Sunday, January 26, 2020

How Would Jesus Impeach?

I can already hear people objecting to my title. The Bible isn't political, isn't about impeachment, and has nothing to say about the removal of any president or other public official. Besides,  God's kingdom is completely separate from the temporal kingdoms of this age.

But as members of the Christian faith, we also affirm that everything here on earth is subject to God's rule. Our primary creed is "Jesus is Lord." Lord over everything. Lord over Caesar. Lord of all nations.

Christians affirm that while God ordains secular governments as a way to keep evildoers in check, everyone will ultimately be judged by the same standard. No exceptions. 

We also believe that the government (kingdom) of God and the governments of this age are by no means equal. God's rule is far and above every principality and power, and God's rule is both now and forever.

So I'm disturbed at how many Christians seemingly see Jesus's life and teachings as naive and largely irrelevant to here and now, real life issues. 

When it comes to finances, for example, the Jubilee economics taught and modeled by the Hebrew prophets, and by Jesus and his early followers, are simply set aside in favor of the wisdom of Wall Street. When it comes to  the governing principles by which we live, the U.S. Constitution is regarded as more authoritative than the Bible. And on the issue of defense, the Pentagon is seen as offering us more security, and having more validity, than the non-violent, cross-bearing faith lived and taught by the Prince of Peace.

So should we not encourage Congress to consider Jesus' teaching and example in their impeachment trial?

After all, most members of that body  profess to be Christian. While they have also sworn to defend the Constitution, whatever they do in both their public and private life should reflect their allegiance to an even higher authority.

Were they to see themselves as subject to God's rule, as taught by Jesus and the prophets, they might consider the following as they consider removing a president:

Like the removal of a member from his or her congregation, as outlined in Matthew 18, the ultimate goal of an impeachment trial should not be to either convict or acquit, but to rectify wrong and to restore the wrongdoer. In other words, the primary focus should, in the words of Jesus, be to point out the fault and to invite the offender to repent, to make amends. Only after repeated failed attempts to do so are we to excommunicate, or "impeach," someone.

Sadly, our current president may be unlikely to choose changing his ways, or rectifying any wrongs, having insisted that what he did was "perfect," and that he sees no need for him to repent or ask forgiveness.

But before any efforts to indict or remove anyone, there should be a sincere appeal to the offender to repent.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

January 12, 2020, Business Meeting Minutes

Family of Hope Business Meeting Jan 12, 2020, at Family Life Resource Center
Present: Dick Dumas, Guy Vlasits, Harvey Yoder, Alma Jean Yoder, James Stauffer, Ruth Stauffer, Ellyn Marshall-Nelson, Lois Rivera-Wenger, Kent Palmer

Business meeting began with Lois leading a reflection on hymn 371 (Let There Be Light, Lord God of Hosts). This was followed by a time of prayer.
Susan presented a summary of 2019 Income and Expenses.  Giving this year ($9591.71) was lower than the proposed budgeted amount ($16,800) and prior years. Expenditures were met with 2019 income and surplus in the checking account from the previous year. We again had lowered congregational expenses, which helped to meet the budget.  
Concerns were raised that giving may be lower again in the upcoming year due to various reasons. We processed options to revise the budget now or to maintain the current one with the knowledge we may have to adjust after seeing how strong 2020 giving will be in the first three quarters. We proposed to continue the current budget with a plan to examine again in the fall, especially since most expenditures are not paid out until the latter part of the year. 
Harvey initiated a discussion on the future of Family of Hope:
--Should we adjust how often we meet (perhaps twice a month)?
--Should we become a cell group in another local church?
--Should we have a consistent meeting location without physical barriers?

Note: Other suggestions made by members, below, are underlined:
Susan prefers to meet every week.  If people miss a Sunday when meeting only once or twice a month then they become isolated and over time they will identify with the house church less and less. Expressed a concern that four people had fallen on her steps and felt that we needed to meet in a location with less risk of injury.

