Common Ground Editorial: February 2022

“I wish it need not have happened in my time.” Frodo’s remark feels more than a little contemporary. The happenings of his time are bad, and he frets at the way the path of his life is taking a sudden turn. “So do I,” sympathises Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

The Fellowship of the Ring is not—lest avid fans need a reminder—the gospel. But, in the prayer-like frankness of Frodo and the sleeves-rolled wisdom of Gandalf, there’s more than a little hint of the courage of faith shaped by Scripture. To accept our place in God’s good creation is to accept that we do not determine the times we live in. To accept that the Lord of my life is Jesus Christ is to accept that in any crisis there are indeed good things to attend to: we’re called to attend to the Lord’s priorities and work, to show forth the fruit of his Spirit, and to see to the needs of others. It is, above all, to live lives shaped not by fear—or by pride—but by trust in God’s loving kindness toward all he has made and by his promise to not leave or forsake us. Like lighthouses stationed on the roughest coasts, people who accept these things are lit up with hope, persisting in the good work of deciding what to do with the time given.

So what, then, is it like to be illuminated by hope? And what fuels such faithfulness? In the face of prolonged and massive crises, hope surely must mean more than dogged or cheery platitudes. In this month’s courageous and moving feature article “Tell me about Hope,” Andrew Shamy tackles just this question. In the shadow of the global climate crisis, he asks, if Christians are people of hope, what then are we to do with our grief at the state of the world? Courage also marks “Finding Higher Ground,” a clear-eyed and sharply compassionate reflection by Rev. Dr. John Fox. In crisis we’re called, he insists, to strike out for higher ground.

In this month’s Field Notes, we’re delighted to share an interview with friend and Adjunct Teaching Fellow at Venn Foundation, Dr. Alistair Reese. Alistair talks to Jannah Dennison about his early life, his radical conversion to Christ, and the way his life has been so deeply shaped by hope in God. And hope, of course, looks like something—finds shape in prayer and action. Rachel Kitchens calls us to a new practice of prayer walking and creation care. Her practice is as challenging to do as it is down to earth; we invite you to join us.

Finally, this Common Ground marks an important shift in the publication rhythm of the magazine. Since its inception in the first lockdown of 2020, the magazine has found an established form, with regular offerings designed to feed your imagination for life with God and others. At the same time, our work in resources has grown, with new print and online publications for the Christian year as well as the first of our Common Ground print editions, The Good of Work. New audio and print initiatives are in development, and we anticipate our work in resources will only continue to grow. With this growth in mind, we’ve decided that a new two-monthly cadence for Common Ground, commencing with this February issue, will serve our readers well. Look out for the next issue in your inbox in April.

Now, as you read, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”! (Rom 15:13).