I pray that, according to the riches of God’s glory, God may grant that we may be strengthened in our inner beings with power through God’s Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, as we are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that we may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.Now to God, who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-20, adapted for inclusive language.)
We begin our program year with the theme “Flourishing – more than we can ask or imagine.”
We want to, and it’s time to flourish spiritually, flourish financially, flourish as a functioning congregation.
In the last three years, we gathered ourselves to see how we might survive these times. We’ve been afraid, incredulous, hyper-alert to the point of exhaustion, ready to bolt, to hide, to fight, to resist, to protest. We have deliberately turned, returned to our ancient scripture and teaching, to prayer and spiritual practices to comfort and ground ourselves. Last year, we passed an almost balanced budget. We worked on understanding Hope Central’s unique vocation for ourselves, our neighborhood, and the world through the work of the Creative Callings Team and our Big Yes All-Church Retreat (language to describe our vocation is in draft, to go to the Leadership Circle and then to us all). We turned to each other’s spiritual giftedness and leadership. We offered our true stories so to learn from each other across race, class, generation, and experience. We deepened our understanding of race equity, where it does not exist in ourselves and in systems, and have continued our practice of noticing the cost, the separation from ourselves, each other, and God.
We have found ourselves willing to be resilient, buoyant, unafraid of conflict and conflict’s teaching, filled with love and the practices of love – ready to flourish not as a way of denial of what is true and present.
We believe we are ready to flourish, to understand that we flourish already, to become confident that our congregation’s spiritual commitments and experience is valuable to us, to our neighbors and to the world. We believe we want to support the work of our congregation by our participation, by being a people, by deciding to show up, to offer our necessary individual presence for the collective’s work and good. We already have more than we can ask or imagine – we only need to grow in confidence that this is so. We need to grow in confidence that our congregation has something to offer, and that we – you, yourself – are a part of that offering.
We believe, because of our growing financial practices, we are ready to support the work of Hope Central – not just enough, but abundantly – to support the work equitably – each according to our ability.
We believe we are ready to grow in membership – to invite the people who need our congregation – mixed-race couples, people of color who long for a woke/awakening congregation and the theological work we are doing, queer folks – especially transfolks, straight and cis folks, folks who long to investigate identity and systems, folks who long to be a part of each one teaching one, who long to know their spiritual gifts and deliver their gifts to a people longing to receive. We want to invite folks who need to sing, to pray, to become a part of a congregation longing for and braving health and wholeness. We want to invite people like ourselves, people like you.
A parishioner told us last night, we ought to have 7,000 people at Hope Central, such are our gifts, our love, our longing. So many of us agree, we believe God has given us capacities that we long to share, that we believe those whom we love long for in a place and a people. Those people will only come if you invite them.
We are ready. We can flourish.
Love from your pastors,