Don’t Give Up Hope

If your resolution has hit some bumps in the road, don’t give up hope!

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8: 25
I originally wrote a very frustrated, okay- angry, post about our global lack of compassion regarding the state of a child’s life

(and yes, I have mirror). From hunger to war, grown-ups need to be better adults! Thousands die from war and random gun violence, millions die of malnutrition, and millions more remain in poverty, unable to escape or rise above the conditions of their birth.

It gets better.

Yet, in his book, “Factfulness,” Hans Rosling, posits that for all the not good, terrible things that are our reality, the world is actually becoming a better place to live in than it was 10 years ago, a generation ago, a century ago and longer.

If Paul tells us that we hope in what we cannot see, Rosling is saying, “Look, look back and look at the reality then and now so that we can find hope for the next millennium, the next century, the next generation, the next decade, the next day, in the bits of progress that are becoming reality.” Rosling is criticized for an overly optimistic view. However, read carefully, “Factfulness,” is an invitation to let small change give us the hope of what we dream but cannot see and spur us forward in hope.

The condition of the world for our children is terrible, in places, horrifically apocalyptically catastrophic. In those places, we must intervene with immediate resolutions of food, water, peace. Peace. Peace.

The Christian response

must be rooted in the gospel of peace in order to move toward the reign of Christ we hope to be creating. Rather than solidifying the perspective that hoarding goods needed for a sustainable life is the only way to stave off our hunger, we share. Rather than reifying the attitude that only by greater destructive power can we save the world from the violence wrought by enemies, we love and sacrifice.
The original enemy was this sibling rivalry. Hope comes from the prince of peace who was born to heal, to share, to forgive and love his enemy, even at the cost of his own life. Few of us will ever have to share a bit of bread, a few dollars of income, that is life-threatening. Yet all of us Jesus-followers are called to let go of our lives.
“For those who want to save their life will lose it,
and those who lose their life for my sake,
and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
Mark 8: 35

You probably made a resolution that involves letting go of something. Don’t give up. Letting go is a spiritual discipline. Add to your resolve the prayer of hope, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4: 13 This prayer glorifyies God in all things, and proclaims the gospel in all circumstances. Here’s Paul’s situation:

“I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need, for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.” Phil 4: 10-12

Can we who follow the Savior learn to be content with less so that others can survive, thrive, with a more? Rejoice—with Christ all things are possible. Rejoice, never giving up, never giving in, never giving out,1 but striving forward with the gospel of peace.
Peace of Christ to you, with you, within you,
1 paraphrasing The Honorable John Lewis 
Images: “Gaza-boys-fenced-in” by AlphaBetaUnlimited is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. ; “Peace on Selby Avenue” by sarahkarnas is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.


Three MPH


He stood in front of a crowd worried about poverty, incarcerations, all the social worries of the day, and talked about evangelism. “The gospel moves at 3 mph. Like this,” and he turned and walked around the room greeting people.

The gospel spreads the way we walk our talk. It’s a slow-moving, transforming encounter with another in which people see each other, speak to each other, hear stories of their lives, worries of their days, and dreams of their futures. The gospel is good news because those who receive it know their existence is worth noting.

Just when I think I’ve come to terms with my inadequacy of making a difference, the sacrament of communion arrives and Jesus says, “come for dinner, I’ve got a surprise for you.”

At the table I see people from a variety of places in life. We are differently abled, all ages, histories that converge and diverge, sorrows and celebrations that are common if not the same. When I remember that on World Communion Sunday, I am acknowledging that the people I see visibly represent the whole church, in all times and in all places, I am remembering that the church is not a building. I remember that I have connections to people near and far. Some I know. Others I may never meet. And wherever they are, they want the same thing I do: world peace and healthy friendships, and hope.

For every devilish declaration that destruction and chaos are winning, there are millions of people who are walking examples of good news. You are one of them.

Moving at 3 mph – with every hand you shake, smile you give, listening ear you open, dream you support, tear you catch, skill you teach, you are the church making peace in the name of Jesus Christ.

We will once again collect the peacemaking offering. This is the gospel at a dollar at a time. Your contributions have built an early warning (cyclone/flooding) system in the south Pacific nation of Tuvalu, created programs for women and girls to avoid and escape human trafficking in Madagascar, and offered training for dismantling racism in our own presbytery. This, too, is the slow-moving spread of the gospel.

Do you wonder if you are alone in your own dreams for a world at peace, or a relationship healed? Maybe there is an answer for you. The table is ready and Christ calls, “Come for dinner….”

Keep shining saints!




Practice, Practice, Practice

Training. Years ago I walked into a hospital with my mom and she stopped in the hallway with her eyes wide and a bit of delight and bewilderment on her face. “That’s me!” She pointed to the large mural on the wall ahead of us in the newly renovated wing of the hospital. There she was, photographed as a nursing student during a fire drill, carrying a patient down the stairs and out of the building. Even now it makes me smile to remember that moment with her.
Today there was a fire drill at the NLC. I remembered other adults talking about nuclear bomb drills, and my own school’s tornado drills, and my grandkid’s comments about intruder drills. I remembered that one of the interim tasks I usually ask for is an emergency drill on a Sunday morning.

I also thought of batting practice, putting greens and driving ranges, speaking in front of a mirror, all kinds of practice sessions people use to get ready for the big event. Church life in the gathered community is sometimes called “orthopraxis.” Being “orthodox,” means having right beliefs. Orthopraxy is doing right action—practicing faith.
But be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.  James 1: 22
When we share the peace of Christ, this is practice session for being people full of grace throughout the week. It is not a “hi, how are you.” The passing of the peace follows the prayer of confession and proclamation of grace and forgiveness specifically so that we can look the person next to us in the eye, someone who just heard and received the same good news we did, and say to them, as Christ forgives and frees you from your sins, so do I—may we live together in peace, or in the ritualized words of the moment: “Peace be with you!”
Let this word settle in your heart more fully as we practice every Sunday sharing the peace here so that you can share peace beyond this community.
Peace be with you!
Rev Bev