September 10th, 2017: Faith Action Network Celebration

September 12, 2017


We are officially an Advocating Congregation with Faith Action Network! This means we committed to advocating for the common good, partnering with other communities of faith to build a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world. We will celebrate this partnership on Sept 10, welcoming FAN Organizer Chasity Jones to lead the reflection on hard questions for God and will  join us for a special celebratory potluck after the service. Please bring a dish to share, questions about FAN, and your calendar to sign up for upcoming actions!


02d1869e-bade-4f05-a655-8a0d6f54a82a.jpgChasity Jones is a Global Mission Fellow with the United Methodist Church. She is from Mandeville, Louisiana and is entering my second year as a community organizer with Faith Action Network.

She writes: I have bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in history and worked in the mental health/social work field as a wraparound facilitator following my college graduation in 2014.  My time in Seattle has been priceless in that I have discovered so much about myself as well as life outside of my home.  I have been blessed to participate in an anti-oppression/ anti- racism workshop with Crossroads Ministries, Advocacy Camp with the Children’s Alliance, co-facilitated a workshop titled ‘Issues Preventing Unity Within the Black Community’ at the MLK Day Celebration 2017, and organized and co-convenes Faith Action Network’s Healthcare working group.  I am a certified yoga instructor, a Krista Colleague- class of 2017, leading FAN’s racial equity initiative, and co-founded Momentum – progressive young adults of diverse faiths seeking change.

I am passionate about standing with the black community as well as educating others about the black experience as well as collaborate on how to continue discussion, initiatives, and strategies to achieve social transformation and undo institutionalized and systematic racism.


For this Sunday, she will be reflecting on Genesis 1:27-28 and invites us to consider:


So God created humankind in God’s own image,

  in the divine image God created them;

  male and female, God made them.

God blessed them, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’

—Genesis 1:27-28


“Can the Church of Jesus Christ be politically, socially, and economically identified with structure of oppression and also be a servant of Christ?”


When does the Church cease to be the Church of Christ?”


"What does the gospel have to do with the oppressed of the land and their struggle/journey for liberation?"


"Does life experience, cultural, and historical context influence how we see God?"


"Can theology be informed or influenced by whiteness?"


September 3rd, 2017: Complaints Department Open

September 12, 2017

Recording this week is a partial.  We appologize for the quality and shortness...



We kicked off the “Hard Questions for God” series this week with dozens of questions (you can email yours to  or bring your questions to church anytime!) A lot of our questions are around justice and suffering: Does God see? Does God care? When and how and where will God do something about it?!

These exact questions were often on the hearts and lips and pens of the psalmists and prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. Our reading this week from Jeremiah 15:15-21  gives us a glimpse of an argument between God and a particularly fierce prophet who asks God some hard questions of his own:

Why am I always in pain?

   Why is my wound incurable,

       so far beyond healing?

You have become for me as unreliable

   as a spring gone dry!

God responds with patience and grace: I am with you. Yet I can almost hear Jeremiah sneering across the centuries, “Really? Where??” Where is God in the hardest questions of our day, where we face unceasing pain and incurable wounds? Where is God in the flooding of Houston, in the entrenched white supremacy throughout our country, in the tent cities that keep getting pushed from place to place? I wish I had better answers to these questions, but I welcome you into conversations this month where we will ask them together, shouting and complaining and whining to a God who promises to be with us, no matter what.

What are your complaints for God?

What do you think are God’s complaints about the world? 

What comes after the complaining?


August 27, 2017: Hard Questions for God

August 27, 2017




This week we will launch into our series on asking hard questions for God. Doubters and skeptics especially welcome! Those of us who have spent time with small children know the curiosity is a natural impulse, central to human development--yet it is often squelched because it can be exhausting for the people who are asked to give answers. Unless we truly explore our deepest questions and fears, how can we expect to learn and to grow? We always welcome questions at Church of Hope, but this month we will give special priority to asking our big questions. We’ll kick off this week with a reflection on Isaiah 51:1-6 and considering one question that’s already been asked: Is God of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) the same as the God of Jesus in the New Testament?


What are your biggest questions for God? 

Have you been encouraged to direct your curiosity toward God or to accept things on “blind faith”?

How (un)comfortable are you living with uncertainty and mystery?


Sunday Morning Series, Aug 27—Sept 24

One of the things people say that value most (and find most unique) about Church of Hope is that we believe in asking questions. Questioning allows us to be open to learn, to grow, to live in wonder and in awe. God can handle it. We can handle it. As we reflect on the Bible readings at services this fall, we will bring our toughest, most troubling questions. Fair warning: we won’t answer them, but we can all learn in the willingness to ask honestly.  email your questions


August 6, 2017: Gender Justice Sunday

August 27, 2017

We apologize for the recording.  This is only a partial recording.  


Gender Justice Sunday

photo credit:

When you think of “God” what do you picture in your imagination? 

Why does our language and imagery for God matter? 

What do our most familiar images and metaphors say about God? 

What do they say about humankind?

A group of 6-8 of us had a great series of conversations about gender justice with the curriculum our church, the ELCA, as we work toward a new social statement, “Faith, Sexism, and Justice.” We learned about Lutheran approaches to the Bible and social issues as well as exploring issues of gender justice from sexual violence to economic sexism to images of God. We are excited to share some of the insights and ongoing questions in our Sunday gathering.

We invite you to view this diverse array of images of God and consider:
  How do these images make you feel? 

