June 28, 2020
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
I’ve been listening to an old black gospel chorus. The lyrics are: “I shall wear a crown. When it’s all over. I’m going to put on my robe, tell the story, how I made it over. Soon as I get home.” Second verse: “I shall see his face….” There are lots of repeating lines and beautiful harmonies. It made me long for congregational singing. It made me long for the ways in which music offers language for shared testimony. It made me long for that day when (metaphorically) we will put on our robes and tell the story of how we made it over.
Congregational singing is one of the great gifts of Hope Church. We try to sing the richness of the Christian tradition – different voices, styles, instrumentation, eras, etc. We try to sing in praise, confession, lament, gratitude, testimony, adoration, hope, etc. We sing to tell the story. And, we need all of our voices. We don’t count on song leaders or praise bands to carry the load. We need each and every voice. We need your voice. I miss hearing the young girl singing behind me. I miss seeing how music causes tears to well up in an elderly woman’s eyes. I miss those moments when the sanctuary is full of song.
This morning, Dora Diephouse is at the organ and piano, and we sing a variety of hymns. Dan Diephouse reads a poem as part of the liturgy, and David Larsen leads us in a beautiful prayer. I hope these gifts help you raise your voice in song. May God be honored and you be encouraged.
Peace to you,
June 21, 2020
Third Sunday after Pentecost
We expect Illinois will go to Phase 4 of coronavirus protocol next week. You will begin to hear of churches that are open and opening. I was part of a Zoom meeting this week in which pastors detailed plans for physical distancing, masks, making reservations to get a seat, less music, shorter services, no fellowship time, etc, etc.
I understand the impulse. We long to be together in worship and fellowship. There’s lots that’s lost; I’m not sure what’s gained in some of the reopening plans.
We’re going to err on the side of caution and learning from others. We have worship podcasts planned through July. We are exploring options for worshipping outside in August and September. If we get outside, we would continue to offer a podcast version of the service.
We had a successful abbreviated Vacation Bible School – outside, more or less with physical distancing, etc. The music was good, the Bible story time was good, and the fellowship was a delight. It didn’t discourage us from exploring opportunities to worship outside this summer.
Look for opportunities for small group fellowship in July and be assured that we’re doing our best to gather again in ways that are safe, meaningful, and inclusive.
I thought this service was wonderful. I hope you experience the same. A brother and sister on saxophone, a beautiful prayer by a young girl, a colorful and troubling text for the sermon. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help make these worship podcasts more meaningful.
Peace to you,
June 14, 2020
Second Sunday after Pentecost
I asked a young man how he was doing. He responded, “It feels like the world is falling apart.” While the perspective of history might have been helpful, that wasn’t going to address his feelings. He was worried about the future. He was worried about financial wellbeing, political stability, living in a multi-racial world, and navigating the pandemic. He said he felt “anxious.”
My heart would like to speak directly into his feelings with answers about money, politics, race, and healthcare. My calling is to speak out of scripture. I’m called to open an ancient text that we might listen for the voice of God. That seems a far cry from the urgency of the moment.
But, I believe that sitting with scripture, listening to the Psalms and the old stories, the prophetic voices and the good news of God in Christ, does in fact give us resources for the living of these days. Over time we can be transformed by Spirit and find in faith some manner of hope and encouragement. I’m not suggesting that it will be easy; there will still be hard days, anxiety, troughs of depression, and lament. But, in the shared conversation of scripture, Spirit, and community there is hope when the world is falling apart.
May you find something in this worship service that speaks to your heart.
May you hear the voice of God in the Word of God.
May you be encouraged by the liturgy, prayer, singing, and the beating of the drum.
June 7, 2020
Our worship is shaped by the Revised Common Lectionary – a collection of biblical texts making provision for the liturgical calendar that are meant to be used in worship. It follows a three-year-cycle and for each Sunday there is an Old Testament passage, a Psalm, a reading from an Epistle, and a Gospel lesson. Churches of all stripes, all over the world, use the RCL. We try to use most of the passages each week. I preach on one of the texts, and we use the others for the liturgy.
