An Interwoven Story

We look forward to joining you in Worship this Sunday, starting at 11:00AM in the Sanctuary. You can also find our services online at the HVBC YouTube Channel. Today’s sermon is titled, “An Interwoven Story”. We will be reading from Mark 1:1-13, and our Call to Worship comes from Psalm 85.

Call to Worship (Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13)
Leader: Lord, you were favorable to your land;
People: You restored the fortunes of Jacob.
Leader: You forgave the iniquity of your people;
People: You pardoned all their sin.
Leader: Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
People: For he will speak peace to his people,
Leader: To his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
People: Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
Leader: That his glory may dwell in our land.
People: Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
Leader: Righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
People: Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
Leader: And righteousness will look down from the sky.
People: The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
Leader: Righteousness will go before him,
People: And will make a path for his steps.

Questions for Further Reflection:
In this passage, we see the three members of the Trinity loving each other well.
How does the love God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit inspire you to love others?

The CROP Walk

Brothers and sisters,

This past Sunday, I participated in my very first Durham CROP Hunger Walk! To say that I had a good time would be an understatement! It was a wonderful opportunity to get to go out and be a part of the wider Durham community as we came together to do our part to fight against hunger. There were hundreds of people there, all decked out in our CROP Walk swag. And, ac-cording to the CROP Walk website, they raised just under $125,000 to help fight hunger here locally and abroad.

What I appreciated most about the whole experience was the diversity of people, events, and education all around me. There were bands that played for us. There were dancers who performed. We were led through a stretching routine that reminded me of some of the dance moves from last year’s Vacation Bible School. I saw friends from seminary that I hadn’t caught up with in years. And, if I’m being honest, even a Tar Heel like me looked up at Duke Chapel and the flowers in bloom around it and thought, “Yeah, this place is kind of pretty, I guess.” And when we finally did start walking, it all reminded me of Holy Week.

CROP Walk happens on Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time. He came in to shouts of, “Hosanna,” and palms waving be-fore him. The people around him were filled with hope for what they thought he was going to do. And they were right to have hope, but Jesus was facing down a different enemy than they’d originally thought he would. Jesus rode into Jerusalem that day knowing full well that his week was going to end with a cross. He knew that at his last supper with his disciples, one of them would slip out to betray him. There were so many reasons for Jesus to stop walking. So many reasons for him to say, “How can anyone beat the power of sin? How can anyone conquer death?” But he kept walking.

In a similar way, we walked on Sunday knowing full well that we would not be able to defeat hunger on that one day. There will, most likely, al-ways be hungry people in our society. And there will, most likely, always be systems and structures that make it difficult for people to consistently feed themselves and their families. There are plenty of reasons to stop walking each year to end hunger. But there is always one reason to keep going—hope. We walked to raise money. We walked to raise awareness. We walked to make sure those who go hungry in our city and in our world do not go unseen. Christ walked into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday knowing that a cross await-ed him, but believing that there was life and hope on the other side. We walked on Sunday knowing that there would still be hungry people, but believing that if we keep walking, keep believing, keep hoping, that one day we might just see an end to hunger. That feels like an Easter message to me.

So, Palm Sunday next year is March 24—save the date!

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben

Christmas Vegetables

Brothers and sisters,

You know the old saying, “You learn something new every day”? Well, over the last few weeks, I’ve learned a lot of new things about various Christmas traditions from around the world. Obviously, there are some pretty universal traditions associated with Christmas here in the United States. Families will also typically have specific Christmas traditions. But I recently learned of two Christmas traditions and, believe it or not, they both have to do with vegetables.

Now, how did I stumble upon these Christmas vegetables, you might ask. A few weeks ago, I was researching the origins of some of the Advent decorations in our sanctuary to help prepare for the Hanging of the Greens. As part of that, I went to the Wikipedia article for “Poinsettia” and noticed a suggested link for “Christmas plants.” I thought, “Wait. How many Christmas plants are there? Poinsettias, Christmas trees, and evergreens, right?” Wrong! I clicked the link and was transported to a page that informed me about various and sundry plants used around the world in Christmas celebrations. But there was one that caught my eye.

In Oaxaca City, Mexico, December 23rd is known as “The Night of the Radishes.” Every year, people will carve elaborate scenes and figures out of radishes to create competitive displays in the city’s Christmas Market. The competition dates back to December 23, 1897, but the night itself predates that. According to legend, there was a year in the mid-18th century when the radish crop was so huge, large swathes of land were covered in unharvested radishes. That December, two friars pulled up some of the radishes and were amused by their sizes and shapes. They brought them to the Christmas Market on the 23rd and, after the radishes garnered attention, the friars carved them into shapes and figures. And so, The Night of the Radishes was born!

The other tradition I recently learned of is known as “The Christmas Pickle.” I was texting with my friends the other day and we were talking about our family’s Christmas traditions. One of my best friends from back home in Goldsboro informed all of us that every year, his grandmother would, “hide a pickle in the Christmas tree.” Curious, I texted back, “Wait, what?” After assuring me it was an ornament and not a real pickle, one of our other friends, who is not from Goldsboro, chimed in and said, “Oh yeah! My family does that too!” Again, I responded, “Wait, what?” She then informed me that one of her housemates, who is from Sampson County, also hid a pickle in her Christmas tree. To which I finally responded, “Well, it sounds like the Mount Olive Pickle Company’s marketing arm has been working overtime!” (Mount Olive Pickles are made just one town over from where I grew up).

However, apparently, “The Christmas Pickle,” is a real thing! It is believed to have been started in the United States in the 1890s. Though typically attributed to German immigrants, it is probably actually related to the importation of glass ornaments from Germany by Woolworths. Vegetable ornaments became popular in France in 1892 and were then also imported to the United States. Regardless of where it came from, The Christmas Pickle comes with a little game attached to it. Parents will hide the pickle deep in the Christmas tree and then, on Christmas Eve, they will ask their children to find the pickle. The first child that does either receives an extra present from Santa Claus or good fortune for the rest of the year. All thanks to a pickle!

Why tell these two stories? First, cause they’re fun! And isn’t Christmas supposed to be fun? But second, because it is amazing to me to see the creativity of people all over the world as we find ways to bring joy into the Christmas season. What a wonderful time of year!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Ben

Advent is Upon Us

Brothers and sisters,

It is incredible to think that Advent is already upon us! This coming Sunday, November 27th is the first Sunday of Advent. It is the first Sunday that we begin to turn toward the manger and anticipate the arrival of the Christ child. And so, as this season begins, I wanted to take some time to describe the various services we will be having this year as part of our celebration and anticipation.

The first special service we will be having is this Sunday, November 27th during morning worship! This will be our annual Hanging of the Greens service. This is a service that is designed to formally finish up the decorating of the church for Advent and Christmas. Through readings, responses, and prayers we will meditate on all the various symbols we adorn the church with each year.

The second special service we’ll be having this year is our Service of Lament on Wednesday, December 14th at 6:30 PM. The Service of Lament is designed to be a time when we come together as a church family to acknowledge that some of us are carrying grief into the holidays. For some, this is their first Christmas without a loved one. For some, there may be a lot of strain on their relationships. Others may be feeling a sense of anxiety, depression, or both. At this service, we will carve out time and space to be with our brothers and sisters to remind them that they are always loved and that we, their church family, are willing to help them bear their burdens.

Then, on Sunday, December 18th at 5:00 PM, we will be having our special musical service, “God Bless Us, Everyone!” Kathryn, the choir, and all our wonderful musicians here at Hope Valley have been preparing and practicing for this service for weeks now and it promises to be a joyous service of singing and celebration! In addition to all the beautiful music, we will be having a reception after-ward as a time of fellowship as we enter the last week of Advent.

Next, we will be having our yearly Christmas Eve Candlelight and Communion Service on Saturday, December 24th at 5:00 in our sanctuary. This is also a wonderful service as we come to perhaps the most exciting night of the year! It is a service where we come and declare our joy and gratitude for the message of Christmas—that God came and dwelt among us. Be sure to bring your family as we take communion together and light candles to celebrate the joy of Christmas.

Finally, the next morning—Christmas morning!—we will be having morning worship at 11:00 AM in our sanctuary. There will be no Sunday School that morning, but we will take time to come together and worship God as a church family. And, to the parents reading this, if your child needs/wants to bring their favorite present with them to worship that morning, they are more than welcome to do that!

I am looking forward to this next month of worship with you all! I’m looking forward to the time spent in fellowship as we anticipate, once again, the birth of Jesus and the reminder of God’s promise—that God will always be with us.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Ben

Pentecost …

Brothers and sisters,

It is hard to believe it, but June is upon us! The (very) high temperatures are becoming more regular and the sun is shining longer and longer each day. To me at least, it feels like Easter was just a couple weeks ago, not a month and a half! But as the Easter season comes to a close this Sunday we are invited, as a church, to contemplate the arrival of the Holy Spirit and what that arrival means for us as Christians. There are three main symbols used by the church to reflect on Pentecost and what it means.

The first symbol is a flame. Drawing on the story from Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples as tongues of fire, the church has used fire imagery to symbolize the arrival of the Spirit. The church talks about the Holy Spirit “lighting a fire” in us to go and do the work of the kingdom. You’ll hear people say they have a “burning passion” for something. Famously, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, spoke of attending a church service and having his “heart strangely warmed.” That moment renewed his faith and spurred him to continue to preach. The Holy Spirit creates a kind of energy that fire represents so beautifully — strong and persistent.

