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New Hope Presbyterian Church
  • 7301 Shallowford Road
    Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421
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  • Phone (423)892-0853
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Regular Schedule
Sunday
  • Adult Bible Study
    – 9:45 AM to 10:45 AM
  • Worship
    – 10:45 AM to 11:45 AM
Monday
  • Prayer Group
    – 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Wednesday
  • Brown Bag Dinner & Bible Study
    – 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Pastor's Page
Rev.

Candace Worth

Candace's Pastoral Ponders...

The adult Sunday morning Bible study just finished wading through the book of Revelation.  It’s a book that is hard to interpret and has been much maligned in common culture over the centuries.  Yet, for some reason it draws us in.  In some ways I guess it’s part of the human fabric to wonder when and how the world will end and to try to figure out if current events are signs of impending doom.  I personally don’t put much stock in any of the proclamations of the world’s end that have been publicized in my lifetime.  I would rather focus on living life now to the fullest.  It does seem though that some years are more intense than others and that the good in the world is losing ground.  However, the Bible, and Revelation in particular, gives us a message of hope.  We can persevere.  God works through all things to bring about the good.  Christ is coming again.  There will be a new heaven and a new earth.  These aren’t just nice sayings.  We have assurance of hope.  Hope is not wishing; it is knowing. 

Eschatology is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankind. While Christian eschatology is often associated with attempts to define a biblical understanding of the end times, this is too narrow of a definition for those who honor the diverse voices found in Scripture. Eschatology is better understood then as the prophetic task of finding and proclaiming hope in the midst of despair-laden situations.
 

I will admit that some days that knowledge of hope feels a little farther away than others.  As members of Christ’s family, we are called to encourage one another.  Since I have been your pastor a lot of loss has occurred.  There is a feeling of grief that seems to hang around.  
 
I was reading an article from a United Methodist pastor, Patrick Scriven,  in which he tries to figure out why the  social media response to a certain congregation’s success is so negative. He wonders,
 
“whether we’ve [the critics] adopted an eschatology of despair; a belief that no matter what we do, the church’s best days are behind us. Living in these self-imposed end times, the most logical thing we can do is slowly ride out the clock, divesting ourselves of property and mission so we can keep the pension fully funded and the discontent of the remaining souls in our pews manageable.  Such an eschatology of despair doesn’t allow us to see another’s success as anything but a capitulation to a consumer culture or some other unseemly tendency. Our own attempts to try something new are undercut but the deep reservoirs of cynicism it breeds. A paralyzing doubt of our mission stunts growth and derails our natural connectional impulses.”
 
As we face obstacles in our attempt to do new things, it seems that some in New Hope have adopted this same eschatology of despair.  After all, we hear of churches closing, and usually those that are thriving get no attention.  Are the obstacles we face too much for God to handle?  NO. I firmly believe that God has great things in store for New Hope.  That New Hope will continue to be just that, a voice of hope for those in the midst of despair.  We are not called to act alone.  There are people and groups who would love to partner with a congregation to serve our community.  I really can’t imagine what the Israelites felt like wandering around in the desert for 40 years.  Obviously, they were more filled with hope on some days than other, but they never gave up on God’s promise.  God continued to encourage them.  At the same time, none of those who came out of Egypt went into the promised land.  They caught a glimpse before the next generation entered.  It sometimes seems foolish to work for something your whole life and know that it may not be realized in your lifetime.  Thank God there are fools in this world!  Think of Noah building an ark in the desert.  Think of the Abraham leaving home with Sarah childless to become a nomad.  The early men and women who decided to follow Christ even unto death as they believed in God’s promise to return.  Leonardo DiVinci who drew pictures of what eventually became modern helicopters.  The Wright brothers who kept trying to fly despite numerous failures.  Martin Luther King Jr. who gave his life so that his dream would be realized more fully in the lives of his children and future generations. There are countless people whose ‘foolishness’ has changed the world.  Paul tells us that Christians are viewed by many as fools for following Christ.  “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified:  a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Cor. 1: 22-25).  God is with us and working in the midst of us.  God wants to use us if we are willing.  It’s not going to be easy or necessarily comfortable, but it will be awesome!  I can’t tell you whether the change will be realized completely in your lifetime, but I can affirm that God’s promises are true.  I have great hope for the future.  Do you?