Tag Archives: kingdom

Surprised By Hope

10 Apr

Over the last few months, sparked by N.T. Wright’s workbook Surprised by Hope, our community has been re-discovering, re-imagining, and stumbling towards re-living God’s hope for our neighborhood of Golden Hill. It’s come time again, for God’s people to experience the hope of Jesus, maybe even be surprised by it – and share it- with the rest of the world. Wright eloquently describes how this hope has world transforming power, and yet, is more than just anticipation for what God will do in the future. But the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth…today.

The reality is that God has divinely appointed Holly and I in our little yellow apartment on A street because He wants to bring His hope through us to the places we dine, shop, work, play, and live. As a fellow sojourners and apprentices of Jesus, our community reflected on the needs of our neighborhood and the pain people are facing on our streets.  We decided to prayer walk our neighborhood with the hope that God would bless our eyes to see the unseen – the untold stories of our parish. And enter into the deeper pain, loss, and hopelessness that can saturate our own backyards. As I walked with one of my community mates, we imagined God’s dreams for our place- what He wants to happen would actually happen. It is quite sobering and apparent the places where God’s Kingdom has not come yet in the 7×10 block radius of Golden Hill. The further I practice prayer walking (and I’m a baby!) the more I discover that Jesus is upping the ante. He’s no longer content with my personal safe prayers, typically muddled under my breath for my neighbors, divorced from any cost or relationship. No, actually He continues to call me to something higher and enter into that pain and suffering – maybe even participate with Jesus in becoming the answer to some of them. And He did it to me this particular evening.

As we strolled one of the main corridors of B street there was a lady sitting on her front porch smoking a cigarette. Immediately after walking past her I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray for her. I ignored it for a couple minutes, eventually feeling compelled to go back.  Nervous and afraid (she probably heard the cracking 8 year old David voice come out of me) I said, “God highlighted your presence as I walked past you. I think He wants us to pray for you, would it be ok If we blessed you this evening through prayer?” Her strong suspicious face began to melt into surprise, a little bewilderment, and wonder when she said, “ It’s crazy that you ask me that- I just experienced my first miscarriage and lost my baby.” Through tears “Sarah” shared her story with us and invited us to pray with her, for her, and alongside of her. God’s Spirit was richly abundant that evening bringing peace, hope, healing, and comfort. 

Moments like these give me hope because it reveals the hope of the Church – that is, it is so much more than just what lies ahead some day when Jesus returns. As Wright puts it, “It is our experience of God’s kingdom breaking into our everyday journey of faith as we do justice, extend mercy, express love, offer compassion, and celebrate beauty….all in the name of Jesus.” For me in my place, it’s a suffering woman on the street smoking a cigarette to ease her pain or an elderly lady who roams around in a wheelchair longing for friendship. There are 100’s of wounded Sarah’s around us, and these are the people we are called to live alongside of and love. In the place God has planted you, who is need of being surprised by hope once again? 

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