Friday, October 2, 2020

October 2020 Newsletter

House-to-House

Family of Hope House Church                   October 2020

False Prophets: A Layman’s Guide             

I'm told that the best way to learn to detect anything fake, as in counterfeit money, is to become thoroughly acquainted with every detail of the real thing, as in real money. So here are seven of the Sermon on the Mount marks of faithfulness we should expect to see in authentic prophets, as opposed to those masquerading as trustworthy shepherds, according to Matthew 5-7:    

  1. They demonstrate the God-blessed qualities described in the beatitudes--humility, contriteness, integrity, peace-making, and justice-seeking, even if it means being ostracized and persecuted. (5:1-12)
  2.  They work at reconciliation in relationships rather than harboring anger or causing division, and avoid verbal or physical violence toward others. (5:21-26)
  3. They are faithful to their marriage vows and treat members of the other sex with dignity and respect. (5:27-32) 
  4. They consistently speak the truth and avoid manipulation and deception. (5:38-42) 
  5. They show unconditional and impartial love toward everyone, friend and enemy alike. (5:43-48) 
  6. They share generously with others and avoid accumulating material wealth for themselves. (6:19-34) 
  7. They do not condemn others, but are careful to discern whether their deeds correspond with "these sayings of mine." (7:1-23)
Notes, Prayers and Praises
WE CONTINUE TO MEET ONLINE Sundays from 4-5:30. For a phone connection (audio only) dial 646-876-9923. For video click on  https://zoom.us/j/2849269967. Problems? Call 574-606-8917.
OUR MY COINS COUNT total for Family of Hope was $    . The overall Relief Sale income was $     .
THANKS FOH FOR YOUR GENEROSITY IN raising over $2000 for the FOH Relief Sale Campaign! 
OCTOBER BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS to Joyce Ulrich 10/14, and Elly Nelson 10/28!

October Study “A God-Focused Life”
4   Matthew 6:19-24 
11 Matthew 6:25-34 
18 Matthew Matthew 7:1-6
25 Matthew 7:7-14

October Services, 4-5:30 pm 
4  Location: on line 
Worship and Sharing Lewis Overholt
Bible Study Harvey Yoder
11 Location: on line 
Worship and Sharing James Stauffer
Bible Study Elly Nelson
18 Location: on line 
Worship and Sharing Elly Nelson
Bible Study Dick Dumas
25 Location: on line 
Worship and Sharing  Lois Rivera-Wenger
Bible Study Kent Palmer

Saturday, August 29, 2020

September 2020 newsletter

House-to-House

Family of Hope House Church                   September 2020

O How We Love Your Precepts!                   

Fewer young adults are active in church than ever, we're told, but they tend to be drawn more to congregations with strongly held beliefs than those with less well-defined convictions.

     The Christian faith, of course, is not primarily about mouthing theologically orthodox statements but living the kind of life Jesus lived and taught. Or in the words of the late Clarence Jordan, "faith is not belief in spite of evidence but a life lived in scorn of the consequences".

     So how does the church demonstrate the kind of radical, Christ-based convictions that are worth living and dying for?

     One of the gifts the Hebrews of Biblical times most treasured was the Torah, the law of God brought to them by Moses and expounded on by their prophets and psalmists. Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, is an acrostic poem with 22 stanzas, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each stanza has eight verses, each of which celebrates the blessing of knowing God's wisdom for living as found in the "Ten Words" and other commands given at Mount Sinai.

     The Torah,  besides being a guide for everyday living, was also the equivalent of their new nation's Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, essential to their identity as a people free at last from Egyptian bondage and exploitation.

     Followers of Jesus should exhibit the same delight in the commands of King Jesus found in his inaugural "Sermon on the Mount", thought to be used as a catechism for instructing first century believers in the faith. Given the authority with which the Servant-King spoke, the Nine Beatitudes and other teachings found in the gospels and the early apostles should be given the highest priority in Christian worship and in our daily living.                             - Harvey Yoder

Notes, Prayers and Praises

WE CONTINUE TO MEET ONLINE Sundays from 4-5:30. For a phone connection (audio only) dial 646-876-9923. For video click on  https://zoom.us/j/2849269967. Problems? Call 574-606-8917.

