Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.

Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)

About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.

The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Hope comes at the end of the struggle

Rev. Sonya Allen preached yesterday at 4th United Presbyterian, interpreting Paul's words from Romans 5:1-11. And, as she reflected on vv. 3-5, she re-read Paul's words: "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings" and Rev. Allen wondered out loud how anyone could rejoice in her sufferings. And, then she read on: "knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope."

And, then, she said a few words about how when we are suffering, what we are experiencing at first is certainly not hope. It is in the process of enduring by faith this suffering that we somehow come to an experience of hope. And, often it is the culmination of many experiences of "survival" of suffering that leads us to hope in our hearts.

And, following the letter and the spirit of the sermon yesterday I continue this line of thought saying: we try to sell people hope when what they need is support from us in their suffering. We try to say: "hope in the Lord," when what that person needs is someone to endure the burden with them, or simply to help them endure it through whatever help or kindness can be offered.

What really produces hope in our lives is the experience of God's faithfulness and love. We best point to that faithfulness and engender its awakening when we express God's concern by enduring with and supporting and loving others.

For, as Paul says in Romans 5:5: "and hope (what arises when we experience love) does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

Thanks for another sermon that encourages us to seek the living Word of God in our lives.

At Fourth United Presbyterian, we believe that the Word of God is a living reality arising directly from the heart of God that is seeking to heal, encourage, guide and transform our lives. As those who preach, we are not about delivering some canned doctrinal message or treating the Word of God as if it is closed up in a book and can be handed out in nice measured sermons. God's Word comes to us as a surprising, overwhelming reality that reveals our foolishness at times, but also confirms our deepest longings and encourages our greatest hopes. As preachers of the Gospel, we bear witness to a living divine reality that is accessible to all who are open to the coming of such holy grace and mystery into their lives. We can't tell you exactly how that divine reality works or what our gracious God is up to on any given day. But, we can celebrate a goodness that has pierced our souls, a beauty that has made us praise, a love that has revived us: heart, mind, body and soul. All thanks be to God, the one who comes to seek and save, to heal and help, and to drag us back to the path of life.

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