Week 1 – Hope for the Weary
We were created by God to live with a healthy cadence in life. However, far too many of us are living without margin in every area of our lives. We fill our calendars. We can’t say no. We live with a harmful drive to achieve. We have lost hope that it will slow down anytime soon. Jesus offers us such a gift in saying that he has come to give us rest. This rest is found in a grace that does not demand that we jump through all the hoops or get everything right. The rest that Jesus offers is an unmerited favor for anyone who comes to Him. This grace is best experienced in community. We can learn from Jesus as we learn from one another. When we do Church with one another, we lift one another up, we protect one another’s boundaries, and we carry one another’s burdens.
Week 2 – Hope for the Broken
There is no worse feeling than when our sin finds us out. Being exposed can leave us feeling broken and ashamed. Oftentimes, this can be rock bottom for us. Many of us can relate to the woman caught in adultery. We may fail in different ways, but they have the same result. The woman was going to pay the price for her sin—until she meets Jesus. What hope she must have felt as the stones began to fall at the feet of her accusers, and she was given a second chance to “go and sin no more.” If you feel broken today, hope is here. Jesus is offering forgiveness and a fresh start. On the other side, how we interact with people around us who have made mistakes says a lot about our relationship with Jesus. The Church should be the place where grace is found easily and forgiveness is extended quickly.
Week 3 – Hope for the Underdog
David was only a young boy when he decided to go toe-to-toe with a Philistine giant. Everyone else was too afraid to fight because it seemed like more than they could overcome. They were right. The only way this battle would be won was by trusting God to intervene. On his own, David was an underdog, but with God, he was an overcomer. There is no enemy you can face in this life that God cannot give you the victory over. But you must trust in Him. When the Church comes together in great faith, there is nothing it cannot do. The Israelites were fearful until David stepped up in faith. Sometimes a community of believers needs someone to go first. That step of faith can ignite others to follow.
Week 4 – Hope for the Doubter
When life gets tough, it is easy to doubt that things can get better. The disciples had watched their friend be crucified and buried in a tomb, and they were devastated. Even though others had claimed to see Jesus resurrected from the dead, Thomas did not want to get his hopes up, only to be disappointed again. He doubted their story. It was not until Thomas saw the scars on Jesus’ hands and side that he was filled with hope again. Some of us have experienced such tragedy and pain that we too struggle with doubt. We need to know that Jesus has overcome death and, if we have eyes to see it, is active in our lives today. The Church must become a place that is safe for those who have doubts. The evidence for God is best revealed when it is lived out authentically in community.