Why I\'m Feeling Hopeful // M-Note 1.8.2021

January 8, 2021
Gathering,

I am hopeful. 

You read that right. 

I am hopeful.
 
That sounds a little strange. After all, we still have a pandemic raging. We witnessed violence and chaos in our nation’s capital. Many of us still feel isolated and disconnected. The holidays have come and gone, and some of us are still waiting patiently for life to turn around. So where does the hope come from?
 
In part, hope comes from seeing not only that which is wrong, but also seeing that which is right. I am hopeful that there is a vaccine beginning to be distributed (my wife, Jessica, who is a frontline healthcare worker gets her second dose in just a couple weeks). I am hopeful that our country’s institutions (and many of our leaders) are strong enough to resist the incitement we witnessed. I am hopeful that all around me, I experience people looking out for one another. Ultimately, I am hopeful because I know a God that has brought people (including me) through the “valley of the shadow of death” to green pastures on the other side. This is the God who is with us in Jesus. That isn’t meant as a deflection. I don’t want to ignore the hardship of our present time. It is rather a statement of faith. That on the cusp of a new year, my intention is to hold on to hope, and look for the ways God is calling me to be light in our present darkness. That gives me a purpose beyond simply noting what is wrong or wringing my hands over that I cannot control.
 
2021 can and will be different, but not because we are guaranteed changed circumstances. We know we cannot control those. The new year will be different because Jesus can help us change our heart and our minds. Jesus changes our frame of mind. Beginning this weekend, I am starting a new series called…Frame of Mind. 

Each week, we will explore one question Jesus asks his disciples that can change their perspective on life. Jesus helps us form a new frame of mind, and this can change everything. This Sunday, I will also be celebrating the results of our Christmas Eve offering (100% of which will fund clean water in Mozambique), and we are launching a few new online worship tools that we are excited for you to see.
 
I hope you will start the new year by making worship a more central priority in your life. I know many of us drifted in the past year. We got distracted or maybe got out of the habit. But, this is a new year and a great time to get back to practicing faith more intentionally. Along with this, it is a great time to offer an invitation for someone else to join you. Share this video with a friend that you think might need a new frame of mind for the year ahead.
 
Before we go, here are a few updates that I want to share with you:
 
  1. We are continuing online worship through January. We are preparing for the possibility of starting one in-person worship service per site in February. I will update you as this month progresses and as we determine the best time to restart in-person worship.
  2. The Gathering now officially has an Online Site via a Facebook group. We already have 425 members that have joined. This group helps connect us during the week and we post daily practices and ways to grow in faith. If you have not yet joined, just come check it out and hit join.
  3. The Literacy Project is looking for virtual mentors for the second semester! Serving is a great way to get in a new frame of mind this year. Learn more & sign up here. 
 
There is reason to hope. Hang on and remember that you are not alone. I look forward to worshiping with you all this Sunday right here live at 8, 9, 10, and 11am or anytime OnDemand. Have a great weekend.
 
Matt
 
P.S. Some of you may have heard I started a new thing in 2021. In partnership with The Big 550 KTRS, I am now doing a weekly radio show and podcast called The F Word: Conversations on Faith. I am exploring topics related to faith and spirituality that I can’t always tackle in the pulpit. Along the way I am interviewing some really interesting experts in all sorts of various fields. I hope that you will tune in Sunday afternoons at 3 on 550 KTRS or subscribe to the podcast and listen anytime. The easiest way is to just search my name wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes will drop each Sunday afternoon! 

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