Important Updates

October 18, 2020

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s outdoor worship service is available at the link below. We’ve included links for the order of worship and sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Recent worship videos are also available on our website. You can find them at Worship > Recent Sermons or at the Sermon Archive, and the entire worship video catalog is available on our YouTube Channel.

October 18, 2020

Outdoor Worship Canceled ⚡️

The forecast for our little corner in Oak Forest calls for a 75% chance of rain at 10:00 AM and 100% at 11:00 AM. We don’t want you, or our rented sound equipment, to get wet. Therefore, we’re canceling this morning’s parking lot worship service. We will live stream a service at 10:15 AM from the sanctuary.

It is our prayer that God will be honored and that you’ll be encouraged by the online service today. May you be strengthened for the living of these days and may you in turn reach toward others in love and service. We hope you will join us by live stream at 10:15 AM.

Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship
Children in Worship Video

Grace to you, mercy and peace,
Roger Nelson
on behalf of Hope’s Elders

P.S. The worship leaders for 9:00 AM this morning are off the hook; we need the 10:15 AM team at church by 9:30 AM.

October 16, 2020

Outdoor Worship for October 18

The spread of the coronavirus seems to be a function of proximity, density, and time. How close are you to someone who might be infected? How many people are in a particular space? And, how long are they in that space?

Over the last 8 months we’ve made decisions about Hope life with those functions in mind. As the weather cools, outdoor worship becomes less viable, and Covid cases rise, we’re again mindful of those realities. Therefore, in an effort to love one another, serve the greater good, and be united in worship – we’re going to return to audio podcasts in November.

There are two primary reasons for our hesitancy to open-up worship in the sanctuary. First, there is no HVAC system in the sanctuary. Outside of fans in the windows there is no way to move fresh air through the sanctuary. And second, as the Elders are representative of the Hope community, only about 1/4 of them would be comfortable coming to worship. Many of the things we cherish (congregational singing, communion, conversation over coffee, children underfoot, childcare for young families, encouragement for the elderly…) would be remarkably difficult to do well given those restrictions.

So, we’re going to return to podcasts on November 1. Those services will be taped on Fridays and released on Sunday mornings at 10:00 AM.

The symbols, images, and liturgical practices of Advent call for more than just voice and imagination. On the First Sunday on Advent (November 29), we will begin to video/live stream those services. In mid-November we will determine whether or not those services will be open to in-person participation. There may be a new infection trajectory, better ways to mitigate transmission, or more effective tools to create a safer sanctuary space. But, either way, the services of Advent and Christmas will be video/live streamed.

If you have questions, concerns, or want to voice your ideas and opinions, please contact Roger Nelson or one of the elders.

Here are the resources for worship on October 18. Weather permitting, we will be in the parking lot at 9:00 AM and 10:15 AM. The live stream will be available at 10:15 AM. In case of inclement weather, we will post word of cancelation by 7:00 AM on Sunday morning and live stream at 10:15 AM. * If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup
Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship
Children in Worship Video

Grace to you, mercy and peace…
Roger Nelson

October 11, 2020

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s outdoor worship service is available at the link below. We’ve included links for the order of worship and sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Recent worship videos are also available on our website. You can find them at Worship > Recent Sermons or at the Sermon Archive, and the entire worship video catalog is available on our YouTube Channel.

October 9, 2020

Outdoor Worship for October 11

We’ve missed being gathered together at the Lord’s Table.
We’ve missed the symbol, mystery, and sustenance of the sacrament.
We last celebrated communion on the first Sunday of Lent, which was the first Sunday of March….

We’re going to celebrate communion this coming Sunday in the parking lot with individually sealed containers of bread and wine (a wafer and grape juice). They’re the size of coffee creamers. They’re the safest way that we can be joined in the sacrament. As you arrive on Sunday, you’ll be encouraged to pick up a container from a table. At the beginning of the service there will be instructions about how to open the containers. This is far from the intimacy, humanity, and tactile experience of intinction. Truth is they’re a little tacky, but under these circumstances they’re our best option. The liturgy and spiritual reality will be the same; the delivery system will be different. We’ll do the best we can; we hope you’ll join us.

