We are so blessed to have your presence in worship today! We have over fifty children and youth who are leading us in our service of healing and wholeness. They have worked hard on their roles. Our prayer for you is that this is a time to hear and experience God’s merciful gifts in your life in a new way. We pray that through the varied opportunities in this morning’s service, you might make a new connection to renewing forgiveness and healing grace, of God in Jesus Christ, working through the Holy Spirit.

Inevitably, a service about healing brings us deep questions and deep hurts. We wonder why there is hurt to begin with, why our hurts even exist, and we recall the hurts of those around us and their brokenness. Some of our hurts can be so overwhelming we don’t know what to do with them. Some, over the course of years, lose their poignancy and no longer carry the power they once did. Some are just downright confusing and unjust. Our brokenness comes in many forms.

I share with you these words from Psalm 147 in thinking about God’s pursuit of healing and wholeness for us all:

Praise the LORD!
How good it is to sing praises to our God
for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds.

An age-old question becomes; how are we as people of God’s covenantal promises called to live amidst our brokenness? There is no easy answer to this but one recurring theme through scripture that overshadows all others: hopefulness. We are, in the life of Jesus Christ, called to be a ridiculously hopeful people even in the midst of real human suffering and grief. Our hopefulness can be our source of joy. Our hopefulness can bring joy to others. It is no easy task, and the road to deep abiding hopefulness is not prescribed; but it is a journey we take together.

I praise God for all the hope that we know because of the Gospels. I praise God for the hopefulness that we at First Congo share and live with one another as a faith community. I pray that hopefulness will be what defines us even when being hopeful seems foolish. I pray that in this service, you might open up a new part of your heart and challenge lingering beliefs, to accept the hopefulness of God’s abundant love and grace in your life. May God plant a bulb in you this day that will flourish and sprout forth a hope unlike any other. 

Grace and Peace, Pastor Nick

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