SUMMER 2017 - Church Letter

Greetings Family & Friends of Hopewell,

Hopewell is in an important Transition time. Whenever a Pastor leaves a congregation it begins a season of change. Change can produce fear in us humans, can’t it? In this letter, I’d like to focus my thoughts for Hopewell in two areas:
1. Remember Jesus’ Command to Us as humans following Him
2. Seeking God Together.
Jesus has described us (his followers) as a flock of sheep. Transitions times are the moments when Jesus our Shepherd takes us from one pasture to a new pasture! May Hopewell be refreshed as Jesus leads!

Remember Jesus’ Command to Us as humans following Him

On the night before he died Jesus took a lot of time to teach and remind his disciples of everything they would need in order to fulfill the mission he was giving them. John records this great teaching in his Gospel, chapters 13 through 16. In the heart of the teaching Jesus says this: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13). Jesus, of course, was pointing to the fact that He would physically and spiritually lay down his life in sacrificial love, dying for our salvation. What Jesus was teaching though is the principal that His Church is built by people who, while living everyday lives, lay down their lives for each other! That is Jesus call to Hopewell – lay down your lives to serve each other!
Paul described the way this kind of sacrificial love in action might look in a local church. In Philippians two he writes: So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. (2:1-5) Look at the descriptions of sacrificial love in that passage: Encouragement, Comfort, Participation, Affection, Sympathy, Unity, Humility, Looking to the interests of others (“How can I serve them today?”).
God has given Hopewell members all kinds of gifts, and he now calls you to use your gifts to serve his body the church in sacrificial love! This will keep Hopewell strong in the Lord!

Seeking God Together
In the prophecies of Isaiah, the prophet was given some challenging words to speak to God’s people Israel (“Zion”) when they were in a time of Transition. In chapter 30 and 31, Isaiah starts with three verses (1-3 of 30 and 31) of very strong warning against relying on themselves, or on other powers of this world. I encourage you to read the following verses in their context as they are very strong warnings. As we are all humans, we all can suffer from Self-reliance instead of God-reliance! God says watch out – that is not what God wants for us! Then in chapter 33, verses 5 & 6, God gives a very great promise to his people right (“Zion”) in the middle of their Transition time.
The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
and He will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is Zion's treasure. (Isaiah 33:5-6, ESV)

As Hopewell looks forward to the new pasture of God; to a new Pastor to serve, teach, preach and share leadership with the Session, and to years of worshipping God, glorifying God and proclaiming his Gospel love to all, May you remember that “the Lord will be the stability of your times,” and may you seek Him together. Amen!

In Jesus’s Amazing Grace & Peace,