become flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

As Share The Hope draws to a close for this year, we thought we’d finish with a look back at the reflections from the last few weeks. Some of the stories we’ve read and videos we’ve watched have been heartbreakingly honest, and it has been so inspiring to be allowed a glimpse into people’s lives.

Here’s a few things we want to encourage you to take away from this year’s Share the Hope…

Sharing

As we have seen in the posts, there are many people going through or who have gone through some really tough times, whether that be bereavement, health problems or personal crisis. The world we live in can be a scary, lonely and hurtful place when we face life alone. The idea of the ‘Daily Share’  is to encourage you to play a part in making the world a better place for people, one small action at a time. So we would encourage you to continue doing this throughout the year. You can make up your own daily shares or have a look at sites like random acts of kindness and 40 Acts for ideas!

Hope

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Hope can mean something different to everyone. It can be found in an encouraging word from a friend, a thumbs up from the boss, or even a post on an online advent calendar! We have highlighted in Share the Hope, a few lines from an Emily Dickinson poem as seen in the picture above.

But, how can you keep that hope that never stops? Well, each person that wrote one of this year’s reflections, knows a hope beyond compare, that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus

I’m sure the writers from Share The Hope would agree that they only got through their difficult situations and through normal life because of an experience of, or relationship with, Jesus. Today’s passage from John 1:14 tells us that Jesus, the Son of God, came down from his Father in heaven to be with and like us, he gave up being on his glorious and wonderful throne to be born into a stable and eventually to die, for each of us. Which is a staggering and almost incomprehensible thought. It would be difficult enough to go through that torture and execution for someone who loved you, but to go through it for people like us who constantly reject and mock him? Now that is real love.

And yet, we get the chance to respond to him. In Romans 10:19 in the bible, it says “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised from the dead, you will be saved.” It’s as easy as that! Jesus has his hand eternally stretched out to you; all you have to do is grab it!

So, we’ll leave you with this video, we highlighted it last year, but it’s just so good that we’re using it again. Give it a watch and if you have questions, or want to know more about Jesus, faith or just about hope, do drop us a message…

 

Lastly we wish you a very happy, peaceful and hope-filled Christmas

With love and blessings from The Share the Hope Team

 

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Symbols of Hope

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Martin Leach in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Temperatures are checked several times daily.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. 

Matthew 2:11-12

 

ebola1Each time I see an ambulance going down the road with a police escort, the driver dressed in face mask and all the protective kit, I take a deep breath and wait for it to pass by. It scares me. And today we learned that the eighth Sierra Leonean doctor has died from Ebola, and that the infection is spreading fastest here in Freetown – literally just outside my door.

This news really gives me the chills. We thought we were doing well: treatment centres being built, medical teams arriving, and people getting the ‘ABC’ message – avoid bodily contact. My bit of the jigsaw is to deploy and manage United Nations Coordination Teams across the country; to solve problems and help link all the activities together. I am doing this mostly from a desk and phone in the National Ebola Centre, so it is a low risk job, but I do also get outside the compound’s guarded walls to visit the field teams. But now with this news I am thinking again about the risks of being here: ebola2Might I get it? Am I always taking all the right precautions? What’s the family thinking back home?

And that’s where the Three Kings come in: like the shepherds, they came and brought to Jesus the very best they could offer. Gold, frankincense and myrrh – rich, costly, and precious symbols of the hope that Jesus brings. I think that the people who are bringing genuinely sacrificial offerings here in Sierra Leone are the thousands of brave people putting their lives at risk working on the front line. Yes, there are some doctors and nurses from abroad, but there are many, many ordinary local people taking part to give their country and people a hope of defeating this horrible disease – the chlorine sprayers, the motorbike riders who carry blood samples for testing, the grave diggers, the people tracing all the infection contacts. They do this at tremendous risk to themselves, since over a hundred health workers have died so far, and with minimal reward.

ebola3I meet many people who bring other sources of hope too – there is a woman pastor who turns up at my office every morning at 8 0’clock with her Bible to pray for those of us involved in the work. Others are looking after the children of Ebola victims – it’s often a double tragedy, losing their parents and being shunned by your community because of the stigma of the disease.

I came to Freetown because I wanted to help in the crisis and had the skills and opportunity to do so. Local people volunteer because they want to give hope to their people and to their country. They are the people bringing the really costly gifts at Christmas time.

 

martin leachMartin Leach

Martin is an aid worker with the Department for International Development, and has been based in Freetown, Sierra Leone, helping with the fight against Ebola. This piece was written at the beginning of December 2014.

