Hope of our calling

The hymn of the day for 15 January is “Hope of our calling” by Ally Barrett.  It follows on from yesterday’s themes of Jesus being called to baptism and service and nuns being called to a life of prayer and work for God, to remind us that all who follow Jesus are answering God’s call.  It’s worded very positively, the theme of hope running through it paired with other positive words (courage, strength, grace, faith and Spirit).  

We are challenged, in the power of that Spirit, to “bring the gospel to a waiting world”, but also to serve in a practical way (‘washing each other’s feet’ as often practised on Maundy Thursday) and to work for righteousness.  This theme links with (and may be inspired by) the Church of England’s “five marks of mission” – to proclaim the Good News; to teach, baptise and nurture new believers; to respond to human need by loving service; to transform unjust structures of society; and to safeguard the integrity of creation. 

That balance of specifically religious work with the practical building and sustaining of society that engages people of all faiths and none is what a living faith should look like.  Christians are generally not to be set apart from society (the monastic calling that we looked at yesterday is only for the few) but should, as Jesus put it, be ‘salt in the earth and a light to the world’. 

The last verse marks this as a communion hymn by reference to the sacrament, and  appropriately draws on the deacon’s words of dismissal at the end of the communion service – we “go in peace to love and serve the Lord”. To which we respond, “in the name of Christ, Amen”.

1 thought on “Hope of our calling”

  1. I confess I found this a difficult hymn to sing with conviction, mainly because I couldn’t work out who, or what, this “Hope of our calling” was to whom this hymn is addressed – or perhaps about which it is expanding. I looked the phrase up on Google which led me to biblehub.com, which pointed me to Ephesians 1:18 (which is the hope of HIS calling, not our calling) – but that verse simply lists “hope” among a number of other things that the apostle prays that we might know. Maybe I, like the others Alexander Maclaren deprecates in his third paragraph in that article, am too prone to taking the “Hope” to be the thing hoped for rather than the emotion with which it is hoped for. But doesn’t even Maclaren agree that “the Christian hope (has to be) based on the facts of Christian experience”?

    (A quick search on “hope” in biblegateway.com confirmed me in the view that “hope” is really a bible quality which comes in lists mentioning other qualities – it doesn’t particularly stand on its own.)

    I wish the hymn had stated some definite facts about Christ’s death and resurrection that would make a firm ground for hope – a bit like “My hope is based on nothing less” or the line “we have a hope that is steadfast and certain” (in “Jesus is king and I will extol him”). It mentions Jesus’ life – his “gospel”, his care, his healing ministry, his concern for the “kingdom”, but somehow not the atonement. I came away with the uneasy feeling that to focus too much on this single word “hope” was somehow unbalanced.

    I think there are many fine phrases in this hymn, but I’m not convinced that they hang together especially well. In what way does “Christ’s BANNER NOW UNFURLED bring his gospel to a waiting world”? How does “strength empower hope”? How is hope (as opposed to love, or kindness, or care) our “call to serve by washing each other’s feet”? How is it hope (as opposed to other virtues) that “sows God’s righteousness throughout the world”? Obviously the last verse recalls the dismissal at the end of the Holy Communion service? But maybe Maclaren is right that (as Stephen says) we need positively worded hymns which link hope with other positive words, and I’m unbalanced and need more emotion in the way I think about following Jesus?

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