From the President: Matthew A. Scogin ʼ02

Dear Friends and Family of Hope College,

During the season of Christmas, hope comes alive. And I don’t just mean Hope College — although that happens, too. The massive tree between our home and Voorhees lights up, we sing carols in Dimnent, and celebrate long-standing campus traditions like Vespers.

Those joyous occasions are celebrating the coming of true hope into our world: God becomes human. He entered into our brokenness and made promises to redeem it. The arrival of Jesus promises peace on earth, all things made new. And yet, as we celebrate God coming near, sometimes his promises seem so far away.

Isaiah, for example, promises a time when nation won’t take up sword against nation. That seems hard to believe, especially now. Across the world we see war, terror, and violence — in the Holy Land, Ukraine, Myanmar and Haiti, just to name a few. Not to mention the violence and division within our own borders.

We celebrate hope, and yet the world seems totally hopeless.

The natural question to ask God in response to these promises is: How can this be? That is the same question Mary posed to the angel Gabriel when he told her that she would give birth to the world’s savior.

I wonder if she asked that question again when going into labor in a barn far from home. Or when her son hung dying on a cross. How can this be? If God is really in this, if this is really hope entering in, why does it seem like everything is collapsing?

What does Gabriel say to young Mary? “[T]he word of God never fails” (Luke 1:37). In other words, if God promised it, it will happen. Just trust him. And sure enough, just when things looked the darkest — in that dirty stable, dying on the cross — God’s promise came to pass. Shepherds showed up to worship the king heralded by angels. Jesus rose from the dead. Because God’s word never fails.

That’s why we light trees during the darkest time of the year. To remind us that, often just when things seem farthest away from victory, that’s precisely when God’s triumph is nearest.

God has made promises over each of our lives. And He has made promises to us as a community – that we would be a beacon of hope for the world. Even when things feel hopeless to the world, we never lose hope.

Why? Because when things are at their darkest point, light is on the verge of breaking through. Because God has made promises about the future. And the word of God never fails.

Spera in Deo!
Matthew A. Scogin ʼ02