Dear Church Family and Community,
Years ago, a dear friend and sister decided to make me a scrapbook, compiling notes from some of my favorite people coupled with some of my favorite quotes and song lyrics. The pictures, the memories, and those written words helped to crystallize my true understanding of friendship. They also set in stone a growing and still developing belief God has revealed to us all: we are not only designed for each other, but we need each other, and that is OK.
Friendship is quite often a vessel that God can use to hold us together, to remind us of our need of each other, and to grow us in transformative ways. Summer for most of us growing up was a time to spend with friends. This tends to change as we age and the responsibilities grow. Nevertheless, our need for friendship does not die because we are too busy or because we fail to be intentional in nurturing our relationships. We’re still designed for and still in need of each other. My prayer for you this week is that you are being intentional in cultivating relationships with friends who are like family, and with people who bring you life.
This past Sunday, we began our Faith Builders: Lessons from Early Women of Faith series. I am excited for this series because it is a chance to honor and remember many faithful women who were faithful to God, and whose lives and stories have power to build and strengthen our faith. Many of us have come to faith, are being taught the faith, and grow in the faith through the witness and testimonies of the women God has blessed us with – this series is a chance to honor them as well as be reminded that God never excludes His daughters from the work of His kingdom.
We began with Eve, the first woman. The totality of Eve’s story challenges us by forcing us to acknowledge that she was much more than her worst hour. And even in that worst hour of temptation building evil desires that lead to sin and death, Eve and Adam fall the same way we all do. Their sin led to separation from God, from the rest of creation, and even from each other; this is the same thing sin does to us as well. Thus, Eve’s first lesson for us is to live by trusting God with our full hearts and leaning completely on His teaching and understanding.
Eve also teaches us that both women and men were created in the image and likeness of God. She teaches us that God created us together and in need of one another. Eve and Adam were created good and designated by God to serve as His rulers here on earth. And lastly, Eve was created as Adam’s ezer. Our own language betrays us when we understand ezer as merely “helper”. Eve was Adam’s partner, ally, and equal. She was gifted, valued, and called by God to do His work. God has always loved, valued, and affirmed women – and so must we!! 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 Faith Builders: Lessons from Early Women of Faith series, by navigating the story of Hagar. This is one of the hardest stories in the entire Bible. It is a story of slavery in that culture and context, betrayal, jealousy, mistreatment, and deep and profound sorrow. Yet Hagar also reminds us that in our trials and suffering, in our misery and sorrow, and when we are all alone at our lowest point, our God is the God who sees us.
Please take time to read and pray through Genesis 16 and also Genesis 21:1-21. As you read, write down some of the hard things Hagar faced. Hopefully, nothing you have been through matches or surpasses what Hagar went through. However, she loved God and was amazed that our God was the God who truly saw her. What does it mean that you are not alone? What does it mean that God will never leave you or forsake you? What does it mean that God sees you?
Lastly, we will be partaking of communion this week; it will be up front. Also, in our services, we will be praying for our Youth Missions Team as they head out on their Summer Missions Trip. It is a blessing to come together each week to celebrate our God and the work God is doing in and through us. I look forward to seeing you all.
As always, thank you for reading. I hope and pray this finds you each doing well.
May the Lord continue to bless and keep you all!
Love in Christ,
Pastor Hank (Genesis 16:13)
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104