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New Years Reflection: “Hope in the Lord”

When you read this, the new year must be upon us. As we all enter 2023, I do so with a profound sense of hope even as I am cognizant of the struggles and burdens of 2022. For many of us, myself included, I do not have the energy to embrace 2023 with any sense of confidence. I am entering the new year exhausted and worn out but with a feeling of hopeful anticipation. Probably that is the way you all feel, too.

The ancient words from the prophet Isaiah come to us fresh for 2023. The CEB translation puts it this way, “But those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength.” (40:31) While the NRSV translation puts it the following way, “But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.” I have decided to go into 2023 with the theme of ‘Hope in the Lord’ derived from my understanding of the two translations. They will serve as the theme of the year to guide me through 2023.

May I take this opportunity to invite our congregations to embrace this as a guiding theme for our year together. May it be our guiding light and word as we enter 2023. Hope in the Lord. Wait for the Lord.

The two translations use the word hope and wait interchangeably which makes sense if you think about it. Experience teaches us that waiting for the Lord increases our ability to hope in the Lord. In his letter to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul says that “For in hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8: 24 – 25 (NRSV). Waiting and hoping go hand in hand. I believe that it is in our waiting that hope is born. Most of us hope in many things but I invite you to join me as we hope in the Lord more intentionally in 2023. What are your hopes? What or who do you have your hopes in? Write them down and trust God with them.

As a community, may we be known as those whose hope is in the Lord, and our strength are renewed. As the Lord leads us, we will fly up with wings like the eagle, we will run and not be tired. As the Lord re-imagines and renews us, then, we will walk and not be weary. This is our commitment. So be it.

– Rev. Princeton Abaraoha, Field Staff African Intercultural Ministries