Lent is here, and our church, Bethel Lutheran, is doing what it always does, meeting its challenges and opportunities with hope and faith.
What do these two words, hope and faith, mean to you? Does an image of your church spring to mind when you hear those words? If not, then I encourage you to ask yourself why.
The church should be a place of hope. It should be a place to turn to for those whose lives have taken a turn for the worse; lost jobs, poor health, uncertain futures.
Church should be the one place we know that we will have hope of finding some sort of answer to one or more of these difficulties. And if an answer is not found, then we can expect to find comfort and peace in church.
Faith only happens when the thing we have faith in has given us signs that it is trustworthy. We only have faith because we have a God who is always there for us.
God is there for us by stirring us as neighbors to care for each other and the world.
God is there for us by providing an answer to our fears about what happens when we die.
God is there for us on the cross, giving us all we need so that life, eternal life, is our future.
For now, we need to remember that God is moving us to faith through the Spirit. And, faith is needed in order for us to have hope.
I encourage you to think about how your church can prove faithful to its neighbors. How can your church be a place that when hard times come, people can look to it with hopeful eyes?
And ask yourself: what can I do in the upcoming months to reach out to this world?
As you ask yourself these questions, remember that whatever your answer, your God remains faithful to you and the gifts of faith and hope are already yours.