Europe needs three-dimensional people: rooted in the past, anticipating the future, yet living in the present. Such are People of Hope. For hope is founded on the past, focussed on the future and fleshed out in the present.
Three-dimensional Europeans ground their hope on the God who has revealed himself in history‚Äìhis character, his acts, his promises.
The goal of their hope, however, is God‚Äôs future‚Äìthe fulfilment of his plans and promises.
In between yesterday and tomorrow, they are called to flesh out hope today‚Äìby living in the light of God‚Äôs future.
Emil Brunner once put it this way: Christianity taught humankind to hope: that is, to live today in the light of tomorrow.
The HOPE for Europe movement attempts to promote such three-dimensional thinking. We believe it is a much-needed biblical antidote to the short memories too many of us have, and to an all-too-pessimistic eschatology.
Here are two specific ways we try to do this.
Firstly, we recently launched HOPEmagazine, published two times a year to offer biblical perspectives on Europe‚Äôs past, present and future.
Each edition opens with an article on how the Christian heritage has shaped Europe‚Äôs past. The closing feature encourages vision for Europe‚Äôs future. Everything in between aims to promote understanding about Europe‚Äôs present and about engagement with today‚Äôs issues.
This spring edition, now going to press, reflects on two major European events which were commemorated recently, both of which resulted from specifically Christian inspiration.
One was the abolition of the British trans-Atlantic slave trade two centuries ago in 1807. The commemoration of this major milestone in British history has heightened awareness in at least three areas.
The leading role of Evangelicals in the abolition movement, personified by William Wilberforce, reminds us how engaged some believers of that time were with shaping their future. We are also sobered by our reflection on the ghastly and inhumane reality of slavery then, condoned by other ‚Äòdecent, Bible-believing‚Äô Christians. But then the finger begins to point at our own blindspots when we are confronted by widespread slavery and forced labour in our world today‚Äìincluding in Europe.
An article by William Hague, former leader of the British Opposition in this edition of HOPEmagazine suggests what we should know and can do about modern slavery.
The other milestone recently celebrated was the founding of the European Union fifty years ago. As a child, I heard preachers warning of the coming of the Beast through this ten-headed monster. (By the way, I still believe Europe could become a beast‚Äìif God‚Äôs people in Europe fail to live as salt and light, as People of Hope.) A little-known story of how Christian forgiveness and reconciliation was the genesis of the European Union, is the subject of our opening article. It illustrates the difference People of Hope can make. It sheds light on our responsibility as Christians today for Europe‚Äôs future.
Other features in this edition include a look at the remarkable ‚Äòresurrection of God‚Äô in the European media. Does this mean a spiritual climate change in Europe? And news from networks active across the continent.
So, how can you sign up for HOPEmagazine? Go to www.hfe.org/hopemag for further information. Or email me directly for a pdf version of the first edition, (1.8MB).
A second way we try to promote ‚Äòthree-dimensional thinking‚Äô is the launch of a Summer School of European Studies. June30-July28. This four-week course can be taken in three separate modules, focussing on Europe‚Äôs past, present and future respectively.
Open for all, the school begins with a two-week bus trip, hosted by my wife Romkje and myself. We start in Amsterdam, visiting locations in Holland, learning about Willibrord, Boniface, Thomas a Kempis, Erasmus, Menno Simons, Comenius, the Pilgrim Fathers, Abraham Kuyper and others.
Then we‚Äôll drive across Germany to Wittenberg and Herrnhut, discovering more about Boniface and Comenius, Luther, Bach and Zinzendorf.
Over the next border into the Czech Republic, we stop in Prague and Plzen, in the footsteps of Jan Hus and, yet again, Comenius, before finally crossing to Switzerland, ending up in Calvin‚Äôs Geneva via Zwingli‚Äôs Zurich.
And these are only half the stopovers!
We stay primarily in YWAM centres‚Äìincluding two castles, Schloss Hurlach and the Wasserschloss in Herrnhut. Le R√ºdli in Einigen, a grand Jugendstil mansion set in breathtaking Swiss scenery,n is the location of the last two week-long modules, These consist of lectures, videos, discussions and study time on Europe‚Äôs present and future. See www.ywam.eu/sses for more details.
If you are at all considering involvement with any part of the Summer School, please email me this week. We must confirm accommodation bookings and transport arrangements soon. Space is limited and first come first served.
Ask yourself, how does my lifestyle reflect hope founded on the past, focussed on the future yet fleshed out in the present? How three-dimensional am I, really?
Till next week,
Till next week,