So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations. Matthew 1:17
When I was a teenager, I loved spending quality time with my grandparents. I wanted them to share stories with me, and so I would sit with them and listen until one of them was ready to “rest my eyes”. The stories they told were sometimes silly, about the way things used to be. They were intense, like when my grandfather talked about serving in World War II. They painted broader pictures of who each of them was and how they came to be who they were. Each time they shared, whether through a clenched jaw of anger at injustices, or a wide grin of joy for relationships, my grandparents gave me hope. They had made it through. They had survived. And so with this hope, I could to.
Prayer - Gracious and loving God, thank you for the people in our lives who remind us that in all things, especially the terrible things, there is still hope. May our hope be in your promises to never leave us or forsake us this day. Amen.
Written by Emily Wright, Senior Pastor at WHPC
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. Psalm 43:5
On Saturday nights when my brothers and I were growing up, my parents would take us to our aunt’s for dinner. Up three flights of stairs, her apartment was warm and cozy. It was always neat and full of beautiful things. I especially enjoyed the glass lamp with its base full of seashells, the dresser drawer of my aunt’s soft silk scarves, and the delicate china cherub that balanced on her entryway table. I’ll never forget the night I caused that cherub to tumble. One moment, he was in my hand—and the next, he was on the floor, cast down and broken into so many little pieces, all limbs and wings. I cried—and my aunt cried, too. I had never felt so sorry. It seemed like everything was ruined. But only a few Saturdays later, the cherub was back, whole and set in his right place. Little cracks ran over the statue’s surface, but they could barely be seen. The angel’s beauty had been recovered, even reinforced by his fall and rise. I still believe in the beauty of broken things. There is still reason to hope.
Prayer - O Lord, our God, our souls are troubled. Sometimes we know why we feel cast down; other times, the reasons lie beyond our grasp. No matter our circumstances, strengthen us by your Spirit to hope in you. We entrust to you the broken pieces of our lives and look to you for healing grace. AMEN.
Written by Claire Berry, Associate Pastor at WHPC
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
I could see the dejection in my son’s spirit before he spoke. In his hand, a letter from the college he desperately wanted to attend with news he feared - and with that his hopes and confidence shattered. I felt hopelessness creep into my child’s soul. “What am I going to do, Mom?” was all he could say. Thankfully, I kept my mouth shut. Then he said, “I think I will call Mrs. C.” Mrs. C who was his Sunday School teacher. Mrs. C who happened to be a trustee at a presbyterian liberal arts college. Mrs. C who told him, “if you ever want to talk about college, give me a call.” Thirty minutes later he emerged from his room with a precious gift – hope. Mrs. C assured him he could still apply for college and Mrs. C promised him an interview with an admissions counselor from that small liberal arts college. There it was – hope – unexpected, life-giving, and right on time.
Prayer - Loving God, come close to us and bring us hope. Amen
Written by Stacy Ikard, Senior Associate Pastor at WHPC
You have this faith and love because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You previously heard about this hope through the true message, the good news. Colossians 1:5
This has been a year of grief for me personally and part of grieving well has been to be open to God’s holy surprises. The pandemic has provided the opportunity for me to walk regularly with a long-time friend. We have been enjoying seeing the moon and the planets in the early morning hours, followed by the sunrise. We marvel at God’s beautiful creation and are grateful for the hope reserved for us in heaven. Last year I was given several orchids when Bill died. He was always the one who kept them alive so that they might bloom again. I was rewarded with a new bloom a couple of weeks ago and now three more on the same plant. Another holy surprise reminding me of the hope I have in Christ.
Prayer - Loving God, thank you for the Good News that has taught us about the love of Jesus and the hope we have in Him.
Written by Teresa Ward, Director of Engagement, WHPC
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3
As a church musician and worship planner, I would say that you pretty much have to sing "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" on the first Sunday of Advent. It's a hymn that I have sung all my life and I love it because for me it signals the beginning of the Advent season and the movement from darkness to light as we head toward Christmas. It evokes memories from my youth of processing down the aisle of my home church in Fort Worth and of walking down our own center aisle at WHPC as an adult, singing strong and loud about the coming of Jesus. It is a hymn that combines majestic music with language of expectation and hope, of release from our sins and darkness, and invites us to anticipate the gift of Jesus with joy.
Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
What stands out to me this year is the phrase "hope of all the earth thou art". In this pandemic year, it's sometimes been really hard for me to find hope. Loss, illness, upheaval, worry, disappointment, change, disconnection, discord, uncertainty, fear have all been part of the landscape for most of 2020. Where is the hope in all this mess? Where do we turn when nothing seems normal or right? We turn to Jesus, who was born for us, born to save us, born to offer us a living hope. Jesus IS the hope of all the earth, even in this pandemic, even in the midst of change and uncertainty. We can put our trust and our hope in him.
Prayer - Come, Lord Jesus, and bring us your hope, even today. Set us free from fear and sadness. Bring your light and life to our lives. Amen.
Written by Emily Craven, Director of Worship and Music at WHPC