The Awakening of Hope: Come and See

Awakening Of Hope
It was like a scene from a movie. I walked into the classroom, took my seat and after five minutes of lecturing on Genesis 1 the girl next to me began sobbing. I assumed she was nervous. It was our first day of college and the first class of the morning; she was probably homesick or overwhelmed that she was, in fact, now in college.

As sobbing goes, people began to take notice and a few minutes later she regained her composure and gestured she had something to say. Confident she was going to speak to the demands of college as a first year student I initially half listened as she began to cry again while explaining that if Adam and Eve weren’t real people then her Christianity was in jeopardy. So began my entry into Christendom.

In the weeks to follow I would learn much about Christians and their thoughts on everything from Noah to gay marriage and end times to prosperity. It wasn’t exactly what I had expected in a Bible 101 class. It wasn’t until almost one year later that I began to see a different side of Christianity. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove was the window through which I saw that other side.

In his latest book, the Awakening of Hope, Hartgrove doesn’t get bogged down in culture warring conversations or statements about what Christians should avoid. In fact, he does just the opposite. Jonathan outlines a beautiful manifesto of what Christians are for and dusts off the spiritual practices that have distinguished Christians for centuries. But he doesn’t just dust them off. He digs deep into practices – from fasting to promises to intentional living. Jonathan even goes so far as to live these practices out and comes back to tell us how it went!

Too often we focus on what we should avoid rather than what we should do. We focus on hope being a byproduct of actions avoided rather than actions done. Maybe it’s our definition of hope? Or maybe it’s a deeply ingrained fear that stepping backwards is always easier than stepping forwards?

The Awakening of Hope is a bold step forward. It is a declaration of tenants that Christians can stand on and stand by. We can boldly proclaim there is much worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for. We can boldly proclaim that where we live and who we live with matter. We can serve as a testimony that even though we may be weaker and less productive when we fast, it points to the hope that another world is possible. When we step forward in hope we are the embodiment of that new world coming here on earth as it is in heaven.

Brave New Films

Jonathan stands on the shoulders of many hopeful Christians before him and boldly proclaims that there is still a hope to be claimed and lived out in our world today. Despite a bounty of injustice, hope is being awakened around the world. From the fields of Georgia to the backyards of San Francisco and in inner cities around the world, hope is alive.

Come and see!

This review is part of the conversation on The Awakening of Hope at the Patheos Book Club


For a chance to win one of five prizes (3 books, 1 book/DVD set, 1 DVD), post a comment below about a place/time where you have seen or witnessed the awakening of hope. Five winners will be randomly chosen at the end of the day on Friday, August 24th.

Brian Ballard is the web editor for Red Letter Christians.

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  • Brian Miller

    Over that past 3 years, our church has intentionally sought to love our neighbors through work with teenagers. At times, that work has been trying. One of our “guys” that has been with us through this whole process has really experienced transformation. During his first summer, as a 6th grader, he was forcibly removed from the gym for fighting. He was angry and seemed to believe that everyone was against him.

    This past summer, the story was different. After spending a week in mission, doing home repair, he said that he was ready to quit football so that he could spend more time serving others. This is no small thing. Football will likely be the way that he gets the consistent guidance and oversight he will need to succeed in high school. However, he sees serving others as more important.

    The way of Jesus continues to convert! That is why I have hope!

  • Josh

    You guys are awesome, good writing. Take care and God bless you for all of your efforts

  • Mark Archibald

    This looks like an uplifting read – not an uplift that comes from avoiding reality. An “uplift” that sees reality and declares:”there is hope!” With so much fear and despair all around us, a little real hope goes a long way!

  • I saw Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove speak at the Wild Goose Festival this summer. The hope springing forth from this gathering of open-minded and loving Christians wanting to serve the Lord was inspiring and life-changing. I brought my husband, who was raised in a faith based on avoidance, and for the first time, he began to see Christianity as something positive for his life here and now, not just for his salvation, and that a Christian community full of strangers would love him for who he is, faults and all, just as much as they love Jesus. That is what gives me hope.

  • Thanks for the interesting article.

  • Over the past few months, I have wrestled with the coming political election and how to reconcile the fact that candidates both have things in their platform that I agree with. It began to become more of a frustration to deal with these two candidates and politics in general. I was fortunate to stumble upon an article from Sojourners that highlighted the fact that God is control, so much more so than either of these men running for president. It has encouraged me to invest in the things that I can control, non of which are happening on capital hill. The things I can control are happening on my street, in my neighborhood and at my church in Missouri. That is the hope that I cling to, that God will work through me in the community I live in. It was too easy to accept defeat with regards to policy being made to fit the will of God. The poor we will always have with us and that is too true in my neighborhood.

    The will of God is made manifest through the things that I choose to do in His name. For too long I have sat on my hands, expecting politicians to make the right choices, yet the hope in God lies with his people. It lies in the work of those striving to know him more. THAT is where hope is found in my life and I continue to pursue God and love others through that.

  • Jennifer Trently

    I am so looking forward this book. I am so tired of all of the culture wars and people judging me on what I should avoid and not being challenged on what I should be doing. I am ready to stop forwards.

  • A few years back at a youthworkers convention in Nashville we were told that a person attending the convention sawe a homeless man being arrested for whatever reason and the he noticed the man had no shoes as he was being put into the police car. The guy quickly responded by taking his shoes off and giving them to the homeless man being arrested. That same week I attended a church called the Anchor and they inspired me because of their helping their community with really no strings attached. They just wanted to love people. One example fo something they did was donate uniforms to a nearby school for the children to have.

  • tarl_hutch

    In my town there is an intentional community called Anthony’s plot. They have done amazing work in the neighborhood and community. Talking with them and witnessing the emergence of hope in an otherwise forgotten place is amazing. Their work inspires me and reminds me of the incarnational work of Jesus. I am proud to witness such a great movement and community in my own backyard and hope to get more involved with them myself. Jesus is truly present in that old house for everyone to see. I know Jonathan was a big influence on them and I am excited to see his new book. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove! Just received my copy of “The Awakening of Hope” book and dvd after work last night and watched the dvd immediately. Will be reading the book over the course of the coming week. Just a note to say how much i in-joyed the dvd teaching and loved the real life, “real” Jesus (as opposed to some militartisic or He will fix everything and make you feel good all the time and he
    lp you accumulate all kinda material stuff Jesus”) testimonies. Powerful witness and loving sharing. Your spirit, courage, wisdom, open-hearted, pointing to Jesus and to our relationship to each other via Jesus’ example is SO appreciated, so valuable, so vital. Your work along with that of Shane Claiborne, Brian Zahnd, Tony Campolo, Rob Bell,Jimmy Spencer Jr. and Love Without Agenda and People of the Second Chance and Andrew Marin at The Marin Foundation give me personally and many others new insights, wisdom; you (and these faithful others listed) show us a too rare community that looks like what we always read, felt and were told by God in our own heart and the scriptures of what a Jesus community looks like, a rejuvenated faith, a new hope and, most importantly: a Love, that is radical, UnConditional, relentless, for everyone, without agenda. Thank you!!! Bless you.

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