House to House
Family of Hope House Church October 2023
God’s First, Foremost And Final Focus
"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." - Steven Covey
After a lifetime of reflecting on the narrative of scripture, I've concluded that its main theme is that of God's love for enemies. In other words, God's ultimate purpose, hinted at in the Bible's beginning but becoming abundantly clear in its conclusion, is that of restoring what is broken in creation and reconciling all that has become divided and alienated.
God's story begins with the shalom we call Eden, centers on the cross-based, enemy-loving life and resurrection of Jesus, and ends with a new heavens and a restored earth. In Christ, God comes to bring an end to all of the enmity that exists between us and our Creator and between us and our fellow creatures. All alienation is over.
I used to wonder about the meaning of the phrase in Psalm 23, "You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies." Why not in the presence of my friends? Does God simply invite our enemies so they can look on with envy as we good people enjoy a table spread with abundance?
No, God is inviting us to a Eucharist in which former enemies are being transformed into friends of God and friends with one another.
Here's one of my favorite examples of this main theme, found in Paul's letter to the Ephesians (3:14-18), in which he addresses the foremost enmity of his time:
For Christ is our living peace. He has made a unity of the conflicting elements of Jew and Gentile by breaking down the barrier which lay between us. By his sacrifice he removed the hostility of the Law, with all its commandments and rules, and made in himself out of the two, Jew and Gentile, one new humanity, thus producing peace. For he reconciled both to God by the sacrifice of one body on the cross, and by this act made utterly irrelevant the antagonism between them. Then he came and told both you who were far from God and us who were near that the war was over. And it is through him that both of us now can approach the Father in the one Spirit.
- J.B. Phillips translation
This is God's dream. Let's make it ours, praying that every congregation of believers becomes a living demonstration of divided, broken and alienated human beings becoming one, truly a foretaste of the shalom to come.
Notes, Prayers and Praises
ANYONE UNABLE TO ATTEND THE VIRGINIA MENNONITE RELIEF SALE can make a contribution on the Sale website or write a check made out to Virginia Relief Sale (with SOS on the memo line).
OCTOBER BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS to Joyce Ulrich 10/14 and Elly Nelson 10/28!
FOR OUR OCTOBER BIBLE STUDIES leaders may choose a passage from the latter part of the book of Acts or one of their own choosing.
October Services, 3:30-5:00 pm
1 Location: We'll meet in person in James Stauffer’s room at Oak Lea for an informal time of singing, sharing, praying together rather than our having our usual FOH service.
8 Location: online
Worship and sharing: Lois Rivera-Wenger
Bible Study: Dick Dumas
Worship and Sharing: Harvey Yoder
Bible Study:Kent Palmer
22 Location: online
Worship and Sharing, Ellie Nelson
Study: Harvey Yoder
29 Location: online
Worship and Sharing, Lois Rivera-Wenger
Bible Study: Ellie Nelson