Part of the genius of the RCL is that it considers the whole council of scripture. It forces preachers and worship planners to deal with texts that they might rather avoid. While there are passages or biblical books that the RCL doesn’t regularly include, it does seek to tell the grand narrative, the full sweep, of scripture.
I have little to say. I am grateful for a text to wrestle with and speak out of each week. And, in that spirit, this week we are beginning a summer sermon series in Genesis. The RCL Old Testament readings for June, July, and into August work their way through Genesis. We’re going to follow that path for a while. We begin our journey this morning.
We learned a few weeks ago that we have Canadian listeners. It’s just Erin’s family in Toronto, but we like to say that we have an “international podcast ministry.” We hope you are encouraged by these worship podcasts and, if so, that you forward them to friend and family. There is a lot of noise in the world, our prayer is that these help you find peace and hear the voice of God. Again, print up the order of worship and follow along.
Peace to you,
May 31, 2020
Pentecost Sunday 🔥
Hope was founded in 1961, Roseland Christian Ministries in 1976. We’ve been friends and partners ever since. In the ’90s, Hope and RCM joined together on a rehab project that helped Sabrina Beecham purchase a house in Roseland. She raised a couple nurses and an EMT in that home and she’s currently recovering there from COVID-19. Please remember that dear friend in prayer.
About 12 years ago, we began looking for ways to strengthen our partnership. We developed new opportunities to be joined together in service, worship, and fellowship. Those initiatives have meant consistent help with food ministries, helping staff summer camp, having Hope folks on the RCM board, making quilts for the women and children’s shelter, friendships being deepened, and gathering each year for worship and a potluck on Pentecost.
Those Pentecost Sundays are a gift to both congregations. Invariably, someone says to me that “we should do this every Sunday!” There’s a good deal of love and laughter and delight in our shared history. Our partnership is imperfect and incomplete, and we’ll miss being together this year, but I’m grateful that we’re still connected and committed in service, worship, and fellowship. Thanks be to God. You will hear hints of our shared Pentecost service in this week’s podcast.
After my brief fling as a televangelist, we’re back to podcasting. Turns out I have a face for radio. We’re encouraged by all who find these podcasts helpful and a living link to Hope. Just a reminder: if you click on “Order of Worship” listed above, you will find liturgy and lyrics for the whole service. We hope you will print that up and join us in worship.
May God bless,
May 24, 2020
Seventh Sunday of Easter
President Trump announced on Friday that our work at Hope was “essential” and I couldn’t agree more…
Part of what these last couple months have demonstrated is that we’re made to be together in worship and fellowship. We’re encouraged by seeing one another and singing together. The intergenerational life of Hope is a gift to all ages. Preaching is the ongoing conversation of scripture and Spirit and community, and that’s best done live. Welcoming new friends, baptizing babies, praying as a body, breaking bread and sharing wine are all essential practices of faith. Podcast smodcast – the essential part of church is being together.
President Trump made that announcement while I was preaching to a camera and we were singing in an empty sanctuary. While we hope this YouTube worship service is a good gift, this is not the full rich life of the church.
In the next two weeks, new Elders and Deacons will join Hope’s Council and we’ll weigh a variety of ways to continue the essential work of Hope. Look for a forthcoming statement about how we might be Hope – in worship, education, fellowship, and service – for the summer months. But, for today, despite President Trump’s decree that we “open right now for the weekend,” here are the familiar links to online worship.
At the close of the worship service there’s a “congregational meeting.” Thanks to Elders Patty DeJong and Arlo Compaan for their leadership. They draw names for 5 new Elders and 4 new Deacons. We hope you’ll stick around to watch.
Peace to you.
