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Hanging Onto Hope // M-Note 4.17.20

April 17, 2020

Dear Gathering,

I want to thank all of you that worshiped with The Gathering on Easter Sunday. While we had to celebrate Christ’s resurrection in a much different way, we DID celebrate. A record number of people tuned in to worship together online and for that I am so grateful. Receiving pictures, texts, posts, and emails from so many of you telling me about your experience worshiping online made my day. We had entire families around the country worship together for the first time in a long time. We got to share communion together, and many of you even decided to make a family project out of baking your own communion bread. One of you even delivered my family a small loaf (we were so grateful). We had thousands more people worship with us this year than at any Easter ever in the history of The Gathering. God indeed does God’s best work while it is still dark!

Easter was incredible. It really was. And…if I am honest, the day was also hard for me. After online worship, back at my house I shuffled around with a nervous energy, like I was missing an important appointment. I missed the big celebration with all of you, and the meal back at my house with friends and family. I was sad by the pain that so many people are experiencing and the anxiety that is still very real in many of our lives. It was a day of mixed emotions. And while I am a little reluctant to name that, it is important to do so. Many of my days right now are a mixture of seeing the good and grieving what is lost. I don’t get it right every day, and sometimes the overwhelming nature of it all gets the best of me.

Maybe you experience that as well. Maybe you try every day to be positive, see the good, and remain grateful. And yet, despite your best efforts, there are days when anger, fear, or fatigue seem to win. It is ok. You aren’t the only one. We can’t ignore that even though we have faith, life is still really hard right now.

That is why I need the biblical idea of hope. Paul writes this:

We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8.24-25 NRS

Hope recognizes with complete honesty that yes, right now, life is overwhelming and difficult. Hope also points to the future, confident that God is bringing about a new day. With hope we are able to have bad days, while still hanging onto the belief that God is at work and the future will be better. Hope is for seasons like this.

But hope takes work. It takes effort, and we have to learn how to have it. That’s why this weekend I am excited to be starting a new series Hanging on to Hope when the World is Upside Down. I will be talking about how we can have hope and some concrete actions to make it a reality in our lives. 

Since all of our worship is online, that means you can invite your friends and family no matter where they live. All of us need to learn to live with hope, especially now. So I encourage you to send a note to a friend, share the series on facebook, or message someone and invite them to worship with you here at The Gathering. 

As a reminder, The Gathering worships online Sundays at 9am,10:45am and 5pm on Facebook Live, YouTube or gatheringnow.org. You can also download our app or stream on compatible AppleTV or Roku devices. If you don’t catch it live, you can watch the entire service or share it at gatheringnow.org/ondemand anytime throughout the week. 

I am so grateful for the way all of you have stayed engaged in the church during this time. Your participation in worship, engagement in CoreGroups, and generosity are all making a difference far beyond what you are able to see. Thank you and let’s keep it up. Have a great weekend, stay healthy, and I will see you in church!

Peace,
Matt,

P.S. Starting this week, Gathering Kids weekend worship, Pajama Church, is now on our app. Parents you can also find Pajama Church and related Kids ministry resources here. For all other ministry news see ministry updates