These links will get you to a variety of resources for age appropriate worship and education. * If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup
Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship
Children in Worship Video

Next week we’ll post an update with plans for worship for the next few months. But for this Sunday, we hope you’ll join us (in the parking lot or online) for the Word spoken and broken, for the gospel proclaimed in scripture and sacrament.

May God bless,
Roger Nelson

October 4, 2020

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s worship service is available at the link below. We’ve included links for the order of worship and sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Recent worship videos are also available on our website. You can find them at Worship > Recent Sermons or at the Sermon Archive, and the entire worship video catalog is available on our YouTube Channel.

October 3, 2020

Outdoor Worship Canceled ⚡️

For a whole bunch of reasons, we’re canceling outdoor worship for Sunday, October 4. We will offer a live stream service at 10:15 AM and that service will then be available on our YouTube channel. We hope that you’re sustained and encouraged by that expression of worship.

Why cancel the outdoor service? Well…
It’s supposed to rain all night and be in the low 40s at 9:00 AM.
All of the sound and video equipment is set up in the sanctuary.
There’s only so much pulp in our orange.

The weather is supposed to improve next week, and we’re holding out hope that we will gather a few more times for worship in the parking lot. But, for tomorrow, join us with a cup of coffee in your comfortable pants.

Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship
Children in Worship Video

May God bless you and keep you,
Roger Nelson

October 2, 2020

Outdoor Worship for October 4

I’ve noted before that we shape the worship service using the Revised Common Lectionary. There is a psalm, an epistle, an Old Testament lesson, and gospel reading for each Sunday. Right now, the gospel readings are from Matthew. This week there is a “terrible parable.” This week there’s a text that I’d rather not wrestle with or try to wrench out a sermon from. But, that’s the gift (curse) of the lectionary. You don’t get to deal with easy passages or favorite themes. You’re forced to deal with the many voices and themes and visions of scripture. You’re forced to deal with the full council of scripture. Thanks be to God….

Listed below are links for the 10:15 AM live stream, the worship service liturgy and music, the Children in Worship video, and the home-school-Sunday-school resources (via or email list – contact us for a copy to use with your kids) that are rooted in the Matthew text. We hope you’ll use both the family discussion sheet and the activity sheets. * If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup
Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship
Children in Worship Video

At this point, the weather on Sunday morning does not look promising: rain, temperatures in the mid-forties, and a difficult parable? Fuggedaboutit…. We will be live streaming the memorial service for Ellyn Lubbers on Saturday from the sanctuary. If the forecast remains the same, and all the equipment is in the sanctuary…. Watch for word about where to go and what to do on Sunday morning.

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

September 27, 2020

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s outdoor worship service is available at the link below. We’ve included links for the order of worship and sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Recent worship videos are also available on our website. You can find them at Worship > Recent Sermons or at the Sermon Archive, and the entire worship video catalog is available on our YouTube Channel.

September 25, 2020

Outdoor Worship for September 27

Sometimes I think we’re just treading water until we can gather again safely. If we can just stay afloat until we push open the doors for worship, choir, Sunday school, potlucks, a full loud Fellowship Hall, kids underfoot, congregational singing…

It is easy to fall into that mindset. In a liminal moment we often just hold our breath and wait for what comes next.

But, I’ve been mindful lately that discipleship – the life of following Jesus – is lived out in times of crisis and times of comfort, in sunshine and in rain, in normal life and when everything feels different, on hold, or waiting for what comes next…

Discipleship involves habits like prayer, congregational worship, being joined in the sacraments, studying scripture, loving neighbor, etc… Those practices are crucial and it’s probably not wise to suspend them just to tread water.