May 17, 2020
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Praise the Lord… with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and the lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with strings and pipe…
Psalm 150:1-4 adapted
Last week we rolled out the pipe organ; this week we got out the guitars. Diversity of instrumentation is a hallmark of worship at Hope. We take Psalm 150 literally. We try to include the musical gifts of the whole community. We try to involve children who are just learning and professionals who have honed their craft for a lifetime. We don’t do it for the sake of novelty. We are trying to be faithful with the wide range of songs and voices and instruments we’ve been given. This morning Roger Nelson plays the three songs he knows on guitar, and Erin Pacheco preaches. One of them can preach and sing; the other should probably just stick to preaching…
Erin Pacheco came to Hope as a college intern. We’ve tried to keep her in some fashion ever since. She’s now a wife, mother of three, seminary grad, worship arts director at Trinity Christian College, and budding church planter. We’ve been blessed to watch her grow as a musician and a preacher. This morning she continues this short series of sermons from the last long conversation and prayer of Jesus as recorded in John. This is a beautiful and powerful sermon.
Next week, the worship service will be available as a video. The spirit and style will be the same, and you’ll be emailed a link on Sunday morning, but you’ll be able to see our empty sanctuary. After the worship service there will be a brief “congregational meeting” during which names will be drawn from our slate of new Elders and Deacons. We want this to be done under the bright lights of video tape and not in some dark corner. You’ll see us; we wish we could see you.
Peace to you,
May 10, 2020
Fifth Sunday of Easter
In the early 1970s Dora Diephouse and Lynn Hollender began attending Hope Church. They each offered leadership in worship by playing the piano, organ, and, in Lynn’s case, the flute. In the early 2020s they’re still at it. Thanks be to God.
That longevity is remarkable. They’re both closing in on 50 years of helping lead God’s people gathered in Hope. Stack ‘em end to end and it’s almost 100 years. They’ve helped hold central commitments to the best in Christian hymnody while enfolding expressions of contemporary and world music. They’ve welcomed new musicians of all ages and worked with all sorts of pastors. And when the waters were choppy they helped offer a consistent steady beat. Hope’s vitality is in part due to Lynn and Dora’s gifted, faithful, and consistent leadership. Thanks be to God.
This morning Dora plays organ and piano, and Lynn plays flute. The service has a traditional feel and is altogether lovely. Aron Reppmann and Helen Van Wyck offer leadership in song, liturgy, and prayer. It is our hope that you will be engaged by the gospel, encouraged by the worship, and even encounter God in new and meaningful ways.
We’ve heard that some of you listen to these worship podcasts while walking, working out, showering, riding bike, cleaning the house, or gathering with family around the breakfast table. We’re grateful that you’re listening – in whatever way works for you. We try to clock these in at 30 minutes. This morning is about 40 minutes. The preacher must have gotten long-winded…
Peace to you,
May 3, 2020
Good Shepherd Sunday 🐑
We were scheduled to celebrate communion this morning. Since the shelter-in-place order was given, we’ve missed 3 baptisms and 4 Lord’s Suppers. Those are essential life-giving practices for our community. Worship and preaching are shortchanged without the sacraments. They give bodily expression to the good news of God in Christ. There are some churches offering communion through Facebook Live services, and I watched a socially distant baptism online, but at least at this point Hope’s Elders have decided not to try the sacraments by podcast.
However, let us continue to acknowledge that we miss both the experience and the symbol of being gathered around the table. We miss the intergenerational sign and seal of the Good Shepherd making provision for all of his sheep. We miss seeing one another and breaking bread together.
In that spirit, we have collected your “selfies” and offer this video montage as a reminder, as a glimpse, of God’s people joined together in the promise of the great feast of the Lamb. Our hope is that you’ll print up the order of worship, join in the worship podcast, and at the close watch the video to see Hope around the table. That’s how we drew it up. I’m sure that some of you won’t be able to help yourselves and you’ll click on the video link right away. Completely understandable; it is pretty cool…
I’m again grateful for the collaborative nature of this podcast project. This week a young woman home from college plays the saxophone, a mother and her young daughter sing and pray and lead liturgy, while Erin Pacheco and Schuyler Roozeboom make it all happen effortlessly. Huge Hope thanks to Mark Friesen for putting together the video. You took the selfies but he made the montage magic happen.
