From the Pastor

Following Jesus Together - September 8, 2021

Dear Friends,

I thought it appropriate to send some prayers for the teachers and students in our lives. It is gearing up to be another wonderful chaotic school year, full of joys and troubles. 

Prayers for Students: 
Our Father in Heaven, May our children, “learn to love learning, O Lord, for the world is yours and all things in it speak – each in their way – of You: of Your mind, Your designs, Your artistry, Your power, Your unfolding purpose.” 1 May they learn to be good readers of your elegant book of creation, seeing Your common grace. Indeed all wisdom and knowledge are Yours! Grow their ability to glorify and enjoy God in whatever school you have placed them. Guard and keep their budding faith as they go into the world, learning to not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. May they even surprise their classmates with their willingness to forgive unkindness that may come their way! Thank you Lord, that these children belong to You. Use the fiery trials of this year to grow faith in us parents as well. In Christ’s name we ask. Amen.

Prayers for Teachers: 
              Our Father in Heaven, Thank you for the gift of teachers and mentors who teach us to take joy in Your good world! May they embark on this school year as a holy calling, seeking to awaken a “fierce love for those parts of creation and Your story they have already learned to love well.”1Guard and keep their health, as they pour out their lives as a loving sacrifice, in obedience to Your call on their life. (Romans 12:1-2) For all who are weary, heavy laden at the beginning of the year, lead them into Christ’s rest amidst the exhausting clamor and divisiveness that comes with the job. Equip them with Your wisdom from above, able by grace, to be peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17-18) May they entrust themselves to You, our Faithful Creator, as they continue to do good as teachers. We ask for Your will to be done in their lives. In Christ’s name we ask. Amen.

 1 From “A Liturgy for Students” by Doug McKelvey

New Song this Week: I’m always on the hunt for good God-centered songs that help us sing the Bible! If you have any recommendations, send them! In the midst of our sermon series on suffering in 1 Peter, I came across this great song, “Eternal Weight of Glory”, which is written for congregations to sing. It’s based on 2 Corinthians 4:17 – “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” We come to have Jesus shepherd our sorrows and sins each week! Here’s the chorus:

              For behold! I tell a myst’ry:
At the trumpet sound we’ll wake
“Death is swallowed up in vict’ry!”
When we meet our King of Grace
Every year we thought was wasted
Every night we cried “How long?”
All will be a passing moment
In our Savior’s vict’ry song

You can listen to it here: https://youtu.be/kkR4hUM0Rmc

Worship Time Change Announcement – Starting September 19th, we will be starting our worship service at 10:15am. As mentioned this past Sunday, this is to give Sunday School teachers and those leading the worship service time to breath in between. Please reach out to RE John Van Voorhis or myself if you have any questions!

I do have a humble request for you to consider in light of the worship time change. Consider being in the sanctuary around 10:00am in order to greet visitors and each other! That extra 15 minutes can be used to prepare your busy mind for worship, to greet someone sitting alone, and to look for ways to serve. We are always looking for ushers and greeters on a Sunday morning! Many thanks to you all for your flexibility!

Spiritual Formation 9:00am – Introduction to Gentle and Lowly and the Vision of Small Groups – with Pastor Nate

Classes for children begin at 9:00am as well. Many thanks to those serving as teachers! At our Labor Day campfire, the night sky was clear. I pointed out the stars to one of our children. He reminded me that God promised Abraham that he would have lots of kids. I know that memory coming out is the fruit of our teachers working with our covenant children. 

I hope you are able to bring your kids to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus this year!

Worship 10:00am – 1 Peter 5:1-5 – “A Humble Church” – It’s hard for us to imagine what it must have been like for the early church. There was no existing structure. No buildings. Thousands of people coming to faith at once needing discipled in the ways of Jesus. The Scriptures available at the very beginning were the Old Testament – used to teach others about Jesus. It is into that Christ-centered chaos that Peter commands elders to humbly shepherd the local church and commands non-elders to humbly obey their elders. 