OUR FOH GIVING has increased significantly in the past months, and we should be able to meet or exceed our $16,800 goal for 2020. Meanwhile, keep saving your change (and spare bills) for the My Coins Count project, a Relief Sale, initiative.

BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS TO Lewis Overholt (9/5) and David Weaver (9/23!

THE RELIEF SALE’S SOS CAMPAIGN  to raise funds for MCC generated nearly $15,000 through its Hundreds for Hundreds Walk August 23! Would our house church be willing to join me in forming one of many “$1000 Clubs” to raise additional money by the Sale date (October 3), since income from food sales and this year’s online-only auction will be more limited? Ten of us contributing an average of $100 would make us a part of a “club.”

September Study “Torah From Gospel Mountain” 

6   Matthew 5:33-37

13 Matthew 5:38-48 

20 Matthew 6:1-4, 16-18

27 Matthew 6:5-15

September Services, 4-5:30 pm 

6  Location: on line                             

Worship and Sharing: Harvey Yoder                       

Bible Study: Elly Nelson

13  Location: on line 

Worship and sharing: Lois Rivera-Wenger

Bible Study: Harvey Yoder                                                        

20 Location: on line                

Worship and Sharing: Lewis Overholt                            

Bible Study: Dick Dumas                              

27 Location: on line

Worship and sharing: Elly Nelson

Bible Study: Kent Palmer

Thursday, July 30, 2020

August 2020 newsletter

House to House 
Family of Hope House Church      August 2020

Matthew's Torah Mountain                                                
- Harvey Yoder
We’re not told exactly where in Galilee Jesus delivered his inaugural sermon in Matthew 5-7, but the Sinai-like peak that has become known as the Mount of Beatitudes near Capernaum could well be the place.

In the manner of rabbis instructing their followers, Jesus "sat down and taught" what we know as the “Sermon on the Mount.” A large crowd listened in, marveling at the authority (exousia) with which he spoke.

At the end of Matthew's gospel Jesus instructed his disciples to again meet with him at a specified mountain in Galilee to charge them with what we know as the "Great Commission”.

"I have been given all authority (exousia)," Jesus says, "therefore wherever you go, make disciples of all peoples, initiating them into God's worldwide rule and instructing them to obey all I have commanded you."

In recent centuries there has been much emphasis on Jesus' mandate to "go into all the world" to evangelize and to baptize, but there have been few examples of missionaries actually teaching people such commands as "do not return evil for evil" and "do not lay up treasures here on earth", as found in the Sermon on the Mount.

Early Christians were convinced that Jesus first and his final instructions were seamlessly linked. Thus the church in the first centuries was known for teaching their members (with authority) to shun all forms of violence and to sacrificially share their possession with those in need.

We need to follow their example.

Notes, Prayers and Praises
WE NOW MEET ONLINE Sundays from 4-5:30. For a phone connection (audio only) dial 646-876-9923. For video click on  https://zoom.us/j/2849269967. Problems? Call 574-606-8917.
WE WILL BE STUDYING THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT in August and September. Dorothy Jean Weaver, retired Professor of New Testament at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, will introduce us to the book of Matthew August 2. She is the author of The Irony of Power: The Politics of God within Matthew's Narrative.
BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS to Kent Palmer August 10! Alma Jean and Harvey Yoder’s anniversary is August 8 and James and Ruth Stauffer’s is August 30. Congratulations!
PLEASE SAVE YOUR CHANGE (and bills) for My Coins Count!
IN AN ACTION TAKEN SUNDAY, July 6, the church agreed by consensus to have Ellie be our Everence congregational representative, with Susan serving as co-representative. Thanks, Ellie and Susan, and thanks, James Stauffer, for your many faithful years in this role.

