By Trudy Landis …
I think and pray and daydream a lot about hope these days.
Hope includes the synonyms of anticipation, aspiration, belief, confidence, desire, expectation, faith, promise…
Almost 20 years ago when a group of us were a part of our dear and beloved Hope Chapel we began to feel the tug of the Lord toward a different expression of His ‘body’. A different hope, a different articulation of the One we all loved. Those were hard days – saying goodbye to much we cherished to become Hope in the City.
We hauled our stuff around town – pretty joyfully – as a mobile church. We made a Sunday morning home in a lunchroom and then a gym and we turned high school classrooms into nurseries. We had our office in goofy places like over Smoothie King and for a few months with some kind of grumpy engineers. And once in square little rooms that used to be a nursing home.
We started Hope for the Nations on shoestring and with so much hope it was a little hard to breathe – thinking of what a privilege it was to join the Lord in being a part of His plan for our city and for the nations.
We anticipated the coming of the Lord in all that He was directing us to do. That His words to us were as real and directive and full of hope as anything we had ever done. So, we loved and served and started Hope Communities. We aspired to be like the first-century church – “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers”
We wholeheartedly believed that as we worshipped and prayed and sought the Lord together that He would fulfill His purposes in us – individually and collectively. We were confident that the Lord’s desires for us as a people lived out and just plain figured out, as we walked together in spirit and in truth….and sometimes in messes.
Our expectation was that His coming kingdom would be filled with those whose lives had been forever changed by what He did with us and through us – those surrendered to Him and His purposes. We chose discipleship. We lived our daily lives determined to hear God’s voice in our homes, our businesses, our schools, our communities and FOR all those we encountered. We made conscious decisions to be light in every place we found ourselves.
When there were tough seasons we had faith that as we were true to His calling for us as a church and we contended for love – even tough love – that His purposes, whether we understood them or not, would prevail. We sent our friends into hard places believing in faith that the sacrifice of comfort and ease as we followed His prompting was worth it, that there would be joy and fulfillment in it.
Even if you haven’t been around all of those almost 20 years – this is who we are, this is who you worship with, serve in the city with, lead Hope Community with, study the Bible with, pray for, live life with, seek the Father with. This is who you are.
There’s no doubt that the winds of change have been blowing. There’s no doubt that it’s been a challenging season. There’s no doubt that there’s been heartache. There’s no doubt that there are easier churches to be a part of than it’s been around here for a while.
There’s also no doubt that God has been marvelously faithful. There’s no doubt that we are growing in all kinds of ways. That the calling of the Lord is irrevocable. That Hope in the City has more to do in our city and in the nations. That there’s great joy in obedience and in His presence. That His promises are true.
I’m finding lots of hope as I navigate the waters of being your Member Care Pastor these days. My prayer for you is every day what Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you – being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations, forever and ever, amen.”
Bless you, Hope in the City.