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Live in today, hope in eternity

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Christ’s work is complete, but we await the full revelation of it. Our present circumstances, whether good or ill, are not worthy of comparison to what will be revealed when He returns.

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Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a Word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen

Another Disappointing Headline

“Council Members LIVID After Gary Mayor Said “NO” to Lear Seating Plant and 780 Jobs.” That was the headline for an article that was written by Ken Davidson in the July 20th edition of the NWI Gazette, a local newspaper. In an interview for the article, Gary Common Council member Herb Smith said, “My understanding is that they came to the City . . .they approached the Mayor” He also stated, “First we were told that Mayor Freeman-Wilson did not want to compete with another local Mayor” Later the Economic Development Comission, of which he is a member, was told that there would be zoning issues with placing the factory on a property which was zoned for light industrial use. “We have nothing and she turned away 780 jobs.” Smith said in disbelief. Smith said he heard later that the project may interfere with long term plans for a cross-wind runway at the airport. “That is 40 years down the road” Smith said indicating that the City needs jobs now and tax revenue now. “We are facing a [budget] crisis and it is going to hit very hard, very soon,”Smith explained.
In response, the Mayor’s Office wrote a press release that stated, “I have always maintained that you should not respond to people who lack credibility. Ken Davidson and the NWI Gazette fall into that category. Today, they intentionally printed an article that was not only wrong but written in an effort to deceive and mislead the citizens of Gary, Indiana.
To be clear, I did not say “no” to Lear Manufacturing. When we were first approached, I made it clear that we did not want to get into a “bidding war” with another community. I did not think it was fair to either my city or the city of Hammond to deplete resources that we know to be scarce.
Once Lear affirmed that was not their agenda and they were legitimately exploring Gary as a location, our economic development team went into high gear. Despite our best efforts, the Federal Aviation Authority would not approve a new building at the location of Lear’s first choice. We offered another location that did not work for Lear either. Beyond, working to identify a location, we proposed an attractive incentive package. In the end, Lear, who always expressed a preference for staying in Hammond, chose to remain there.

Promises, Hopes, and Expectations

Romans 8:18–21 ESV
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
We believe, teach and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, “born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate. He was crucified, died, and was buried. The third day, He arose again from the dead, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father . From thence, He shall come to judge the living and the dead.” (Book of Concord, “Three Ecumenical Creeds: The Apostles’ Creed”) That is what the Apostles preached, that is what the Scriptures declare, and that is what the Historic Christian church teaches. That teaching does not take place in a vacuum, or as a disconnected fact of history. Christ’s coming was not a happenstance, nor was His death an accident. It took place in the “fullness of time,” and His life wasn’t taken from Him, instead, He “laid it down,” and took it back up again. His passion and resurrection were but two of many promises God made regarding His purpose
to redeem His Creation from the effects of the Fall.

Dashed Hopes and Deferred Dreams

Langston Hughes wrote a poem called “Harlem.” Written in 1951, it later became the inspiration for the play, “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry.
What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?
Back in 1967, on the idea that we have as much of a right to chart our destiny as do any other citizens, Gary’s black citizens helped to elect Richard G. Hatcher as Mayor of Gary. It was a significant event in History, and it lead to major changes, some welcomed, but others unexpected. Hatcher ran on a platform to change what had become known as a corrupt City Hall, that was little different from our big-city neighbor, Chicago. He pledged to get rid of organized crime and bring hope to a community that had long been forced to accept whatever crumbs the city felt like dropping along the way. While he succeeded, the vacuum left by the mob was fought over by a variety of street gangs who were less economical in their use of violence. Additionaly, while Hatcher sought to elevate blacks both politically and economically, he also exposed a fear that whites would not fare as well under his administration, a fear that led to the exodus of both citizens and businesses to a newly (and the city argued, illegally) created town of Merrillville. The effects of those tumultuous decades are with us to this day, and people still point fingers more than they bring solutions.
Meanwhile, the community groans. We groan from the lack of jobs. We groan from the lack of grocery stores and shopping places. We groan from a lack of government services. We groan as our insurance is twice that of others, but our property values are a fraction. We groan from the effects of sin.
Romans 8:22–23 ESV
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Gary has over 1300 places of worship, many of which proclaim the name of Jesus Christ. Together, we celebrate both Christmas and Easter, we look back to Pentecost and forward to the 2nd Coming. We work while it is day, and wait for the New Day. In the meantime, we groan as we await our full deliverance from the effects of the Fall. My daughters’ Godparents recently suffered a grueling ordeal with cancer. I myself limped through an otherwise enjoyable Black Families’ Convocation as my body succumbed one more time to gout. We struggle to make things better, wondering if there is any hope here in Gary.

Let’s Talk About Hope

Romans 8:24–25 ESV
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
“My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.”
Politics offers “the audacity of hope,” but it is audacious because that hope is built on human perfectibility and ingenuity. We elected an admittedly brilliant man, and watched him struggle against politics, limitations, both of others and his own, and above all, against sin. While I might not agree with his political ideals, I believe that Pres. Obama wanted to do the best that he could; I believe that can also be said for every other of our 45 Presidents, and hopefully, those who will follow after the current one.
I also understand that, in the end, every effort to make this world a perfect place will fall short of the glory of God when it springs forth from the mind, skills, and energies of man. We are victims, both of our failures, and also of our success. Our failures are the work of sin, and our successes convince us that we can overcome sin outside of Christ’s Cross. But we can’t, because we are too weak.
Formula: SD II:68 - 68 We receive in this life only the firstfruits of the Spirit []. The new birth is not complete, but only begun in us. The combat and struggle of the flesh against the spirit remains even in the elect and truly regenerate people []. For a great difference can be seen among Christians. Not only is it true that one is weak and another strong in the spirit, but each Christian also experiences differences in himself. At one time he is joyful in spirit, and at another fearful and alarmed. At one time he is intense in love, strong in faith and hope, and at another time he is cold and weak.[1]
[1] McCain, P. T. (Ed.). (2005). Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (p. 532). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.
Romans 8:26–27 ESV
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
I wish I had more time to talk, more time to fight, more time to dream. I don’t, and it wouldn’t matter if I did, or if you did. What does matter, is that we have more time to pray. For some of you, it’s more time than you actually are using; for some of you, it’s mostly time spent upon your own needs, which seem to be overwhelming. For some of you, it is for God’s Kingdom to come, and His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Regardless, God has given to His children, the Holy Spirit to help us to pray. Whether we make use of that help much or little, HE is available, and He intercedes for us. He knows the mind of God, for He is God the Holy Spirit. He knows the plan of God for He raised Jesus from the dead. He knows the will of God concerning you, and He is, right now, working in you both to will and to do according to God’s good pleasure.
WE can’t change the past; we can only repent of it. The future is in God’s hands, we can only wait patiently, as we go about loving our neighbor for Christ’s sake. Today, while you hear His voice, receive His gifts of forgiveness, encouragement, and empowerment, all brought to us by the Holy Spirit, to the praise and glory of God’s grace.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen
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