Communities of Hope
Our vision is very simple. Churches are communities of hope. Despite the images of beautiful church buildings, churches are communities of people. People who buy into the bigger story of our world, and to live their lives according to that story which is about God’s love for all people and all creation expressed through Jesus Christ.
Many people go through their lives believing the stories that the world tells about them – that they are never good enough, that they are victims of one thing or another, that they don’t look good enough, that they aren’t successful enough.
The church, as a community of hope, is made up of people who have chosen to believe the different story, the message of the church, that we are all valued and loved by a God who knows us and walks with us every moment. This story is a story of hope and it is a story in which everyone belongs, whatever their background, black, white, gay, straight, young or old.
Communities of hope are created as people follow the example of what Jesus did and taught his followers. This is where communities of hope find their purpose: they do as Jesus Christ did. To serve others, especially the vulnerable, weak and marginalised, and to share the message of good news. That good news is good news in every dimension of our lives. As communities of hope we are discovering that God is always present and often is in disguise! We find God when we speak to the person no one has time for, we find God in the outcast, the anxious, the sick, the person living with the stigma of a mental health diagnosis or of being a member of LBGT communities. We find God in the most unexpected places and people.
God's B.I.G. love
God's love is big, expansive stretching to all people and all things.
God's love is inclusive and invitatory. No one is outside its scope and embrace, whatever colour, creed, race; whether straight or gay, whatever your circumstances and background, we are all invited to be a part of a community of hope.
God's love is gracious, generous, going way beyond all reasonable bounds.
Communities of Hope are called to yield a rich harvest of this love in our own lives.
Worship in our churches
Our churches all put the Eucharist (Holy Communion) at the heart of our worship together. At Communion we remember and intentionally bring ourselves into the presence of God, receiving spiritual nourishment for our life and faith journey.
Most of the main acts of worship together use a basic liturgy - a form of words that are is based on the Bible. The liturgy is made up of prayers, readings and greetings. The liturgy opens up opportunities for the congregation to join in, to participate in the act of worship. When we share the peace or take Communion, members of the congregation move out of their seats, we physically greet one another by shaking hands or giving friends a hug, or even a peck on the cheek!. At Communion we walk up to the altar to receive the bread and wine, or to simply receive a blessing.
A typical service is made up of different sections:
The greeting and confession - getting right with God before we do anything else, wiping the slate clean.
Listening to the Word of God, the Bible, as readings set for each day are read out. This act of listening extends into listening to a reflection (homily or sermon) on one or more of the readings. Typically the sermon or homily is 10-15mins long.
Our listening then turns to response as we pray for our world, the needs of people suffering injustice and from the effects of violence, war and disease. We pray too for the Church around the world, as well as for our endeavours in providing opportunities for local people to contribute to the common good, and to share our faith. We pray for the sick and for families recently bereaved by the loss of a loved one. We express our common bond of love by 'sharing the peace'.
The service then moves on to sharing the Eucharist (Holy Communion) when we remember how God became flesh and blood in Jesus Christ; how he laid down his life for all people and demonstrated the extent of God's love; and how God raised him from the dead, showing the strength of love over death. In his life, death and resurrection Jesus Christ overcomes the separation caused by our rebellion (sin), and invites all to turn to him, to follow him as his disciples (followers).
Finally we are sent out, back into the world to serve and share God's love with those we live with, work with and come across in the course of our daily lives.