1 CHRONICLES 1:1-4
1 CHRONICLES 1:5-7
1 CHRONICLES 1:8-16
1 CHRONICLES 1:17-23
1 CHRONICLES 1:24-27
1 CHRONICLES 1:32-33
1 CHRONICLES 1:28-31
1 CHRONICLES 1:34
Hopes and Fears
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
The first verse of O Little Town of Bethlehem ends with this phrase. It’s inclusion of both hopes and fears make it one of the most powerful lines we sing each Christmas. Reflecting on 2017 and welcoming 2018, I’ve been especially focused on hopes and fears.
As we enter this new year, my desire for us as a congregation is that we have the spaces and places, in our hearts and minds and life together, to share both our hopes and our fears. At the congregational meeting in December, I heard fears about money and the numbers of people in worship. And, at the same meeting, I heard hopes about our future. This year, I want to hold our hopes and fears together in conversation with one another.
Sometimes I think that fears are easier to articulate. They can be expressed with declining numbers or a couple of glances at the headlines in the newspaper or on TV or on social media. Fears can seem more rooted in reality. But, I also think fears can be a source of stability and caution. When we’re fearful, we’re more likely to proceed with caution, or at least with a heightened sense of awareness. Fear can wake us up to pay more attention.
Our hopes are harder to make tangible. At the meeting in December, and in council meetings throughout the fall, we’ve talked about vision and direction and purpose. These conversations can be very hopeful, and they are full of fear as well. Andrea Weininger, in the council corner article in this month’s newsletter, expresses a desire to transition to thriving from surviving and from reacting to being more proactive. These are hopeful transitions.
We need hope, not just that our congregation grows into a place of thriving, but also hope that is rooted in the One whose birth we just celebrated, and Whose presence in our lives is our greatest source of purpose, thriving, and hope. Transitioning to trusting and hoping in our God in Christ is the hard, daily work of life as Christians. There is a reason that discipline and disciple look so much alike.
In the end, as I write to you this month, I think what I’m really asking is that in 2018 we commit to sharing our hopes and fears with one another. I know this is hard and vulnerable work. And, for inspiration in this hard and vulnerable work, I think about the Christ-child in the manger. I can think of no more vulnerable place that our God could have chosen to become one of us. Again and again our God chooses us with an open vulnerable heart, and meets us in our hopes and fears, through a manger, a cross, and an empty tomb.
Peace to you in the midst of your fears; hope to you as you venture into the future,
p.s. Here is the prayer attributed to Martin Luther I mentioned at our congregational meeting. Its themes relate to our hopes and fears as we begin a new year.
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we will go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1 CHRONICLES 1:35-37
1 CHRONICLES 1:38-42
1 CHRONICLES 1:43-2:2
1 CHRONICLES 2:3-6
1 CHRONICLES 2:8