The second symbol you’ll see on Sunday is a dove. This is actually a symbol that gets moved from where it originally started over to Pentecost. The dove descending from heaven comes to us from Christ’s baptism in Matthew 3. Jesus goes down into the waters of baptism, led by John the Baptist, and as he emerges from the waters, “suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw God’s Spirit descending like a dove and alighting on him” (Matthew 3:16). And so the dove comes to us as a heavenly symbol of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Finally, you’ll notice a lot of red in the sanctuary on Sunday. The paraments, the scarf on the cross, even Amy’s and my stoles will all be red. On the surface, the red symbolism is pretty simple — it hearkens back to the tongues of fire. Heat and fire can be represented by the color red. But for a long time now, the color red, as a liturgical color, has symbolized a desire for justice. It has come to represent the arrival of God’s Spirit, yes, but also a church that speaks up for those whose voices are ignored. I particularly like this symbol because I think it speaks to the main point of the Pentecost story. Yes, the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples with power, in the form of flaming tongues. God’s presence is reestablished with them, but the Spirit then immediately sends them out into the world to care for people. The Spirit immediately sends them out to continue Christ’s ministry. It does not descend upon them for no reason! The Holy Spirit comes to guide them to the people who are hurting and give them power to help them.

As we come to Pentecost this year, seek the Spirit’s presence in your own life. Who may the Spirit be calling you to? How might God be calling you to help those people? Jesus’s ministry was centered around his conviction that every person was a child of God. How is the Spirit leading you to continue that ministry?

I look forward to seeing all of you on Sunday in your brightest red!

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben

Services This Week

This is the last Illuminator before our joyous celebration of the resurrection and so I want-ed to be sure to write a little bit about the special services we have coming up.

The first is Palm Sunday—this Sunday—at 11:00 AM in the sanctuary. You are invited to join us in worship as we celebrate and commemorate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. We will celebrate Christ’s arrival as the arrival of a different kind of king, one who will bring true peace to his people.

Our second special service will be on Wednesday, April 13th at 6:30 PM in our sanctuary. This will be our hand-washing service where we will seek to imitate our Savior by washing each other’s hands as an act of love and service. We will make sure to perform the hand-washing in a Covid-conscious manner that is safe for all involved.

Our third special service will be on Good Friday, April 15th at 7:00 in our sanctuary. At this service we will read through and ponder the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus. It is a more somber service as the Christ light will be extinguished, the altar will be stripped of all decoration, and the service itself will end in silence and darkness. It should be a powerful service that re-minds us all of the tremendous faith and courage of Jesus.

Finally, please be sure to make plans to be with us on Sunday, April 17th at 11:00 for our Easter Sunday celebration! The good news of the Gospel is that while Jesus may get laid in a tomb on Friday, he doesn’t stay there long! Come as we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord and declare that Christ has risen!

Make plans to be here with us for as many of these services as you can! I look forward to seeing you all throughout this coming week!

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben

The Prophets Sing

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His host!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you shining stars!
Praise Him, you highest heavens,
And you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the Name of the Lord,
For He commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
He fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.
Let them praise the Name of the Lord, for His Name alone is exalted;
His glory is above earth and heaven.Psalm 148:1-6, 13

The Prophets Sing – Rev. Benjamin Wines

We hope you will join us for Worship today, either in-person or via live-stream, starting at 10:45AM. We will be reading from Luke 2:21-38.

“To Tell The Truth” – Third Sunday of Advent, Joy.

“To Tell The Truth” – Dr. Bill Pyle

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent – Joy. Dr. Bill Pyle brings us the message, “To Tell The Truth.” Our Scripture reading is from Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11. We will also be reading from the Gospel of John 1:6-9, 19-28.

Music is performed by Leigh Bigger, Mike Bunch, Brenda Doyle, John Myers and also by The Hope Valley Baptist Church Handbell Choir.

“The Path of Peace” – Second Sunday of Advent, Peace.

The Path of Peace” – Dr. Lydia Hoyle

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. Our guest speaker, Dr. Lydia Hoyle shares this week’s message – “The Path of Peace”

We will be reading from the Old Testament – Psalm 85:8-13.

Music performed by Michael Bunch, Elizabeth Herring, Amy Dozier, and The Hope Valley Baptist Church Handbell Choir (Brenda Doyle, Director)

You can find today’s Bulletin and activities for children at the links below.

“The Coming” – First Sunday of Advent, Hope.

“The Coming” – Dr. Lydia Hoyle

Our Guest, Dr. Lydia Hoyle shares today’s message – “The Coming“.

Today’s Gospel Reading is from Mark 13:24-37.

Music performed by Brenda Doyle and Mike Dossett.

You can find today’s Bulletin and activities for children at the links below.