Lois indicated that she needed to minimize night time driving.  She is only going to be able to attend one or two evenings a month.  Other times of day would be better for her.  Lois noted that the game room that we eat in is used by other residents of Park Place and at least one of them had expressed a concern that our meals displace them from being able to use the room for its intended purpose.

Elly offered to assist in whatever ways possible. She is willing to create and distribute the monthly newsletter. She favored a meeting time that was convenient for all but was not supportive of meeting less frequently.
Dick indicated he would hate to see the church disband. He did not like the concept of reducing the frequency of meeting or becoming a cell group in another church.
Kent was open to meeting once or twice a month.  Suggested we might want to consider meeting earlier in the day (2-4 PM).  Also suggested we might want to have a snack instead of a meal.  If we had a snack instead of a full meal, we could designate a single person/couple to bring the snack for a particular week. 

Kent also raised concern that the leadership of the church may be placing undue stress on Harvey and Alma Jean at a time when they have more than enough other stress in their life.  He was not confident that we could eliminate all stress without disbanding.  Thinks that we should work towards reducing stress if that is possible. 

Guy – Earlier time might be a problem (also might not be--needs to consider it).  Willing to continue hosting once a month. They will be doing more traveling, so they might need to shift dates in some months for hosting at their house. Margie is comfortable with hosting a monthly meal.

Jim – The early New Testament church met in homes. He finds the style of worship at Family of Hope attractive.  He is not finding it difficult to get to other locations but did not object if we wanted to meet at VMRC more often.

Ruth – Enjoys fellowship.  Comfortable with exploring VMRC meeting options, but also comfortable with traveling to other locations.
Alma Jean – Would like to do whatever the group wants.  Says that she is not feeling undue pressure/stress. Lois has taken a lot of the responsibility for food so that she does not have to.

Harvey – He says that in any situation in life, there are positive and negative aspects. One needs to determine which are more predominant.  For him, the plusses of the house church outweigh any stress he feels. He also proposed experimenting meeting at 3 pm and shortening our meeting time to 45 minutes for worship and sharing and 45 minutes for Bible study, with flexibility to extend the time whenever needed. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

January 2020 newsletter


House-to-House
 Family of Hope House Church                      January 2020

An Epiphany In the Bronx     

Jonathan Kozol, author of a book called Amazing Grace, wrote about his experiences with children in the worst areas of the Bronx in New York City, and records their stories and their dreams. Thirteen-year-old Anthony Green wrote him this description of a future heaven as he envisioned it:

     God will be there. He’ll be happy that we have arrived. People shall  comes in hand in hand. It will be bright, not dim and glooming like here on earth. All friendly animals will be there, but no mean ones. 
     As for television, forget it! If you want vision, you can use your eyes to see the people that you love. No one will look at you from the outside. People will see you from the inside. 
     All the people from the street will be there. My uncle will be there and he will be healed. You won’t see him buying drugs, because there won’t be money. 
     Mr. Mongo will be there too. You might see him happy for a change. The prophets will be there, and Adam and Eve, and all the disciples except Judas 
     No violence will there be in heaven. There will be no guns or drugs or IRS. You won’t have to pay taxes. 
     You’ll recognize all the children who have died when they were little. Jesus will be good to them and play with them. At night he’ll come and visit at your house. God will be fond of you.
     How will you know that you are there? Something will tell you, ‘This is it! Eureka!’ If you still feel lonely in your heart, or bitterness, you’ll know that you’re not there.

     Anthony Green was shot and killed three years later on Beekman Avenue, in the worst part of the Bronx. 
     There’s got to be a city with safe streets of solid gold for people like him. 

Notes, Prayers and Praises
  • WE WILL HAVE OUR ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING Sunday, January 12, followed by a communion meal. Bring your concerns and dreams for the future of our house church. 
  • OUR GIVING GOAL for the past years has been $18,000. Give your offerings to Susan Campbell or to James Stauffer.
  • HARVEY YODER’s radiation treatments begin January 9 and are to continue five days a week through most of February. 
  • JOSIAH DUMAS is recovering well from his hernia surgery!
  • JANUARY BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS to James Stauffer 1/8, Susan Campbell 1/17,  Becky Morlan 1/28, and Dick Dumas 1/30!

January Lectionary Texts

5   Jeremiah 31:7-14   Psalm 147:12-20   Ephesians 1:3-14     John 1:1-18
12 Isaiah 42:1-9 Psalm 29 Acts 10:34-43       Matthew 3:13-17
19 Isaiah 49:1-7     Psalm 40:1-11 1 Corinthians 1:1-9     John 1:29-42
26 Isaiah 9:1-4  Psalm 27:1, 4-9  1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Matthew 4:12-23

January services, worship at 4, meal at 6 pm

5  Location: 2nd floor meeting room Park Place, VMRC           432-0531 
Worship and Sharing: Lois Rivera-Wenger                             
Bible Study: Paul Swarr                                                     Brown bag meal
12  Location: FLRC 173 Newman Avenue (lower level)            432-0531
Worship, sharing, business meeting c/o Harvey Yoder & Susan Campbell  
Communion service                Meal of bread, cheese, fruit and grape juice    
19 Location: Guy & Margie Vlastis 3399 Caverns Dr. K’own   908-0391                     
Worship and sharing: Harvey Yoder 
Bible Study: Dick Dumas                                                    Carry-in Meal
26 Location: Lewis & Mary Ellen Overholt G49 H’tage Haven 432-7277                
Worship and Sharing: Lewis Overholt                                 
Bible Study: Elly Nelson                                                  Brown bag meal

Friday, November 29, 2019

December 2019 newsletter


House-to-House
 Family of Hope House Church                   December 2019

A CHRISTMAS PRAYER

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend on us, we pray
This season we celebrate the advent of that One and Only Child in whom God descends to earth naked and disarmed--a defenseless Lover and Lamb unwelcomed in the town of his ancestry. "He came to his own, and his own received him not."

Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today
In a world of great evil, need and hunger, we celebrate the baby who comes to us holy and innocent, needy and hungry, so dependent on the care of his parents, young and poor. This is the wonder of Christmas, the focus of our songs and of our celebration.

We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell 
We celebrate this time when God tugs hard at our hearts and calls us to care deeply and provide generously for all the newborn of the world, red, brown, yellow, black and white, for all of the Afghans, Hondurans, Haitians, Congolese, Palestinians, Syrians and others for whom there is no room except in stable-like shelters, tents and tenements. "As you have done to the least of these, you have done it unto me."

O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord, Immanuel
As you are born in us, help us all to love as God loved, live as Christ lived, so Christmas will not have come in vain, so all will be blessed, and there may yet be "peace on earth, goodwill to all." 

Notes, Prayers and Praises
  • WE WILL HAVE A THANKSGIVING CARRY-IN MEAL at Susan Campbell’s Sunday, December 1, following our worship service.
  • “SINCERE THANKS for all of your kindnesses, prayers and many expressions of support during my recent surgery and recovery.”                                                                                   - Harvey Yoder
  • HARVEY YODER’s surgery revealed a tumor in his parotid gland that proved to be cancerous, but was removed and his prognosis is good. 
  • JOSIAH DUMAS’s hernia surgery is now set for December 17.
  • DECEMBER BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS to Karen Campbell 12/26/69!
  • A WALKING ROOTS BAND Christmas MCC Benefit Concert will be held December 8, 7 pm in the theater at Eastern Mennonite School.
December Lectionary Texts
1 Isaiah 2:1-5 Psalm 122 Romans 13:11-14 Matthew 24:36-44
8 Isaiah 11:1-10   Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19  Romans 15:4-13  Matthew 3:1-12
15 Isaiah 35:1-10      Luke 1:46b-55 James 5:7-10 Matthew 11:2-11
22 Isaiah 7:10-16  Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19  Romans 1:1-7 Matthew 1:18-25
29 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26  Psalm 148  Colossians 3:12-17  Luke 2:41-52

December services, worship at 4, meal at 6 pm
1  Location: Susan Campbell 1361 Lincolnshire Dr, 22802       564-1524 
Worship and Sharing: Elly Nelson                                  
Bible Study: Dick Dumas  Carry-in Thanksgiving meal (turkey provided)            
8  Location: Lewis and Mary Ellen Overholt                             432-7277
Worship and Sharing: Lois Rivera-Wenger                                    
Bible Study: Kent Palmer                                                  Brown bag meal                                         
15 Location: FLRC 173 Newman Avenue (lower level)             432-0531
Worship and Sharing: Harvey Yoder                                     
Bible Study: Lewis Overholt                               Simple finger foods meal
22 Location: Guy & Margie Vlastis 3399 Caverns Dr. K’own   908-0391                     
Worship and sharing: James Stauffer
Bible Study: Harvey Yoder                                                  Carry-in Meal
29 Location: FLRC 173 Newman Avenue (lower level)            432-0531
Worship and sharing: Lewis Overholt
Bible Study: Elly Nelson                                                  Brown bag meal

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

November 2019 newsletter


House-to-House
 Family of Hope House Church                            November 2019

Giving as an Expression of Joy-filled Gratitude
- Harvey Yoder
Iit's easy to see a contrast between the celebrative way God's people were to financially support their new nation (a kingdom governed by priests rather than by monarchs), and the way we tend to fulfill our financial obligations to our congregations, community and governments today.
     The annual offering of fresh produce from their newly gifted land involved a liturgy in which each Israelite household prepared a basket of the best and first of their harvest. Upon bringing this cornucopia of plenty to the priest, they were to announce the following (paraphrased):
"I hereby acknowledge that I have inherited the gracious and undeserved gift of a land that God promised our ancestors."
     The priest then received the basket of fresh produce and placed it on the altar, after which grateful and blessed Israelites were to recite:  
Our ancestor Jacob was a wandering and landless Aramean
who went down to Egypt and lived there,
he and his small family,
but there they multiplied and we became many.
The Egyptians abused us and subjected us to cruel slavery.
We cried out to the God of our ancestors
who listened to our desperate prayers,
who took pity on us in our terrible plight,
and brought us out of Egypt
by great and miraculous means,
and brought us to this grace-filled place,
a land of abundant milk and honey.
So here we are with the best of the firstfruits 
of what the land God has given us has produced.
(paraphrase of Deuteronomy 26:5-10)

Notes, Prayers and Praises
  • KENT PALMER was given a good report at his most recent checkup!
  • “SINCERE THANKS for your prayers and many expressions of sympathy for the death of my sister Fannie Mae Yoder, who died at age 88 on October 26.”                          - Harvey Yoder
  • HARVEY YODER’s surgery to remove a growth on his left parotid gland was rescheduled to November 21 due to his sister’s recent death. 
  • JOSIAH DUMAS’s hernia surgery has been postponed.
  • NOVEMBER BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS to Neal Nelson 11/2, Paul Swarr 11/10 and Guy Vlasits 11/21. Neal and Elly Nelson’s 25th anniversary is November 26! 
  • WE WILL HAVE A THANKSGIVING CARRY-IN MEAL at Susan Campbell’s Sunday, December 1, following our worship service.

November Lectionary Texts
3 Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4  Psalm 119:137-144  2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12 Luke 19:1-1
10 Haggai 1:15b-2:9  Job 19:23-27a  Psalm 17:1-9 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17 Luke 20:27-38
17 Isaiah 65:17-25  Malachi 4:1-2a  Psalm 98   2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 Luke 21:5-19
30 Jeremiah 23:1-6  Psalm 46   Colossians 1:11-20 Luke 23:33-43

