Hope is Ongoing
“Being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7) Hope, by its very nature, is incomplete. Our hope began 2,000 years ago at Jesus’s birth, and continues to this day. We are part of the stream of pilgrims who have carried on the message from one generation to the next because we know that “He who began the good work is faithful to complete it” (Phil. 1:6)
19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
“He who promised is faithful.” During this first week of advent we have looked at hope from the viewpoint that it all rests on Jesus. We wait expectantly for him to complete the work he began 2,000 years ago, both personally in our lives, and ultimately when he returns to claim his bride, the church of Christ.
I visited the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain this fall. It was begun in 1883 by Antoni Gaudi, the chief architect. Before he completed his design, he spent time immersing himself in scripture so that he could understand the purpose of the work. He removed the images that crowded many Gothic cathedrals and placed them on the exterior, as a witness to those outside of the church. On one side he placed scenes of the nativity; on the other, the passion. But once pilgrims entered through the doors, they were treated to a cathedral like none other—it was like entering the throne room of the King of Kings. Gaudi died before the work was completed, but others have taken up the challenge, and by 2026, it is hoped that the project will be completed. I imagined myself being in that space as Jesus returns at the final trumpet. He began the good work 2,000 years ago; he has left us with the vision to carry on the work until he returns.
SAGRADA FAMILIA – THE LIVING HOPE
By Elaine Knudtson
Vain-glorious tourists stage selfies affront the floral doors.
The niches of hope, love and faith respond in stony silence as voyeurs pass under the 21st century nativity.
Entering the stream, we flow into the basilica, anticipating archetypes stamped in our Gothic and Medieval consciousness.
But they are not there.
Flying buttresses explode into a canopy of leaves and branches, extended in praise to God.
Stained glass shatters into a kaleidoscope of liturgical hues,
capturing each season in shadows on the floor and ceiling.
An organ infuses the space,
inviting worshipers to enter an island in the center of the sanctuary.
Most pass by,
but we are drawn by the transcendent Christ,
floating beneath the canopy above the altar,
eyes lifted to the Father in a sacrifice of praise.
This is a masterpiece of faith
begun a century ago by artisans
offering their vision to our generation.
An elevator ascends the tower,
reminding us that we are in a virginal space,
not yet complete.
It is a throne room fit for the marriage of the King.
What glory to be here on the last day.
I pass through the exit to the Passion facade on the other side.
Looking back I witness a solitary man wiping his eyes in the front pew.
The unseen presence has transformed this tourist into a pilgrim.
“Jesus, make us faithful pilgrims in this life as we carry on the work that you began at Christmas over 2,000 years ago. In the hope of your coming, we labour, “not in vain”. Even though we lose heart as we witness the brokenness of this world, we know that ultimately your work will be completed and we will all worship the King of King and Lord of Lords. Give us the hope to endure.” Amen