Dear Church Family and Community,
I hope this finds you all doing well. June is here, and with it comes warmer weather, and hopefully days of rest, relaxation, and restoration. We do well to work hard, serve well, but have to remember to be intentional about resting well. Sabbath is not a suggestion, but a commandment. I pray you get a chance in the coming weeks to Sabbath and Sabbath well.
This past Sunday, we continued our current sermon series on The Beatitudes entitled Blessings: Promises of the Kingdom. We focused on Jesus’ sixth Beatitude, blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Though all the Beatitudes place us before God and our community and body of faith, Jesus invites us here to a self-examination. He invites us to ask ourselves: “Is my heart pure?”, “Is my heart pure before God?” and “Are my words and deed, actions and interactions, and my motives all pure before God?”
We are pure in heart because God has cleansed us from our sins and all unrighteousness. We are pure in heart because though Satan asks to sift us as wheat, Jesus has prayed for us – that our faith may not fail, and that we may so grow through our trials…that we can one day help our sisters and brothers in Christ. We are pure in heart when we answer God’s call to be holy by living in obedience to God and to His will (for we have been set apart), by living in light of us now belonging to God and to our sisters and brothers in Christ, and by submitting to the Holy Spirit to transform our entire being for God’s work today and tomorrow. If you missed hearing this message, please be sure to check it out here on our website, or through our sermon podcast on Soundcloud, Google Play or iTunes.
This Sunday, we will continue our Blessings: Promises of the Kingdom series by looking at the seventh Beatitude: blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. This Beatitude calls us to work for the shalom (greatest good) for all those we are blessed to reach and touch. It seeks to remove our comfort with a status quo that does not benefit our sisters and brothers. And it challenges us to work for reconciliation between one another. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they look like Christ and honor our God and Father by being led by the Spirit to unite sisters and brothers in the name of Jesus Christ.
Please take time to read and pray through both Matthew 5:1-12 and Luke 10:25-37. As you read this week, ask yourself: “Who is my neighbor?”, “How is God calling on me to love my neighbor?”, “How can I bring peace by working for the greatest good for my sisters and brothers around me?”, “How can I bring peace by not settling for a status quo that hurts those around me?”, and “How can I bring peace by doing God’s work for His glory and for the shalom of my sisters and brothers?”
I love that this call to honor God as His peacemakers in our world falls on Pentecost Sunday this year. Pentecost is a blessed celebration where we join with sisters and brothers the world over, and all the saints of old to remember:
We will also celebrate Pentecost by participating in communion together this Sunday. Communion is a holy practice began by Jesus. It invites us to first examine our hearts, and to seek reconciliation with God and with our sisters and brothers. It reminds us of the work Christ has done in freely giving His body and blood for us. And it calls us to celebrate that Christ died and rose again so that we could be family with God and members of one another.
In our practice of communion here at HBIC, we rotate between serving in the seats, up front, and partaking in a large circle around the sanctuary. This week, communion will be in the circle. We will welcome our children back into the sanctuary to participate or observe, whichever parents decide is best. I love celebrating communion this way because of the physical reminder that we have faith together, we walk this road together, and we are children of God and family with God…together.
May the Lord continue to bless and keep you all!
Love in Christ,
Pastor Hank (Acts 2)
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104