An Anthem Played on Broken Strings

July 14, 2024
An Anthem Played on Broken Strings
Rev. Benjamin Wines
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14

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 Anthem Played on Broken Strings”. We will be reading from Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14, and our Call to Worship comes from Psalm 33.

Call to Worship Psalm 33:1-5, 20-22
Leader: Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous.
People: Praise befits the upright.
Leader: Praise the Lord with the lyre;
People: Make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.
Leader: Sing to him a new song;
People: Play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
Leader: For the word of the Lord is upright,
People: And all his work is done in faithfulness.
Leader: He loves righteousness and justice;
People: The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
Leader: Our soul waits for the Lord;
People: He is our help and shield.
Leader: Our heart is glad in him
People: Because we trust in his holy name.
Leader: Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
People: Even as we hope in you.

Questions for Further Reflection:
In this passage, hope is not a quick fix; it’s a process.
How does hope help us grow through difficult times?
How does God’s presence affect that process?


Brothers and sisters,

That’s not a typo. Have you ever “fallen down a rabbit hole” on the Internet? What I mean by that is, have you ever
been on the Internet—reading an article, a story, or watching a video—and you get really interested in it, so you keep clicking more and more links related to it? Eventually, you look
up and an hour or two has gone by and you think, “How on earth did I get here? And where did the time go?!”

I recently “fell down a rabbit hole” while on Google Maps. The thing that prompted it was a very simple question, “Where do people actually live in Greenland?” A whop-
ping 75% of the country’s land mass is covered by a think sheet of ice. The only habitable places are along the coastlines. Even there, life is harsh for most of the year. Because
of that harsh climate, there aren’t many people living in Greenland. Nuuk, the nation’s capital and most populated city, has only 19,872 people, but that makes up a third of the
entire country’s population. Their most populated city has fewer people than Elizabeth City, NC. Chapel Hill has more people than all of Greenland!

But that’s not what I wanted to write about this week. See, if you take some time to browse the Street View images in some of the little villages on the western coast of Greenland, you will see some stunning images. Greenland is a
harsh climate, yes, but my goodness is it beautiful! You can actually get a “Street View” from a boat that has motored out into the bay near the town of Kangerluk, allowing you to see snowcapped mountains all around. Or, if you go to the town of Qaanaaq, you can plop the little Google Maps guy on the beachfront and look out over a bay of glaciers.

Qaanaaq, by the way, holds the distinction of being the northernmost “major town” in Greenland—a bustling metropolis of 646 people. It is the fifth northernmost “public settlement” in the world. Most of the folks in the
town make their living either through hunting or fishing (narwhals, walruses, seals, etc.), with Qaanaaq being so isolated the people have to use every part of any animal they kill. They also deal with “midnight suns”—that is, twenty-
four hours of sunlight—from the middle of April until the end of August. And their average temperature for the entire year is 16 degrees!

In going down this “rabbit hole,” I kept thinking to myself, “My goodness, this is just a whole other world! It’s beautiful but it seems so unforgiving.” And I sat back and marveled at how different life must be in a place like Qaanaaq. I marveled at the creativity of God, the beauty of everything I saw. But, I felt so disconnected—until…

If you go to Google Maps and you go to Qaanaaq, you’ll see that there’s one supermarket in town. If you click on that supermarket’s name, Google will offer to show you sixteen pictures of the inside of the market. If you do that, you can see what they sell. And would you like to know what hot sauce the Qaanaaq Supermarket sells? The pride of North Carolina—Texas Pete! Y’all, we are far more connected than we could ever imagine. The people of Qaanaaq, Greenland live very different lives from you and me. Yet, the same God created them. The same God loves them. And I hope that the next time you reach for some Texas Pete to spice up your dinner, you’ll remember your brothers and sisters in Qaanaaq and the God that connects us all.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben

Yet – never – in Extremity

July 7, 2024
Yet – never – in Extremity
Rev. Benjamin Wines
1 Kings 19:1-10

Call to Worship Psalm 62:5-12

Leader: For God alone my soul waits in silence,

People: For my hope is from him.

Leader: He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress;

People: I shall not be shaken.

Leader: On God rests my deliverance and my honor;

People: My mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

Leader: Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him;

People: God is a refuge for us.

Leader: Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion;

People: In the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.

Leader: Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery;

People: If riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

Leader: Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this;

People: That power belongs to God,

Leader: And steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.

People: For you repay to all according to their work.

Questions for Further Reflection:

In this story, Elijah’s emotions are all over the place.

How does God approach Elijah?

How can that give us hope in the face of uncertain times?

