By Rev. Dr. Francisco Javier Goitía Padilla

The purpose of God is hope. In the beginning, God drove away chaos and created order, beauty, and purpose. Before the Red Sea, God made way and new opportunities for an enslaved people. He showed the way to Elijah by stroking his cheek and, by doing so, hope returned from the threads of death. God accompanies us in the valley of the shadow of death and is our refuge and strength. He hears our voices when we cry out from the currents of water. God's nature is his love, and his actions produce hope. Hope is “the Christian anticipation of the future as the fulfillment of God's purposes based on God's covenant faithfulness and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as known by the work of the Holy Spirit in the church.”[1] God does not quit or move.[2] God was born in a manger, took the cross, and left an empty tomb. His hope is confirmed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ through the work and power of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of God is hope.


The purpose of the gospel is hope. The gospel is the glad tidings of God in Jesus Christ. These are the glad tidings of the presence of He who was crucified and rose from the dead amid communities of saints who proclaim and confess his name for the salvation of all people and the entirety of creation. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:17). The incarnation of Jesus Christ and his redemptive act, with the strength of the Holy Trinity, is both an action and a confirmation of God's love, whose activity is hope. This event caused our salvation and produced radical and unconditional gratitude, which is the source, foundation, and direction for our lives. Our good actions and the ethical principles that guide them stem from this gratitude. The purpose of the gospel is hope.


The project of the Church is hope. The Church is an identifiable and safe place where God creates order, beauty, and purpose; this is also where today we find the God who strokes our cheeks, provides opportunities for free and enslaved people and brings back hope to us from the threads of death. Our God becomes present through the power of his Word and the Spirit's activity. The Church is a topography of grace, at the center of which we confess and glorify God, and we thank Him with our worship and service to our neighbors in favor of justice and peace. This topography of grace extends through time and space, from Monday to Saturday, where we live and work, to our hands and feet, which help us continue, through our vocations and charisma, to confess, worship, and serve in our daily tasks and work. The Word and the Spirit call and gather the Church to be a light in the middle of darkness through proclamation and testimony. The project of the Church is hope.


The task of the ministry of preaching is hope. Preaching is not a sermon; it is a ministry. It is a ministry that continues the conversation started by God with his creation when He said, "Let there be light." It is a ministry that weaves and connects us to God's love and grace, which reaffirm, challenge, and deliver. The ministry of preaching is a continuous, intentional, and empowering dialogue that God provokes, maintains, and executes with his Word, the crucified and risen Christ, who is made present through the power of the Holy Spirit in the topography of grace that is the Church and who captures us and brings hope so that we may live dignified and happy lives. The purpose of the ministry of preaching is hope because it presents this God, proclaims this gospel, and occurs in this Church. Artisans of the ministry of preaching use life, Scripture, and the Church's notes about Scripture and life to create sermons that present this divine-human dialogue between God and his people every week. Between God and his creation. The task of the ministry of preaching is hope.


Francisco Javier Goitía Padilla is the Senior Director of Leadership Education in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He is an ordained minister and has pastored in Puerto Rico and Chicago, Il. He was a professor of theology and preaching in the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico from 2005 to 2017 and was a dean from 2012 to 2017. He is currently an adjunct professor in several seminaries in Puerto Rico and the U.S.



Bibliographic Resources:


Brueggemann, Walter. Finally Comes the Poet: Daring Speech for Proclamation. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989.

The Practice of Prophetic Imagination: Preaching an Emancipating Word. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012.

Pagán, Samuel. Púlpito, Teología y Esperanza. Miami: Editorial Caribe, 1988.

Sancken, Joni S. Words that Heal: Preaching Hope to Wounded Souls. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2019.


Goitía Padilla, Francisco Javier. “Preaching Courage and Hope in the Eye of a Hurricane.”Currents in Theology and Mission. Volume 46, No 2 (2019).


[1]              Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, s.v. “hope”.

[2]              From Santa Teresa de Jesús's poem "Nada te turbe" [Let Nothing Trouble You]. Seeávila-35173. Accessed July 14, 2012.