Session 3: Hope and courage

Enter gently into an atmosphere of silence and stillness …
Become aware of your breathing …
- of the sensations in your body …
- of the touch against your skin of the clothes you are wearing …
- of the feel of the chair that you are sitting on …
- of the light in the room and the sounds all around you …

Reading: Lamentations 3: 17 - 24
my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, ‘Gone is my glory,
and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.’
The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’

· 'Hope', says St Augustine, 'has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage: anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain as they are.' Augustine calls both of hope's daughters beautiful, anger as well as courage, for this is honourable anger, the non-acceptance of an intolerable situation.
· Hope, he seems to say, is rightly angered by the wrongs and wounds of our broken world; it inspires in us the courage to take steps to 'repair' what is broken, to take care of creation, to bind up its wounds. We are not only the recipients but also the transmitters of hope as we pass on God's touch to the people we meet.
· Pope Francis, quoting from this passage in his book, The Joy of the Gospel, has this to say: 'There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter… I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we have to let the joy of faith revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress.'

· Have you ever had a conversation when you were able to raise the spirits of someone who had 'forgotten what happiness is' (verse 17)?
· Bring to mind some hopeful things you have read or heard about so far this Lent …
· Include some of the positive things you yourself have done …
· Thank God for all these things…

End thoughts
Hope is the conviction that, under God, things will get better, and we cling to it because we cannot help ourselves, for hope seems to be innate in us. It is rooted in a universal human longing for change - not change for its own sake, but transformation. Hope is an affirmation of the future: grounded in the past, conscious of the brokenness of the present, it nurtures the seedlings of future fruitfulness. Hope touches every aspect of our lives, trivial and significant, personal and communal, and it is creative and imaginative. Although often tentative and prone to disappointment, it is courageous, ready to step into the unknown, to face the unknowable. Knowing that God is with us gives hope and courage.
"Do not be afraid, for I am with you." These words, which are repeated over and over again in the Bible, express a strong sense of the nearness of God in our lives.

Session 3: Hope and courage
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