Never Give Up

June 30, 2024
Never Give Up
Rev. Benjamin Wines
Matthew 15:21-28

Call to Worship Psalm 67
Leader: May God be gracious to us and bless us
People: And make his face to shine upon us,
Leader: That your way may be known upon earth,
People: Your saving power among all nations.
Leader: Let the peoples praise you, O God;
People: Let all the peoples praise you.
Leader: Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
People: For you judge the peoples with equity.
Leader: Let the peoples praise you, O God;
People: Let all the peoples praise you.
Leader: The earth has yielded its increase;
People: God, our God, has blessed us.
Leader: May God continue to bless us;
People: Let all the ends of the earth revere him.

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, “Never Give Up”. We will be reading from Matthew 15:21-28, and our Call to Worship comes from Psalm 67.

Pandora’s Box

June 23, 2024
Pandora’s Box
Rev. Benjamin Wines
Romans 5:1-11

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, “Pandora’s Box”. We will be reading from Romans 5:1-11, and our Call to Worship comes from Psalm 95.

Call to Worship Psalm 95:1-7
Leader: O come, let us sing to the Lord;
People: Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Leader: Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
People: Let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
Leader: For the Lord is a great God,
People: And a great King above all gods.
Leader: In his hand are the depths of the earth;
People: The heights of the mountains are his also.
Leader: The sea is his, for he made it,
People: And the dry land, which his hands have formed.
Leader: O come, let us worship and bow down,
People: Let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
Leader: For his is our God, and we are the people of his pasture,
People: And the sheep of his hand.

Questions for Further Reflection:
In this passage, Paul says that Christians have hope in part because of the Holy Spirit.
How does that reality push back against those who say hope is an evil that causes us to disengage from the world?

Finals MVP

Brothers and sisters,

Last night (Monday), I watched the second half of Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics. And, to be honest, it was not a particularly compelling half of basketball. To be even more honest, these Finals were not particularly compelling. Boston quickly took a 3-0 lead in the series (you have to win 4 games to win the Finals), with Dallas avoiding the sweep by winning Game 4 in Dallas. But teams that fall down 0-3 in a seven-game series in the NBA are now 0-157. Boston’s victory was never really in doubt

The part of the series that was more compelling came in the world of sports media. See, Boston has two high-level superstars that sports talk show hosts love to pit against each other. They are Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The narrative you usually hear is something like, “Tatum is obviously the best scorer and the overall best player, but Brown is the leader and on any given night, he can be Boston’s best.” If Tatum has a great game, you’ll hear breathless segments about how that affects Brown’s overall value to the Celtics. Or if Brown has a great streak of games, hosts will ask questions like, “Does this negatively impact Tatum’s basketball legacy?”

Well, last night, a tremendous amount of fuel was about to be added to the fire. During the Finals, an award is given out for “Finals MVP”—the most valuable player in the Finals. Finals MVPs are a big deal and so players really do want to win it. Leading up to last night’s game, pundits were arguing over who should win it—Brown or Tatum. They were arguing over whether or not this would cause a rift in Boston. Should Jaylen Brown get it because he’s been better in the Finals or should Tatum get it because he’s been better throughout the season? They were ready, regardless of who won, to use it as a talking point come Tuesday morning.

Jaylen Brown won Finals MVP. And when he won, he smiled a moment, looked over at Jayson Tatum, and, when given a microphone, immediately said, “It was a full team effort and I share this with my brothers and my partner in crime, Jayson Tatum. He was with me the whole way, we share this [award] together.” Brown knew what others would do with his award—use it against his teammate—if he didn’t nip it in the bud.

It honestly reminded me of the many times that Paul counseled early churches that the only ways they should be competing with each other was in building each other up. He despised the way the Corinthians tried to weaponize the name of the person who had baptized them, as if Christians are divided into teams. He pushed back hard against Peter’s hypocrisy when Peter was willing to eat with one group of Galatians until a different group showed up. Paul understood that the mission of God’s church is accomplished when everyone works together. It was never about which disciple gained more glory. It was always meant to be about people hearing that God loved them. That’s it. Church is meant to be a full team effort, shared by brothers and sisters in Christ who are with each other the whole way.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben

A Prism of the Mind

June 16, 2024
A Prism of the Mind
Rev. Benjamin Wines
Genesis 18:1-15

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, “A Prism of the Mind”. We will be reading from Genesis 18:1-15, and our Call to Worship comes from Psalm 100.

Call to Worship Psalm 100
Leader: Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
People: Worship the Lord with gladness;
Leader: Come into his presence with singing.
People: Know that the Lord is God.
Leader: It is he that made us, and we are his;
People: We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Leader: Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
People: And his courts with praise.
Leader: Give thanks to him, bless his name.
People: For the Lord is good;
Leader: His steadfast love endures forever,
People: And his faithfulness to all generations.

Questions for Further Reflection:
In this passage, Abraham makes a choice about how he will respond to the three strangers.
How does hope change the way we make decisions?
How does the hope that comes from God change our decisions?

Wear Sunscreen

June 9, 2024
Wear Sunscreen
Rev. Benjamin Wines
Romans 12:9-17

Call to Worship Psalm 19:7-10, 14
Leader: The law of the Lord is perfect,
People: Reviving the soul;
Leader: The decrees of the Lord are sure,
People: Making wise the simple;
Leader: The precepts of the Lord are right,
People: Rejoicing the heart;
Leader: The commandment of the Lord is clear,
People: Enlightening the eyes;
Leader: The fear of the Lord is pure,
People: Enduring forever;
Leader: The ordinances of the Lord are true
People: And righteous altogether.
Leader: More to be desired are they than gold,
People: Even much fine gold;
Leader: Sweeter also than honey,
People: And drippings of the honeycomb.
Leader: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
People: Be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

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, “Wear Sunscreen”. We will be reading from Romans 12:9-17, and our Call to Worship comes from Psalm 19.

Questions for Further Reflection:
In this passage, Paul gives a lot of advice to the Roman Christians.
Which bit of advice connected most with you?
What bit of advice would you give to other Christians?

The Birds of the Air

June 2, 2024
The Birds of the Air
Rev. Benjamin Wines
Mark 4:26-34

Call to Worship (Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15)
Leader: It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
People: To sing praises to your name, O Most High;
Leader: To declare your steadfast love in the morning,
People: And your faithfulness by night,
Leader: To the music of the lute and the harp,
People: To the melody of the lyre.
Leader: For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
People: At the works of your hands I sing for joy.
Leader: The righteous flourish like the palm tree,
People: And grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Leader: They are planted in the house of the Lord;
People: They flourish in the courts of our God.
Leader: In old age they still produce fruit;
People: They are always green and full of sap,
Leader: Showing that the Lord is upright;
People: He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

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, “The Birds of the Air”. We will be reading from Mark 4:26-34, and our Call to Worship comes from Psalm 92.

Questions for Further Reflection:
Allen Verhey once referred to the gospel as, “The Great Reversal.”
How does the Parable of the Mustard Seed affirm that idea?
How does it challenge you to reach out to others?

On the Yard Sale

Brothers and sisters,

Last Saturday, May 18th, our church hosted a community yard sale. The preparation took months as folks brought in gently used items to sell. Over the last two months in particular, Robin and I would get at least one phone call per week letting us know that someone was coming with a trunk full of stuff for the yard sale and asking if we’d help them unload it. We always did and I appreciated the time it gave us to get to talk with you all and hear the stories behind some of the items you donated.

In addition to those months of build-up, the week before the yard sale was itself a busy, but good time of fellowship. The Wednesday and Thursday before the sale were particularly fun days to be at the church because there was so much buzz, so much energy surrounding what was going to happen on Saturday. And so much good, faithful work was done by all the volunteers who came out those days—moving, sorting, organizing, and pricing every single item that had been donated.

In addition to the yard sale itself, we had a bake sale that benefitted Hope House. So many people in our congregation baked so many wonderful treats and sweets for that sale, which ended up bringing in $300 to continue to support refugees and their families. People also chipped in with snacks and finger foods for the volunteers so that we never had to worry about breakfast or lunch—the church had us covered!

At the yard sale itself, I saw so many people getting excited for the things they had found. Children were walking out the door with stacks of children’s books, along with some toys. Parents were walking out with armfuls of clothes for themselves or their kids. Place settings, picture frames, furniture, and the sorts of random things one only finds at a yard sale walked out as well.

I also saw church members enjoying being around each other and being around the community. We ran into people we knew from previous ministries we’d worked on together. We connected with people over shared interests and the items that go along with those interests. And I saw church members reconnecting with each other after not seeing each other for a while.

And, once the sale was over and the boxes had been packed, a local non-profit organization in need of items for their own clothing closets and community centers came in and took everything away in order to keep blessing our community. That connection was made simply because one of their leaders saw our sign on Thursday and had the initiative to come and ask if we could work together on this.

In the end, the yard sale raised about $1,800 for our church’s capital campaign fund. That in and of itself is wonderful! But I’m also still buzzing over what an overall good day it was. Good work was done in a faithful way to bless our community. That good work brought us all together with friends old and new and connected us with other brothers and sisters in Christ working on behalf of our community. God is good, y’all. All the time, God is good.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben