Today, I want to boldly ask you a question: “Got hope?” I have been captured this week by the word “hope” in Scripture and by another word that so often accompanies “hope” — the word “wait.” This won’t be much of a sermon, I’m afraid, but I hope it is a message just for you.
We have just entered Lent, the 40-day time frame in which we prepare ourselves, through penitence and fasting, self-examination and prayer for the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Historically, those of notorious sinful nature, who had been separated from the Church, were reconciled by personal repentance and the community’s forgiveness. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, we, through the symbolic act of placing ashes on our foreheads, recognize that we are all sinners, that we are all made from dust and will return to dust, and that we are all in need of reconciliation with others, both in and out of the Church community.
A few weeks ago, one of the Love In the Name of Christ staff and I had an interesting phone call from a client that some of the churches and agencies and Love INC had just finished helping. We had met all of his stated needs and so had written up the notes on his case and closed his file. We were done, God worked again and met some basic needs, and really, we were done. But he called and asked a simple question, “What do you want me to do now?”
Recently, The Journey at First Baptist experienced a middle-of-the-night sprinkler pipe break that flooded part of our sanctuary and basement below. The initial cause was assumed to be a frozen pipe because of the extended subzero nights we have experienced this winter. However, the night in question was one of the warmest to date.
In Disney’s movie “Wall-E,” there is an interesting depiction of what the writers imagine humans will be like 700 years from now. They are extremely obese and rely on individual hovercrafts to provide all they need — food, mobility, entertainment, etc. At one point, there is an X-ray of one of the humans, and it shows his skeleton has nearly disappeared because of a lack of use. Sometimes I wonder if American Christians are going the way of the humans in that movie. But not all is lost. A survey I recently read might shake up what Christianity will look like in America down the road.
The Yampa Valley Pregnancy Center recently relocated to 25 W. Victory Way, and the whole process has been quite the educational experience for me. As the process unfolded before me — I can’t really say that I had any modicum of control — I found myself surprised over and over again with what people did for us, and it exemplified what being a part of the body of Christ can look like.
We are already over a week into this New Year of 2014 and ,if you are like me, I am already behind in my New Year resolution. Well, let me explain. No, no one can explain. What I mean is I did not make a New Year’s resolution except: to do better in some areas of my life in 2014. Okay, I know you’re thinking that’s pretty vague and that I am setting myself up for failure.
We were fortunate enough to have family with us this Christmas, and one of the things that we did was to watch an older Christmas movie. It had many things, the North Pole, Santa Claus, reindeer, elves and the Christmas Spirit, but, unfortunately, the one thing that it was missing was the Christ in Christmas. In the movie there was one reference to faith, a reference to having faith in things not seen, but left unseen, but then they explained that they were speaking of faith in Santa Claus.
Community is about building relationships, relationships that are generative in nature which results in the bettering of the self in order to better serve others.
Mary and Jack called Love INC the other day, (you can use any name you wish, but I’ll use Mary and Jack for my family-the names have been changed to protect their identity). They were really struggling this year. Prices have gone up on food and everyday needs while income has dropped. Jack was a construction worker you know, and in the wintertime the job opportunities go down.
The snow that arrived on Tuesday night, the Christmas lights that adorn many houses and stores, the Christmas tree that was lighted on Saturday evening and then a Christmas Parade are just a few of the ways that the season of Christmas has already started illuminating our lives.
As we should, this time of year we focus on being thankful. I recently was challenged to look at our word Thanksgiving and the celebration thereof with a new focus. Within this word, the compound of thanks and giving, we associate and encourage things related to being thankful. Generally, we mean thanksgiving, reflected in our attitude. My new focus is on the second part of the compound — giving.
One of my favorite achievements of my youth was earning my Eagle Scout badge. I loved almost every minute of scouts, from my first Pinewood Derby as a Tiger Cub, to my Eagle Scout ceremony in high school. In addition, my grandparents started the troop in my town and my uncle and dad were leaders, so it was a family adventure. When I look back at it, scouts gave me a passion for the outdoors, which is a big part of why I moved to Colorado after college.
One of the most difficult things for me is waiting — waiting for something to happen, waiting to recover from grief or illness or waiting for someone to follow through. Waiting tests our resolve, tempers our excitement and clearly delineates our weaknesses.
In just a few days on Nov. 11, we will commemorate Veterans Day. I would like to say a great big thank you to all those who are veterans and to those family members of veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice.