A New Vision

“A New Vision” – Rev. Benjamin Wines

Give your king your justice, O God,
And your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
Give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.
May he live while the sun endures,
And as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
Like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound,
Until the moon is no more.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
Who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
May his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and amen. Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent – Peace. We look forward to worshiping with you, starting at 11:00AM – either in person or via live-stream. We will be reading from Isaiah 11:1-10.

Questions for Further Reflection:
What does the word “peace” mean to you?
How does the prophet Isaiah describe peace?
What can you do to be a more peaceable person within your own life?

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

The King’s Judgment

“The King’s Judgment”
Rev. Benjamin Wines

God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
Though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam, though mountains tremble.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
He utters His voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the Lord;
See what desolations He has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; He burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God!”
“I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.Psalm 46:1-3, 6-11

We hope you will join us in Worship on Sunday, November 20, starting at 11:00AM. We will be reading from Luke 22:32-43. Pastor Benjamin Wines will share the message, “The King’s Judgement”.

Questions for Further Reflection:
What kind of king is Jesus? How does he use his power?
Who might King Jesus be challenging you to reach out to today?

Christmas Angel Tree

The Angel Tree filled with tags is in the Vestibule. This year, HVBC will be purchasing gifts for $50 or less for homeless men, women and children in Durham from the Durham Rescue Mission. We ask that you select a tag, purchase the gift, place in a Christmas type bag and return it to the church office by Sunday, December 4. The requested gifts will be given to shelter residents on Christmas Day!

You may choose to partner with someone else to provide a gift(s) that are more costly than you feel you can afford. You may also choose to take more than one tag. If you have any questions, please talk to a member of the Missions Team, or call the church office.

Church-wide Thanksgiving Potluck

Join your friends and family for our annual Church-Wide Thanksgiving Potluck at 1:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day. We provide the meat, bread, and beverages. You bring the rest — side dishes, salads, desserts, appetizers, what-ever makes Thanksgiving special for you.
Reservations are requested but not required. It would be extremely helpful in our planning to have at least a rough idea of how many people to expect. You can make a reservation by calling the church office, 919-493-1809.

All are welcome at the Thanksgiving Potluck, whether you are a family of one or a dozen — or more.

The Power at Work in Christ

Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song,
His praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in its Maker;
Let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise His Name with dancing,
Making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He adorns the humble with victory.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
Let them sing for joy on their couches. Psalm 149:1-5

We hope you will join us today as Pastor Benjamin Wines brings the sermon, “The Power at Work in Christ.” We will be reading from Ephesians 1:11-23.

Shoeboxes for Appalachia

Shoeboxes for Appalachia, which is coordinated by CBF Field Personnel Scarlette Jasper, is a ministry of Olive Branch Ministries as a part of CBF’s Together for Hope Rural Poverty Initiative—a 20-year commitment to the 20 poorest counties in the United States.
Last year, we began a partnership with a Scarlette, providing shoeboxes with needed items and gifts for children in her area.

According to Scarlette, because “these boxes may be the only gift some kids will get for Christmas” the goal of the shoebox ministry emphasizes quality instead of quantity, and because children do not always wear a clothing size standard for their age, she requests gift cards instead of clothing items (with the exception of hats and gloves).

This year, we are partnering with her again, but things are a little different.  Please look for details in the October 14th edition of the Illuminator

Head of a Man

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
So my soul longs for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While people say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,
My help and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I remember You.
By day the Lord commands His steadfast love,
And at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,
My help and my God. Psalm 42

Today, we will continue our Faith and Art series. Pastor Ben Wines will bring today’s sermon, “Head of a Man“. We hope you will join us – either via livestream or in person – starting at 11:00AM. We will be reading from Luke 8:26-39.

Questions for further reflection, based on today’s passage:

How should Christ’s actions in this story affect your perceptions of other people?
What sorts of negative things can we allow ourselves to be overrun by?

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