August Study “A Declaration of  God-Dependence”
2    Introduction to Matthew’s gospel
9    Matthew 5:1-12 
16  Matthew 5:13-20
23  Mathew 5:21-26
30  Matthew 5:27-32

August Services, 4-5:30 pm 
2  Location: on line                             
Worship and Sharing: Harvey Yoder                       
Bible Study: Dorothy Jean Weaver
9  Location: on line 
Worship and sharing: Lois Rivera-Wenger
Bible Study: Harvey Yoder                                                        
16 Location: on line                
Worship and Sharing: Lewis Overholt                             
Bible Study: Elly Nelson                              
23 Location: on line
Worship and sharing: Harvey Yoder
Bible Study: Kent Palmer
30 Location: on line
Worship and sharing: James Stauffer
Bible Study: Dick Dumas

Thursday, June 25, 2020

July 2020 newsletter

House-to-House
Family of Hope House Church                             July 2020
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The Mulberry Tree              - Harvey Yoder

The mulberry tree in our backyard produced its usual abundance this year, reminding me of one of our son Brad’s songs I especially like:

oh, the mulberry tree spreads her fruit all around,
she feeds hungry birds, and still covers the ground,
she is always abundant, some call her a weed,
Lord, make me more like the mulberry tree..

now the mulberry tree’s long since gone out of style,
you won’t find her fruit in a grocery aisle,
but she clutters the sidewalks and trails with that fruit,
some stop to eat, some complain for their shoes.

a mulberry tree once grew by my house,
as a child, I would stuff purple fruit in my mouth,
there’s some jam in the pantry, but that tree’s been cut down,
that’s one fewer mulberry tree in this town..

now the Lord sends the rain on the worst and the best,
on the kind and the cruel, on the broken and blessed,
that Love knows no limits, it’s given for free,
it’s the same Love that gave us the mulberry tree,

a mulberry tree once grew by my house,
I would stand there and stuff stuff purple fruit in my mouth,
there’s some fruit in the freezer, but that tree’s been cut down,
that’s one fewer mulberry tree in this town..

now I know I’ve been selfish, my new prayer shall be:
Lord, make me more like the mulberry tree,
Lord, make me more like the mulberry tree…
- Brad Yoder

Notes, Prayers and Praises
WE WILL CONTINUE MEETING ONLINE Sundays from 4-5:30 until further notice. Here’s the number to dial in on the phone (audio only): (646) 876-9923. To participate via video use this link:  https://zoom.us/j/2849269967. Call Kent Palmer (574-606-8917) if you have any problems.
WE WILL STUDY THE BOOK OF RUTH in our July Bible studies, connecting it with good news that is embedded in the rest of Scripture, and especially in the life and teaching of Jesus.
BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS to Los rivera-Wenger, July 30!
VIRGINIA MENNONITE CONFERENCE ASSEMBLY is set for Saturday, July 18, with the theme“Living As Those Made Alive In Christ” based on Colossians 3:12-17. We will be gathering in an online forum in a one-day event via Zoom at 8:30-10:00 a.m. and 10:30-12:00 am. Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Executive Director Ron Byler. Ron will be the keynote speaker, with a focus on MCC’s 100 years of relief work.
COVENANT MEMBERS FOR THE COMING YEAR ARE Karen Campbell, Susan Campbell, Dick Dumas, Elly Nelson, Neal Nelson, Lewis Overholt, Mary Ellen Overholt, Lois Rivera-Wenger, James Stauffer, Ruth Stauffer, Alma Jean Yoder, Harvey Yoder. Kent Palmer, Paul Swarr and Guy Vlasits are Associate Members.

July Study “The Gospel According To Ruth”
5    Ruth 1 “Some Good News For Migrants”
12  Ruth 2 “Hospitable Good News For Outsiders”
19  Ruth 3 “Welcome Good News For The Poor”
26  Ruth 4 “Ruth, A Sign Of Good News For The Whole World”
             
July services, 4-5:30 pm
5  Location: on line                           
Worship and Sharing: Lois Rivera-Wenger                     
Bible Study: Harvey Yoder
12  Location: on line
Worship and sharing: Elly Nelson
Bible Study: Dick Dumas                                                     
19 Location: on line             
Worship and Sharing: Lewis Overholt                           
Bible Study: Elly Nelson                           
26 Location: on line
Worship and sharing: Harvey Yoder
Bible Study: Kent Palmer

Sunday, May 24, 2020

June 2020 newsletter

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

A Hymn For A Time Of Quarantine 

Tune: “All People That On Earth Do Dwell”

We love to sing those songs of old
That feel like shelters from the cold.
They bring us comfort sweet and strong
Enfolding us from all that's wrong.

