January 21st, 2018: The Power of Storytelling for Uprooting Racism

January 21, 2018



Photo Credit: CityArts

Featuring writers Josh Aaseng and Daemond Arrindell

ReadingJonah 3:1-5, 10

The Bible is a wildly diverse collection of parables and family sagas, poetry and stylized futuristic dramas composed and compiled over thousands of years. It is the collected works of dozens of artists—yet when it is read as if it were an anonymously published middle school science textbook, much of the power of the art is lost. The story of Jonah is a great example of theatrical storytelling, as listeners are invited to recognize themselves in Jonah’s avoidance and petulance—and to consider how to live into God’s justice and mercy.

How does art—storytelling in particular—wake us up to see ourselves and our society differently?  

How do we read the Bible today so that it retains the power to reveal us to ourselves?

What other stories wake us up to confront the world as it is and work to better it?

Join us for a discussion between Josh Aaseng and Daemond Arrindell, local writers who collaborated in bringing the novel Welcome to Braggsville to the Book-It Repertory Theatre stage last year. (Read more about the show and its lively reception in the local media.)

How can the art of storytelling move us to live more justly with one another?


January 14th, 2018: Celebrating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 21, 2018



Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20]

Two years after Dr. King inspired the nation with his stirring “I Have a Dream” speech, he revisited his dream in a sermon at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta. In his sermon “The American Dream,” he grappled with the injustices and disappointments that continued (and still continue) to plague our country—yet insisted that the dream still remained.

  • How do we maintain strength and hope to join in God’s vision of justice in spite of setbacks and disappointments?

  • What can we learn from Dr. King, the biblical characters Samuel and Eli, and from each other about resilience and hope?

  • What is our dream today?


January 7th, 2018: Celebrating Epiphany and Finding Hope Together

January 21, 2018


Celebrating Epiphany & Finding Hope Together

This week marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas, culminating in the celebration of the Magi bringing their gifts of Jesus. Their story is told in Matthew 2:1-12. It is generous of history to remember them as “wise”—they were astrologers whose practice of finding meaning in the movement of the stars were (then as now) on the fringe of mainstream religious beliefs. Yet they are an integral part of the story—outsiders who recognized Jesus’ divinity and who protected him from the treacherous King Herod. They bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but also the gift of fresh perspective, new eyes.

  • What are your encounters—people or events or observations that don’t fit into your understanding of who God is or how the world works—but where you recognize truth you can’t deny?

  • How does being part of a community with a diverse range of experiences and beliefs expand your wisdom and your own

  • Have your had encounters at Church of Hope that  bring new life to your relationships with God, one another, and your other communities?


December 31st, 2017: Year’s End Reflection

December 31, 2017

Reflecting on the year that was...


December 17th, 2017: Fierce Motherhood

December 31, 2017



When an angel comes to tell Mary that she is going to have a baby, the child of God, her response (Luke 1:46-55) is rather strange and unusual: she breaks into song. And not a sweet lullaby or goofy children’s rhyme, but a song of protest that would be at home on the front lines of any revolutionary movement. Her song is not without precedent: in the Hebrew Scriptures another mother burst into a similar song. When Hannah learned that she would bear her long-awaited baby Samuel, she also responded by singing praise to the God who

“raises the poor from the dust,
     and lifts up the needy from the garbage pile.”

We’ll be joined by our very own real-life Hannah and her baby Samuel (Frelot) this week to consider these ancient mothers’ songs and how the fierce protectiveness of motherhood can extend to all children (and all who are vulnerable) rather than becoming inwardly focused. Hannah Frelot is working with her husband Jasen and other collaborators here in our basement to create the new Columbia City Preschool of Arts & Culture as well as the up-and-coming Kids & Race program. Join us for a lively discussion on how Mary’s parenting helped shaped the young Jesus into the man he became, how the fierceness of motherhood can be channeled for the greater good, and the power of song in shaping our lives.

(How) does the care and compassion we practice with those closest to us extend outward to others who are vulnerable? 

What music do you play and sing in your home and how does it shape your life?


December 10th, 2017: Choosing Hope

December 31, 2017


“My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyedI have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,with no extraordinary power,reconstitute the world.”

― Adrienne Rich

Sometimes good news comes very well disguised. The angels of Luke’s gospel announce to the shepherds “good news of great joy to all people,” but the angel of Matthew’s story came to Joseph with the somewhat less delightful news that his fiancee, Mary, was pregnant. (Matthew 1:18-25) For Joseph, knowing that he wasn’t the father, this could hardly have registered as good news. Our retelling of the Christmas story rarely takes seriously how betrayed and confused Joseph must have felt. But if we put ourselves in his shoes for a moment, what would we have done?  What did he fear? What did he risk? What did he doubt?

Matthew’s gospel sets the stage: things are a mess. A marriage is on the rocks before it even begins, corrupt and greedy politicians rule the day, innocent lives are threatened by the power games of the leaders. If any of this sounds familiar, sit with Joseph’s story this week and ask: When an opportunity (like Joseph’s invitation to be Jesus’ stepfather) feels like a total disaster, what goodness might actually be hiding within it? In spite of everything, Joseph chose hope. In spite of the evidence, Joseph chose to trust Mary and to love their child. Even with a visit from an angel, this couldn’t have been easy for him. It’s never easy for us, yet the world is held together by our courage to choose hope, our strength to be like Joseph and live into the world we want to see.

How do we take seriously the brokenness and pain of the world and yet hold on to hope that God is in it

How do we choose the Advent promises of hope, love, peace, and joy?


