Advent: He is Greater

October 31, 2013

Area churches are joining together under one theme this Advent: He is Greater. (See the t-shirts available in this newsletter.)

As a unified witness to the world area churches are using one theme so the world can be told and reminded about what Christmas is about.
Each church is shaping the message to their context.

We, because we use a common lectionary with most other Lutherans and main-line churches, are going to shape the message from the prescribed texts for the day.

December 1 – He is Greater than the extremes thrust upon us.(Matthew 24:36-44)
December 8 – He is Greater than the spectacle all about us. (Matthew 3:1-12)
December 15 – He is Greater than the Greatest. (Matthew 11:2-11)
December 22 – He is Greater than the Everyday Miracles about us. (Matthew 1:18-25)

Thanksgiving Week

October 31, 2013

November 24th through November 30th marks Thanksgiving week, which is to say Thanksgiving is no longer tied to one day.

November 24th will be our annual women’s thank-offering day. On this day our women will gather gifts and shape the morning worship service with prayers of thanksgiving and praise. Then after the service we will have our annual Thanksgiving pot luck meal. On Thanksgiving Eve (November 27th) we will be gathering at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church for our annual Thanksgiving service. This year First Methodist of Cedar Hill will also be joining us, and Thanksgiving Tabernacle and Rock of Faith have also been invited. The service will be at 7:00 PM.

Thanksgiving Day (November 28th) the office will be closed and you will be enjoying food and time with your families. Many have elected to skip the Thanksgiving Service before Thanksgiving Day. I have only one question. Do you actually give thanks in a significant way on Thanksgiving Day? Or is it gather with family,
eat, watch football and plan your shopping strategies for Christmas sales? If you actually have a history of giving thanks to God in more than a brief prayer, well and good. If, however, you cannot honestly say God gets attentive thanks from the heart, then I suggest this year you make your way to church and give God your heart’s attention, praise and thanksgiving.

“Where are the other nine? Didn’t not they receive healing as well? And why is it only this foreigner has returned to give thanks?”

“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

Pastor Joel

Mission News

October 29, 2013

  1. Support Rev Dr. Gemechis Buba Media Ministry… now reaching 17 million per week including the Islamic world. Make an extra offering of $50 to $100 (supports one broadcast). Designate to “Buba Media Ministry.” Rev. Buba is the Assistant to the Bishop for Mission in the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) and has significant relationships with the leadership of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) also… our two church bodies. Hope’s relationship with Rev. Gemechis is an incredible honor. Our friend Gemechis greatly appreciates Hope’s ongoing generosity. Read more at the following link along with other mission endeavors: 2013.pdf
  2. Support our other longtime missionaries as well with an extra gift: Gaultneys, Gerharts and Debra Buenting
  3. Ethiopia Mission Trip: As a result of Gemechis’ visits to Hope, a number of people from Hope (youth, young adults and older) have expressed a desire to visit Ethiopia and be a part of the incredi- ble and significant kingdom work happening there. Gemechis and I engaged in some initial and excit- ing conversations regarding this. Let Pastor Wendy know of your interest. Stay tuned!

Walk in the Light

October 1, 2013

October is here. This means Fall is here! This means cooler weather. This means those of us reading the Chronological Bible are now in the New Testament!

The fact that it took ten months to get through the Old Testament shows us just how long the Old Testament is. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the reading thus far. I am left with an over- whelming sense of God’s faithfulness as I look back over God’s hand through time.

But I am happy to be in the New Testament now. Already I have had some passages jump out at me.

“For everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light; so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:20-21

Surprises lurk in this passage. Encouragement too.
Parallel structure waves its hand in this passage. Then comes the surprise.

First we see that doing evil is the opposite of living by the truth. This is clear enough. Evil always has lies built into it. This is not surprising.

Then we see that evil deeds seek the darkness so the deeds are not exposed. This is clear enough as well. We are creatures who shun shame.

But the parallel surprised me. I thought it would say if you love the truth you will step into the light so your deeds will be seen clearly. But this is not what Jesus said. He puts a twist in the parallel structure. What he said is “whoever lives by the truth comes in the light; so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Do you see it? Our goodness is not our own. Our good deeds are not our own. The good that emerges comes “through God.” This is good news. I am not left alone in my quest to walk in the truth. God walks with me. God walks with you. Through Jesus we can walk the walk set out for us. This is Good News indeed.

So be encouraged. In this Halloween month of shadows, step completely into the light. If the light exposes you you have a Savior who forgives. If you are weak-kneed you have a Risen Lord who walks with you.

So be encouraged. Do you have people to step completely into the light with? The body of Christ can be a huge strength as we choose to live a life in the light and truth. John tells us in I John 1:7 “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…”

I am happy for my small group. I am happy for my various discipleship groups. I am happy for the pastors I regu- larly meet with. These groups helps me to stay in the light. I find encouragement there.

Seek this encouragement for yourself as well. We were not made to live alone. Best of all, our Savior is with us.

This is the gem I received as I read my devotions today. Stay in God’s Word. You will find strength for your life there.

Pastor Joel