Dearest Hope Family,
I cannot fully express how much I am looking forward to getting out of my basement after 10 days of quarantine in order to worship with you all on Sunday morning! Moreover, the return for me is highlighted by the honor of receiving new members into our church family during the service.
The fact that we have seen this small ceremony before and are fairly used to it obscures the wonder, the beauty, and the solemnity of what is actually taking place. It is decidedly unique and counter-cultural: in a world that prizes and flaunts individuality, these folks are joining themselves to a community. In an age that hedges bets, holds out for the best options, and avoids commitments and entanglements, these folks are pledging themselves – through vows – to a church. In a world that pretends and portrays strength at all costs, these folks are publicly professing their inability to save themselves and their trust in the strength of another – Jesus Christ, the only Redeemer of God’s elect.
For each agenda of our Session meetings, at the top of the page I put the verse from Matthew’s gospel: “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Jesus made that promise centuries ago and he is still keeping it today! That is why we can rejoice in the wonder, the beauty, and the solemnity of Jesus building his church at Hope this coming Sunday.
Practically speaking, we will have folks join at the outdoor service this week and a second wave on February 7th at the outdoor service as well. We will publish their names and brief bios and pictures as soon as we can so that we all can get to know, welcome, pray for, and encourage these new family members. Please extend the best hospitality you can muster in these strange times!
Grace and peace,