 

 

Daily Share

We aren’t all called to go abroad, or into such challenging situations as Martin, but it is good to remember that we can always do something to help those around us. Martin mentions the locals in areas of Sierra Leone, who have been volunteering to help in their own communities, so today we want to challenge you to think about whether you could spare a few hours to volunteer somewhere? Is there a local school, organisation or charity that needs help? If you can’t help regularly perhaps you could do something as one off?

What can you do to give hope to people in your community?

 

 

A Star of Hope

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After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

Matthew 2:9-10

 

One of the brightest stars I’ve ever seen was shining directly above the bedroom of a ten-year-old girl who lived in an ordinary cul-de-sac on the south coast of England.

Five days earlier she’d been walking to school with a friend and never arrived. I was one of the reporters dispatched to the seaside town to cover the story for a national newspaper. As the hours passed it looked increasingly likely the girls had been abducted.

I spent my days hanging around the police station, covering press conferences and waiting for updates. The best case scenario was that they’d run away. The worst case I didn’t want to consider. Sadly, I was well-versed in covering stories of missing children who didn’t return safely. As a rookie reporter I’d spent several days in Reading Crown Court listening to harrowing evidence given by a notorious paedophile about the final hours of a little boy. I knew that the world was not ‘safe’ and that people were literally capable of anything.

By this stage in my career, though, I liked to think that I was a seasoned hack. I was tough, I could cope. But I was also very tired; despondent and dispirited. So maybe it wasn’t such a surprise to find myself sitting in my hotel room one evening, sobbing after covering a press conference with the family.

I certainly wasn’t a Christian at the time and hadn’t ‘been to church’ for years although I did believe in God. But the country was praying for the return of these little girls and I found myself joining them. I prayed a lot over the next few days.

Then rumours started to circulate that they’d been found and I’ll never forget the elation amongst the media pack when we were told the girls were safe. That night we gathered outside that little girl’s house, hoping for a quote from a family member or a glimpse of the child herself. And suddenly there she was in her pyjamas waving at us from her bedroom window. I knew that stories don’t always have happy endings and wondered too what had happened to her in the short time she was being held against her will. But I looked up into the clear sky above that family home and, like the travellers who were seeking Christ, I saw the brightest star and was filled with joy, and hope.

And looking back now 15 years later I can see that this sparked something in my soul that started me on my own personal journey towards a God of love and a new beginning.

 

sarahLothianSarah Lothian

Sarah is a freelance journalist with more than 20 years of experience in print media and television.

 

 

 

 Daily Share

Are you tired today? Maybe a little bit despondent? Sarah talks of feeling like this and yet being filled with joy and hope on seeing a star in the sky. Who are the people in your life that bring you joy and hope? Today, let them know how much they mean to you. Drop them a text or give them a call and in turn you will bring some joy and hope into their lives too.

 

Come set aside the thoughts of the day…

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When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2: 17-20

 

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Today’s reflection is a song from Stuart Barbour, entitled ‘Forever and Always’. You can listen to the song by clicking on the picture above. Stu is a singer songwriter and also the Worship Pastor at The Point Church.

Daily Share

The passage today and Stu’s song both talk of glorifying and praising God. Christians believe that part of this is being thankful for the blessings that God has given to us. So today we want to challenge you, whatever you believe, to make a list of 5 things that you are thankful for, whatever they are, big or small; your house or the lovely cake you just ate!

The first line of the song is ‘Come set aside the thoughts of the day…‘ So take some time to do this, put aside all that is going on in your day and spend a few minutes thinking before you make your list. When you are done, then share your list with someone, or if you are brave enough, onto our Facebook page!

Who can YOU be?

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And there were Shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the Angel said to them “do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people”.

Luke 2:8-10

 

When we are living our lives and everything seems to be ticking over, our work and family lives are just carrying on their day to day routine, we can often forget about God’s presence and then when he tries to get our attention it can be very scary. The Shepherds were just going about their daily routine when the Angel appeared to give them a message. God could give us a message through a friend who is suggesting we try something new, maybe a new job opportunity has arisen or we have a realisation that a relationship is no longer good for us. God has given us free will to make our own choices in life but he will always try to show us the best way forward because he loves us so much that he wants us to have Joy in our lives. The Angels were talking about the Good news of the birth of Christ. Through his life on earth Jesus Christ freed humanity from the things of this world that can bring us down because he showed that every person is loved by God and God wants them to be the best they can be and have joy in their lives.

