Category Archives: Hope in the Dark

Getting Ahead of God

Hope in the Dark

Grace sounds great…when we’re on the receiving end of it. But the thing is being on the receiving end of grace makes it hard for us to realize just how costly it is to give grace. As Jarrod said in the sermon, giving grace is hard because, by definition, it means giving someone something good in return for something bad. The apostle Peter put it this way: “Do not repay evil with evil…repay evil with a blessing.” It is precisely this kind of grace God calls us to show to others, not simply because God has shown this kind of grace to us, but because this kind of grace is at the core of who God is. God is love, and part of what that means is that God is a God of grace. So God invites us to be partners in writing grace stories in the lives of others, stories in which the bad choices others make do not define their future, our future, or the future. Instead, the grace of God opens up the possibility for a new story, a better story, in which the grace of God binds us together in an unlikely relationship: brothers and sisters whose shared DNA is God’s grace.

The following videos and reflection questions are meant to help guide us on this journey of continual transformation into people who join God in showing grace.

Liturgy – Brother

Before you watch this video, ask God to reveal to you the face of an enemy while you watch.

Now pause for a few minutes of quiet contemplation, asking God to help you see the enemy revealed to you as a brother or sister.

Refugees

If, like me, you find it challenging to see your enemies as brothers or sisters, this next video offers a helpful clue to overcoming this challenge.

Take a moment to think through how you might find a way to sit across from the enemy you picture earlier so that you might look them in the eye and allow God to work the miracle of breaking down each of your defenses so you might see each other through the eyes of grace.

Grace: An Unexpected Friendship

Questions for Reflection

1. In what ways does this story unsettle you?

2. In what ways does this story inspire you?

3. What difference does it make if forgiveness (as an act of grace) is not just for my sake or your sake but for our sake?

4. What can you do this week to begin to show grace for our sake to the person you pictured earlier as an enemy?

More Heart, Less Attack

May this song serve as a blessing on your life this week, that you might be a person of grace rather than judgment, a person who is more heart and less attack.


Hope in the Dark Playlist

There’s still time to check out this playlist of songs based on the themes of Jonah’s story.

Walking With God

Hope in the Dark

At the heart of walking with God is the calling to be people who partner with God in showing grace to others. The thing about grace is it’s our own experiences of grace that make us most equipped to show grace to others. Yet the reality is that for many of us it is really easy to forget how much grace we’ve been shown. As Charles Siburt used to say, “You think you hit a home run. Do you not realize you were born on third base?” So before we begin trying to live into this calling to join God in showing grace, it’s worth taking time to recount the many gifts of grace we’ve received from God.

Thy Mercy, My God

Take a few moments to listen to this beautiful hymn by Sandra McCracken, and then spend some time meditating on the ways in which you’ve experienced God’s mercy.


When we know deep down in our being the degree to which we owe our very existence to the grace of God, we begin to be able to lean into God’s calling to be partners in showing grace to others. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. But if we are willing to try, God will find a way to work with and through our willingness, just as the testimonies in these videos reveal.

Forgiveness – The Mary Johnson Story

Criminal Love

Questions for Reflection:

1. In what ways do the testimonies of these women unsettle you?

2. In what ways do the testimonies of these women inspire you?

3. Who is someone to whom you need to show grace? What can you do to take a step toward showing them grace this week?

Hope in the Dark Playlist

The story of Jonah is the story of a journey towards transformation. If you haven’t done so already, check out this carefully curated playlist of songs that trace the trajectory of this journey.

Reaching Out To God

Hope in the Dark

I remember one day realizing I had a tendency to want others to show me a great deal of grace, while at the same time having very little grace for others. My immediate response to this discovery was to try to flip the script: less grace for myself, more grace for others. The longer I’ve thought about it, though, the more it seems to me that grace doesn’t have to be–and shouldn’t be–an either/or reality. Because while many of us operate as though grace is a resource in limited supply, there’s actually more than enough to go around. This theme of grace is at the heart of the story of Jonah, and it is as worthy of attention and reflection as it’s ever been. May these videos and the accompanying reflection questions draw us more fully into God’s economy of abundant grace.

I Am Here

Questions for reflection on the “I Am Here” Video:

1. Think about a time when you felt all alone, when it seemed even God wasn’t anywhere to be found. What was that experience like? How did it feel? How has that experience shaped your life since?

2. When in your life have you been most aware of God’s presence with you? What were the circumstances? In what ways did you sense God’s presence? How has that experience shaped your life since?

3. Our world is full of people who feel alone, who feel as if God isn’t anywhere to be found. Sometimes this is obvious, other times it’s not. Take some time to think about someone you know who might fit this bill. What is a specific way that you can embody the faithful presence of God for them this week?

Grace: Past, Present, Future

Questions for reflection on the “Grace: Past, Present, Future” Video:

1. As you reflect on your life to this point, take several minutes to recount the various ways you’ve experienced God’s grace.

2. In what ways is God showing you grace right now, in the present?

3. In the video, John Perkins says that the promise of God’s grace in the future ought to make us a little adventurous. What is something adventurous you have thought about doing in service to God’s kingdom but have perhaps been too cautious to do? What would a first step toward adventure look like?

Hope in the Dark Playlist

If you haven’t already, take some time to check out this carefully curated playlist of songs that reflect upon the major movements and themes of the story of Jonah.

Running Away From God

God is love. That realization can be both profoundly comforting and deeply disturbing, depending on the where and the what and the how of our lives at any given moment. And even when we stop running and can begin to receive God’s love, the comfort comes with an invitation, an invitation to reflect and to share that love. These two realities–God’s faithful, loving presence with us and God’s desire that we embody that same faithful, loving presence with others–were at the heart of Jarrod’s sermon. I hope that the following pieces for reflection will invite you into further contemplation of this love that is at once both gift and invitation.

God Is For Us

Questions for reflection on the “God Is For Us” Video:

1. Have you encountered the “do-it-yourself” mindset in church? How
has that mindset played out?

2. When have you struggled to believe God is for us, for you? Why do you think that has been a struggle? How might that struggle be able to shape you moving forward?

3. When have you known deep down that God is for us, for you? Why do you think you felt that way? What might your experience of that sense of being beloved mean for the way you live your life day in and day out, for the way you carry yourself, for the way you interact with others?

Can’t Outrun Your Love

Take a few moments to listen to this adaptation of Psalm 139 by Ellie Holcomb, and then quietly meditate on the limitless love of God.



Exilic Living

Questions for reflection on the “Exilic Living” Video:

1. In what ways are you challenged by the idea that we’re not meant to get rid of or expunge enemies but to love them?

2. What are the places, who are the people, that come into your mind as you reflect on this idea of loving enemies, and what would it look like for you to love them?

3. If loving enemies is “the most distinctive work we could do in the world,” how would that impact your day to day rhythms, routines, and interactions? What is one step you can take to begin to do this “most distinctive work”?

Hope in the Dark Playlist

As we spend the next few weeks reflecting on the story of Jonah, I thought it might be of benefit to those of us who enjoy listening to music to be able to soak our hearts and minds in music that tracks with the major movements and themes of the story. So check out this carefully curated playlist below and see what difference meditation on these themes makes in your life.