Today, May 2nd, is National Day of Prayer. Held on the first Thursday of May and established in 1952 by a joint resolution of both houses of the United States Congress, the day was conceived as a day when all faith traditions could unite in prayer in and for America. The first call to a national day of prayer actually occurred in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to assist the Congress in forming the young nation by offering prayers. In 1808, Thomas Jefferson said “Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.”Continue reading →
By Helen Steiner Rice –
I have a list of folks I know,
all written in a book,
And every year when Christmas comes,
I go and take a look.
And that is when I realize
that these names are a part
Not of the book they are written in,
but really from my heart
For each name stands for someone
who has crossed my path sometime,
And in the meeting they’ve become
the rhythm in each rhyme
And while it sounds fantastic
for me to make this claim,
I really feel that I’m composed
of each remembered name
And while you may not be aware
of any special link
Just meeting you has changed my life
a lot more than you think
For once I’ve met somebody,
the years cannot erase
The memory of a pleasant word
Or of a friendly face
So never think my Christmas cards
are just a mere routine
Of names upon a Christmas list,
forgotten in between,
For when I send a Christmas card
that is addressed to you,
It is because you’re on the list
that I’m indebted to
For I am but a total
of the many folks I’ve met,
And you happen to be one of those
I prefer not to forget
And whether I have known you
for many years or few,
In some ways you have a part
in shaping the things I do
And every year that Christmas comes,
I realize anew,
The best gifts life can offer
is meeting folks like you.
And may the spirit of Christmas
that forever endures
leave it richest blessings
In the hearts of you and yours.
Hope Lutheran Church would like to say a sincere THANK YOU to our incredible Hospitality Staff & Volunteers!
We are grateful to the Hospitality team, House of Hope team, and other volunteers for making our church picnic a huge success! Lots of planning, time, and effort went into the preparations, and none of it has gone unnoticed. Our volunteers worked for days to prepare the delicious food, assemble and coordinate, and serve our congregation.
Through their hands, God’s work could shine.
Nehemiah 8:10 directs us to “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared… Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” The food they prepared gave us joy, and for that we are thankful.
We are especially thankful to Debbie Bennett, the head cook at Hope. Her tireless efforts brought forth one of the best picnics in our church’s history. We thank Debbie for her dedication, her skill, and for serving up such delicious food with a warm smile.
Sisters and brothers in Christ,
“Evangelism is not what we do. Evangelism is who we are.” As disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are called to be witnesses of God’s amazing love and grace to everyone, everywhere. Continue reading →
A Letter from Pr. Jon-Marc MacLean
In this past week’s scripture lesson, we heard again about the call of God in Abram’s life. He was called to leave the place of his birth and his culture and to trust in the providence of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit to guide him in his life.
Remember that this is a God he did not know, with no proof of what was to come, but simply a set of promises. Abram took that first step in faith, and then another and still more steps. Some of these steps were faltering or backwards. Some led him on a detour which led him off the path set by God, but the grace of the Lord brought him back on track and took even those wayward steps and turned them into a journey of transformation and spiritual growth. In the end, Abram and Sarai where transformed in many ways. They became parents in their dotage, settled into a new land, and saw the first shoots of new life for people (later a nation) the Lord had promised to begin through them. God’s word of blessing was made real in their lives and they were transformed, even in their names, becoming Abraham and Sarah. But the true blessing that was to come, which their faithfulness connected them with, was the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Transitions are not easy. Some are wonderful, some are painful, and most are (at the very least) inconvenient on some level. We’d all love the security of a “sure thing” guarantee before we ventured into something new, but that is a rare thing indeed. But what we CAN be sure of is that God is with us. As the Hebrew people prepared to enter the land promised in the covenant, the Lord told Moses, “be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them (the enemies in the land), because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you” (Deut. 31:6). Remember that it was fear of these enemies that kept them from entering the land originally and the years of wandering that followed. We are reminded again of the promise of God’s presence in the person of Jesus when he states, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mttw. 28:20).
Trusting in God’s providence and guidance are crucial components of living a healthy, vibrant, and fruitful life of faith. Last weekend, our congregation voted overwhelmingly to call Pastor Rani Abdulmasih as an Associate Pastor. Pastor Rani has lived a life guided by the Holy Spirit. It informed his early years as a Roman Catholic in Jerusalem, led him to study chemistry at St. Bonaventure University in New York, spoke to him of the grace of God in a new and transforming way through the Lutheran church, and called him into the ordained ministry as a pastor. He has served faithfully as a pastor of a congregation and as a mission developer of two different congregations in Michigan and was fulfilled in doing so but was also listening for the movement of the Spirit in his life. The whisper of the Spirit that led him to be open to the potential of a new call and he opened himself up to whatever that might mean. Several congregations were in dialogue with him about serving them as their pastor, but it was at Hope that he felt the Spirit stir in his soul and the affirmation of the call team and the council moved us forward to last week.
Just as we heard about Abram taking that first step in faith, so the people of Hope and the Abdulmasih family are now stepping forward in faith together. We look forward to where the Spirit will lead us and what God has in store for all of us. For the Abdulmasih family, it has meant leaving a community of faith and friends to come to this area. For us, it means making space in our hearts and lives for them to have a place where they are received with joy and hope. We move forward in faith, trusting that the Spirit will guide and empower us to be the individuals and community we are called to be in this place, in this season, and in this transition.
With hope and joy,
Do you have a knack for knitting? Or Crocheting? The Prayer Shawl team will meet on October 1 at 11:00 am in Room 202. All are welcome. Hope’s Prayer Shawl Ministry is a simple, universal and enduring message of caring. Handmade prayer shawls, like all acts of generosity, enrich the givers as well as the receivers. Many blessings are prayed into every shawl and lap robe. Continue reading →
A Letter from Pastor Jon-Marc MacLean… Continue reading →
In the Holy Gospel for this weekend, as we celebrate the merger of St. John Lutheran Church of Summerfield with Hope Lutheran Church of The Villages we hear a portion of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” In Jesus’ words we hear the heart of God interpret the Commandments that God gave his dear children on Mount Sinai as God was forging them into a community that would be God’s presence before the nations in the world. Continue reading →