Theme: Making Room for Hope

Written by Janet Capella, Community United Church of Christ

Luke 3: 7-16

John the Baptist stands in the Jordan River…I baptize you with water…He is coming, to baptize you with the Holy Spirit,”…people ask, “What must we do?’ He replied, “If anyone has two tunics, share with those who have none, the one with more to eat must do the same and tax collectors asked, “Exact not more than your rate.” Soldiers asked, He replied “No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!” Prophet Isaiah 3: 3-5 A “voice cries in the wilderness… prepare the way of the Lord, every valley shall be filled, every mountain and hill laid low…

We ask expectant questions, respond by giving love and doing acts of kindness and generosity. Willingness brings faith. My childhood home, community, churches, even camping in the mountains was merciful and safe. Stained glass windows illustrated Jesus’ prayers, kind people taught Sunday School, served meals. Mountain travel took us exploring, talking of God’s sacred land, animals. American Indians lived in valleys and hills for millennia. Biblical people rebelled against empires, generations protested oppression, democracies negotiated and legislated changes in civil injustice, labor issues and curtailed world wars. God’s and Jesus’ call us to serve those in need, forgotten, and oppressed.

Church life is faith, prayer, sacraments, worship and waking up to cries for social justice in our communities (i.e. Martin Luther King Jr., refugees, homeless, farm workers, gay rights). In my twenties, in the early 1970s, following divorce, with a college degree and experience with protest issues, I moved to Jerome, Arizona. My 5-year-old daughter stayed in Fresno with her dad and new family; my heart broke, chaos and confusion brought me to my knees.

Jesus surprised me! I went to a church and was invited to teach Sunday School, the children loved me and my heart opened to healing. I trusted God! Next, I was offered a paid teaching job, troubled teens who were also separated from their families. God moved me forward and Jesus met me at the altar! I moved further into Faith! Prayer cleared, my mind and heart, knew I needed to return home to be a single mom to my daughter, back in my family and church circle.

Look Up! Ask, “What does the Lord require?” Listen and seek guidance, choose from any number of paths, an open place will appear. Faith and witness to Christ’s lessons all carry strength to live honestly, find our gifts and go in peace.

Transformation takes courage — repair our lives, seek changes for our family, join a cause to serve our broken world. Scripture guides us with John and Jesus, Holy Water/Holy Spirit bursts open our hearts, and gratitude opens our arms. Help refugees, they cry for peace when leaving their homes, (amidst the largest world refugee movements in world’s history), homeless people lost on the streets have limited hope of help. Righteousness awakens our hearts.

What must we do? Faith groups and secular gifts share — God’s connectors in the world. Care! Jesus folks! Open our hearts to recreate all things new.