In that spirit, we’re offering resources for home-school-Sunday-school via our email list – contact us for a copy to use with your kids. They include a family discussion page and activity sheets for pre-k through 6th grade kids. The lessons match up with Sunday’s sermon text. So, theoretically, you could listen to the sermon and then do the age appropriate responses. We hope you’ll print up the materials and gather your kids and do home-school-Sunday-school. Or, maybe the Sunday school materials are best used by the kids while you “enjoy” the sermon. Either way, we hope you’ll find these tools helpful for discipleship and faith-formation. Beats treading water… * If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup
Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

September 20, 2020

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s outdoor worship service is available at the link below. We’ve included links for the order of worship and sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Recent worship videos are also available on our website. You can find them at Worship > Recent Sermons or at the Sermon Archive, and the entire worship video catalog is available on our YouTube Channel.

September 18, 2020

Outdoor Worship for September 20

This is, without exception, my favorite time of the year. The skies are blue, the humidity is low, and there’s a brisk breeze out of the north. It’s crisp in the morning and cool in the evening. Makes you glad to be alive. Seems like a fine time to gather for worship in Hope’s parking lot.

A few weeks ago, a family joined us for worship – they’d been mostly watching the live stream. The idea of the parking lot seemed barren, lifeless, and unforgiving. However, they were surprised by the beauty of the actual experience. It is still a church parking lot in the south suburbs, but they commented on the colors of the morning sky, the greenery and flowers, the clarity of the sound, and the simple joy of worship outdoors.

So, as the weather cools, and the leaves begin to turn color, and sitting outside for 45 minutes calls for a sweater or light jacket, we hope you’ll join us. You can dress for 50 degrees better than you can undress for 85, sunny, and humid….

This Sunday, Hope member and chaplain, Rev. Dr. Liz Hulford will be preaching; Dora Diephouse and a host of musicians will be leading our singing. It promises to be an encouraging experience of worship and proclamation of the gospel. You’ll be blessed. These resources and links will support that experience. * If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup
Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship

“Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – he remains faithful forever.”
Psalm 146:5-6

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

September 13, 2020

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s outdoor worship service is available at the link below. We’ve included links for the order of worship and sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Recent worship videos are also available on our website. You can find them at Worship > Recent Sermons or at the Sermon Archive, and the entire worship video catalog is available on our YouTube Channel.

September 11, 2020

Outdoor Worship for September 13

I read recently that we’re in a “liminal” place. Liminal comes from the Latin word for “threshold” and it refers to a “crossing over” space. You have left something behind, yet you are not yet fully in something else. You’re in transition. You’re betwixt and between. It is often a time of disorientation and ambiguity. It can feel unsettling and uncertain. Normal is in the rearview window, but you can’t yet see what’s coming through the front window.

Our experience in this pandemic is liminal. We’ve left behind something familiar; we don’t quite know what to expect next. We long for what we’ve lost; we don’t know what we’ll find. Whoever would have guessed that we’d be gathering for worship in our parking lot and trying to navigate what comes next when the weather cools? (You could be in prayer for the Elders as they weigh some of those decisions…)

But, we’re also celebrating a baptism this Sunday and finding our grounding in the covenant promises of God. We may be in a liminal space but we still listen for the voice of God in scripture and sacrament. We may be on a threshold to something new but we belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

Part of our life together, even in transition, is reminding ourselves of the unshakable, unchanging, love of God in Christ. We are held by God’s covenant promises – come what may.

I hope you’ll join us for worship on Sunday at 9:00 AM or 10:15 AM. If you can’t be here in person, we’ll be live streaming at 10:15 AM and posting the service with the sermon manuscript a little later in the day. Here are those links. * If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup
Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

September 6, 2020

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s worship service (indoors due to weather) is available at the link below. We’ve included links for the order of worship and sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Recent worship videos are also available on our website. You can find them at Worship > Recent Sermons or at the Sermon Archive, and the entire worship video catalog is available on our YouTube Channel.

September 6, 2020

Outdoor Worship Canceled ⚡️

Ladies and gentlemen, they’re calling for the grounds crew to roll out the tarps. We’ve got a rain delay!

