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...Overflowing Hope 

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Last Sunday, 27th November, we started a new sermon series for Advent 2022. I introduced the key passage (Romans 15:13) that we will be unpacking over the four Sundays of advent. We then went on to think about the unique message of hope that we carry as Christians, in a world that is overrun with fear and despair.


"Christmas 1917 was just round the corner but with their son, Archie, missing in action and presumed dead; the Clikeman family had decided not to celebrate this year.

The postmaster of the small South Dakota town of Parker had a reputation. The townsfolk used to joke that whenever the mail train came into town, he would sit and read all the postcards before sending them out. On Christmas Eve 1917, the Clikeman family found out that these rumours were true.

The Clikeman's were grateful that the postmaster, instead of waiting for the rural mail to go out on Boxing Day, called the family home and told them that Archie had sent a postcard. The card confirmed that he was being held as a prisoner of war and that he'd written that he was well.

That Christmas, the Clikeman family celebrated like never before - their despair had given way to hope." *1


It's Hopeless!...

'I hope I can get there...', 'We're hoping it's good news...', 'I hope you have a great time'...

It seems that hope is a rare and fragile thing. Not many people would describe themselves as 'hopeful' at the moment, and anyone who is 'hoping' does so with fingers crossed whilst preparing for the worst. Mankind has an unrivalled capacity to believe for a better world, and then to start living in anticipation of its arrival - action inspired by hope is, to some degree, what makes us human.

Hope gives purpose and direction to life. That's why living in a 'hope vacuum' like the last few years has been so dehumanising for so many people. We need hope, without it we become like zombies, existing but not truly living. This kind of shadowy existence inevitably leads to fear and despair.

Another problem is the erosion of meaning. We often use the word 'hope' to express a lack of certainty. As in the sentence stems above, people talk about 'hope' as a vague desire or a whimsical dream. It's not certain, settled or sure. This is in stark contrast to the language of the biblical authors, who speak of hope as a 'guaranteed outcome', an 'unshakable inheritance' and a 'faithful promise'. To quote the Apostle Paul, 'hope does not disappoint'! (Romans 5:5)

The Economy of Hope...

There is an 'Economy of Hope' and we all trade in it. Many are unaware what they are in the market, but all of us make decisions and plans based on the expectation that 'hope' can be found and secured. We seek it in all sorts of ways - personal relationships, meaningful experiences, financial security or careful control; but these all fail to provide the hope we desire.

A doctor might prescribe you tablets to treat a disease. In taking those tablets your body breaks up the tablet, absorbs the active ingredient and releases the resulting byproducts. The side effects of the drug and its resulting byproducts have already been carefully considered by the doctor before they write the prescription. Those who seek hope have correctly diagnosed that it is the antidote to despair. However, substituting it with 'off-brand' or 'black market' hope is a bad idea and it has a longterm negative impact on us. 

In the Bible, 'hope' is the overwhelming, and controlling, conviction that with Jesus the future is better and brighter than anything experienced without, or before Him. That's what Paul expresses in Rom 5:2; 5:5; 8:24-25; Eph 1:18; 4:4-6 and 1 Tim 1:1. In fact our hope is so intrinsically linked to Jesus, His sinless life, sacrificial death, bodily resurrection and promised return; that Jesus himself is identified as the embodiment of hope.

Overflowing with Hope...

In 'O, Little Town of Bethlehem' Phillips Brooks wrote the following lyrics;

"The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight" *2

In Bethlehem, as the newborn child was laid in the manger that first Christmas night, every despairing soul and every hoping heart looked on... 'Immanuel'... God is with us... The promised one is finally here! God has stepped into our world and whatever happens now, there can be only one champion - either despair will be crushed or hope is fallen. 

The hope embodied by Christ is so complete that He rises from the grave - a place of absolute despair. And He ascends to the throne of heaven - in fulfilment of every promise. Romans 15:13 is the only place in scripture that the title 'God of Hope' is used. Yet as we have seen from Paul's writings, he regularly connects hope to the Godhead, and to Jesus particularly. As Paul writes to these persecuted christians who have every reason to despair - he instructed them, and he directs us, to trust in God and find the antidote to despair - overflowing hope!


Questions...

