Advent!

Brothers and sisters,

Here we are—Advent! This is a wonderful time in the church year where we take time to actively wait for Jesus. We take time to hope for his arrival once again, to believe that his presence in our world changed our world. Advent is this deeply meaningful season of the church year where take time to contemplate what it means for God to have taken on flesh, to walk among us, to live the kind of life we live. It is a season for reflection and contemplation and anticipation.

Now, the way that typically plays out in American culture is that the lead-up to Christmas is a time of busyness. Commercials on TV tell us how many shopping days are left till Christmas. We see characters in commercials, shows, and holiday specials rushing through crowded malls, desperate to get the right present for their loved one. This season is crowded with Christmas parties and special events within the community. It ends up feeling hectic, as we go from one obligation to another.

This year at Hope Valley, we want to help cut through that busyness. We want to provide services that you are welcome to come to and hear the good news of this season—that Christ is coming, and that is enough! We want to provide services that offer words of hope, peace, joy, and love, in the midst of all the busyness! So, I wanted to take time in this week’s Illuminator to explain what these services are trying to accomplish.

The first of these is the Service of Lament happening on Wednesday, December 15th at 6:30 PM in our sanctuary. Christmas is a time of the year when we are often encouraged to focus only on the joy this season can bring. But some of us are carrying grief into the holidays with us. Perhaps you’ve lost someone this year. Perhaps a relationship has been strained or you’re just not feeling joyful right now. The Service of Lament seeks to create a space for all of us to come together, as a church family, and name those burdens we’re carrying, as well as help others carry theirs. Our second special service this year is called, “Sing We Now of Christmas”, and it will be on Sunday, December 19th at 5:00 PM in our sanctuary. I’m excited for this service! Kathryn and the musicians at our church have planned and prepared a wonderful evening filled with songs and scripture that seek to capture the joy and wonder of the Christmas season. It is a service where you will be able to come and hear the gospel in both word and music, as we prepare for the birth of our Savior.
Finally, we will be having a Christmas Eve Candlelight and Communion Service on Friday, December 24th at 5:00 PM here in our sanctuary. I love this service because it provides an opportunity to see our church family and experience the joy of Christmas together. At this service, we’ll take Communion as a re-minder of God’s love for us and we’ll light candles as a reminder to take the light of Christ into the world, a light which the darkness could not overcome.

We invite you to come to any and all of these services. They are designed to help each of us reconnect with God as we move through Advent together. They are meant to be times of respite in the busyness of the holidays. At these services, you will hear about the love of God, the presence of God, and the miraculous grace of God. You will not hear how many shop-ping days till Christmas or that if you order over $100 worth of stuff you can get FREE SHIPPING, but only if you order right now! You will hear a good word from a good God—thanks be to God!

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben

Good Neighbors

“Good Neighbors” – Rev. Benjamin Wines

When you reap your harvest in your field
And forget a sheaf in the field,
You shall not go back to get it;
It shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow,
So that the Lord your God may bless you
In all your undertakings.
When you beat your olive trees,
Do not strip what is left;
It shall be for the alien,
The orphan, and the widow.
When you gather the grapes of your vineyard,
Do not glean what is left;
It shall be for the alien,
The orphan, and the widow.Deuteronomy 24:19-21

We invite you to join us, online or in-person, at 10:45AM. Today’s message, “Good Neighbors”, will be brought to us by Rev. Benjamin Wines. We will be reading from Ruth 2:1-16.

Today’s Ensemble is Mike Bunch, Mike Dossett, Anne Pokorny, Brenda Doyle & Mary
Summerlin. The handbell players are Frances Smith, Jan Mangum & Rhonda Welfare. A big
thank you to all of the above for sharing their gifts of music with us this morning

An Opportunity …

Brothers and sisters,
As I’m writing this article, our church is preparing for our Trunk-or-Treat this Saturday, October 30 (from 4:30-6:30 if you’re reading this ahead of time and want to come!). There is candy in the office. There are pumpkins and scarecrows scattered around the church. There is a wonderful chill in the air and the trees are at this wonderful stage of half-green, half-turned leaves. It feels like the week of Halloween. It feels like something fun and exciting is coming!

I mentioned in an earlier Illuminator article that I love fall and everything that comes with it. In particular, I enjoy Halloween. I love the feeling of mystery and suspense that comes with the holiday. I love the mischief in the air. I love to read some ghost stories and watch a scary movie. But I also love some of the themes that come along with Halloween. It is a holiday that brings up the ideas of life and death. It reminds us that there is still mystery and wonder in our world. And it also can remind us of the communities to which we belong. Over the last few years, I’ve taken an interest in the history of Halloween, particularly where some of the traditions of the holiday come from. Perhaps the most famous tradition, I would argue, is trick-or-treating.

Interestingly, scholars are not sure where exactly trick-or-treating came from. There are some traditions from hundreds of years ago that might be the origin, but those were more focused on cakes and singing hymns. Some say that it comes from concerned homeowners trying to appease pranksters, i.e. “I’ll give you a treat if you don’t play a trick on me.” But most scholars seem to think that trick-or-treating came about during the Great Depression, when money was tight for families all over the country. Their children still wanted to celebrate Halloween and have a night of fun, but not everyone could afford to provide big meals for their own families all on their own. So, neighbors each agreed to make one little treat that they would pass out to any children that came by their door. That way, even though individual households did not have much, the neighborhood could come together to bless their children.

To me, that’s a wonderful way to look at a holiday like Halloween—as a community-driven effort to care about our neighbors. It is a holiday on which we can provide a small blessing to our neighbors, our friends and families, and even complete strangers. It is a time of the year in which we can remember that we are called to be in an authentic community with people, finding creative ways to love them. Halloween can serve as a time of year when we think back to the communities that came before us and shaped us, to the communities that loved us—and be thankful. It can serve as a time of year to bless those around us. And it can serve as a wonderful reminder that those children coming to our doors (or our trunks this Saturday, October 30 from 4:30-6:30 in the church parking lot!), will remember the time that total strangers cared for them. They will remember the time when church people loved them and gave them candy. So, let’s take this opportunity to bless them. Let’s come together and show our community how much we care. Happy Halloween, y’all!

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben

Are You Able …?

O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your creatures.
When You send forth Your spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the ground.
May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
May the Lord rejoice in His works—
Who looks on the earth and it trembles,
Who touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to Him,
For I rejoice in the Lord.
Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
And let the wicked be no more.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Praise the Lord! from Psalm 104

We invite you to join us, online or in-person, at 10:45AM. Today’s message, “Are You Able…?”, will be brought to us by Dr. Steve Bolton. We will be reading from Mark 10:35-45. Today’s Ensemble is Anne Pokorny, Brenda Doyle, Leigh Bigger, John Myers & Mike Bunch. A big thank you to all of the above for sharing their gifts of music with us this morning.

Zoo Trip!

HVBC Children and Youth will be hosting a trip to the North Carolina Zoo! The trip will be a day full of fun, adventure, and learning about the many animals that God has made! Families may also choose to participate in Boo at the Zoo, an exciting trick-or-treating style opportunity with other benefits.
When: Saturday, October 23rd leaving from the church at 8:30 am and returning around 6:00 pm.
Where: 4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, NC 27205
Price: The church is charging $5 per person. Boo at the Zoo is an additional $8 per person at the gate for those who wish to participate. We will meet at Hope Valley Baptist Church (6900 Garrett Road) at 8:15 am and will depart at 8:30 am, with families driving together (other transportation available as needed). Lunch will be provided. RSVP by contacting Amy Herring or Sean Timmons by Thursday, October 21. This will help us determine plans for lunch and transportation. We can’t wait to see you there!

On Hospitality

On Hospitality” – Rev. Benjamin Wines

God commanded the skies above,
And opened the doors of heaven;
He rained down on the people of Israel manna to eat,
And gave them the grain of heaven.
Mortals ate of the bread of angels;
He sent them food in abundance.
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
And by His power He led out the south wind;
He rained flesh upon them like dust,
Winged birds like the sand of the seas;
He let them fall within their camp,
All around their dwellings.
And they ate and were well filled,
For He gave them what they craved. -from Psalm 78

We again invite you to join us, online or in-person, at 10:45AM. Today’s message, On Hospitality, will be brought to us by Rev. Benjamin Wines. We will be reading from 1 Kings 17:1-16. Today’s Quartet (Anne Pokorny, Brenda Doyle, John Myers, and Mike Dossett) will share the gift of music with us, and for this we are grateful.

Trunk -or-Treat

Saturday, October 30
4:30-6:30 pm
If you are bringing a car, please arrive no later than 4:00pm.

Trunk-or-Treat at Hope Valley Baptist Church is a fun, safe way for children in our community to enjoy the traditions of Halloween! We’ll have trunks full of candy and other treats, a Photo Spot, and more. Plus, attendees will get to vote for best car and pumpkins! Bring your family and invite your neighbors—you won’t want to miss this time of fellowship.
Please look at the most recent newsletter to learn how you can help with this fun event!