Parking lot worship for 9:00 AM and 10:15 AM is canceled this morning, September 6. The worship leadership team that was scheduled for 10:15 AM will gather at Hope, and we hope to live stream the service from the sanctuary. The link below will get you to that service. This could be a little rough around the edges but it will be better than sitting in the rain

Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship
Children in Worship Video

May the Lord bless and keep you,
Roger Nelson

September 4, 2020

Outdoor Worship for September 6

We’re gathering in the parking lot on Sunday morning at 9:00 AM and 10:15 AM. The 10:15 AM service will be live streamed. The links below will get you to the morning’s music and liturgy. While signing up isn’t required, it does help us plan. See the link below. * If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup
Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship

Today and tomorrow look glorious, but the current forecast for Sunday morning is storms and gale force winds. If that proves to be true, we will post a cancelation at 7:00 AM and later in the day post a service or podcast.

As these lines have encouraged me, may they do the same for you.
“I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings who cannot save. When their spirit departs they return to the ground; and that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”
Psalm 146:2-5

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

August 30, 2020

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s outdoor worship service is available at the link below. We’ve included links for the order of worship and sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Recent worship videos are now available on our website. You can find them at Worship > Recent Sermons or at the Sermon Archive, and the entire worship video catalog is available on our YouTube Channel.

August 28, 2020

Outdoor Worship for August 30

Erin and Moises Pacheco have been gathering a little community in East Garfield Park this summer. They’ve been meeting in their backyard/alley to share life in song, scripture, prayer and a meal. It’s a couple couples and their children; it’s a little ember, a tiny mustard seed, a place to begin. Who knows what will grow, or where it will go? We’re thankful for these relationships and hope and pray that God will continue to add to their company and raise up a church.

In support of that work, we are ordaining Moises as a “Commissioned Pastor.” If you’re old-school CRC, you might remember the office of “Evangelist.” That’s pretty much what a Commissioned Pastor is in today’s parlance. Moises has completed the denominational and classical requirements, and we will ordain him as part of the 10:15 AM service this Sunday, August 30. We hope you’ll join us in worship and encouragement for this young family and their vision/work in raising up a new church.

Here are the resources for worship this Sunday. The links below will get you to liturgy, music, and a link for the live stream. We continue to learn and improve the online experience. We love it when you’re here under the shade; we’re thankful that you can join us through our media ministry. 😉
* If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup
Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship

We harbor hope that the weather will break, the heat and humidity will dissipate, and we’ll be gathered in joyful-socially-distant-masked-congregational worship on Sunday morning.

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

August 23, 2020

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s outdoor worship service is available at the link below. We’ve included links for the order of worship and sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Recent worship videos are now available on our website. You can find them at Worship > Recent Sermons or at the Sermon Archive, and the entire worship video catalog is available on our YouTube Channel.

August 21, 2020

Outdoor Worship for August 23

M. Craig Barnes writes,

“God seems to prefer the ordinary and the routine. Most of creation was designed to be held together by repetition, the same things happening again and again, whether it’s little things like electrons spinning in circles, or huge things like planets slowly revolving around the sun every year. Winter, spring, summer, fall. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

The apostle Paul says, ‘Finally, beloved whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable…keep on doing those things.’ Apparently, he learned that God is mostly impressed by routine acts of faithfulness.”

There is little that feels routine right now. When we should be planning a kick-off BBQ, when we should be starting Sunday school, when we should be welcoming the choir back from their summer respite, we’re singing into masks in the parking lot. Half a year into a pandemic and things still feel “unprecedented.”

Therefore, may we lean into the practices, that while different and not ideal, are still somehow ordinary. Congregational worship, praying for another, listening for the voice of God, being hospitable, welcoming the stranger, loving mercy, walking humbly…. Those routine acts of faithfulness somehow still seem essential.

I hope you’ll join us for worship – in person or online.
I hope you’ll rest in the faithfulness of God – even in these anxious and disrupted days.

