Welcome (Matthew 5:13-16)

"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.

No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Preparation: As the deer

Call to Worship (Psalm 112)

Praise the Lord!
    Happy are those who fear the Lord,
    who greatly delight in his commandments.
Their descendants will be mighty in the land;
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
    and their righteousness endures for ever.
They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright;
    they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with those who deal generously and lend,
    who conduct their affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
    they will be remembered for ever.
They are not afraid of evil tidings;
    their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.
Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor;
    their righteousness endures for ever;
    their horn is exalted in honour.
The wicked see it and are angry;
    they gnash their teeth and melt away;
    the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.

How high and how wide


O Love that gives us life,
We come as people of this world, to be transformed and reshaped as your people.

O Love that gives us hope,
We come as slaves under the power of death, to receive forgiveness and find life.

O Love that gives us faith,
We come as people carrying the burden of this world, to put it at your feet and be freed.

You, God, are the source of life. You, the Son, are the redeemer of life. You, the Holy Spirit, are the sustainer of life.

In this worship, come and be glorified. We come in your Son’s name. Amen.

Scripture Reading (1 Corinthians 2:1-12)

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him’—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.

Sermon: Plain Hope is to trust, rely on, commit, and learning about oneself and about one’s limits

It is clear that we do not know what the world will look like tomorrow or next month according to God’s will . It is a fool’s errand to divine what God will do a month from now based on what is happening in the world. No matter how we discern God’s will, in truth, we must confess that none of us know. No one has seen the future. No one has heard from the future. No one’s dream about the future will be able to tell what our tomorrow will look like. Futurists, economists, philosophers, politicians and many people love to speculate. However, the exact ways in which the future will unfold to us remains a mystery no matter how we plan, build and control.

With much suffering in the world, people in the world with desires to build a better world insist on numerous ways of loving one another and caring for the vulnerable. There are some who advocate loving the poor. Some people press on with loving animals. Others focus on loving the earth. They put faith in their causes and efforts. They put faith in human abilities to overcome these problems. They put faith in collective strength. Yet, year after year, their hopes of bringing about a just, caring and safe world are dashed. Their hopes, set on their experiences and projections, end up being mirages and unattainable images. There is nothing wrong with putting faith in humanity, caring for the vulnerable and hoping for a future where people’s basic needs are met. Though these attempts were always thwarted in one way or another, there were moments in history when some people were able to live without worries. The world continues as it has been since the very beginning in this way.

Have you wondered why some people are more resilient than others in difficult times? Among Christians, we talk of losing faith. By now we are quite used to and have given up on many people who no longer come to church. We describe these ones as well as those who have never been Christians as being without faith. For us, however, faith as belief alone cannot sustain us through difficult times. Having faith or believing in something or waiting patiently for a better situation loses its power if nothing happens while time marches on.

Faith in this sense means nothing without love and hope. Love gives us strength to ride out the difficulties in life. Love assures us that life is worth living as we share with one another humanity. Surrounded by ones who love us, we can continue to face hardship. But faith and love alone are not sufficient in facing the power of death. Sure. We know that we can confront an incurable cancer when everybody loves us. We believe in the resurrection life. With this love faith we can be assured that death is only a stage to get to life beyond death. As one prepares to die in this situation, love that we receive indeed casts out our fear of death. This death where faith and love are present is often called dying with dignity. In pain and suffering, we can let ourselves die to this life because we believe in Christ who promised the resurrection life and are not afraid of dying because our loved ones are present in the moment when death comes.

Yet, faith and love, when present together, do not give us the perspective of life and life beyond death. The impossibility of knowing what life beyond death is turns faith into a stab in the dark, wishful thinking or acceptance of one’s destiny with blind trust while love turns into goodwill support and empathetic accompaniment in this fatalistic ritual of life’s end. For faith and love to be the essential part of the resurrection life, they need hope as their partner.

Hope, as the third component that leads life to life beyond death, is more than anticipation, desire or expectation that something good will happen. In the Letter to Hebrews we read that faith is assurance of things hoped for; conviction of things unseen. That is, hope is the very thing that directs faith to life beyond death or the resurrection life. Without hope faith is unable to take us beyond death and love becomes nothing more than our kind actions toward others. Both faith and love without hope ground us to this life at best. In other words, faith and love become concrete actions improving our lives here, but not beyond death.

Hope without faith and love is nothing more than desire, anticipation and expectation. In the absence of life beyond death or the resurrection life as our destination, hope becomes an exercise in wish fulfilment, a goal to achieve, and a purpose that gives meaning to this life. As long as hope is understood within the confines of life before death, it does not buttress faith and/or love to set our sights to life beyond death. Yes, hope can help us accomplish great things in this life, but not always requiring faith and love. In this sense, faith, hope and love are simply three separate circles overlapping at times, but have their separate uses to enhance life.