BonusFor another take on how Joseph might have felt, check out“Joseph, Better You than Me” by The Killers


December 3rd, 2017: Advent Begins

December 31, 2017


 Advent Begins


During the four Sundays of Advent, we will hear the story of Christmas in four parts, through the lenses of the 4 Gospels, from the points of view of 4 characters in the story (John the Baptist, Joseph, Mary, and the mystical “Light of Christ.”)  All of these stories are usually melded together for the typical Christmas tableau, but we will take them separately this month to consider the unique perspective of each. The stories and rituals of Advent offer us a way to root ourselves in these ancient stories in order to also awaken to the reality of God in the present moment and reach out in hope toward the future. You are invited into the story to open your heart to the wonder of the story of God finding a home in the world.


This week we begin with the story of John the Baptist from Mark 1:1-8, the “voice calling out in the wilderness:  “Prepare the way of the Lord!”

Advent is a season of preparation, getting ready--but what are we really waiting and hoping for? How can this story invite us to slow down and pay attention to what is real, what matters?

How does rooting ourselves in the stories and rituals of the past (our personal histories as well as traditions that span centuries) give us strength for the present as well as hope for the future??


November 26th, 2017: Power of Vulnerability

December 31, 2017


 Power of Vulnerability

Ah, the holidays. That time of year when we gather round to give thanks at the same time that we face the fact that our families are not *exactly* like the greeting card visions. Perhaps we are lonely for those no longer among us, feeling the stress of old wounds, the heaviness of  the distances that have grown up between us. Thanksgiving is perhaps best known as that day you look into the faces across the table and wonder, “How did it happen that we are related?”

As our country is growing even more politically polarized, we come to the time in the church year that celebrates the Reign of Christ.  The day was established in 1925 in direct response to the rise of Mussolini as dictator in Italy. The world had seen the wreckage of WWI,
had sworn it would never happen again, and yet saw the nations moving toward ideologies and power dynamics that would erupt into WWII. It doesn’t have to be this way, the church tried to say. Our ultimate loyalty must be to God, to Christ our King, not to Mussolini or Hitler, or even to Churchill or Roosevelt. Not to Trump or Clinton or Sanders. We actually can have a common grounding in our humanity that goes deeper than our political loyalties.

Of course this is so easy to say that it can be trivial, so we also hold in mind the story of Matthew 25:31-46 in which Jesus as king subverts ideas about power and leadership. Looking at power through the lens of Jesus’ chosen powerlessness makes us stop and ask—what about the most vulnerable members of society? What about those who don’t seem to have any power to wield? What happens to us in the choices we make about how to treat those who have less than we do? Learning to see the image of God reflected in the most vulnerable people among us can also prepare us to see the image of God even in our most difficult relatives, even in our most complicated selves.

Where is God showing up in your life during this time of Thanksgiving?

What relationships (or lack thereof) are hardest to give thanks for--and what power might be hidden in those? 


November 19th, 2017: Letting Go of Fear

November 19, 2017


 Letting Go of Fear


7e39a281-7a68-48f7-9434-bed74ec979dc.pngAs we head into the holiday season, our Bible texts for the season invite us to step back and consider the longer arc of history and eternity. In another parable from Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus we consider what we do when life puts us into situations where we have more “talents,’ more power, more responsibility than we want or know how to manage. Pretending that you don’t have the power --burying it underground--doesn’t help anyone. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a leader in the Resistance Church in Nazi Germany said that “the sin of respectable people is running from responsibility.”  All too often, we know the right choice to make, but it takes courage and effort and to do it, and it can feel safer just not to even try.  The truth that we often overlook is that we’re not actually safer when we let our fears rule us. Fear can cut us off from others and our own true self.  It can feel like being banished to the outer darkness, alone and weeping and grinding our teeth at night.
One prayer-poem inspired by this parable observes:

“Fear makes us cling rather than letting go.
But clinging only binds us to our fear.    It does not set us free.
Practice letting go.
All that you are and all that you have is God’s.
You have nothing to lose.
Practice giving yourself away.”  

(Steve Garnass-Holmes, Unfolding Light) https://www.unfoldinglight.net/reflections?month=November-2011


What is the power and responsibility you are called to claim and put to use?

How might you practice giving yourself away rather than holding back in fear?


November 12th, 2017: Celebration Potluck - Officially A Congregation!

November 19, 2017


 Celebration Potluck!

We are a full congregation of the  Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)! We voted unanimously on Sunday to form a congregation and call Darla as our first pastor. Thanks to everyone who has been part of this community over the past 7 years as we built this church, and thanks to everyone who will be around for the next 70 as we continue to practice spirituality that matters, support each other, and extend radical hospitality.  If you’d like to sign the charter, it will be around through the month of November and everyone who desires to commit to this venture is welcome to sign! We’ll celebrate this week with our monthly potluck--please bring any food you’d like to share.

This Sunday, Nov 12: As we head toward the holiday season, our Bible texts pick up the themes of expectancy, finding hope, and light in the darkness. This Sunday, as we round the corner from a mass shooting in a church last week, the anniversary of last year’s Election Day, and plunging into the dark evenings of daylight savings time, the reading from Matthew 25:1-13 brings us a parable on waiting. And perhaps more to the point, a reflection on how to be prepared to wait. While the politicians’ “thoughts and prayers” ring ever more hollow, we ask what it means to match prayer with readiness to act.  

What are you waiting for, longing for?

What’s giving you a sense of hope this week?

What is the link between prayer and action?