“In reality, we don’t first find ourselves, then participate in relationships. Instead, we were made to know our true selves in relationships. Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor puts it this way: “No one acquires the languages needed for self-definition on their own. We were introduced to them through exchanges with others who matter to us . . . . “All this dovetails with a bedrock Christian truth: God designed church to be the place where our most important identity formation occurs, among other people. We become more like Christ as we participate in the life of the church and form relationships there. But too often we think we must have our spiritual house in order before we can fully participate. Or, by contrast, we see the church as a place of performance, instead of a place where we are developed into more fully authentic – that is, more Christlike-humans” (By Alissa Wilkinson in Christianity Today, “The Year We Searched for Ourselves,” January/February 2016).
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“Our hope is not based on our own abilities to act or change the world. Our hope is entirely grounded in the reality that God has always cared about justice, has always called us to join him in seeking justice. God promises that he will fully usher in his kingdom of justice and righteousness. Because of what God has done, is doing, and will do in and through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we can enter a fallen world of suffering and heartache rooted in a persevering hope.
This is not a cheap hope; our hope is often as broken, bloodstained, and costly as Christ’s body hanging on the tree at Golgotha. This is not a trite hope; in the midst of our hope we still need to acknowledge and lament the places in this world where we fall short of God’s kingdom vision. It is a hope rooted in the power of the light of Jesus Christ to finally and fully overcome all the darkness of the world in his perfect timing” (By Bethany Hanke Hoang and Kristen Deede Johnson in The Justice Calling, a book about human trafficking).
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“Personal growth and stability in a world such as ours required that we be centered, through our conscious mind and bodily habits, upon an abundant source of insight, direction, and empowerment that clears our path of the rubble of life and gives us strength to carry through with the visions of simple goodness that continue to haunt us. We have to find a central focus that pulls together the scattered fragments and shredded fringes of life as we must live it. . . . We skip from nothing to thing and are drawn in many directions of pleasure and grief. We feel we are at the mercy of events and circumstances beyond our power. And for the most part we are . . . .
“We must have some conscious focus that can become a habit and frame our day-to-day existence toward what is simple, but yet comprehensively good. It must assure us without complicated arguments, that we are actually living in the midst of something very great, sublime, and beautiful – where there is no need for “remedies” because all truly is well. The Serenity Prayer does just that” (by Dallas Willard in the “Foreword” to The Serenity Prayer, a Simple Prayer to Enrich Your Life, by Trevor Hudson).
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“To be filled with the power of the Spirit . . . . is simply to humble ourselves and listen again, making space for Spirit to be and do more, or less, than we could imagine being or doing. To claim that we are Spirit empowered, all filled up with God, gains nothing. But oh, how the world waits for a people committed to acts of mercy, befriending the vulnerable, learning day by day to listen anew to the Spirit that falls upon us and dwells within us. To start taking this beyond-us-working-through-us power more seriously, and to humbly follow its guidance, would be to relax and respond with confidence. This could be the good news to truly remake the world” (By Kayla McClurg, Season and Scripture: Epiphany Year C, Luke).