May God bless and keep you,
April 26, 2020
Third Sunday of Easter
I’m a creature of habit. Orange juice and a banana start each day followed by iced tea from Panera. I run and ride the same routes and go to the same gym. I do yard work on Mondays, like the neighborhood bar on Fridays, and go to church on Sundays. Those habits give my life some order.
I’ve been in a church on most Sunday mornings since I was born and that habit has helped give my life order. One argument for the habit of gathering in worship is that we are challenged, changed, and comforted by a voice other than our own. We hear the alien voice of God in Christ through scripture, sacrament, and community and are shaped to be more fully who we are created and redeemed to be.
The need for social distancing has disrupted many of our habits. And, at least for me, none more unsettling than the loss of gathering in worship. I miss seeing friends, the sound of congregational singing, the splash of water on an infant’s head, breaking bread and sharing wine, and the joy of intergenerational life. Let’s continue to acknowledge what we miss…
These worship podcasts are only a short-term substitute but we hope that, even in these, we will be challenged, changed, and comforted by a voice other than our own. Even in these, we hope to find a habit that helps give life some order.
Peace to you,
April 19, 2020
Second Sunday of Easter
On the short list of what I miss about worshipping together at Hope: the leadership of children. We are typically gathered by a child who calls us to worship and lights the Christ Candle. We pass the peace with a joyful gaggle of children before they exit the sanctuary to their worship programs. And we regularly have children lead as liturgists, singers, and musicians. In all of that we are richly blessed. Thanks be to God.
With each of these podcasts, we have tried to give a taste of Hope. We have included a variety of voices in song, instrument, and prayer. (We seem stuck with the same preacher…) Today, we are led by the voice of a third grader, her mother helps lead us in song and prayer, and a retired professor and grandfather offers a poem. I thought it all lovely, and it made me long for the gathering of our intergenerational worshipping community.
We saw data this week demonstrating that these podcasts are being accessed by a large collection of people. We know anecdotally that they are being listened to in California and New York and lots of places in between. I guess we’re encouraged by that, but we’d sure rather be together in person – with children.
May God bless and keep you,
April 12, 2020
Easter Sunday 🌄
We typically celebrate Easter with blaring brass and fancy dresses. We mark the joy of Jesus defeating death with lilies, crowded churches, family feasts, communion, big hats, bow ties, bunnies, painted eggs, breathtaking choir anthems, ham topped with rum raisin sauce, and if we’re lucky the sun breaking through winter’s long gloom.
We’ll miss a good deal of that fanfare this year. Sanctuaries will be empty, family gatherings will be smaller, and choirs will sing via Zoom. This Easter will feature the stark contrast between the intergenerational joy of a congregation belting out “Alleluia!” and listening to hymns through tinny tiny laptop speakers. This Easter you can catch some of the finest preachers in world, but they’re on Facebook live in empty cathedrals or offering meditations from the comfort of their studies.
But, I’m also reminded that resurrection morning bears little resemblance to our Easter practices. The gospel accounts tell of confusion and fear and intimate conversations. There were tears and uncertainty and lots of running back and forth. There was a seismic shift in creation (death was no longer the last word), but the moments of resurrection revelation are quiet and muted.
And as one writer puts it:
Perhaps this is a good time to let the Gospels present their understated Easter accounts. Perhaps this is also a moment when we are being forced to be quiet enough to receive this witness properly. We can’t gussy this up as we usually do. And maybe that’s a good thing in its own subtle way.
We offer this worship podcast in that spirit. You will again find here song, scripture, sermon, prayer, and blessing – led by a few voices of the Hope family. We hope you’ll use the order of worship, join in the singing, watch the Children in Worship video, and be encouraged by the proclamation of the gospel.
There will come a day when we will return to the great joy of congregational singing and the gathering of friend and family, but for today, even in this format, we pray that you will join with Mary in announcing, “I have seen the Lord!”
