This was a delightful celebration of God’s faithfulness to Hope Church in the 25 years since it began. Enjoy some oldies but goodies, hear from our first two pastors, and reflect on all that God has done!
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“Your faith will not fail while God sustains it; you are not strong enough to fall away while God is resolved to hold you.”
“Optimism hopes for the best without any guarantee of its arriving and is often no more than whistling in the dark. Christian hope, by contrast, is faith looking ahead to the fulfillment of the promises of God, as when the Anglican burial service inters the corpse ‘in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Optimism is a wish without warrant; Christian hope is a certainty, guaranteed by God himself. Optimism reflects ignorance as to whether good things will ever actually come. Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of his life, and every moment beyond it, the believer can say with truth, on the basis of God’s own commitment, that the best is yet to come.”
Never Beyond Hope
“Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not ‘How am I to find God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be found by him?’ The question is not ‘How am I to know God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be known by God?’ And, finally, the question is not ‘How am I to love God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be loved by God?’ God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.”
―Henri J.M. Nouwen
The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming
“I was regretting the past; And fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
‘My name is I Am.’ He paused. I waited. He continued,
‘When you live in the past; With its mistakes and regrets,
It is hard. I am not there, My name is not I WAS.’
‘When you live in the future; With its problems and fears,
It is hard. I am not there. My name is not I WILL BE.’
‘When you live in this moment, It is not hard. I am here.
My name is I AM.’”
I Am Poem
“As my sufferings mounted, I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation—either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
―Martin Luther King Jr.,
Suffering and Faith
“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”
“We can all be Mary, even if we don’t have an hour to sit down for ‘quiet time.’ It’s all in our attitude toward the things that need to be done and the people we are serving. If we view our husbands, families, and guests as so many leeches crying, “Give, give!” then we are not going to develop a godly joy as we serve them. If we resent the fact that our husbands sit down to read with the children while we are preparing supper, we are being harpies, just like Martha. Choose the better part. Be Mary in the kitchen. Sing praises while you sweep up those never-ending crumbs. Whistle hymns while you wipe down the bathroom. Meditate upon Scripture while you are folding that third pile of laundry.
Be a Mary! When the laundry piles rise up in rebellion, the children don’t do their chores right, or the kitchen sink never seems to quite empty itself, rejoice! Choose the better part, crank up the praise, and lay down your life.”
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God
“Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.”
“Romantic love is blind to everything except what is lovable and lovely, but Christ’s love sees us with terrible clarity and sees us whole. Christ’s love so wishes our joy that it is ruthless against everything in us that diminishes our joy. The worst sentence Love can pass is that we behold the suffering which Love has endured for our sake, and that is also our acquittal. The justice and mercy of the judge are ultimately one.”
“The most beautiful people … are those who have known defeat, known suffering, struggle, and loss, and have found their way out of those depths.”
“Heaven will work backwards and turn even … agony into a glory.”
“On her website, Joni (Eareckson Tada) summarizes these same sentiments in a single sentence, where she says that God will permit what he hates in order to accomplish what he loves. How can she say something like this? I suspect that it has to do with her deep awareness of the cross of Jesus, where God permitted what he hates (the violent marring and death of his only begotten Son) to accomplish what he loves (salvation for sinners, whom he loves).”
“Where a man’s wound is, that is where his genius will be.”
“The Christian often tries to forget his weakness; God wants us to remember it, to feel it deeply. The Christian wants to conquer his weakness and to be freed from it; God wants us to rest and even rejoice in it. The Christian mourns over his weakness; Christ teaches His servant to say, ‘I take pleasure in infirmities. Most gladly … will I … glory in my infirmities’ (2 Cor. 12:9). The Christian thinks his weaknesses are his greatest hindrance in the life and service of God; God tells us that it is the secret of strength and success. It is our weakness, heartily accepted and continually realized, that gives our claim and access to the strength of Him who has said, ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness”
Abide in Christ
“To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do—to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst—is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed.”
The Sacred Journey
“The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it…. Christian holiness consists not of trying as hard as we can to be good, but of learning to live in the new world created by Easter, the new world which we publicly entered in our baptism.”
– N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.”
– St. John Chrysostom, “The Paschal Sermon”
“There is an intimate relationship between joy and hope. While optimism makes us live as if someday soon things will go better for us, hope frees us from the need to predict the future and allows us to live in the present, with the deep trust that God will never leave us alone but will fulfill the deepest desires of our heart. Joy in this perspective is the fruit of hope.”
– Henri Nouwen, Here and Now
“How we deal with loss and suffering will mostly depend on our ability to see what painful events do to our hearts. If we refuse to face the damage, the dysfunctional patterns set in motion to handle it will continue to exacerbate the wound. Like a broken arm that is not properly set, it may fuse and heal improperly. We may learn to adapt to the way the fissures set, but it is unlikely to provide us with the optimum opportunity to live the way we were meant to live.
Suffering changes the human heart—sometimes for good and often for ill. We are faced with the challenge of learning how to wrestle with sorrow so it can bring about the greatest good. If we want to become more like God wants us to be, we must consider what it means to live well in a fallen world rather than scramble to escape the veil of sorrow.
As men and women after God’s own heart, we are called to walk the path Jesus walked. Jesus, “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3), never once dealt with reality by turning to dark cynicism, blasé acceptance, angry strength, and empty hope. The route to Golgatha was strewn with temptations to sidestep death, yet Jesus learned obedience through suffering. Jesus’ choice to embrace life to the point of death resulted in the healing of the greatest wound of our hearts: separation from God. As his followers, we are on the same journey, the same healing path.”
Dan Allender, The Healing Path
I arise today; Through the strength of Heaven,
Light of the sun, Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightening, Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea, Stability of the Earth, Firmness of the rock.
I arise today, Through God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me, Afar and near, Alone or in a multitude.
Christ shield me today, against wounding,
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in in the ear that hears me.
I arise today, Through the mighty strength,
Of the Lord of creation.
—Prayer of St. Patrick
“Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance. Made for relationships, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment. But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world. It is time, in the power of the Spirit, to take up our proper role, our fully human role, as agents, heralds, and stewards of the new day that is dawning. That, quite simply, is what it means to be Christian: to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us.”—N.T. Wright, Simply Christian, 237.
“Only under great duress does a religious person admit they have sinned—because their only hope is their moral goodness. But in the gospel, the knowledge of our acceptance in Christ makes it easier to admit we are flawed (because we know we won’t be cast off if we confess the true depths of our sinfulness). Our hope is in Christ’s righteousness, not our own—so it is not so traumatic to admit our weaknesses and lapses. In religion, we repent less and less often. But the more accepted and loved in the gospel we feel, the more and more often we will be repenting. And though, of course there is always some bitterness in any repentance, in the gospel there is ultimately a sweetness. This creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth. The more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you. But on the other hand, the more aware you are of God’s grace and acceptance in Christ, the more you are able to drop your denials and self-defenses and admit the true dimensions of your sin. The sin under all other sins is a lack of joy in Christ.”—Tim Keller, All of Life is Repentance