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We believe that God’s mission has a church. We believe that this congregation, this church is part of God’s mission. That mission unfolds here in many ways, but if we had to name four ways that it is being worked out on a large scale then I would say, as we’ve said before, it is Campus, Kids, Healing, and Hope.

It is this last one that I want to call your attention to: Hope. What does hope look like among a people who strive to live out God’s mission in this world? What is hope? What does it do, what does it feel like? Is hope something more than a political slogan or campaign buzzword (like change)? Is hope anything more than wishful thinking?

To appreciate what hope means, we need a word of wisdom about our human condition that is more ancient than our American culture in the 21st century. We need a word of wisdom that is much deeper than our reductionist reading of Bible. We need a word that truly speaks what we feel rather than what we think we should feel.

There is such a word in the Psalms. We find it buried beneath the sweet and comforting glow of Psalm 23. We find it on the lips of Jesus as he suffers on the cross. It is a word familiar to God’s children, but unfortunately we haven’t always felt comfortable discussing it. It’s like on of those family secrets that everyone knows, but no one can ever verbalize it.

But this Psalm was written down for all generations. It was set to music and arranged to be sung in worship. It became the earliest Christians’ scripture for understanding Jesus. Unfortunately we have given this Psalm to Jesus, applied it to Jesus, but never owned it ourselves. If we are going to take up our cross and follow him, then we need to open this Psalm up. For as raw, ugly, and seemingly irreverent as this Psalm may seem, it is a key that unlocks the meaning of hope.

Read Psalm 22.

  1. Crying Out for Help: What do you say when God seems Silent?

  2. God is Near:

  3. Celebration and Suffering: Hope promises to praise God.

Imagine our assembly and our community as a place of Hope. Like God we do not hide our face from those who suffer. Like God we do not despise or abandon those who feel forsaken. The praises of those who have received help, strengthen those who cry out for it.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 2 August 2009

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