A large part of my new appointment has to do with church systems. What systems do we have in place? Which ones are strategic? Which ones are organic? What’s working well? What needs tweaking?I’ve got an activity I like to use to get our teams involved …
As of today it is very likely that we only have 365 days left with our oldest son at home. This week started a milestone school year for him and us: Senior Year. While he may be counting down the days until graduation, I’m counting all of the things I …
My eldest son and I have been doing college visits this year. We been to large schools, small schools, state schools and private schools. The process of visiting these schools together has been great bonding time for the two of us. Although it has been…
Re-posting again after a discussion with a friend.Everybody has a story. From my perspective, each person’s journey is a story of their faith. A story that shows God intersecting in their life, often in powerful ways.Over the years I’ve heard and read …
“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” -Martin Luther We have two violinists in the family. Both are learning via the Suzuki method which has taught me many things about how people learn and ways to inc…
Psalm 9: 1-2; 18I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.I will be glad and exult in you;I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.For the needy shall not always be forgotten,nor the hope of the poor…
Why is energy wasted on young children? This morning I did our chapel service at the Preschool in our church. I had a snow globe with a manger scene inside as a prop. I turned it upside down and back right again and all of the kids oohed and aahed over…
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne
The words to this Charles Wesley Advent hymn express the difference between hope and optimism. Optimism is the belief in possibilities. Hope is the belief in expectations. For me the biggest difference is that hope comes in a person. Jesus is our hope. The hope of all the earth. The answer to the grief that the prophets (and we) proclaimed. Hope that sets people free from sin, brokenness, and poverty. Hope is beyond our human understanding or control.
Let’s look at hope in regards to eliminating poverty more fully in another framework:
Scripture: Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 It may be strange to quote this scripture when there are so many others specifically mentioning hope or the poor but it is important to see that our hope in overcoming poverty or anything else does not come in isolation. God is “with” us. Just as we are called to be in ministry with others we must always remember that because God is “with” us, we are able to do more that we ever thought possible.
Experience: I have countless stories of impossibilities that are suddenly realized into being. Miraculous healings. Financial provisions. Reconciled relationships. This is the freedom expected in Jesus and our hope for now and the future. With God it is possible for poverty to be abolished.
Tradition: Since the 8th century Christians have been celebrating the season of Advent at the beginning of the Christian year. This celebration is about the expectation of Jesus coming into the world not only at Christmas but also again at the second coming. There is a hope in both expectations. In the former that Jesus showed us how he would build the Kingdom of God with us and the latter when the Kingdom will be fully realized. Working to eliminate poverty has been a means of grace in the UMC (and part of working toward the Kingdom of God) since the days of Wesley.
Reason: People often ask if it is possible to eliminate poverty. I believe it is. It is one of the development goals established by the UN and in their report from earlier this year, “The target of reducing extreme poverty rates by half was met five years ahead of the 2015 deadline.” The goal is not yet realized but many great strides are being taken. We are closer than ever.
Until Everyone Hears,
People at Cornerstone UMC have a heart for missions. Our “Angel Tree” that gets put up this time of year with names of children and their Christmas list is so popular that all the names are taken within 30 minutes (we’ve had to start only putting half …
Hope arises out of our brokenness. The grace of God does not leave us broken but transforms us into a new creation! We cannot do this alone. We need God’s transforming power to work in us and with us. Our hearts, though broken by poverty in this world, can have hope that the brokenness of this world can be transformed into something beautiful. Death is not the end. Poverty is not a final state either. Our brokenness is not so much mended as it is transformed.
Romans 12:2 (NRSV): “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”