07 Dec This week at Hope 12/05/2022
Yesterday in worship we observed the Second Sunday in Advent. Our attention was captured by John the Baptist and his cry in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Of course, John redirects our attention to Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Sunday adult Discipleship class undertook Part One of “The Biblical Mission of the Church.” This coming Sunday we will try to discern how it inspires and guides the Christian church in the world now.
One of my Advent devotions today reopened my eyes to the way of the Lord. I think it positions the church, Hope congregation, and myself where we need to be these days for God’s gracious working through the Holy Spirit. From Richard Rohr:
“The major heresy of the Western churches is that they have largely turned the very meaning of faith into its exact opposite. True faith involves not knowing and even not needing to know, but we made faith demanding to know and insisting that we do know! The original sin, brilliantly described, warned us against this temptation at the very beginning.
We hear our story of humanity’s original sin in Genesis 2. But this sin, as we’ve called it, really doesn’t look like a sin at all. In fact, wanting knowledge feels like virtue. Haven’t you ever wondered about that? “You may indeed eat of all of the trees in the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat” (Genesis 2:16–17). Why would that be a sin? It sounds like a good thing!
In seminary, we called it moral theology. We ate bushels from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, trying to decide who was good and who was bad. On other levels, our knowledge unfortunately refined and even created the very judgmental mind that Jesus strictly warned us against (see Matthew 7:1–2).
When we lead off with our judgments, love will seldom happen. Religion is almost always corrupted when the mind, which needs to make moral judgments about everything, is the master instead of the servant.
Some would think that is the whole meaning of Christianity: to be able to decide who’s going to heaven and who isn’t, who is holy and who is unholy. This is much more a search for control than it is a search for truth, love, or God. It has to do with ego, which needs to pigeonhole everything to give itself that sense of “I know” and “I am in control.”
I guess God knew that religion would take this direction. So, God said, “Don’t do it. Don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God is trying to keep us from a lust for certitude, an undue need for explanation, resolution, and answers. Frankly, these things make biblical faith impossible…
Instead of insisting on dividing reality into the good and the bad, we bear the ambiguity, the inconsistencies, and the brokenness of all things. It is our ultimate act of solidarity with humanity and with the world…”
Thanks to everyone who pitched in to decorate the church for Advent/Christmas. It is beautiful!
Midweek Advent services are offered this Wednesday at both 11:30 am and 6:30 pm. With the theme of “Living in Adaptive Challenges,” this week’s topic is Wilderness—We Can’t Support Ourselves. Stick around at noon for a fellowship meal, or come early at 5:30 in the evening.
Also this Wednesday, Hope’s Book Club invites you to the showing of the movie, “Where the Crawdads Sing”. Showtime is 1:00 pm.
Mark your calendar for Christmas Caroling with Hope on Saturday, December 17. We will meet at the church at 5:30 pm for a bowl of warm chili, hop on the hay trailer to sing through the neighborhood, then finish up at 7 pm back at the church with cookies and hot cocoa.
Scripture readings next Sunday—Isaiah 35:1-10; James 5:7-11; Matthew 11:2-15.
Three ways to Give in support of Hope’s ministry and mission:
• in-person at the offering plate in worship;
• on the church website by the Give with Us button;
• through the Vanco mobile app GivePlus. Thank you!
Birthdays—12/7 Una Kunkel
“Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” Matthew 3