Sunday, May 24, 2020

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: 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!

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

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: 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:

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

Friday, April 17, 2020

On-Line Church: "Waiting For God's Next Surprise" - Reflections On The Lectionary Texts For April 19

Our doubts can lead us to a deeper faith.
Here are some reflections on the scriptures that are the basis for our on-line service at 4 pm this Sunday: 

Here, See My Hands And Feet, And Touch My Side John 20:19-31

It's hard to live in a time of uncertainty, waiting for whatever may come next. What surprises may be in store? 

Thomas and the other disciples find themselves unsure and anxious about their future, and find themselves wondering what will become of the cause to which they had devoted three years of their lives. 

Here Thomas, especially, is at a loss about knowing how to go on from here, and is still waiting for more proof of his Master's resurrection. Jesus doesn't criticize him for his doubts and questions but understands his need for personally seeing and touching his crucified body, and invites him to reach out and touch him. 

Can our doubts clarify our questions and create a greater receptacle for Christ's Spirit to fill? How can we, in our times of waiting and wondering, visualize being in the very presence of the risen Christ? 

Jesus invites us to touch him, too, and to freely express our troubled thoughts and anxious feelings. 

Go, Show And Tell The Resurrection Story Acts 2:14a-22-32
Having waited in Jerusalem for God's next miraculous surprise, Jesus's followers finally witness and personally experience a dramatic sign of resurrection life, the powerful breaking in of God's Holy Spirit. 

Like believers in that time, we also grow in our faith by demonstrating new life and by sharing the resurrection story wherever we go. Here Peter, another apostle, boldly tells a gathered crowd how his experience of the risen Christ has totally transformed his life.

Also, in troubled times like these we, like Peter, need to reflect on scripture as Peter did, here quoting from Psalm 16:

"You have made known to me the paths of life;
You will fill me with joy in your presence."

Come, Celebrate The Wealth Of Blessings That Are Yet To Be        I Peter 1:3-4
In these two powerful verses Peter eagerly anticipates the promised inheritance that is ours because of Christ's death and resurrection. This is an integral part of the welcome good news he shares with believers he is addressing, churches who were suffering for being followers of Jesus.

Listen, And Remember Where Your Real Security Lies  Psalm 16
Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing."

… Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure…

Friday, April 10, 2020

On-Line Church: "Entombed With Christ, We Share His Resurrectional* Life" Lectionary Reflections For Easter

On this day a whole new world is opened to us.
Here are some reflections on the scripture texts that are the background for our on-line service at 4 pm this Easter Sunday: 

The Greatest Miracle Ever: In A Garden Full Of Life  John 20:1-18

In John's account of the crucifixion he notes there was a garden nearby. This was not the Garden of Gethsemane, an "olive grove" not far away--where Jesus prayed in agony and where he was apprehended--but a second garden where he was to be laid in a newly created tomb.

Gardens are phenomenal signs of new life, where seeds are buried, die and give birth in incredible abundance. It is in such a place where Jesus' body was buried, and from which he rose in triumph.

This miracle is for us. We are to die with him and be raised with him: In our baptism, many of us were given these words as we were taken by the hand and raised to our feet, " Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so you too are raised to a new life." (Romans 6:4)

A Second Great Miracle: Our Sharing In Christ's Resurrection Colossians 3:1-4

Imagine being empowered to live like Jesus. Imagine God's Spirit transporting us to where Jesus reigns supreme over all, where our minds are controlled by our Master's mind. Imagine our hearts being in tune with where Christ's heart is, full of love for a world of unimaginable need.

WWJD isn't meant to be just a slogan, but a question that affects everything we do or even think. Risen with Christ, we now have a new permanent address, the same as our Lord's, and a Christ-blessed, reprogrammed mind that revolutionizes everything about how we live our lives.

A Third Miracle: Our Being Reconciled With Former Enemies  Acts 10:18-34

Imagine being invited into a relationship with, and into the home of,  people you've always felt alienated from, or even hostile towards. This is how the apostle Peter must have felt when called to go to the home of Cornelius, a high ranking official in the despised Roman army, one which had cruelly occupied his country for decades. 

