Themes of Advent: MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS

solid-rock-faithPastor Richard Neil Donovan recalls this story [online available: https://www.sermonwriter.com/hymn-stories/hope-built-nothing-less]

In 19th century England there was a boy named Edward. His parents were non-believers; likely thinking that Christian faith was just wishful thinking. When young Edward was old enough he was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker – who happened to be a Christian. It was not long under his influence that Edward became a Christian too.

As Edward grew older he set out on his own, becoming a successful cabinetmaker himself. And while busy with his business, he made time for music, and he made time for worship. Over the passing of some time he began to write hymns.

One day he kept humming to himself a line over and over. One of those ear-worms that keep playing in one’s head. So he wrote it down with some words. Before long he had composed four verses.

A friend’s wife had gone ill and Edward went to see them. As his visit was on Sunday,    they requested that they read some scripture, pray, and if it wasn’t too much trouble;   sing something. So he pulled the song he had created out of his pocket. He sang it. They all sang it together. When they were finished, the ill woman liked it so much that she asked for a copy. Edward had several copies made and before long it became popular, and still to this day a well-beloved hymn in the church. In his fifties Edward Mote discerned a call to ministry, and served for over twenty years as the pastor of a Baptist church in Sussex, England before his death in 1874.

What is this hymn? Can anybody guess?

MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS,
THAN JESUS’ BLOOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS.
NO MERIT OF MY OWN I CLAIM,
BUT WHOLY LEAN ON JESUS’ NAME.

What was the line he kept humming over and over?

ON CHRIST THE SOLID ROCK I STAND;
ALL OTHER GROUND IS SINKING SAND.

Hope is the Solid Rock in which we stand.  Everything else – wishful thinking included – is sinking sand. In our passage from his letter to the Romans tonight Paul said:

Suffering produces endurance; endurance produces character;                                       Character produces hope; and hope does not disappoint. (Romans 5:3-5)

Why?  Because we are standing on Solid Rock – Jesus the Christ.

Paul even goes so far as to say we boast in our sufferings – not because we are so awesome at it – or we have all the tools to do it – or we have some distorted draw to pain or death. We can boast in our sufferings – on account of what Jesus does for us.

Standing on the Solid Rock of Jesus – isn’t something we earn or deserve – we stand in grace – Paul says – justified by faith, or to put that phrase another way –

MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS,
THAN JESUS’ BLOOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS.
NO MERIT OF MY OWN I CLAIM,
BUT WHOLY LEAN ON JESUS’ NAME.

 And this is a HOPE that will be put to the test. Sometimes it all feels like sinking sand.

What sinking sand shifts beneath you?

On Monday our friend next door went to work like any other Monday. We coordinated who was driving kids to school like any other Monday. We went our own ways like any other Monday. Until Tammie got the call around noon that she had a heart attack. And another at 2:00 that she was gone; leaving three kids and her husband behind.

And it has been HOPE. Not platitudes. Not clichés. Not wishful thinking that it will all work out somehow, but HOPE – that in Christ all things are made right and all will be made right – that has brought both of our families through this ordeal so far.

The funeral is Saturday. We’ll need a lot of HOPE to get through that too.

And we will.  OUR HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS, THAN JESUS’ BLOOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS.

I asked some colleagues what they thought HOPE is. My friend Pastor Scott Schul replied: HOPE is grounded in experience, relationship and trust. Even Jesus on the cross calling out being forsaken in Psalm 22 had HOPE. We stand on solid ground, remembering God has brought us through sinking sand in the past. And if God has delivered us in the past, why would God not deliver us in the future? Why not now? Experience. Relationship. Trust. Not sinking sand. Solid ground. Standing in Jesus.

Let’s stand here together.

With Edward Mote. With my neighbors. With one another.  With a hurting world.     HOPE. Hum. Until we all burst into song. Amen

__

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:1-8)

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About geoff sinibaldo

Follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, Son, Friend, Change Proponent, Goofball, Seeking Faithfulness in the 21st Century
This entry was posted in Advent/Christmas, Advent/Christmas Posts, Advent/Christmas Sermons, on Letters of Paul, Sermons and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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