  1. Can you think of reasons why people might lose hope and despair? Have you ever lost hope?
  2. How would you explain the biblical idea of hope to a friend?
  3. What event marks Jesus out as the source of true hope? Why?
  4. Should this impact the way journey through life? Does it?
  5. Where are you tempted to look for 'counterfeit hope'?

Footnotes:

*1 - A story from Parker, South Dakota - https://www.rd.com/list/christmas-miracles
*2 - O Little Town of Bethlehem - https://hymnary.org/text/o_little_town_of_bethlehem
Glenys
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Planning your Visit

New to Church?...

A brief introduction to 3C Community Church.

Welcome Card Front

Sunday Worship...

This is an overview of a typical Sunday morning service so that you'll know, beforehand, what to expect when you visit.
 

Where and When

We meet in the Chapel (details here) for our Sunday Service starting at 10:30am. For your first visit, we recommend arriving 10-15 minutes early to ensure you get a parking space and find somewhere to sit before the service begins. When you arrive, you'll be greeted by someone on our Welcome Team.

Accessibility

There is wheelchair access via a paved ramp, and T-loop packs for anyone who needs them. Please let one of the Welcome Team know on your arrival and they will help you to get set up. There is an accessible toilet in the community hall.

Our Service

The service begins at 10:30am with a warm welcome from one of our members. This is usually followed by a time of sung worship, led by our band. We typically have 3 or 4 songs lasting approximately 20 minutes. Sometimes a person might pray out loud or read a small passage from the bible. Sometimes people share things that they believe God is saying to the whole church family. This might seem strange the first time you hear it but it’s all part of our connecting with God. We then share news and notices, usually about what’s going on in the life of the church. One of our leaders will then give a sermon that is bible based and that we can apply to our everyday life. We then finish with a final worship song. Sometimes there is an opportunity to receive prayer at the end of the service.

What about my kids?

We have a great programme lined up for kids of all ages:

  • Créche (0 months to 4 years). Parents/carers of younger children are welcome to use our créche facilities but they must remain with their child at all times.
  • Trailblazers (4-11 years)
  • Young people (11+ years) Stay in the service

It's best to register your children for their groups before the service begins - just speak to a member of our welcome team. Children stay with their parent or grown-up at the start of the service for the welcome, songs and notices. We really value worshipping God all together as a family. At the appropriate time someone will announce that our younger members will now go to their various groups. Whilst you are dropping your kids off at their groups, we may pause to take time to chat to someone sitting near or next to us, giving folk a chance to come back before the sermon begins.

The kids group activities vary depending on the age but usually there is a friendly welcome, bible stories, testimonies, praying, music, craft, drama, fun games and free play. Your children will be brought back to the chapel at the end of their session.

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Getting Connected...

Small Groups

While Sundays are a great way to meet new people, it is often in smaller gatherings that you can really get to know someone. Being part of one of our small groups allows you to make new friends, share together and support each other. We have a variety of groups that meet throughout the week, some mornings and some evenings. Check out Small Groups and see if there’s one that you could join. We can put you in touch with a small group leader who will be more than happy to invite you along to their group.

Serving and Volunteering

If you want to get involved in the life of the church and help us make sure things run smoothly, you'll need to talk to one of the leaders about joining a team. 

Other Ministries

We also run the following ministries:

  • Men's Ministries
  • Women's Ministries
  • Nursing Home Services
  • Children's clubs
  • Crafting club
  • Warm Space
  • Foodbank
     

A Note from Phil, our Pastor...

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Phil, Becks, Alice & Martha

Becks, Alice and I joined 3C in 2018. Since then Martha has been born, there's been a global pandemic and we've finally moved into the neighbourhood. I work full time for the church whilst Becks works as a music teacher at a secondary school in Gloucester during the week. We know that God led us to 3C and this ministry. He's been shaping us as individuals, a couple and a family to serve Him here in Cam.

Becks uses her musical gifts to serve God and the congregation as part of the music ministry team. She is also heading up the Sunday morning kids ministry - 'Trailblazers'. I lead the church eldership team along with some of our ministry teams. Though I've recently enjoyed a major church building maintenance project, my deepest joy is found in sharing the Word of Life with God's people.

We hope that whoever you are, you will feel at home at our church.

Every Blessing,

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