As the Western District Lay Leader, I gave the devotional at a recent workshop. Here it is:
As I thought about this devotional this morning, the word Hope kept moving through my mind - so much so that I became convinced that Hope was what I needed to talk about this morning.
So - and this isn't how one should write a devotional - but I went to Bible Gateway online, and searched for the word hope in scripture. And I found 202 references to the word hope. That didn't really amaze me, but what did amaze me was that 15 of those references were in the book of Job. If you think about Job, I imagine he felt hopeless.
If you think about it, many of the people around us feel hopeless. Think about it for a moment. Who around you might feel without hope?
- The person addicted to drugs - who feels hopeless to recover?
- The parent who watches a child suffer - and feels hopeless to stop the pain?
- The friend who watches someone slowly die from Alzheimers?
Have you felt hopeless?
Have you ever attended a church meeting and left feeling hopeless?
But, you are here today, and you come with hope. You come here to learn more about the job you have been called to do - for the work you are about to set about doing is work that is in response to a call from God for you to use your talents and gifts for the work of God's kingdom.
In Acts, Chapter 2, verses 43-47, Luke writes, "Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved."
This is church. This is what church is about. The Guideline page that started me thinking about hope uses the word HOPE to describe the church.
H - hospitality - We offering welcome and inclusion to those who do not know God. We go into the world in outreach and mission, offering hope through our words and our deeds.
O - Offer Christ - we offer Christ by providing opportunities for people to commit their lives to God - think baptism and communion.
P - purpose - We nurture people in faith, demonstrating to them that they have a God-given purpose in the world - to live out their belief in acts of piety and mercy. - being living demonstrations of grace
E - engagement - We send out grace-filled believers who are putting their faith in action.
We as a church are a circle, offering hope to the world. You can hear echos of that in the passage from Acts.
I heard it said once that we as the church, through what we say and what we do, become the happy ending. I hope when you leave here you feel more empowered, equipped and excited to be the hope for the world so that the church can become the happy ending.