November services, worship at 4, meal at 6 pm
3  No service this week because of the annual Festival of Praise at 4 pm held at the Park View Mennonite Church (Note change of location).                                                         
10 Location: Lewis and Mary Ellen Overholt                    432-7277
Worship and Sharing: Harvey Yoder                                    
Bible Study: Elly Nelson                                                 Brown bag meal                                    
17 Location: FLRC 173 Newman Avenue (lower level)   432-0531
Worship and Sharing: Lois Rivera-Wenger                                     
Bible Study: Harvey Yoder                                Simple finger foods meal

24 Location: Park Place meeting room, 2nd floor                       432-0531
Worship and sharing: Lewis Overholt
Bible Study: Paul Swarr                                                   Brown bag meal

Sunday, October 6, 2019

October 2019 newsletter


House-to-House
 Family of Hope House Church                    October 2019

Family of Hope—Who Are We?

We are followers of Jesus. We believe in one God as revealed most fully in the life, teaching,  death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We base our faith on the Bible. We do not claim to understand or to live it perfectly, but we embrace the Bible as the trustworthy and inspired Word of God.
     We are members of God's worldwide family. Our spiritual roots, like those of all Christians, go back to the story of God's people in the Old Testament. Likewise, we are a part of the universal Christian church, the story of which begins in the New Testament.
      In our faith, we affirm the ancient creeds of the early Christian church. We are also spiritual heirs of the sixteenth century Reformation, which emphasizes salvation by faith, and of the Anabaptist wing of that Reformation, which stresses voluntary adult baptism as a pledge of covenant with Christ and the church.
      We are a part of the Mennonite Church. While we see ourselves first of all as members of God's worldwide family, we are linked with the Mennonite family of churches in our concern for Christ's example of a life of simplicity and peace, and in our support of that denomination's mission, relief, education and publishing efforts.
      We are a living, growing and serving local family of faith:
LIVING: Our desire is to be a community of people who love God above every other love or loyalty and who love our neighbors and even our enemies as Christ taught us.
GROWING: In order to experience more and more of the spirit of Jesus in our lives, we urge the practice of spiritual disciplines of prayer and the study of scripture, accountable relationships with others, and regular attendance at house church meetings for worship, study and fellowship.
SERVING: Together we want to continue the kinds of ministries Jesus began when he was here on earth. We urge the giving of at least a tithe (10%) of our working hours and of their incomes for direct service to others through the church.     
- summary of FOH statement revised 6/14

Notes, Prayers and Praises

  • KENT PALMER is will be off work for several more weeks but is recovering well from his recent surgery at UVA.
  • HARVEY YODER’s growth on his left jaw turned out to be benign and is set to be removed October 25. Thanks for your faithful prayers.
  • OCTOBER BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS to Joyce Ulrich 10/14, and Elly Nelson 10/28!
  • MY COINS COUNT total for Family of Hope was $75.80. The overall Relief Sale income looks to be exceptionally good for this year. Mary Ellen and Lewis won the Everence door prize given away at their SOS Giving Table!
  • PRAY FOR JOSIAH DUMAS, who is set to have hernia surgery.
  • WELCOME BACK Lewis and Mary Ellen Overheat and Lois Rivera-Wenger!
October Lectionary Texts

6 Lamentations 1:1-6  Psalm 137  2 Timothy 1:1-14  Luke 17:5-10
13 Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7  Psalm 111  2 Timothy 2:8-15  Luke 17:11-19
20 Jeremiah 31:27-34  Genesis 32:22-31  Psalm 121   2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 Luke 18:1-8
27 Joel 2:23-32  Psalm 84:1-7  2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 Luke 18:9-14

October services, worship at 4, meal at 6 pm
6  Location: Park Place meeting room, 2nd floor                        432-0531
Worship and sharing: Harvey Yoder
Bible Study: Paul Swarr                                      Optional brown bag meal                                                         
13 Location: FLRC 173 Newman Avenue (lower level)             432-0531
Worship and Sharing: Lois Rivera-Wenger                                     
Bible Study: Lewis Overholt         Indoor picnic meal (provided by Lois!)                                                                                                    
20 Location: Lewis and Mary Ellen Overholt                             432-7277
Worship and Sharing: Elly Nelson                                    
Bible Study: Harvey Yoder                                               Brown bag meal

