Welcome to the New Hope Lutheran Church website. We hope this site will help you learn more about us and our witness for Christ. We strive to recognize and nurture the Christ in ourselves and each person that we encounter along the way. Our church is a thriving community of believers, and lovers of the word of God. New Hope has a long tradition of outreach and service to its members and the community. We hope you will join us for service on Sunday to experience for yourself the fellowship of Christ.
Meet Pastor JeffPastor Jeff St. Clair has been an inspiration to our community and our congregation. Pastor Jeff's sermons are full of insightful stories that have real-life meaning and scriptural relevance, all while being engaging and full of life-force.
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December 11, 2016
About New Hope
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Blessing Corner for December: Luterana Cristo Rey
Latin: "to come"
The season of Advent marks the beginning of the church year and comprises the four weeks before Christmas. Advent comes from the Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives. "Since the time of Bernard of Clairvaux (d.1153) Christians have spoken of the three comings of Christ: in the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts daily, and in glory at the end of time." The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.
Color of the Season
Bit and pieces from here and there.
The following seasonal introduction was first published in Sundays and Seasons 2017, Year A, copyright © 2016 Augsburg Fortress.
“You know what time it is” (Rom. 13:11).
The cycle of the church year orders our time in Christian community around the central mystery of our faith: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our experience of this mystery, however, is not linear—a simple narrative path from beginning to end. Our lives are full of endings and beginnings happening all at once, interspersed with waiting, lament, and hope.
The “now-and-not-yet” nature of the fulfillment of our hope in Christ is never more rhetorically real than in the season of Advent. In its great wisdom, the lectionary launches us into this wheel of time with a season that, much like our own lives, is full of endings and beginnings—and, of course, waiting.
While Advent has often been understood as Christmas’s Lenten counterpart—a season of preparation for a particular feast—our readings in this season serve a deeper liturgical purpose than simply helping us resist the commercialization of the holiday season and more reverently celebrate Christmas. Advent is indeed a season of anticipation, but also of revolution: “The world is about to turn,” as we sing in Rory Cooney’s fiery paraphrase of the Magnificat (ELW 723). The readings in Advent prepare us to receive not only a new baby, but a new world where God’s justice and mercy reign.
For this reason, the first Sunday of Advent begins not with a reference to Jesus’ impending birth but with the “coming of the Son of Man” at an unexpected hour in Matthew 24. This text disrupts our sense of time by declaring that we don’t, in fact, know what time it is—and need time to prepare. The prophecy in Isaiah 2 gives us hope for a world at peace, and Paul’s encouragement in Romans 13 tells us “the day is near.” And yet references to Noah and a thief in the night in the gospel reading give us the sense that the coming day of the Lord will be so bright it might singe our hair. Of course it won’t. But we will be changed.
The readings on the second Sunday further develop this theme of conversion. From Isaiah foretelling a world where the “wolf shall live with the lamb,” to Paul’s admonition that Christians “live in harmony with one another,” the readings this day are full of reconciliations that are impossible without a drastic change in the world order. In fact, the promise held out by these readings sounds perfectly ridiculous if left to human will or strength. But the change at hand is directed and empowered by the “Spirit of the Lord” (Isa. 11), the Spirit given in baptism, and of which John the Baptist is a herald (Matt. 3): Repent! Be cleansed! Bear fruit!
These are not soft and comforting words that echo the sentiments often expressed in the movies constantly rerun on cable television this month. They are piercing and disorienting words. And yet therein lies their beauty, as most people in worship on these Sundays are keenly aware that something is not right in the world—or within themselves, for that matter—and they are longing to be set free. They might also be longing to have language in worship that allows them to pray and sing for that freedom in community, if the church would give them the space and the permission.
This longing is perhaps perfectly captured on the third Sunday: “Are you the one who is to come,” John asks through the disciples in Matthew 11:3, “or are we to wait for another?” But on this Sunday, sometimes called Gaudete, or “Rejoice” Sunday, the heaviness of our preparatory task begins to lift, and the fear and foreboding of the previous two Sundays starts giving way to joy—joy such that even the creation itself breaks forth into praise (Isa. 35). Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) is an option as a response to the first reading on this day, calling us to rejoice with her in God’s saving work. While the Mighty One’s “bringing down” and “lifting up” may prove unsettling for the powerful, it will be received by the lowly as a blessing and a promise kept.
Only now, on the fourth Sunday of Advent, are we ready to hear of the Child. We have considered our world: its structures of power, its systems of justice and injustice; we have considered the earth: the land, the sea, and their creatures; and we have considered ourselves, and our relationship with the all these powers, places, and living things. We are now ready to be changed and receive the gift, for now we know what to look for: not a new program or politician or product to come and save us, but a sign that says, “God is with us” (Isa. 7, Matt. 1).
It’s all here: hope, longing, fear, comfort, repentance, restoration, death, birth, endings, and beginnings. And like our lives, it doesn’t all come at us in a tidy package. But over these four Sundays, the arc of the story is clear: the darkness is giving way to the light, the world is being reborn, and God is on the way.