Yet, same old songs won't always do
For God is making all things new.
He's doing something fresh today,
And that is why we'll always say,

"Now let us sing some brand new songs
Of praise to whom all laud belongs."
To You we lift our praises high,
To You whose glory fills the sky.

We're not quite sure what now You do,
But we proclaim our trust in You.
You purify our hearts today
To love, extol You all the way

Until, at last, we reach Your throne
And sing the truth we long have known:
That You, alone, are God, most high;
Your honor fills celestial sky.

- M. Lois Rivera-Wenger, June 7, 2020

Notes, Prayers and Praises

WE WILL CONTINUE MEETING ONLINE Sundays from 4-6 until further notice. Here’s the number if you want to dial in on the phone (audio only): (646) 876-9923. Enter Meeting ID when prompted: 284 926 9967. If you want to participate via video click this link: https://zoom.us/j/2849269967. Call Kent Palmer (574-606-8917) if you have any problems.
WE WILL BE FOCUSING ON PHILIPPIANS in our June bible studies.
BELATED BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS to Mary Ellen Overholt 4/5, Margie Vlasits 5/1, and Alma Jean 5/15, and our June blessings to Josiah Dumas 6/9, and Harvey Yoder 6/30. Apologies for not printing the March and April ones!
CHECK FOR CHURCH SCHEDULE AND UPDATES on the blogsite: http://familyofhopehousechurch.blogspot.com/2020/01

June Study “A Life-Giving Gospel From A Roman Jail”

7    Philippians 1 “Our Partnership With Christ Is Our Greatest Joy”
14  Philippians 2 “The Imitation of Christ is our Chief Obsession”
21  Philippians 3 “The Pre-eminence of Christ is our Supreme Focus”
28  Philippians 4 “The Shalom of Christ is our Constant Blessing”

June services, 4 pm 

7  Location: on line                           
Worship and Sharing: Elly Nelson                     
Bible Study: Kent Palmer
14  Location: on line
Worship and sharing: Lewis Overholt
Bible Study: Harvey Yoder                                                         
21 Location: on line             
Worship and Sharing: Lois Rivera-Wenger                           
Bible Study: Dick Dumas                                         
28 Location: on line
Worship and sharing: Harvey Yoder
Bible Study: Elly Nelson

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

On-Line Church "What's For Dinner?" Lectionary Reflections For May 3

"He will come in and go out, 
and find pasture."
Here are some reflections on the scriptures that are the basis for our on-line service at 4 pm this Sunday: 

Plentiful Food, Lots Of Good Company Acts 2:42-47

Imagine this miracle in first century Jerusalem: Urban Romans are enjoying meals around tables with desert nomads from Arabia. Unkempt Cretans are sharing bread in the homes of kosher-conscious Jews. Men and women, young and old, representing three continents and speaking multiple languages, are eating meals together with "great joy and generosity."

It's hard to imagine any more unlikely candidates for forming a joyfully unified family of faith. But it represents the table to which all of God's children are invited.


As Michael Rosen writes in his poem, The Greatest Table,


The greatest table isn't set 

inside a single home--
oh no, it spans the continents,
and no one eats alone.

...Who hasn't eaten? Join us here,
pull up another chair.
We'll all scoot over, make more room;
there's always some to spare.

... The table talk is musical

with every language shared;
in every face the thankfulness 
is more than any prayer.
- selections used by permission

Tables Set With Cups Overflowing With Goodness  Psalm 23
The most beloved of all the Psalms pictures God as a caring Shepherd, and has several references to our being well fed. We are of course not spoon fed, but using the metaphor of our being God's flock, we are led to lush pastures where food is in abundant supply.

Here we are also pictured as being invited to a well-laden table the Host has prepared for friend and enemy alike, where a reconciled people live together forever in God's great household of "goodness and mercy." 

Soul Food For The Suffering And Wounded  I Peter 2:19-25

This letter, written by the apostle who had once frantically denied being a part of Jesus's inner circle (at his trial), reaches out to congregations scattered throughout Asia Minor who are suffering persecution for being followers of the crucified Messiah. 