So meditate on Jesus this week who looked at the crowds, heart-broken, seeing sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:34). It’s with that same compassion and care Jesus, our Good Shepherd, gives His church shepherds who willingly lay down their life for God’s local sheep, living among them, keep watch over their lives.

See you Sunday! Grace and peace,

Nate Thompson
www.hopechurch.us

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Following Jesus Together - September 1, 2021

Dear Friends,

Throughout the summer we’ve been meditating on the apathetic spirituality of our neighbors and how to spark curiosity about Jesus and the gospel in our conversations. 

One of the distinct challenges regarding interest in the Jesus of the Bible is a lack of motivation to care. There’s impatience. It takes time and effort to wrestle with the claims of Jesus. And so people don’t try. Some of our impatience is due to living in the digital age. The younger generation are digital natives. “They were born into a world where many tasks are accomplished instantly, requiring only a little amount patience and effort.” (Kyle Beshears)

So how do we spark curiosity in the Bible, a 1200 page ancient book, in those who have an attention span shorter than a goldfish (according to Microsoft)? On average we give things 8 seconds to keep our attention online.

To be fair, we modern people are selective with what we pay attention to. Ask anyone who has said, “Just one more episode” and 6 hours later they are trapped, now in union with the couch at 3:00am, bloodshot eyes, unable to pull themselves out of the story that has shackled their attention. Marvel movies span hours and countless theories as to how it’s all ‘connected.’ Kids are willing to invest in reading a few thousand pages, devoted to the story about the magic messiah, Harry Potter. And then they read it again. Stories grip our attention!

One of the strengths of Christianity is that God communicates to us in story. The Bible is one unified story, climaxing with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The hero, God, is battling evil inside the humans He loves and subduing the evil that harms His beloved. The story begins with the tragedy of Adam in Genesis and begins again with victory of Jesus, the last Adam. The last pages of the story invite us to imagine an eternity in a new creation, in a world of love. It is a real ‘and they lived happily ever after.’

Are you gripped by the story of the Bible? Do you have a desire to binge read it to better know the God who loved you first? Do you have a plan to read it? To meditate on the gospel day and night, as Psalm 1 tells us. As we are gripped by the story of what God has done for us in Jesus, our excitement spreads and invites others to come hear the story. Perhaps our love of the bigger story of the Bible will evoke curiosity from others?

Starting in October, we are going to look at God’s mission in the world. It’ll be a sermon series that spans Genesis through Revelation. I’ve got two main goals:

1 – What is the story of the Bible? Some of you are new to the Bible. The Old Testament is strange and daunting. I want to lead you on a journey through the good news of what God is doing, in a way that you are able to guide others through the Bible. 

2 – We get to meditate on the God who chooses the church in her weakness and diversity to fill the earth with the light of Jesus. He chooses connects you to a group of other Christians and sends us out into the world. “May your kingdom come!”  Where do you fit  in? How can you serve? How can Hope Church be faithfully present in Saratoga County, serving and working for good? My hope is you will want to dive in to the mission with us as you see the story of God’s mission in and for the world.

Update on my Health
A few people asked if I have a diagnosis after 8 months. In the sermon I meant to describe my fear in the presence of COVID-like symptoms and inadvertently said I had COVID earlier in the year. That’s all a giant maybe from the doctors. Please accept my apologies for the confusion!

The short answer for how my health is: I’m stronger than I was in July. But still not 100%. I am still working with doctors to figure out why I still find myself congested and out of breath. I’ll keep you posted. And I deeply appreciate the many prayers!

Communion Sunday 10:00am – 1 Peter 4:12-19
We have 3 more weeks in this great letter, 1 Peter. Come and join us this week as we meditate on how not to be surprised by suffering. I love what Rebecca McLaughlin, author of Confronting Christianity says about suffering: “Suffering is not an embarrassment to the Christian faith. It is the thread with which Christ's name is stitched into our lives.” In other words, suffering reveals what we actually believe. It’s a fiery ordeal meant to form us and connect us with Jesus, the One who suffered for us!

See you Sunday! Grace and peace,
Nate

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