April 10, 2020
It has been Hope’s tradition to gather for communion on Good Friday. For the last 15 years, that service has been led by our choir doing a major choral work. With the best we have to offer in music, symbol, and sacrament, we would remember, worship, and long for a glimpse of Christ – broken and poured out. We have been richly blessed in those services with breathtaking moments of beauty and mystery.
We offer this podcast service of scripture, song, silence, and prayer as a way to remember, worship, and long for Christ (and his church). It is decidedly different than the services of the past, but I’d encourage you to find a quiet space, print out the order of worship, light a candle, and listen for the voice of God. The service ends with the Hope choir singing “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” taken from a CD they recorded in 2006. It is a big ending to a quiet service. I hope you’ll listen all the way through and then sit with it for a while…
I was reminded this week that “Good Friday is about ‘the solidarity of the Crucified with all the human dead.’ It’s about Jesus joining humanity in the void, in nothingness, in all places of death.”
As we gather, even through podcast, may you catch a glimpse of
Christ Jesus… who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his advantage; rather he made himself nothing, by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross.
Peace to you,
April 5, 2020
Palm Sunday 🌿
This morning we miss the joyful tradition of being encouraged to wave palm branches with vigor. This morning we miss the gift of intergenerational worship…
And yet, while these worship podcasts may be a “weak substitute,” there are encouraging reports of families gathering, lighting a candle, listening together, doing the children’s worship sheets, and singing along with Miss Marjie. We’ve heard of friends calling at 9:55 AM on Sunday morning because that’s when they would typically greet one another. There are videos of the children of Deacons passing collection plates while parents listen to the podcast. We know that some folks listen while they walk, some gather promptly at 10:00 AM with a cup of coffee, and some sing along. There is no right way to use these resources; we pray they build resistance and nurture hope.
It is hard (impossible…) to capture the joy of being together in worship. We hammered out these little podcasts over the last few weeks with a team of three (Erin, Schuyler, and me). The Elders will meet this week by Zoom. This will be the first chance for formal evaluation and direction. Please reach out with ideas, critique, creative spin, and anything else that would be helpful for you and those you love.
Thanks for listening. Pass these links along if you’re encouraged by them. And one fine day we will gather again in such joy that we won’t need instructions about how to wave palms.
Peace to you,
March 29, 2020
Fifth Sunday in Lent
When my friend Dr. Sandie Kinsinger passed away last summer, she was leading a research project entitled “Walking in Two Worlds: Exploring Resilience and Hope in High Risk Native American Mothers through Lakato Talking Circles.” It was a continuation of her life’s work: How do we help build resilience and nurture hope in one another?
Build resilience and nurture hope. I love that line. It is our deep prayer that these worship podcasts will help build resilience and nurture hope. Through music, scripture, sermon, prayer, and blessing we are trying to offer resources to navigate these difficult days – days that call for resilient spirits and a hope rooted in God’s love expressed in Jesus Christ.
To that end, this week we’ve included the voices of two young women of Hope. Mia Starkenburg, an 8th grader, joins Erin Pacheco for a duet, and Frances Boerman-Cornell, a 10th grader, adds violin. The gifts they offer are lovely and encouraging.
If these podcasts are helpful, we hope you’ll forward this letter and links to others. There are all sorts of ways that churches are trying to navigate this new reality. We had the technology to do podcasts that seem to fit Hope’s particular and peculiar culture, but we want them passed along if they’re helpful and can serve a broader community.
Thanks for your support of this podcast project. We miss being with you. We hope you will continue to find ways to help build resilience and nurture hope in others.
March 22, 2020
Fourth Sunday in Lent
We’re trying to find our footing with podcast worship, flattening the curve, social distancing, and sheltering in place – while still being Hope. We didn’t even know some of those phrases a few weeks ago. So, you will find links below to a podcast worship service, an order of worship, a sermon manuscript (if you like that sort of thing), a printable children’s worship packet, and a YouTube link for Marjie Coleman telling a “Children in Worship” story. Our deepest prayer is that you will be encouraged, and the gospel will be proclaimed through these resources.