My life changed dramatically when I lost my sight as a child, the future of being a nurse and caring for others which I had planned was now not going to be possible. But every day of my life, I know that Christ is walking next to me (as well as my guide dog) and because of that I don’t fear going out and being a part of this world. When I was 17 God sent me a message and that was that whatever my physical disability he wanted to use me to bring spiritual healing, joy and hope to those around me and he called me to be a priest. It took some 15 years for me to be able to grow in confidence but now at the age of 34 I am part way through my training. God has totally changed my life as he has taken my disability and used it to help me grow as a person and connect with those around me who are also going through difficult times.

I pray that you will today have courage and not be afraid of hearing Gods message for you. Don’t listen to the words of society that may not be able to see past your circumstances but listen to God through those around you who are there to encourage you and may you feel God’s love today and the rest of your life.

 

melissaMelissa Carter

Melissa is 34 years old, and has been registered blind since the age of 16. She works as a legal secretary,  is currently training to be a priest and has represented Great Britain at the Disabled World Archery Championships.

She has felt God’s presence in her life since the age of eight and he has supported her through the difficulty of becoming partially sighted. She says: ‘It is very scary trying to see yourself through God’s eyes, I used to be very shy and did not have much confidence which is why it took me 15 years between hearing God’s call for me to be a priest to me starting my training because I had to slowly catch up to see myself in the way that God does. He is happy to give us the time to grow but will always be there to support and encourage us along the way.’

 

Daily Share

Today please think about what your future could be and what you are afraid of, which may be stopping you from fulfilling your potential. Do you need to get training, more confidence, move area or change your friendships? Think about it, pray about it and find a friend to talk to about your hopes for your future as through support of others God will help you to grow into who he knows you can be.

The peace that passes all understanding.

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Today’s post is a video which you can see by clicking on the image above.

 

BobGBob Goody
Bob is a self employed Youth & Children’s Consultant based in the East Midlands. He spends his time travelling up and down the country helping Churches and Christian groups evaluate their work and training them to do this pivotal job better. He also does some speaking, event leadership and also a little writing on the side. Find out more at his website

Daily Share

I think the best think I could get you to do amongst all of the chaos in the build up to Christmas is to take some time out! Take ten minutes today, free from technology and all other distractions. Sit in the quiet and ask God to meet with you…

Knowing Real Hope

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For to us a child is born,
 to us a son is given,
 and the government will be on his shoulders.
 And he will be called
 Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
 Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

There are two definitions of hope that I find interesting. The first is the human, earthly form of hope which can be defined as “desiring very much, but without any real assurance of gaining what is desired”. For instance, I often sit in the office and really hope that when I get home my Mum will have made a huge chocolate cake for me to eat that I don’t have to share with my brother and sisters. This might happen because my Mum is amazing, however, I don’t have any certainty that this hope will be fulfilled.

The other definition of hope that interests me more, which I believe is a stronger form of hope can be defined like this: “a confident expectation and desire for the good that is coming in the future”. The first definition of hope describes something that is uncertain but this is NOT what this second definition is expressing. It not only desires for something good in the future, it also expects it!

I have sometimes imagined hope as a reservoir. When someone or something knocks me down, I feel abandoned or alone, or life just generally sucks I can dip into my ‘hope reservoir’ and gain the emotional resources to pick myself back up again. But really hope is more than just a resource to repair the damages. It is so much greater than that!

Throughout the Bible, God makes a promise to his people when they are in their darkest hour, that he will send something to pull them out of that darkness. On the 26th of December (Boxing Day!) the film Exodus: Gods and Kings comes out. It tells the story of God sending Moses to stand up to Pharaoh who has the Israelites (who were God’s people) in slavery. Obviously, I haven’t seen the film yet so I don’t know how the story is portrayed but it is based on a story in the Bible, which includes a distinct message of HOPE for the future. God tells the Israelites to paint the blood of a lamb on their doors to protect them from a plague. This lamb represents the promise that Jesus will come and be a final sacrifice so that God’s people will never die.

When I read Isaiah 9:6 which was written about 700 years before Jesus was born, I am reminded that God had an amazing plan all along and his promises are trustworthy. This means we can have a great HOPE for the future, whether life is going swimmingly or times are really hard.

 

 

ellie1Ellie Leach

Ellie finished her A-Levels this summer and is now taking a gap year in which she is undertaking an internship at The Point Church. As part of her internship she studies Theology at St. Mellitus College in London and is on the Share The Hope team. Ellie loves to spend time in worship and is so excited about what God is doing in the world today!

 

 

Daily Share  

Promises can be so easy to break and they often give people finger crossing hope that is not expectant. Share some hope today by making someone a promise that they can expect to be fulfilled.