We gather, masked and socially distant, on Sunday at 9:00 AM and 10:15 AM.
We live stream at 10:15 AM.
Here are the links and liturgy.
* If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup
Worship Live Stream
Order of Worship

Peace to you and yours,
Roger Nelson

August 16, 2020

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s outdoor worship service is available at the link below. We’ve included links for the order of worship and sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Access to these videos directly on our website will be available later this week. Hopefully we minimized the effects of the wind a bit better this week.

August 14, 2020

Outdoor Worship for August 16

We lost a tree and the yard and parking lot were littered with branches and derecho detritus, but we are cleaned up and ready for worship on Sunday morning. The mornings have been lovely this week, we hope that holds through the weekend. We hope you’ll join us for worship at 9:00 AM or 10:15 AM. Please sign up for a service below, it helps us plan. But, even if you don’t, still join us on Sunday. * If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup

If you can’t join us, the service will be live streamed on our YouTube channel at 10:15 AM and then available after that. You can access the live stream with the link below.

Worship Live Stream

And finally, this link to the liturgy and music for this Sunday’s service. Print them up and bring them along on Sunday or join us from home.

Order of Worship

From our liturgy for Sunday…
“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, they meditate on your wonderful works. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”
Psalm 145:2-7 adapted

All of that is to say, we’re better when we’re together. We look forward to seeing you.

Peace,
Roger Nelson

August 9, 2020

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s outdoor worship service is available at the link below. We’ve included links for the order of worship and sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Just an FYI… we actually live streamed the 10:15 AM service. We plan on continuing to live stream in the coming weeks. We’re also working to make these videos available on our website. Oh, and there was a bit of a stiff breeze… which you might notice in the video.

August 7, 2020

Outdoor Worship for August 9

It looks like a steamy weekend, but we hope you’ll join us for worship on Sunday morning at 9:00 AM or 10:15 AM. With your coffee or a cold drink, maybe bring something for shade. We are still working out the kinks for live streaming, so if you can’t join us, watch for the videoed service to be posted in the afternoon.

Please sign up. It helps us with planning. See the link below. We’ve included the liturgy for Sunday. You can print a copy at home or pick one up when you arrive. Again, see the link below. * If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup
Order of Worship
Worship Video
* Available Sunday

We’re masked and muffled, we can only see the smiles of one another’s eyes, and we’re joined in worship by cicadas, dragonflies, finches, helicopters, and distant lawn mowers, but it is good to be together. It is good to be joined in song and prayer. It is good to be joined with creation in praising the Creator.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

Praise the Lord.
Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

July 31, 2020

Outdoor Worship for August 2

I confessed to Council that I skipped the seminary class on preparation for worship in the parking lot. So, we’re still scrambling with details and hoping for cloud cover and low humidity on Sunday morning.

We will worship at 9:00 AM and 10:15 AM. You can park on the east and west sides of the building, on the street, or in the school parking lot. Elders and Deacons will greet you with seating instructions. There will be 12 feet between you and other worshippers. Signing up helps, but we’ll take you any way that feels right to you. See the link below. * If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup

Orders of worship will be available, or you can download and print those materials from the links below. There’s also a sermon manuscript. It’s Friday so, not done, but close.

Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript

A video of the service will be available at 2:00 PM on Sunday afternoon. Click on the link below. We hope in the weeks to come that we can provide a live feed, but for this first Sunday, check the link any time after 2:00 PM.

Worship Video
* Available Sunday

We look forward to seeing you.
If you can’t join us – you’ll be in our hearts.

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

August 2, 2020

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Video of this morning’s outdoor worship service is now available at the link below. We’ve included links to the order of worship and a finalized version of the sermon manuscript. You’ll also find a link to this week’s Children in Worship video.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

This was our first go at outdoor worship in the parking lot, and we’re learning as we go. Good to see familiar (masked) faces.

July 31, 2020

Outdoor Worship for August 2

I confessed to Council that I skipped the seminary class on preparation for worship in the parking lot. So, we’re still scrambling with details and hoping for cloud cover and low humidity on Sunday morning.

