Exploring core values of Church Schools – information collated from a variety of sources.
The Christian understanding of hope illustrates how trivial our everyday use of the word can be. We hope that it will not rain for the picnic, or that the car will start or that the plumber will come tomorrow.
At a deeper level, hope is a universal human phenomenon. People hope for peace in time of war; food in time of famine; justice in time of oppression. Where hope is lost there is despair and disintegration. Hope generates energy and sustains people through difficult times. For some people, hope is so strong that it inspires self-sacrifice to turn hope into reality.
True hope is much more than a general idea that things will get better. It is more than a belief in progress, which sees the world and people as getting better all the time, growing away from violence, ignorance and confusion. There has, of course, been genuine progress: in technology, in communications, in medical care and in the protection of people’s rights through the law. Nevertheless, terror and oppression, death and disease, greed and self-serving still govern the lives of millions. In the light of all this, belief in human progress looks facile and deluding.
Christian hope is grounded in the character of God. Often, in the Psalms, the writer says to God: ‘My hope is in you’. It is a hope rooted in the love and faithfulness of God. Hope is not wishful thinking but a firm assurance that God can be relied upon. It does not remove the need for ‘waiting upon the Lord’ but there is underlying confidence that God is a ‘strong rock’ and one whose promises can be trusted. The writer to the Hebrews describes the Christian hope as ‘an anchor for the soul, firm and secure’. Even when experiencing exile, persecution, doubt or darkness, the Biblical writers trust in God’s ‘unfailing love’ and know that he will be true to his covenant promises. That is the basis of their hope.
Hope is not always spontaneous or easy. There is work to be done. As well as trusting God, we have to develop qualities of steadfastness in our own character.
Paul says: ‘We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.’ (Romans 5:3-4)
Hope is coupled with faith and love as one of the three most enduring gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Christian hope for the future has its guarantee in the resurrection of Jesus. The prophets always spoke of a time to come when the whole world would be restored to God. For Christians, Jesus’ death and resurrection has set this in motion.
Christian hope means trusting in the loving purposes of God: trusting that the foundations of the world are good because they spring from God. It means believing that, ultimately, we are destined to share in that goodness because of what Jesus has done. He had to pass through the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ but the victory has been won and our share in that victory is assured.
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
1 Peter 1:3-4
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.
Don’t Give Up
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.”
What does that mean for schools?
• What are the signs that your school is a ‘hopeful’ place? How could you strengthen
and celebrate this?
• What do you think the children in the school hope for? How does it relate to
• How does the school offer the opportunity of a new start to those who need a
second chance? What does it offer to those who have already had a second chance?
“If God can bring blessing from the broken body of Jesus and glory from something that’s as obscene as the cross, He can bring blessing from my problems and my pain and my unanswered prayer. I just have to trust Him.”
Anne Graham Lotz
• What picture of Christian hope do pupils get through their experience of worship in
• What specific beliefs about God are fostered that can become a strong basis for hope
in the pupils’ own lives?
• How are pupils encouraged to bring their hopes and dreams to God in prayer and praise?
“Pray, and let God worry.”
• Which curriculum areas encourage pupils to form a vision of a better future?
• How are pupils given the opportunity to express hope in the future through the creative arts?
• How are pupils helped to see both the potential and the limitations of science for changing the world for the better?
Door of Hope
“God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope.”
• How do you seek to develop your role as a vision builder? How do you share your hopes for the school with all stakeholders?
• In what ways are your hopes for the school distinctive because it is a church school?
• How do you help people to rise above difficult situations within the school or local community and take positive steps to overcome despair? What support do you have in doing this?
“What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.”