Hope with faith and love, however, in Christian life are inseparable. This is why what we hear about faith in Hebrews 11 can be said of hope and love as well. Hope along with love, too, is convictions of things unseen. More than faith and love, hope points our sights to life beyond death as our reality that is partial and seen only darkly at the moment, but will be revealed to us in the fullness of time. Hope that operates with faith and love grounds us in reality so that we do not linger in wishful thinking. It also reminds us that our effort to achieve a goal of my well being is not the goal for humanity if it stops with my own well being alone. It compels us to focus our purpose in life to beyond our own lives to life beyond death. Without hope, faith and love are nothing more than efforts to improve our lot in life. Without hope we become the ultimate focus for faith and love. Faith and love without hope improve one’s well being at the cost of all else. Yes, without hope our efforts in keeping faith and love are all about me and my loved ones in exclusion of others.

Hope rises out of faith and love. Our faith in God and love for God brings out our hope in God. In tandem with faith and love, hope brings us wisdom in ways our minds and souls can be open to God’s wisdom. Thus when we hear with faith, hope and love we understand what Paul is speaking of here in 1 Corinthians 2.

We speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him’—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.

Hope along with faith and love protects us from becoming materialistic utilitarian people seeking what’s in it for me in life. It anchors our very presence not in this life but the one that we will enjoy beyond death. Here, however, we need to be very careful about what it means to be anchored in life beyond death. If we do not be careful, we end up creating the world of fantasy and live life in an attempt to get into life beyond death. Our faith in Christ becomes nothing more than a pie in the sky wish, meaning we carry this false hope of ending up in the glory land after death. In the meantime, we put up with the misery, suffering and pain of this world as something to endure in hope of gaining an entry into eternal life.

To say our life is anchored in life beyond death is to profess life that is yet to be fully realized as life to be lived here and now. We live life that is alternative to the way the world is. It is true that our eyes have not seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived anything of life beyond death. However, in Christ Jesus with the assurance of things hoped for, conviction of things unseen, we love God and one another as servants who are ushering in the world of life beyond death where all tears are wiped away into this life. The very life we live with faith, hope and love, therefore, is life that is firmly planted in God’s justice, compassion, mercy and love being lived out in this life. Without hope this life of faith and love is impossible.

In this Christian world where faith, hope and love abide, these three essentials of life are not separate and independent entities overlapping here and there, but function together to give life its fullness. That is, life, where God’s justice and love are abundant, is imperfect, but the present reality. This is what it means for us to say that our life is anchored in life beyond death. We may not see fully what it truly looks like in its glory, may not hear how wonderful this life is and may not be able to conceive in our hearts the fullness of being alive in this life beyond death. However, in Christ Jesus, following Christ opens not only the possibility but also the reality of being in this life so that we may see dimly, hear unclearly and conceive imperfectly. In this very difficult present hope draws us to this life and with faith and love reveals this mystery to us to glorify and enjoy God.


O God,
Across the ages, transcending boundaries, when we lifted up our voices in prayer in troubles, you heard our prayers and delivered us according to your will. Come to us, yet again, and hear our prayers.

We are perplexed in the world of our making. We advocate peace, but are mired in wars. We shout for justice, but hold onto an unjust world. We desire love, but we share hatred. Freely we receive, but we exact cost when we give. Turn our ways. Make us like your Son our Lord to follow him by building a just world, sharing love without condition and bestow your grace upon others as you have done for us.

O Christ,
Because this world is filled with pain, anguish and fear, we come remembering all those who are suffering. Pain of mind and body from illnesses beyond our control debilitates us. Give us healing of both mind and body. Anguish of heart fills us with uncertainties, weakening our faith. Strengthen our hearts and centre us on you. Fear of death overwhelms us at all times, destroying our hope. Fill us with your love and cast out the fear. Open our eyes to your promise of resurrection life as love that destroyed death once and for all.

O Holy Spirit,
You have nurtured, sustained, comforted and led us ever since we were called as your people. We bring our concerns. With many worries about the future, committing our future in your hand becomes more and more difficult as our membership declines. Help us to see beyond today and tomorrow into your salvation history that began in the beginning of time and beyond the end of time. Help us to know that your love never fails us. Focus us on your things in ways that we proclaim and witness your Gospel to the world.

All these and more, we pray in your Son’s name. Amen.


Offering Prayer


The session will meet after the service of worship on Sunday, Feb 12.

We are going to change the way we intended to do the Lent Lunches. Instead of doing lunches, we will have Lent devotion and fellowship starting at10:30 am on Wednesdays beginning on Ash Wed Feb 22. Instead of a set fee we encourage free will donations.

Please remember that we are collecting clothes for all ages, gently used toys and small appliances like toasters and kitchen utensils for Ukrainians both in Ukraine and those who are settling in our region. Please bring them to the church and we will take them to the St. Peter and St. Paul Ukrainian Church on Sylvia Place.

Your prayers are required for all those members who have difficulty attending worship services.

Crown him with many crowns