We will worship at 9:00 AM and 10:15 AM. You can park on the east and west sides of the building, on the street, or in the school parking lot. Elders and Deacons will greet you with seating instructions. There will be 12 feet between you and other worshippers. Signing up helps, but we’ll take you any way that feels right to you. See the link below. * If you’ve already signed up for this week’s services, you don’t need to do so again.

Outdoor Worship Signup

Orders of worship will be available, or you can download and print those materials from the links below. There’s also a sermon manuscript. It’s Friday so, not done, but close.

Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript

A video of the service will be available at 2:00 PM on Sunday afternoon. Click on the link below. We hope in the weeks to come that we can provide a live feed, but for this first Sunday, check the link any time after 2:00 PM.

Worship Video
* Available Sunday

We look forward to seeing you.
If you can’t join us – you’ll be in our hearts.

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

July 29, 2020

Outdoor Worship Details

We’re going to gather for worship outdoors at Hope on Sunday, August 2.
Here are some details…

There will be two services: 9:00 AM and 10:15 AM. Parking is available on the sides of the building, the side streets, and at Hille Middle School. The south parking lot will be a grid – with 12 feet between seating spaces. Please wear a mask, bring your own chairs, coffee, and umbrellas for sun. If you don’t have, or can’t carry a chair – don’t worry, we’ll have chairs available. The order of worship will be available as you arrive. It will also be emailed on Friday to print at home or bring on a phone/tablet.

The service will be about 45 minutes; there will be singing and responsive liturgy. We hope you will make a muffled noise unto the Lord. An offering will be received as you leave, and Elders and Deacons will be available to provide directions and answer questions. We will be videotaping one of the services and emailing it out in the early afternoon. We want to welcome all and include all. If the weather is inclement, we will send out an email and post a cancellation notice on the website at 7:00 AM.

This will have a steep learning curve. We welcome all feedback.

It’s helpful for our planning to have a rough estimate of attendance. Please sign up for which service you hope to attend. If you get up on Sunday and the Spirit moves you to join us – don’t let not signing up get in the way. If you’ve signed up and that morning it seems prudent to stay home. No worries. Stay home.

Outdoor Worship Signup

Our desire is to be reunited in worship, but to do so with every precaution and the needs of the community in mind and heart. As gathering in worship is helpful for you – we hope you’ll join us. If it feels like more than you can muster – you have our blessing and love. I’ve been reminded of this passage recently.

“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Colossians 3:12-14

Amen…
Roger Nelson

July 26, 2020

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

In mid-March, as we scrambled to put together a podcast worship service, I never imagined that in late July we’d still be doing the same. But, here we are…

I’m grateful for the way in which these little expressions of worship and proclamation have settled into Hope’s life. I know they’re not easy or snazzy, but I’m grateful for the space you made for them and the encouragement you’ve offered. And, while I know that we lost some of you along the way, we also picked up new listeners from all over the country. I’m grateful for that extension of Hope’s life and witness. (This morning we’re joined by the congregation from Hessel Park CRC – their pastor is on vacation. Welcome, and may God bless you.)

Next week we’re going to try worshipping in Hope’s parking lot – two services, masked, socially distant, and videotaped for those who can’t attend. Again, something I never imagined. Our hope is that, even with the rigmarole and restrictions, you will encounter the Living God among his people and you’ll be encouraged for the living of these days. These outdoor services in August and September will be similar to the podcast in form, content, and feel. And just like the podcasts, we hope that we learn as go. Who knows where we’ll be in a few months?

This morning we’re led by some of Hope’s high school kids and Erin Pacheco, Hope’s Worship Arts Coordinator, is our preacher. This is a delightful service, and Erin is as fine a preacher as she is a musician. (And that’s saying something…)

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

As life has felt unsettled and uncertain, I’ve been reminded that we have life-giving gifts. The practices of liturgy, singing, listening for God’s voice in scripture and sermon, and communal prayer seem essential. The format was forced to change, and podcasts are a cheap substitute for gathered intergenerational worship, but those foundational practices are still sustaining. In podcast and parking lot may those simple practices root you and those you love in the faithful love and boundless mercy of God in Christ.

