Looking forward to Christmas… some thoughts on hope

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.

You wait and watch and work;

you don’t give up.”

~Anne Lamott

The Sunday night portion of our Gathering is, as we move closer and closer to Christmas, discussing hope, faith, peace, and love. Last night we talked about hope.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and from an emerging church perspective… from a Christian perspective… I guess from a human perspective, hope and the state of hope in our world is something to be very concerned about. I think it is clear to most that when it comes to hope, we are in short supply. More and more people are struggling with depression, and while that might be due to a greater acceptance of depression as a viable thing to struggle with, I think it is also due to a decreasing number of things to place our hope in. It really comes down to (and the stats confirm it) people really only able to hope in themselves. I just read an article from the Barna Institute confirming some of the same things. It really comes down to our own selves. But this, doesn’t really seem to satisfy what we need as individuals being geared to be in relationships.

So we can’t hope that the government is going to fix things. We don’t hope that war is going to bring peace. We have a difficult time hoping that the environment can be saved with our current way of living. We struggle with hoping that the “American dream” is all that it’s cracked up to be. And sadly, at least from where I am coming from, there is an even smaller hope in Christians being able to make a lasting, relevant difference in this world. This saddens me, as it seems to me that the message that Jesus lived out, even to his death and resurrection, was that there IS hope. People don’t get this from us Christians, though.

So in this world of diminishing hope, we have to ask ourselves the question: What can we do? How do we, in some very significant way, restore hope to this world? As an emerging community, seeking to follow God in the way of Jesus, this question is of incredible importance. As we look at the impact of our relationships, and the spread of influence through the relationships of those we are close to, it seems clear that perhaps things can spread quite quickly. It starts with being hopeful people. My first hope is that people might be able to place their hope in Christians again. Okay, maybe not all… but at least in this one. Maybe they might see me as someone whose way of living IS different, as someone who WILL love them where they are at. Maybe, in me first, they might see a way of living that really IS attractive.

And after they have hope in me, maybe they might have hope in my community… “Wow, you mean there are actually a group of you that I can have hope in? People… CHRISTIANS… can actually be open with each other and not judgmental of people like me?!?” We show them something different, welcome people… anyone… and they begin to see us as having something to offer. And then, as our hope is restored in Christian community (because, yes, all of us are growing and restoring our hope), perhaps we are then able to hope that the message of Jesus has something to offer as well.

But this is slow… it is done through relationships, through “doing life together,” through pain and waiting and long nights and early mornings. It is not done through my writing, or through books, or radio programs. Hope is spread one person at a time. Maybe, just maybe… hopefully… we might be able to give someone hope this holiday season. Even one person more hopeful, is a step in the direction of a hopeful world.

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4 thoughts on “Looking forward to Christmas… some thoughts on hope”

  1. Greetings~
    I found your journal from a simple google search-congratulations, it was close to the top, and a simple search-it was “deep conversations for real christians”.

    A little testimony:
    I was touched with my need for God at 21. I was raised in an ungodly home, with much distraction of t.v. and fear. I have grown through much struggling in the Lord for the past 8 years and am very happy for my faith in Jesus. I recall being unsaved:
    -alone
    -aching always (when not distracted)
    -always looking for an outlet from the emptiness
    —JUST Perfect Grounds for A Loving God to Capture My Heart.

    I want to encourage you, your journal (blog?) shows a burden that you are feeling. I am reminded of Elijah in 1Kings 19 when he flees from Jezebel, escaping to a wilderness. He cries out, and Almighty God reveals that He is in control. That even if Elijah were counted among the dead, there were 7,000 others who purposed to fail in bowing the knee to Baal.
    ….ahhhh, I get a goosey feeling that washes over me at that 7,000 number—a brotherhood in God.

    Your heart aches, Nate?
    For a coworker, a parent, a shop clerk, the waitress, a carnal brother in Christ?

    “How do I get through it? How can they be reached? Will they ever stop and think? It’s gonna be e*t*e*r*n*a*l hell.”
    It is the ache of my heart too.
    God says He is able, I pray over my doubts to believing it.
    God reached me, so I know He can reach another dark life.
    I’ve heard the testimonies of lives in our Assembly, lives far more destroyed than my own, yet they found Christ at an older age.

    God knows.
    My feelings are but a shadow next to reality of God’s. He’s the one who created them and then so loved them, that He gave His only son. He gives every man a chance to yield, to see, to receive.

    Us as a Witness:
    What an honor to be allowed to live beyond, in fear & trembling throughout our salvation. Yet, I’ll admit I’m the first to cry to God, as Elijah—‘take me home!’

    You.
    Nate, you are not responsible to save the world from itself, not to be the One example of a Godly walk, not to win people over and prove God is real.
    That’s God’s job.
    The Gate is narrow & the way difficult & few find it. (sad)

    “So! I want to help You, Lord!”
    What zeal.
    And you DO–IF you seek to be pleasing to Him IN the WAY He prescribes in his Proverbs, Corinthians, Genesis, Romans, Ephesians!
    A quiet life speaks Abundantly to a Dying world–

    When I was an unsaved sinner, I had some odd people cross my path, scattered throughout those 21 years. They were odd. I couldn’t explain what it was. I trusted them, yet, why? I was scared to talk to them. I admired their friendships. I wanted their peace. I thought they were too serious and I felt less than them. They looked clean, acted clean, beautiful people. They were strong and I felt entirely lost next to them. I was jealous and felt more lost.

    Unsaved Sinners put on the best masks of feigned unacknowledgement…..my own quote, feel free to use it.
    Emptiness & Need are powerful tools in God’s belt.

    Be rested, brother! And be a soldier too!
    Matthew 11:28

    Thanks for the reminder of hope,
    Courtney

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  2. Courtney, thank you for your encouragement. I am interested in your story. A few things in the matter of clarification. My heart doesn’t necessarily ache. I mean, yah I care so strongly for those who wouldn’t call themselves followers of Jesus. But I am more excited than anything else, that I get to be involved in their lives. I get to learn from them more about how people feel about “Christians.”

    I suppose also that I don’t feel like I want them to feel lost around me. I never want that. I don’t want to be beautiful and clean so that they will feel a desire for that. I want others to know that the beauty and cleanliness is there for them and they don’t have to appear any different. I want others to feel at home when they are with me.

    Thank you for stopping by… and please, if you are willing to share more of your own story, go for it. Part of me thinks that we might come to some different conclusions on a number of things, but I really think that is good.

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  3. Good Evening~
    Sorry it took me awhile and Thank you for your quick reply, you must carry a laptop with you wherever you go, huh?

    You mentioned your interest in more of my story, good! I work well with questions-what would you like to know?

    Yes, I agree that we may have some different conclusions, but I welcome the opportunity in seeking truth with another like-minded one.

    “Let your light SO shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt 5

    ……
    I’m late for a dinner party, so I may not be able to get back with you until tomorrow.

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