Where, hand on heart, can you say you have found hope? Where and when has it been renewed?
I suspect the classic moments of New Year resolutions are not often firm ground for rebuilding hope! Looking round this congregation after many years, hand on heart I can say that many of you still tell me of moments of encounter with the Lord himself which have most changed your life and heart, have given hope often through many years. They may actually be quite small moments, but their effect is very long-lasting indeed and you remember them! As Jesus began his ministry at his baptism, do you notice how few words his Father in heaven had to speak over him? “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy”  . Heaven has opened, and the words are few, but bring great long-term effects! (not that Jesus didn’t spend many more times listening to his Father beyond that!). St Paul writes, ‘So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.’  I too have found my hope renewed for real when I walk in relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ. May we all find ways to do this in 2020.
From where we stand, we find it difficult to see just how Jesus turned the world of his day upside down (although perhaps we need to relearn the lessons!). We’ve already heard St Peter honour slaves on an equal footing to kings. He was following in his master’s footsteps – Jesus treated those who were the least with the same honour as the high and mighty, in fact probably gave more honour to the least. In Roman times this was particularly noted by the authorities as slaves turned to Christ in huge numbers. Although we also have records of high up members of Caesar’s household becoming Christians, and sharing fellowship with slaves…….. imagine…..!!
What has this to do with today’s subject, how wives and husbands relate to each other in Christ?
St Peter starts his bit on this, ‘In the same way….’ It is deeply about honouring of each other, in ways I hope I can explain in my talk. There is much wisdom here that is extremely relevant today, particularly in a world where women are often still the ones set upon, and indeed men can often feel they’ve lost their way too. Finally, Peter moves on to the way we should honour each other whoever we are, and beyond that inviting us to pay back those who insult us with a blessing instead. There is much underlying shame to our actions when we ‘screw up’ in the way we treat each other. We may not be able to explain it consciously, and certainly not admit it, but feel somewhere along the line we have failed each other and be unsure how to do better. Fortunately we follow a Saviour who came to take away our shame and bring us into a place of transforming forgiveness.