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

July 22, 2020

Outdoor Worship

Hope Church didn’t close, but not being able to gather for worship was a substantial loss. Corporate worship is the heartbeat of our shared commitment to Christ and his church. Worship is part of how we hold the center of our intergenerational community. While we’ve been the church scattered, we’ve missed being the church gathered.

On Sunday, August 2, we’re going to gather for worship, outdoors, in Hope’s parking lot…

We will offer two services at 9:00 AM and 10:15 AM.
We are eager to be together.
We rest in the promise that when we gather in his name, Jesus is present.

There are churches that are gathering indoors. As we understand it, many are meeting at less than 1/3 of capacity, maintaining masking and physical distance, and offering a shorter service. You may be asking, “Why can’t we do the same? Why outdoors?”

Recent research has demonstrated that coronavirus transmission is 19 times less likely outdoors than indoors, and the guidelines of the state and the CDC encourage remote, drive-up, or outdoor gatherings as preferential to anything indoors. Therefore, Hope’s pastor and Elders, in keeping with the guidance of public health officials and the recommendations from Hope’s team of doctors, administrators, and scientists, voted to gather for worship outdoors. It seems to respect the concerns of the broader community while taking appropriate precautions for the health of friend and neighbor.

So, next week we will send out a sign-up link. This is important to help us manage details and provide a record for contact tracing if anyone later tests positive for the coronavirus. Parking will be available on the east and west sides of the building, at Hille Middle School, and on the side streets. We will gather in the middle of the south parking lot, and there will be some manner of marking to help maintain social distance. We ask that all wear masks.

Greeter/ushers will offer directions, answer questions, and receive offerings after the service. Bathrooms will be available through the sanctuary entrance. We’ll have folding chairs available, but would encourage you to bring your own. Please bring drinks or umbrellas (for shade) or anything else that will help you be comfortable.

There will be no child care available, but we encourage all children to attend. We’ve missed their joy, energy, and all manner of noises. We’ll do the best we can to make the experience accessible for worshippers of all ages. The service will be familiar in format, content, and spirit but shorter and outdoors…

Worshipping outdoors will present new challenges. If the weather is inclement, we will make the decision to cancel by 7:00 AM. That decision will be emailed out and posted on the website. And on those occasions, the preacher and musicians will still gather in the sanctuary to record a podcast for distribution.

We know that this format may be too challenging or simply too weird. We think that the 9:00 AM service will be cooler and more accessible for the elderly. But, we’ll also be videotaping these services that they might be sent out and seen later that day. We want to be inclusive and welcoming to all.

We hope you’ll join us. We hope you’ll bear with us. We’ll learn as we go. If we get any traction in August, we’ll try baptisms and communion in September. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact the pastor or the Elders.

See you in worship in August!

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson
on behalf of Hope’s Elders

July 19, 2020

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Some sermons explore the text – verse by verse. They seek to explain the meaning or mysteries; they try to open up a new window of insight. Some sermons are springboards. They use the text as a jumping off point to explore implications and applications. Some sermons dive deeper into the text and some dive further out. Both start with the text; both are reliant on the Spirit.

The creative process for each sermon is the same. Both require the same reading, reflection, ruminating and writing. I’m never sure which sermon I’m working on until I’m writing. I’m not sure either is a “better” sermon. I’m not sure that either is more “biblical.” So much of it depends on the text, the direction of the wind, and the spirit the preacher brings to the process.