What spoke to you in your yearnings for God and why? Which images strike you as “normal”? 

Which images speak to you in a new way?


May 21, 2017: More than a Single Story

August 27, 2017



More than a Single Story

Sundays in May we will explore a single Bible story, John 4:1-30, from a variety of perspectives. Why are we doing this? When we try to make sense of the stories of the Bible, we are not looking for the one right answer. Lutheran Christians celebrate a variety of viewpoints, each revealing something unique and exciting about the many ways God shows up. 

Join us this month as artist Tonia Arehart (May 7), equity educator Jondou Chen (May 14), pastor Darla DeFrance (May 21) and counseling psychologist Philip-Justus Pascual (May 28) each offer insights into the story of “living water” and the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well.  

As we reflect on the story this week, consider: 


In her remarkable 2009  TED Talk, the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie notes:  “Show people as one thing over and over again, and that’s what they become.” To really understand each other--and ourselves--we must recognize that a single story cannot possibly contain the entire truth of a person. Jesus saw the woman at the well as more than the story that was told about her marital life. Likewise, the story of Jesus’ was told in many versions, four of which we gathered as sacred texts in the Bible.

What are the most important stories that tell who you are?

What stories about Jesus have you found most compelling?

How do the stories you hear and the stories you tell shape your identity and your future?


July 9, 2017: Was Jesus a Glutton?

August 27, 2017


Potluck this Sunday! Was Jesus a glutton?  

We enjoy a potluck together every month, and food is one of the highlights of many religious celebrations. (I say, “Easter” you say, “Ham!” I say “Christmas,” you say, “Cookies!”) Yet there is also a tradition in religious practice of fasting and asceticism. Generations have argued the point: Which brings us closer to the heart of God, feasting or fasting?

Is it possible that the question totally misses the point? Our reflection this week is on Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30, and Jesus notes that people criticized John the Baptist for his fasting, but they approved even less of Jesus’ dining habits. In fact, so much of the history of religion is the story of totally missing the point--fixating on the letter of the law while the Spirit blows where it will, codifying ins and outs, rights and wrongs, friends and enemies, heaven and hell, while Jesus and other giants of wisdom break open the mysterious paradoxes that can never be reduced to either/or thinking. The story ends with another paradox, an invitation to take on the “easy yoke” of following him.

Are you more naturally drawn toward celebration or self-denial? 

What can you learn from the opposite persuasion?

What is Jesus’ “easy yoke” that offers rest for the soul?

When is hard work most invigorating?


June 18, 2017: Having Compassion

August 27, 2017


Having Compassion

fd9ac19a-f9e6-465e-8e46-2444d12c4819.jpeThis Sunday our reading is fromMatthew 9:35-10:8, a story from the early days of Jesus’ career when he invited the folks who were following him to join in the work he was doing. The story begins,  “When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless.” Does that ring a bell for anyone--harassed and helpless? It describes pretty much all of us at one time or another. Surely it even described Jesus and his friends at times. He went on to observe to them:"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” There is so much to do… and not very many of us to do it! Generations of people who have read Jesus’ words have felt invited into the work of having compassion, reaching out to neighbors and friends and strangers in their moments of harassment and helplessness, opening our own hearts to each other to find compassion in our own frustrations.


Where do you feel harassed and helpless?

How does recognizing your own limitations inspire you to compassion?

What work do you feel called to join in?


June 11, 2017: Trinity Sunday

August 27, 2017

Trinity Sunday with guest speaker Jerry Buss from the NW WA Synod



A Reflection from Steve Garnaas-Holmes,


Pentecost Celebration 


God is not a guy.

God is the energy of fire, the movement of wind,

the flow of breathing, the unfolding of creating,

the the loving of Love, the being of Being.


Love is God: the Lover, the Beloved,

and the Love that flows between.

This is the Holy Trinity.


God is the Source of all energy, and the energy itself;

and that energy made matter among us,

Word made flesh;

and God is that love in us, burning, singing, loving.


God is One, yet not a single thing,

nor a loving couple—with no way in for us—

but community.

God is the many, the All.


When you love you join them;

you are part of the Eternal.

Look how tenderly they love each other.

Look how there is room for us.

You are the fourth person of the Holy Trinity.

Find yourself there.


           The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,

           the love of God,

           and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

        —2 Corinthians 13.13


June 4, 2017: Pentecost Sunday

August 27, 2017

Pentecost Sunday - 

Church of Hope holds a discus Jason Freelough, Founder of Kids and Race and preschool held at the Columbia City Church of Hope.


August 20, 2017: Steve Biko and Do-Gooders’ “Superiority Complex”

August 20, 2017

Steve Biko and Do-Gooders' "Superiority Complex"


Photo Credit: IMDB


‘Cry Freedom’ is a film from the mid-1980s depicting the apartheid system’s security police murder of Steve Biko, the father of black consciousness in South Africa.  Although he is widely known throughout Africa, U.S. knowledge of Biko has been almost totally forgotten.  Nowhere is there any focus on how Biko critiqued the ‘superiority complex’ of white liberals, and do-gooders everywhere.  Come join a liberating focus on this rising star of black history, as interpreted by Church of Hope’s David Mesenbring, an Episcopal priest who knew Biko, and helped preserve his banned writings for publication.   In our Bible  story from Matthew 15:21-28 (about encountering a Canaanite woman), Jesus makes some comments that feel shockingly arrogant and racist.

 Was he simply unable to transcend his up-bringing?  

What does it take to outgrow the bias into which we're bred?