“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope… and (we) are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”
1 Peter 1:3a, 8b NIV
It’s not hard to look around and see circumstances that feel hopeless or we may even personally be in the middle of a situation that makes hope feel out of reach…
True hope does not deny reality, it rests on the presence and goodness of God. Sometimes we need to be reminded to be full of hope in God, His promises, and His presence. We have a God who offers the ultimate Hope – living hope!
Reminding each other of the Hope and joy we are given through Jesus was the goal for this year’s women’s retreat: hope•full.
For the second year, we partnered with the women of Riverside Covenant Church to host the women’s retreat, to create space to connect as a community of women by investing in deeper relationships with God and each other and by understanding our value in Christ. It is a gift to serve on a team with women from both churches and to gather to worship God as the big “C” church.
Our specific intent for this year’s retreat was to offer a joy-filled, hope-full, meaningful weekend. From the cheery balloon décor and the worship in song to the content and teaching of the weekend, that is exactly what we did as we gathered at Camp Tecumseh November 11-13.
Lauren Alexander joined us from Bicknell, IN, and together we laughed and learned as we focused on what it means to receive our inheritance through Jesus and his death and resurrection. We shared the weekend growing together in what it means to receive a living hope that leads to an inexpressible and glorious joy!
The weekend was filled with hope and signs of God’s goodness. Whether it was a word or phrase we heard that resonated on a deep level, a good laugh, the powerful testimonies given, a personal connection made with someone that we couldn’t have humanly coordinated, or something else, we were reminded of the Hope we have through Jesus.
We learned the difference between being hopeful and living hope-full. Far too often we treat hope as a wish, whereas scriptural hope is a strong and confident expectation. Being only “hopeful” can lead to disappointment, yet learning to live full of the living hope Jesus offers through his death and resurrection brings life to the full.
From 1 Peter 1, we were reminded that our inheritance – our hope – from Jesus is fixed, flawless, and forever. Among other things, we were encouraged that our present circumstances cannot steal our promised inheritance.
During her final talk, Lauren shared the acronym JOY – Jesus Only You! Reminding us no one else can do what Jesus can do (and has done!) for us. There was much more we experienced and learned during hope•full – you can ask someone who attended to hear more.
This passage from Ephesians, became our team’s prayer for and through the weekend:
God of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, Father of Glory:
We call out to You on behalf of Your people.
Give us minds ready to receive wisdom and revelation so we will truly know You.
Open the eyes of our hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in.
Shine Your light on the hope You are calling us to embrace.
Reveal to us the glorious riches You are preparing as our inheritance.
(adapted from Ephesians 1:17-18, the Voice)
It continues to be our prayerful hope – our confident expectation – not only for the women who attended the retreat but for all! May we all learn to live hope•full lives.