27 Location: Guy & Margie Vlasits 3399 Caverns Dr., K’town 906-0391
Worship and sharing: Kent Palmer
Bible Study: Dick Dumas                                                       Carry in meal

Saturday, August 31, 2019

September 2019 newsletter


House-to-House
 Family of Hope House Church                                   September2019

Imagination Can Fuel Either Faith Or Fear

In light of the many uncertainties we face in our future, our imaginations inevitably fill in gaps with details we have no way of knowing, thus either adding to our fear or enhancing our faith. 

     In times like these, it's not hard to imagine a lot of things in our world or in our personal lives coming to some unfortunate end. And it’s not hard to see that we naturally become far more anxious when we spend the majority of our time ruminating on that fear end of the spectrum, imagining all manner of worst case scenarios. In accordance with  'Murphy's Law' we assume that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, most likely terribly wrong. 

     On the other hand, when we are operating within the faith end of the spectrum, we are visualizing better than expected outcomes. This doesn't mean we don't recognize the possibility of things turning out badly, but we don't see those outcomes as being inevitable. By faith, we see bad things as less likely to happen than good, and trust that as a people of God, the odds are truly in our favor. 

      So what if we made a practice of  occasionally spending some time prayerfully preparing for the worst, but devoting the majority of our time picturing things turning out reasonably well--and ultimately very well. 

     And to believe that even if bad things happen, we will never have to face them alone, and that God, and God's people, will help us through whatever comes. 

     Until the very, very best finally comes.
  • Harvey Yoder
Notes, Prayers and Praises
  • KENT PALMER will have his surgery at UVA September 12. Please pray for a good recovery. 
  • SEPTEMBER BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS to Lewis Overholt (9/5), and David Weaver (9/23)! 
  • MY COINS COUNT Drive is on until the October 4-5 Relief Sale. Bring coins and cash to church for this project.
  • PLEASE SUPPORT the SOS (Sharing Our Surplus) campaign at the Relief Sale October 4-5 to raise money for refugee relief worldwide.
September Lectionary Texts
1 Jeremiah 2:4-13 Proverbs 25:6-7 Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16 Luke 14:1-14
8 Jeremiah 18:1-11  Deuteronomy 30:15-20  Philemon 1:1-21 Luke 14:25-33
15 Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28  Psalm 14  Exodus 32:7-14 1 Timothy 1:12-17  Luke 15:1-10
22 Jeremiah 8:18-9:1  Amos 8:4-7  Psalm 113  1 Timothy 2:1-7  Luke 16:1-13
29 Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15  Amos 6:1a, 4-7  Psalm 146  1 Timothy 6:6-19
Luke 16:19-31

September services, worship at 4, meal at 6 pm
1  Location: Park Place meeting room, 2nd floor                        432-0531
Worship and sharing: Harvey Yoder
Bible Study: Paul Swarr                                                    Brown bag meal                                                         
8 Location: Lois Rivera-Wenger 204 Homes Lane, S’tn     502-663-3195  
Worship and Sharing: Lois Rivera-Wenger                                     
Bible Study: Kent Palmer                                              Shared picnic meal                                                                                                                                       
15 NOTE: We will meet with the Table Congregation at Community Mennonite at 4:30 pm for a joint session with guests Grace and Yugo Prasetyo, missionaries in a slum area where many make their living salvaging items from a large landfill in Jakarta, Indonesia.   Carry in meal       
                                                                                     
22 Location: Family Life Resource Center 273 Newman Ave.   432-0531
Worship and Sharing: James Stauffer                                     
Bible Study: Dick Dumas                                                  Brown bag meal
29 Guy & Margie Vlasits 3399 Caverns Dr., Keezletown            906-0391
Worship and sharing: Elly Nelson
Bible Study: Harvey Yoder                                                    Carry in meal