Just in case you’re wondering, this morning’s sermon is more of springboard. I take a phrase and invite your consideration of its implications and applications. I hope it’s helpful. I know that the music and praying in this service were encouraging to this preacher.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Next week, Erin Pacheco is preaching, and some of Hope’s high schoolers are helping lead. It promises to be a wonderful service. The following week, the first Sunday of August, we hope to be gathered for worship outdoors. We are working at ways to do this safely and meaningfully. Our plan is to video those services and make them available later the same day. We’ll send directions and whatnot next week. We’ll see how it goes…

May God bless,
Roger Nelson

July 12, 2020

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

For years we’ve shared in worship and fellowship on Pentecost Sunday with our brothers and sisters from Roseland Christian Ministries. They would load up in buses and vans and come our way. We didn’t go their way. Even on Pentecost this year, they recorded on our podcast platform.

Well, this morning we’re going to Roseland. We’re sharing in their virtual worship experience. Erin Pacheco is Hope’s representative, but we’re their guests. Given all the expressions of the Church of Christ in this world, I’m grateful for our little shared corner this morning. Thanks be to God.

There is a delightful spirit to this service and a fine, fine sermon proclaiming the extravagant grace of God in Christ. You will be blessed and encouraged. The link below will get you to this videoed service. Some of the prayer and liturgy is hard to hear; turn it up and don’t miss a word.

Worship Video

Next week we’ll be back with podcast preaching, music, and liturgy. Next week we’ll have a Children in Worship story. But for today, may we be one in the Spirit with our brothers and sisters in Roseland.

May God bless,
Roger Nelson

July 5, 2020

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis is thick with memorable characters, colorful stories, and the good news of a creating and covenant making God. The gifts and struggles of being human are illumined, the central questions of existence are raised, and the love and grace of God is proclaimed. While Jesus Christ is not named, you can see the seeds and trace the lines that lead to his life, teaching, and redemptive work. Genesis has it all…

This morning we consider another story in Genesis. The text is long and the sermon is longer, but it is such a delightful story and it raises important issues and questions. I pray that the “words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts will be acceptable and pleasing” to God and helpful for you.

I was again struck by the over-abundance of gifts we share at Hope. The voices and cello and honest prayers were quite moving to me as we recorded in an empty sanctuary. Whether you listen by yourself or are gathered together with family, whether you are in your living room or riding a bike, I hope you are moved of spirit and shaped in the mind of Christ as well.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Next week, we are joining our friends and partners at Roseland Christian Ministries for worship. We are going to record with them and use their platform. There won’t be a typical podcast but we’ll share a link to their YouTube channel. We look forward to being united with our brothers and sisters in worship.

Grace to you and peace,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

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,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

Peace,
Roger Nelson

June 7, 2020

Trinity Sunday

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children in Worship Video

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,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children’s Worship Packet
Children in Worship Video

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,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Video
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children’s Worship Packet
Children in Worship Video

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.
You’re essential.

Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children’s Worship Packet
Children in Worship Video

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,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children’s Worship Packet
Children in Worship Video

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,
Roger Nelson

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…

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Hope Around the Table
Children’s Worship Packet
Children in Worship Video

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,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children’s Worship Packet
Children in Worship Video

Peace to you,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children’s Worship Packet
Children in Worship Video

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,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children’s Worship Packet
Children in Worship Video

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!”

Happy Easter,
Roger Nelson

April 10, 2020

Good Friday

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…

Worship Audio
Order of Worship

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,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children’s Worship Packet
Children in Worship Video

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,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children’s Worship Packet
Children in Worship Video

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.

Peace,
Roger Nelson

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.

Worship Audio
Order of Worship
Sermon Manuscript
Children’s Worship Packet
Children in Worship Video

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,
Roger Nelson

March 17, 2020

Update ⚡️

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.

Peace,
Roger Nelson

March 15, 2020

Update ⚡️

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.

Worship Audio

We don’t know how long before we’ll be able to gather again. We hatched this podcast idea over the last couple days. Your feedback would be welcome. We want to offer something that is authentic and provides as much connection as possible through the inter‑webs. Send your ideas to email hidden; JavaScript is required.

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.

Peace,
Roger Nelson

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,
Roger Nelson
on behalf of Hope CRC Council

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