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Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted

 

Dear Church Family and Community,

 

As I have shared in the past, one of my goals for this year is to be intentional about connecting with the congregation and to see the relationship between our congregation and staff continuing to be strengthened.  One way I have been doing this is meeting with individuals, ministry teams, and life groups. If I have yet to visit your ministry team or life group, please contact me directly so we can set up a time, because I would love to join you all.

 

Another way for me to continue to connect with the congregation and to strengthen the relationship between our congregation and staff is through celebratory dinners that our Church Board is hosting throughout 2019. These nights are designed to encourage fellowship between our congregation and staff and to say thank you to each of you for being part of our family and community at HBIC.

 

The second scheduled dinner will be at 5:30 pm on July 13th and is intended for our generation of folks who have been with us for 11-19 years. This is the group to which Shell and I belong. We represent a generation that found our home here at HBIC. We are dreamers and idealists who have also grown into steady hands with big hearts who are also integral in the Body and body life at HBIC. I am excited to celebrate you all in July – please also be sure to RSVP electronically or through notifying the church office by Sunday, July 7th, to let us know that you’re coming!

 

This past Sunday, Pastor Lynda shared a message from my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount. I love how often like Scripture, hymns tend to grow us over time and introduce or remind us of truths about God – some old, some new, but all good. We sing as part of our worship to God. In singing as a Body, we celebrate and magnify the Lord God together. As Pastor Lynda reminded us, may we raise our Ebenezers to the Lord. Like Samuel, raising our Ebenezer (here through this hymn), we are remembering that our God is the true fount of every blessing, and the One who was with us and carried us to victory in our time of trouble. 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 complete our Blessings: Promises of the Kingdom series by looking at the eighth and final Beatitude: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This Beatitude reminds us that loyalty to Christ may bring mockery and disdain, insults and evil lies against us, because of our allegiance to Christ alone.

 

Our history as a Church has proven that persecution may even lead to death. In our world today, many Christians are facing this fate. Nevertheless, the blood of the saints remains the seed of the church, and your persecution and struggle here and now can be used by Christ to keep ushering in His kingdom and to provide an easier way for those who come after you.

 

Please take time to read and pray through both Matthew 5:1-12 and Hebrews 11. As you read this week, ask yourself the following: “Where is God calling me to make a stand for Him and His Kingdom?”, “What does allegiance and loyalty to God look like in every aspect of my life?”, “What is God saying to me about the saints, sisters and brothers of faith, I read about in Hebrews 11?”, “Who in my life has served God well, despite persecution?”, and “What can I learn from them still?.”

 

Lastly, this Sunday is a 5th Sunday, so that means that our children and youth will be serving and leading us in different parts of our service as they join us in the sanctuary for the entire service. Marlys Book will also be doing our Children’s Story this week. And on 5th Sundays, we have one additional offering for the work we all do as the Brethren in Christ (Common Ministry) and for our missionaries. Please come prepared to serve. Again, we are blessed to partner with sisters and brothers across these United States, as Brethren in Christ, and with the Holy Spirit, to make God’s Kingdom come. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. And God bless the feet of those who bring Christ’s good news to their world!

 

May the Lord continue to bless and keep you all!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Hank (Romans 10:14-15)
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104
E: pastorhank@harrisburgbic.org