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Mission Devotional - December 18, 2915

Opening Prayer: Enliven us, O God, with a great hope. The hope of your coming. The hope of your redemption. The hope of your healing. The hope of freedom. May we be agents of this hope in your world. Amen.

Scripture: Zechariah 9:9-12

Journal: What hope does the Zechariah passage cause to rise in your heart? What images enliven you? Why? What does it look like to be agents of this hope in the world?

Reflection: Hope is a force of God that enlivens us to life. We can easily miss the radical significance of this definition to our lives. Hope is often described as the expectation that desires will be fulfilled or as a feeling of assurance about current and future circumstances. When someone thinks positively or believes deeply about desired outcomes, so this line of reasoning goes, then hope happens.

However, hope is more than a positive attitude or elevated feeling of assurance. Like faith and love, hope is a force. Yes, it functions within individuals to transform their lives. But hope also resides and functions outside an individual's attitudes and feelings. The very character of hope as energy that comes to us from God means we encounter hope as a transforming force that we do not control.

Hope's mission is to save us from a false sense of aliveness. Rather than fulfill whatever fantasies claim our hearts, hope rescues us from a diminished life. Its mission to us is congruent with its mission to the world: to enliven all to life and to save the world from a false sense of aliveness.

The opportunities to experience hope are as close to us as we are to our neighbors and our bodies. God has given us the capacity to pay attention, imagine, and enter into the wonder of life together. This capacity is also our God-given assignment. God created us to be a home for hope, to discern its work, and to be a people of hope. (The Work of Hope by Luther E. Smith, Weavings)

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Mark and Mary are living in a Creative Access country. Mark is working for a U.S. corporation there as a "Tent Maker." Mark's work gives him unparalleled access to the local population. Pray today for wisdom for Mark and Mary as they lead a growing team. Pray for unity of spirit and vision, and that the Lord would use them for his kingdom, and that the gospel would take root across the land where they live.

Samaritan Ministry is a faith-based AIDS Service Organization led by Wayne Smith at Central Baptist Church of Bearden in Knoxville. They seek to serve people, primarily in East Tennessee, who are living with HIV/AIDS through direct support and by way of their significant network of service providers. Pray today for this ministry as it shares Christ's love during the Christmas season.

Closing Prayer:

O Expectancy,
born of fertile wonder,
belabored by narrowed hope;
craning curious lives forward,
You are the brother of holy surprise.
Come startle awake
our dozing apathy, our complacent dreams,
that we may behold your borning, Advent cry.
Amen. (Behold! by Pamela C. Hawkins)