Dear Church Family and Community,
So I am learning to love that our faith is not static. Life’s most consistent reality is that a change is almost always going to come. So, when we talk about the journey, or the adventure that is our walk with God, we have to remember that like life, our faith will have highs, lows, hills and valleys. We may desire or dream to reach or stay at the mountaintop, but on this side of heaven, we must learn to live from the top of the mountain to the base – and everywhere in between.
That life brings change means that faith must be consistently built. It also means that we have to learn to grace ourselves when our faith is not as strong as it should be. And we must also humble ourselves in the places that faith comes easy, for we have sisters and brothers who struggle where we are strong. This is the joy of being created to need one another. God has gifted us all to handle life’s changes with growing faith in His Spirit, His Son, and His Word, and His Church.
I pray that this week finds you growing in faith and living to help someone else do the same. This past Sunday, we continued our Faith Builders: Lessons from Early Women of Faith series. Faith Builders is a reminder that our faith is to grow. It is a reminder that faith is both a product (of our relationship with God) and a process for those who live to keep their complete trust in God. This series is a reminder that much of what we know and what we hold on to has been intentionally passed down to us from God and through these early women of faith.
This week we journeyed with Hagar, a woman born into a time, place, and culture that dictated her value, took away her freedoms, and ignored her humanity in many ways. Hagar was an Egyptian, and thus a foreigner and stranger among Sarai and Abram’s family. She was a slave, and thus under Sarah’s complete authority – even when it came to her own body. Through her changing position in the family, from slave to handmaiden, from handmaiden to wife, from wife back to slave, Hagar suffered. So much so that she fled Sarai – she chose to run to the desert while pregnant.
But praise be to the Lord our God. Hagar in her suffering learns that our God on High is the One Who Sees. She teaches us that all of our suffering is not for naught. Her story reminds us that God does not ignore our suffering. We learn from Hagar that God fulfills His promises, and that God sets captives free. Hagar calls us to trust God completely in everything, to praise our God who sees, and to live to bless the strangers among us. 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, I am excited that Kevin Kelley will be bringing the message in our services. Kevin and his family have consistently held the record for longest commute to HBIC week in and week out. More than that though, the Kelleys have blessed our community here at HBIC for years now through their service, genuine sprit, big hearts, and welcoming smiles. I find this very impressive because Kevin serves as a chaplaincy administrator for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
In preparation for the service this week, please take time to read and pray through Matthew 13:1-23. As you read, try to answer the following: Why does Jesus speak in parables? What is He teaching His followers through this passage? And what does this passage mean to you today? How are you sowing seeds by spreading the message of the kingdom? Does your heart currently reflect the path, the rocky places, the shallow soil, the thorny ground, or the good soil – when it comes to the things of God?
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 all for reading. I hope and pray this finds you doing well. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you all.
May the Lord continue to bless and keep you all!
Love in Christ,
Pastor Hank (Matthew 13:23)
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104