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Newsletter February 3, 2015 New Beginnings at New Hope VOLUME 3, ISSUE 7
Heaven Can Wait

In the 1978 movie, Heaven Can Wait, pro football quarterback Joe Pendleton was accidentally killed and subsequently transported to heaven. It was his "Escort's" first day on the job and he erred by taking Joe's soul too soon, before rites had been administered. Joe's spirit had to be returned to earth where it would inhabit another body, eventually achieving a proper send off.

The Jews of Jesus' time equated heaven with eternal life. Heaven is a place you go in the afterlife, a place where you will dwell with the Lord for all time and beyond time. Jesus had a radically different view. In his prayer for the disciples, he said "And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." --John 17:3. There is no mention of heaven, pearly gates, angel wings or streets paved with gold. If then eternal life is to know God, how is this possible? We can know God only through His Son, by observing the created world and being enlivened by the Holy Spirit, thereby being in full communion with Him. All of the popular descriptions and trappings we connect with life after death don't matter in comparison. Knowing God is communion in the purest sense. This is eternal life. "The glory of God is humanity fully alive". - Irenaeus, 2nd century.
          -- adapted from Adult Bible Study, January 11, 2015.
From the Pastor

The Most Holy Season of the Christian Year begins on Wednesday, February 18th, as we begin the Season of Lent. Lent is a forty day period, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Sunday – Easter. Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The season of Lent is a time of preparation for celebrating Easter. Historically, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts and then became a time for penance by all Christians.

New Hope will celebrate Ash Wednesday on February 18 at 6:30 pm. Ash Wednesday emphasizes a dual encounter: we confront our own mortality and confess our sins before God within the community of faith. The form and content of the service focus on the dual themes of sin and death in the light of god’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ.

The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Christian worship. The Imposition of Ashes can be a powerful nonverbal and experiential way of participating in the call to repentance and reconciliation with God.

Today, as in the past, the heart of Lent is inner penitence and reconciliation with God. Penitential practices encourage inner change. Traditional Lenten practices include: fasting; special commitments; good deeds and almsgiving; prayer and reflection; reading the Bible daily; participation in church worship services; improve our prayer life; volunteer to help others who are less fortunate, to name a few. If you want to begin the read the Bible daily, with a goal to read the entire Bible in one year, I have a Bible reading guide – just let me know.

Blessings, Pastor Sandra

A High Priest

The book of Hebrews proclaims Christ as the Great High Priest. "He was appointed by God to be a high priest in the order of Melchizedek." -- Hebrews 5:10. Melchizedek (Mel-chizz-uh-deck) was king of Salem, probably Jeru(salem), and befriended Abram who was returning from a successful mission to rescue his nephew, Lot. Not only a king, "he was priest of God Most High". - Genesis 14:18. The term "God Most High" is used in ancient times to exalt any god thought to be supreme. Melchizedek worshipped God as maker of heaven and earth. This was long before the time of the levitical priests which began with the formation of the nation Israel. Thus, Melchizedek was appointed priest by God.

Priesthood was an integral part of a highly regulated Jewish society. By the Law of Moses, Jesus Christ could not be a priest. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. All priests had to come from the tribe of Levi. When Israel was divided into the twelve tribes, the tribe of Levi was designated as the one from which the priests would come, the male members of Aaron's family. But Christ must be a priest in order to carry out his special work for God.  So he had to become one by some other rule. Melchizedek was a priest although he was not from the tribe of Levi. It was by that same rule that God appointed Christ to be our Chief Priest.
         -- adapted from Adult Bible Study, January 18, 2015.
What Day is Easter?

According to the English book of Common Prayer, Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon which happens upon, or next after the 21st day of March; and if the full moon happens upon a Sunday, Easter Day is the Sunday after.

Why such an odd definition? March 21 is the vernal equinox – the day on which the length of daylight equals the length of darkness as the days are lengthening in the spring. The traditional Jewish calendar is based on moon phases, which is how the phase of the moon enters into the definition – when they were determining what day Easter would fall on, they deferred to the Jewish practice of using moon phases to decide the timing of holidays. Using this method, Easter can only occur between March 22 and April 25. (from: howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays)

John Fairey (1940 - 2015)

As Christians, we are comforted in the assurance that life with God does not end with our passing from this earth. Yet when someone is suddenly taken who has much left to live for and much more to give, we are overwhelmed with grief. Johnny went into the hospital on December 22, never to return to his ancestral home, his woods and fields, his black river, his cars, his dogs, his friends and his church. We will miss his smiling face, his cheerful spirit and his guiding hand that brought the church through its darkest hour. Let us honor his memory by being the church he envisioned. Goodbye my friend, my cousin, my brother in Christ.
Church Calendar

• February 8. Gideon Society representative, morning worship service.
•  February 8. Administrative Council Meeting, 3 p.m., Fellowship Hall.
•  Wednesday, February 18. Ash Wednesday Service, 6:30 p.m.
•  Sunday, February 22. First Sunday in Lent
•  February Anniversaries. Vance & Terry Boone (12th), Thomas and Henrietta Dukes (26th).