We’re learning as we go. Your feedback helped us shape what we’re offering today. I hope you will continue to let us know what would be helpful for you and your people. I am again profoundly grateful for Erin Pacheco, Schuyler Roozeboom, and Marjie Coleman sharing their gifts in service to Christ and his church.
Peace to you,
March 17, 2020
I heard it said that this is not a coronavirus snow-day but a coronavirus winter. This won’t pass in a day or two, or a week or two, but we need to think about it as a season. That’s a helpful, albeit sobering, analogy. And in these last few days it seems fitting. As we get new information and new instructions, it seems like we’re in for a long haul with some substantive changes.
Therefore, until further notice, worship and all meetings and ministries that gather at Hope are suspended. I don’t know if we’re supposed to limit meetings to groups of under 50 or under 10, but it seems prudent to step back, hunker down, develop our home-schooling gifts, and wait for clarity to emerge. We’re holding out hope for Easter…
In the meantime, we’ll try to provide meaningful worship via podcast. Our plan this week is to record on Saturday and have it posted on Sunday morning. We hope you’ll make use of that resource.
It should also be noted that Hope and other ministries that we support have ongoing needs. The office is open to receive checks by mail, and if you want to get out for a drive and drop off a check, we’d be happy to see you. We’ll keep appropriate social distance. Even as we try to expedite access to online giving, it is worth noting that most banks will help you setup a one-time or recurring payment through their online checking system. Quite a few of you make use of this service.
I’ve been particularly grateful for the wisdom, encouragement, and good cheer of Hope’s Elders and Deacons. As we’ve tried to navigate how best to proceed, they’ve been thoughtful and prayerful and wonderful. We’ve got good hands on the plow. Thanks be to God.
Stay home. Stay healthy. Stay safe.
We’ll keep you updated about all things full of Hope.
March 15, 2020
While we’re not able to gather in worship, we will try to provide virtual worship. Some of the Hope Church staff gathered in the sanctuary this morning (Sunday, March 15) to record a worship podcast. The link below will get you to music, scripture, meditation, and prayer. It is our prayer that you will be encouraged, God will be honored, and good news will be shared even in this format.
Early this week, we’ll send out a “News & Notes” email with updates on what’s cancelled and what’s rescheduled. Our hope is that you will continue to reach toward one another with calls and notes and expressions of kindness. You can make a difference for someone else today. The church office will be open as usual this week….
I want to thank Erin Pacheco and Schuyler Roozeboom for their help and leadership in this little podcast project. I couldn’t be more grateful for their friendship and partnership.
March 13, 2020
Important Update ⚡️
After continued consultation with Hope’s Council and Hope’s doctors, after considering the guidelines offered by the state and the CDC, and after prayer and reflection we’re going to suspend gathering for worship at Hope for the next two weeks, March 15 and 22. While an inadequate substitute for being together, we will post something online for those Sundays, and we will explore other ways to care for and encourage one another. We will continue to send email updates and provide updates on this page as the situation progresses.
I was reminded this morning of a passage in Jeremiah, “…seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you…” Spoken to God’s people while in exile, they were called to pray for and pursue the common good. It seems fitting and faithful that in these anxious days we do the same. We need to do our part to help stop the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID‑19). We need to be mindful of the most vulnerable among us.
I don’t know how this will shake out over the coming weeks, but may we find, even in this, ways to love God and love neighbor, to serve God and serve neighbor. As Erick Erickson puts it:
“Now is the time to show your community what loving your neighbors is all about. It is about more than an hour on Saturday or Sunday. It is about seeking the welfare of your neighbors — the saved and the lost, the believer and the unbeliever. Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to serve. Run toward the ill, not away from them. You may not be able to meet on Sunday, but you can drop off meals and check on people, if only at the other side of the doors through which you talk. Seek the welfare of the cities in which you are in exile. Pray for your cities. Because there you will find your welfare.”
Peace to you,
On behalf of Hope CRC Council