We get our name from the sixty-first chapter of the book of Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.
We’re inspired by the prophet’s preview of a future that we’re called to anticipate now. This is a picture of the just and joyful end of God’s Grand Story. In the meantime, we live lives of hopeful realism. We know all too well that this full picture isn’t here yet, but try to be a part of God’s redemption even in the midst of the great brokenness in ourselves and in our world.
In our worship, in all of our relationships, with our kids, in our various creative collaborations and ministries of hospitality we want to know, tell and live this Story of hope, healing and hospitality in Christ:
A generous, giving God created everything so that everything might reflect the love, glory, and grace of its Creator. This “Community of Love” (we know them as Father, Son & Spirit) crafted and breathed life into human beings, made in God’s image, so that we might image our Creator in the way we worship God and lovingly care for the rest of creation.
Sin, disobedience, selfishness, idolatry and death crept into God’s good creation. Sin enslaves us and causes us to participate in our own slavery and mistreatment of others and the rest of creation. Sin happens at every level and taints even good things: our work, our politics, our relationships, the environment, and not least of all, every human heart. Things are not as they should be and creation groans for rescue.
In order to heal creation’s fractured relationship with its Creator, God’s primary rescue plan involves calling a people to himself for the sake of righteousness, justice, mercy, and redemption. In Scripture, we read of Israel’s covenant relationship with God and her varying degrees of fidelity to her faithful God. God sent his son, Jesus the Messiah, to save humanity. Jesus re-formed God’s people around himself, calling outsiders and misfits to be healed and to be part of the world’s healing. Following Jesus’ birth, ministry, death on a cross, resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Church took up the calling of being God’s reconciling community for the sake of the world.
Jesus the Messiah rescued God’s people by being born into poverty and dying a criminal’s death. The Cross stands at the center of the Christian faith because it resists any work, wisdom, revolution, or power we might try to muster for our own salvation. By kneeling at the foot of the Cross, our sins are forgiven and our wounds are healed by the one who died in our place and for our sake. To know Jesus as Lord means leaving one’s own agenda for their life and future and believing that the way of Christ’s Cross is the way to eternal life. Jesus called each of his followers to take up their crosses and follow him. In the Cross, he redefined everything we thought we knew about God, the world, ourselves, and everything we ever hoped for.
Jesus’ rising from the dead gives us hope that the Spirit might breathe new life into the darkest, most desperate situations. Even as we continue to live amidst brokenness, death, turmoil and despair, we plant seeds of resurrection that might be harvested as the Kingdom of God comes “on earth as it is in heaven.”