Go Walk

Isaiah 9:1-7    November 19, 2017   Go Walk

1 But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. 3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. 4 For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.


My favorite band is Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder, the lead singer, is sometimes known to reflect the spot light that shines on him back onto the crowd using his guitar. It’s a beautiful image and I think it captures what we’re trying to celebrate together today – reflecting the love we know through Jesus Christ onto others by walking with them.

Isaiah says that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. We know darkness. We will know it again, right? The stories of darkness in this room could fill a lifetime. Yes, but we also know the light. And we know we were not alone in the darkness and that we couldn’t know the light without the dark. We are walking together in this life of faith.

Our purpose as River of Hope is to get out of this building so that lives can be transformed through Jesus Christ. Sometimes it matters that we are involved and sometimes Christ transforms lives and situations despite our efforts to help or hinder.

Isaiah says,Walk. Be light. Say it with me: Walk. Be light.

And I’ve seen you walk with people.  I’ve seen Nan Crary and Sandy Tracy walk with other community members to start the homelessness task force.

I’ve seen you walk with people at the laundromat. I’ve seen God in your work.  I’ve seen the people in the laundromat show you the love of God too.

I’ve seen God at work in Main Street Sports Bar – in the band, in the friends and in the strangers that end up becoming friends. I’ve seen lives transformed because of a church showing up in a bar.

I’ve seen God at work in all the people who have represented River of Hope at our booth at the McLeod County Fair as we give away 1000 rootbeer floats.

I’ve seen God at work when we participate with the Hutchinson Center for the Arts.

I’ve seen God at work within the discipleship groups and Bible study groups that are meeting through River of Hope.

I’ve seen God at work at Cookies on the Corner, when we just showed up on the corner right behind the event center, to let people know we are here.

I’ve seen God at work in you greeting one another during worship. And I think most churches would say they are friendly and greet people well, but I’ve heard from visitors that they’ve been acknowledged and warmly welcomed by many people and that whatever we’re doing here, it’s working.

Some River of Hope-ers have had the opportunity to visit many worshiping communities outside of River of Hope this past year. And just a few weeks ago, they said to me, “I can’t tell you how much we appreciate River of Hope and how you treat visitors. We have basically been ignored at many of the churches we have visited.”

These past 7 years, we’ve been laying the foundation of River of Hope, and it’s critical that it’s a foundation built on Jesus Christ, our rock and salvation. Because flowing through that foundation is the DNA we want this church to naturally live by.

Instead of consulting our list of values, we just know that we are all learners, all disciples. That no one’s got faith figured out. That in our DNA is the faith and the relief that God is God and we are not and that this life of faith means we are constantly growing, learning how to forgive, learning to teach each other, and to love. That, as we face the future, we know it involves taking risks, especially when it is about God’s justice. It’s just gotta be in our blood that we reach out to people without them promising to be Christian or to join our church or to even be likeable. It’s hard not to have strings attached but it’s critical that there’s no bait and switch when it comes to being who we are. And the rest? It’s about love and God’s love just meets you right where you are. Messed up or put together. That’s how God works.

We are living into being a new kind of church and it takes a long time to set the culture, to cultivate the DNA, to get it in the water who we’re gonna be. We’ve come so far and there is a bright future for River of Hope not because of our light, but because of the light revealed to us through Jesus Christ. The reflection of the light is often even brighter than we could ever imagine. That’s what happens when we leave this place and walk with others, when we find them in the dark.

Go out and walk with those who need you just to be at their side.

Go out and walk into new, scary places. Places you’ve never been.

Go out and walk into your old familiar places and do a new thing. Reflect the light in a new way.

For the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

River of Hope, we will continue to walk into the light, reflecting the light.

River of Hope, we will walk with those in the darkness and reflect the light of Christ.

Go. Walk.