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An Invitation to Hope – Looking for God in the world around you

December 14, 2019

This Sunday’s theme is An Invitation to Hope: Looking for God in the world around you. One of the lessons that Rocky has taught me is to slow down. When we slow down on the trail or on a walk, we can see the amazing presence of God in Creation. Because we were slowly walking on the  Lake Estes Trail by the golf course, I saw this intriguing rock and ice formation in the river. It was gone two days later.

In Psalm 146:5-6 we read the following — Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever…

Happy… Help… Hope… these are strong concepts that can stir hearts and souls. I especially think of the people of Israel in Exile. All is gone… the temple is destroyed… their freedom is no longer… yet the Psalmist and the Prophet both offer a light in the midst of the darkness.

Even better news of God’s hope and promise is found in the following verses — who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; he LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. (Psalm 145:7-9)

This was the sort of hope that a people in Exile needed to hear. This is the sort of hope the widows, orphans, and poor need to hear and see. Instead of looking at the world and seeing no hope, the people of God were called to be the instruments of God in making this hope a reality.

I believe that this is something that the church misses today. In the focus on the individual salvation experience, the church misses the communal nature of its calling. The church forgets the call to receive AND share this hope with the world.

Not only are we called to look for that hope, we are called to be that hope. Isaiah echoes that hope in Chapter 35:1-10. Isaiah also echoes the hope for the downtrodden and oppressed that the Psalmist talks about.

When I began this blog, I was thinking about how we can see God in the world around us. Yet if we only do that, we miss out on the totality of our calling as children of God, as siblings in Christ. We are called not only to see God and God’s hope in the world, we are called to be that hope! We hear that call most clearly in Matthew 25.

In verses 34-40 we read —Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ In so doing dear reader, may we not only receive the invitation to Hope, may we share that hope and be visible/tangible examples.

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