Nowhere in the New Testament is the teaching of "non-resistance" (to evil-doers) more clear, that Christians are to endure unjust suffering without offering resistance or engaging in retaliation. Rather we are to follow in the very steps of the one we serve, being willing to endure wrong rather than to inflict it, to bear the cross rather than to bear the sword, as Peter himself once recklessly did. 

This passage is the one which Charles Sheldon's classic book In His Steps, is based--and the one which inspired the oft used WWJD? question.

Hosted, Sheltered And Satisfied By A Good Shepherd  John 10:1-10

This is yet another passage using the metaphor of sheep and shepherd. Here Jesus is both shepherd and gate, providing protection for his beloved but frequently leading them out to where there may be danger but where there is also plentiful grazing. Meanwhile there are many would-be and false "pastors" (the word comes from the Greek p├ístoras or shepherd) who seek to fleece their flock rather than to unselfishly protecting and caring for them.

Jesus's true followers know him by his "voice," they being so acquainted with his words that they can clearly distinguish false prophets from the truly faithful ones. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

May 2020 newsletter

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

Waiting for Pentecost
They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”
(Acts 2:1-8, the Message)

"After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb."
(Revelation 7:9a, NIV)

In anticipating the celebration of the birthday of the Christian church, I'm impressed by how God's Spirit brings into deep oneness diverse people from all over the world. To the extent that today's churches, by contrast, are made up of mostly of people of the same race, language and national origin, we are falling short of reflecting God's original and ultimate intent.

If we believe God is all about bringing people together in an eternal reunion, we need to begin living into that reality now. It's certainly clear that at the annual Pentecost harvest festival described in Acts, God is birthing a new community with this end in mind, a rainbow of people of all colors and with all kinds of differences.

We need to get with the program.

In the Acts 2 account we see urban Romans becoming one with desert dwellers in Arabia, uncultured Cretans with strait-laced Jews, thousands of men and women, young and old—representing three continents and speaking multiple languages. It's hard to imagine any more unlikely candidates for becoming a united family of faith.

We need to re-envison a kind of future that’s all about that grand, eternal reunion, while we celebrate the grand birth of a movement that is a 'pre-union', a living and loving sign of God's future world.
- Harvey Yoder
Notes, Prayers and Praises
FAMILY OF HOPE WILL CONTINUE MEETING ONLINE Sundays from 4-6 until further notice. Here’s the number if you want to dial in on the phone as you would for a conference call (audio only): (646) 876-9923. Enter Meeting ID when prompted: 284 926 9967. If you want to participate via video click this link: https://zoom.us/j/2849269967. Kent Palmer (574-606-8917) if you have any problems.
WE WILL CONTINUE TO POST LECTIONARY TEXTS for each Sunday, likely followed by a series based a book of the Bible. Philippians is a possibility for after Pentecost, but your suggestions are welcome.
CHECK FOR CHURCH SCHEDULE AND UPDATES on the Family of Hope blogsite: http://familyofhopehousechurch.blogspot.com/2020/01

May Lectionary Texts

3 Acts 2:42-47 Psalm 23 I Peter 2:19-25 John 10:1-10
10 Acts 7:2-60 Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16, I Peter 2:2-10 John 14:1-14
17 Acts 17:22-31 Psalm 66:8-20 I Peter 3:13-22 John 14:15-21
24 Acts 1:6-14 Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35 I Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 John 17:1-11
31 Acts 2:1-21  Psalm 104:24-35  I Corinthians 12:3b-13  John 20:19-23

May services, 4 pm
3 Location: on line
Worship and Sharing: Elly Nelson
Bible Study: Kent Palmer
10 Location: on line
Worship and sharing: Lois Rivera-Wenger
Bible Study: Harvey Yoder
17 Location: on line
Worship and Sharing: Lewis Overholt
Bible Study: Elly Nelson
24 Location: on line
Worship and sharing: Harvey Yoder
Bible Study: Dick Dumas
31 Pentecost Service Location: on line
Sharing personal Pentecost stories and songs
Membership re-covenanting ℅ Harvey Yoder