Dearest Hope Family,
In the middle of March, while the swirl of reaction to COVID-19 was quickly picking up speed and decisions about the need to move forward with social distancing were being weighed, Andy Crouch tweeted, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, “Honestly hadn’t planned on giving up quite this much for Lent.” Four Fridays later we are still scratching the surface of the fuller extent of “quite this much”!
The encouraging reality, though, is that the ministry of the Gospel and forward movement of God’s Kingdom is, in no way, hindered. Certainly, re-imagined and improvised. To be sure, not as we would prefer or plan. Of course, we lament the loss of worshiping together in the same place and all the warmth and richness of relationship that it affords. However, the loss of Lent and offense of the Crucifixion pave the way for the character and might of God to be on full display on Easter Sunday, when, as a friend reminded me yesterday on the phone, “empty” is not a bad thing, after all!
I eagerly look forward to taking the final steps in the Lenten journey with you over the next few days, a journey that definitely has been more costly and emptying than any of us could have imagined or would have desired.
- Good Friday Tenebrae Service: We will livestream our Good Friday service beginning at 7:30 pm. The service centers upon the seven words of Jesus from the cross. We will hear the words from Jesus’ mouth, use a passage of scripture to unpack or punctuate them, and then respond in song as a congregation. We will also tell the story of Good Friday visually with candles that are extinguished after each reading. Davis Mooney will offer a reflection upon the fifth word, “I thirst.” Please make room to join us.
- Easter Sunday Celebration: We will livestream the Sunday service at 10:30 am. Look for a change of venue and hopefully a touch of familiar! All of the relevant worship aids are included below. We urge you to set aside time to worship, and spread the word – invite friends and family to tune in.
Looking ahead, past Easter Sunday, we are thrilled to have Reverend Jose Portillo preach for our church on April 19th. Jose is originally from El Salvador, is married to Anna Page Portillo – Jenny Linton’s sister and Jim and Janet Page’s daughter, and is currently planting a multi-ethnic church in Charlotte. Jose is a superb preacher and has a unique perspective on the Gospel and the church which folks in our circles are not usually privy to. I cannot wait to welcome Jose’s ministry among us.
For the last Sunday in April and through the month of May, we will be preaching a series of sermons that will reconnect us with our vision and mission as Hope Church: receiving and thriving in the embrace of the Father, being equipped as disciples of the Son, and engaging the world by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we grow and change as a church it is always fruitful to return to and reconsider who God is calling us to be and what God is calling us to do in this little corner of the world.
For the first part of the summer, we are excited to offer a series of sermons on the topics of Rest, Play, and Work. We are titling it, “He Makes Me Lie Down”- the telling phrase from Psalm 23. It is our hope that as these three vital aspects of life have been compromised and challenged in the midst of social distancing, we can recover the gracious gifts of Sabbath, Vocation, and Recreation.
As always, our earnest desire and enduring prayer are that each sermon, each encounter with the Word of God will enable us to own our deep need of the Gospel, to draw from the rich supply of God’s grace, and to respond as those who profess and depend upon the finished work of Jesus – the Risen, Redeeming, and Returning King!
Grace and peace,