I have always been a fan of hope. Married to faith and love, this powerhouse buoys the spirit and frees the heart to believe and live for more than 24/7 "easy does it." A Proverb says that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." I add that hope abandoned sinks it into sleepwalking, or worse, cardiac arrest. Real hope rocks. Hope is a flat out way of life. I think it is "the normal Christian life," to be blunt.
The last few days, I have been thinking about my hope for imagine/northampton next year. What do I really desire? So I offer a few.
May Jesus help me live more and more as a catalyst of hope.
1. Jesus's Kingdom will be furthered in Northampton because we are faithful to his call to follow him here, no matter the size of the impact. He will be found and glorified by people who do not know him or are antagonistic to him.
2. The Team will be able finally to join us up here: houses will be sold and bought or rented; jobs will be secured; children's needs will be well met; relationships will be built, and its identity in the city will begin to solidify.
3. We will be given the funds to move forward with renting or leasing a space in the center of town to do worship, show art and host performance events. We will be able to procure sound and video equipment.
4. A gifted worship team (singers, players, dancers, tech people, videographers, actors, visual artists, writers, etc.), will form from people who love Jesus and worshiping him, but also see creativity and innovation in worship as viable means by which the Spirit opens people to wonder, gratitude and courageous faith.
5. Our Worship Design Team will expand to include creatives who are wise, playful and willing to work hard to make the atmosphere of worship fresh and life-changing week after week. Excellence will be central to our DNA.
6. God will identify and raise up other gifted leaders in our midst committed to imagine's vision and values -- people who will share the heavy lifting in launching the church, and help others find their roles in developing its mission.
7. We will build relationships with the poor, neglected, and broken in Northampton, finding new ways to love, serve and lift them toward freedom. May we never shy away from, or overlook them.
8. We will become a community where artists and performers feel welcome and respected. We will build relationships will culture-makers in Northampton. The way we live together will be compelling.
9. The Jesus-followers God calls to join us will share the same heart for mission, creativity and following Jesus that we do. Sacrificial love, faith, and service will characterize our community no matter our brokenness.
10. Our resolve will only grow stronger as we face resistance, challenges, attacks, or hardships. In the midst of these realities we will be characterized by a gracious spirit, good humor, and an infectious hope.
11. We will form strategic alliances with like-minded Jesus-followers in town to expand opportunities for Kingdom investing, and share resources to deepen its influence in Northampton.
12. Everyone involved with imagine/northampton will discover the God who is far more than they ever imagined and willingly surrender more of their hearts to him because they are convinced there is no better life.
13. We will be able to look back this time next year and express wonder at this God who turns our stumbling beginnings into a vibrant community of creativity, love, service, and healing freedom.
I honestly can't wait to see what he has in store for us. I believe that "it is for a time such as this," we are here, and even though the way ahead will include some rough stuff, my heart is settled to see Jesus known as he is by people who would never give him a second thought.
May our hope enlarge enough to fit what he has in store for imagine/northampton.