But here he is, witnessing a repentant new believer, a once hardened general, on whom the Holy Spirit has filled with God's 'resurrectionary'* new life. The transformation is unmistakeable. Peter has no choice but to welcome him and to baptize and embrace him as a fellow-believer. 

A miracle indeed.

On this Day We Shout Praise To The God Of Resurrection  Psalm 118: 1-2,  14-24

There is nothing left to do, nothing better to do, than to breathlessly shout our Hallelujah, or our "Holler-lujah!" Easter is forever and for everyone, for every seeker and follower of God, even in the centuries that preceded the resurrection miracle, as in the words of the ancient psalmist:

The Lord's right hand has done mighty things!
The Lord's hand is lifted high!

...We will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened us severely,
but has not given us over to death.

This is the day the Lord has made,
let us rejoice and be glad in it!
- from Psalm 118

* Check this link for some Russian Orthodox "Resurrectional" hymns, starting with Tone 1.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

On-Line Church: "Grasping For God In A Time Of Great Suffering" Lectionary Reflections For April 5

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Here are some reflections on the scripture texts that are the background for our on-line service at 4 pm this Sunday: 

Matthew 27:11-54 Jesus Experienced Every Form Of Suffering Imaginable
Crucifixion was used by the Roman occupiers to inflict the most agonizing and prolonged pain possible on any who dared threaten their rule. The Persians apparently invented this barbaric form of execution as a means of terrorizing their opponents, and the "gallows" referred to in the book of Esther was likely an early example of someone being impaled on a pole and left to die, according to one source.
     But prior to Jesus's wrists and feet being pierced through with nails and the entire weight of his body being brutally suspended from the upright cross beam, he had been mercilessly beaten all over his body and on his head, which had been "crowned" with thorns.
     In addition, there was the emotional pain of feeling abandoned by God as well as cruelly mocked, shamed and falsely accused by a crowd of people demanding his execution.

O sacred Head, now wounded with grief and shame weighed down; Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown. 
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn; 
How does that visage languish which once was bright as morn. 

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinner’s gain; 
All mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain. 
Lo, here I fall, my Savior; ‘tis I deserve Thy place. 
Look on me with Thy favor; assist me with Thy grace. 

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend, 
For this, Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end? 
O make me Thine forever; and should I fainting be, 
Lord, let me never, never, outlive my love for Thee. 
- based on the 13th century Salve caput cruentatum

Philippians 2:5-11 Jesus Is The Supreme Example Of Suffering For God's Glory And Others' Good
Even as one who was "in his very nature God," Jesus did not claim his right to extravagant honor and divine protection as "something to be grasped." Our Lord gave up everything for the sake of demonstrating the full extent of God's love. Stripped of everything that was rightfully his, he clung to God alone.
     Jesus shows us that complete condescension and total sacrifice are the way to exaltation. Through Christ's perfect obedience in the face of unbelievable suffering, our every knee will bow and our every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

Psalm 31:9-16 David's Desperate Plea In A Time Of Great Fear
In one of his many laments, David begs for mercy in the face of the mortal danger he faces from his many enemies. "There is terror on every side, and they threaten to take my life."
     This is a great prayer for times like these, when one of our "enemies" is a pandemic that is frightening and life-threatening to all of us.
     "But I trust in you, O Lord: I say 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands."

Isaiah 50:4-9a The Sovereign Lord God Advocates For All Who Suffer Unjustly
Isaiah is given divine insight into God's heartfelt concern for those who suffer wrongfully. The prophet is given an "instructed tongue" and the ability to know "the word that sustains the weary."
     The apostle Paul, well acquainted with grief himself, was undoubtedly inspired by these words when writing to the church in Rome (Romans 8). He doesn't deny or even try to explain unjustified suffering, but accepts it as reality, and affirms Isaiah's promise in the words, "If God is for us, who can be against us?  ...Who is he that condemns?  ...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through the One who loves us."

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Recent photos at the Vlasits' house

Some nourishing Bible study, followed by food and fellowship at Guy and Margie's.