Hope Notes 04/08/2020

April 8, 2020

Dear Friends of Hope ~ Full disclosure:  This is an updated and revamped opening from 2015.  Since this Sunday is Easter I thought it was a good time to revisit it. I’m still curious about the different ways we as believers and the world in general celebrate Christian holidays.  I found some more information and additional verses to add to my original opening………..okay, so I also rewrote a bit of it too; there’s always room for improvement! 
 I’ve been trying to figure out the secular world’s view of Easter.  We have the Easter bunny; Switzerland has a cuckoo and Germany has a fox.  There are the dyed Easter eggs, Easter candy, and of course the colorful Easter baskets.  Then there’s the fact that the date we celebrate changes every year.  I won’t even attempt to explain THAT one, but if you’d like the answer, just click this link: https://amazingbibletimeline.com/blog/why-does-the-date-for-easter-change-every-year/
Most puzzling to me is the rabbit.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe rabbits lay eggs (although the Cadbury bunny would have you think differently!). You can look all these symbols up online and find their meaning.  They mostly celebrate renewal, fertility, and the new life that comes to the earth with spring.  But you won’t find any real correlation to Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Some Christians have tried to show a comparison to how Jesus brings new life, which is true, but for me it feels a little small.  I prefer to celebrate Easter simply for what it really is – a great big celebration of the day that Jesus stepped out of the grave to give the world a sign it could not deny.  He is ALIVE!  For a man to predict His own death and resurrection was something only God could do.  ‘And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.’ (1Cor 15:14) 
The Gospel gives us proof that Jesus did rise from the dead.  There are the many sightings by witnesses; this is just one verse that attests to that – “The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” (Mathew 8:25-26) We see the stone rolled away “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” (Luke 24:2-3).  As we prepare to celebrate Easter this Sunday, we can give thanks to God that our faith is not in vain and that Jesus Christ was indeed raised for us!  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)

Message – Why Easter? (Romans 5:12, 21)
Easter is such a wonderful celebration!  For many, it is a day of family and friends as well as food and fun.  For Christians, it is a celebration of the greatest miracle of all time and the event that changed us to our very souls.  So, for anyone who doesn’t know what we’re talking about, we’re going to answer this question today: Why Easter?  Why was it needed?  Why is it important? And how can something that happened thousands of years ago have any real effect on my life today?  We’re going to read a few words from one of Jesus’ followers known as the Apostle Paul.  And then we’ll see that perhaps we didn’t realize how big of a deal Easter really is!

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have because God has said, Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

We are planning a special online live event on Good Friday at 6:00 pm. In place of our normal Good Friday service, we’ll go live from church with a shortened service that includes the story of Good Friday from the book of John as well as a little bit of music.  We’re also inviting each family / individual to have some kind of bread (or cracker) and juice available to participate in communion together.  We’ll have a time during the service to gather those elements (maybe the kids in the house can be assigned that task when the moment comes) and then we’ll use the bread and cup to remember the sacrifice of our Lord.  Join us that evening as we commemorate the price Jesus paid for us.

Every Monday through Friday Pastor Mark & Dave will be publishing short devotional thoughts on our new podcast, Hope Daily. They are available for listening on our website, Spotify, and coming soon to Apple podcasts! Please note this is a separate account from our regular Hope Christian Fellowship podcast where you can find our normal Sunday sermons and Wednesday night bible studies. 

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BIBLE STUDY LIVE STREAMING ON FACEBOOK @ 7:00 pJust because we can’t meet together in person, we can still ‘be together’ in our own homes as we tune in and listen to Pastor Mark!  We’ll be continuing on in our study of Ephesians.  Don’t miss this opportunity to stay connected and hear God’s Word.FELLOWSHIP 
Please Note:  There is no Youth Group Zoom this week!

YA GAME NIGHT – Tuesday, April 14th @ 8:00 pm
Dave Hallahan is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 104 933 823

SMALL GROUPS  f your small group is still hoping to meet, we have some resources that may be of use to you!
Zoom – This is a great video conferencing app that you can use on your phone or computer. The free version does limit to 40 minute calls.
Google Hangouts – Another great video conferencing app. This limits to 10 users at a time.
In addition to these apps that allow you to see each other, Mark has continued to post our Small Group Study Sheets. If you are looking for something else you could check out one of the following free video based small group studies. Everyone in your small group could watch separately and then you join a video call to discuss. 
Anthology – This is free year round, so check it out and bookmark it.
RightNow Media – This is normally subscription base, but they have made several of their studies available during this time.
If you have any questions, need help, or are looking for ideas other than what is listed here please contact  Dave at dave@hopechristianfellowship.org

Please Note: There will be no HopeKids! Hangout this Friday due to the Good Friday Service.
On the HopeKids! MinistryFacebook page we have formed two new groups for parents to join!  Our HopeKids! WonderZone group is for our 0-5 year old families, and our HopeKids! GoZone group is for our K-5th grade families.  If you haven’t already be sure to ‘Like’ HopeKids Ministries on Facebook and then request to JOIN the group(s) below to follow all of our curriculum postings!  
HopeKids! WonderZone (0-5yr) Facebook Group
HopeKids! GoZone (K-5th) Facebook Group

HopeKids! Ministries will be doing our best to stay connected to our HopeKids! families.  We will be posting videos of our regular Sunday Worship, Lesson, and Scriptures for the WonderZone and GoZone every weekend.  The GoZone! will also include an attachment of activities that parents can do with their kids that go along with the lesson!

In the WonderZone, our goal is to post the weekly Worship, Lesson, and Bible verse video every SUNDAY.  We will also be having a follow up activity/video with Miss Kara on THURSDAY afternoons.  Additionally, there will be DAILY resources posted on the HopeKids! WonderZone group page to provide activities your family can participate in to revisit the weekly lesson!

The GoZone will be hosting ZOOM small group meetings on Tuesday nights.  The K-5th girls will be meeting from 6:55-7:25 and the K-5th guys will be meeting from 7:30-8:00.  The link to the meeting will be posted on Facebook.   On Friday nights ALL K-5th graders are invited to join us for HopeKids! Hangout from 7:00-7:45 on ZOOM.  

Please feel to contact Kara May (karajoellxo@gmail.com) or Matt Russell (mattrussell@hopechristianfellowship.org) at any time with questions, concerns, or needs you may have! We want to support you and encourage you through this difficult time, and we are here for you!ANNOUNCEMENTSLIVE STREAM 
Our live streams are now also available on our website.  Anyone can go to our website and watch our Sunday Services or any other live stream from our church by simply going to our website (www.hopechristianfellowhip.org) and clicking on ‘view live stream’.  This means we can share our church services to anyone – even people without Facebook or YouTube accounts. 

This new normal is going to be a challenge for our church financially.  For the month of March, we averaged $8275 per week bringing our annual average down to $8862.  Our target for the year is $9400 per week, but that included some planned savings, so our actual deficit is less than you would think by looking at our target and our averages.  However, we averaged $9283 per week through 3/8 and only $7460 per week from 3/15 onward.  Part of our giving trend is due to people losing employment or hours, and we’re praying for God’s provision and watch care over your lives.  So we’ll ask all who can to be faithful in giving – either online or through mail.  
In addition, we received over $700 towards our benevolent fund with the desire to help out those who find themselves in financial need.  Thank you Hopers for your generosity and kindness.  If anyone is in physical or financial need, contact our Needs Team at needs@hopechristianfellowship.org and we’ll do whatever we can do to help.
Lastly, our special projects giving now totals $65,215 bringing us to our target of $65,000.  We are so grateful for all the ways our church family has supported the needed HVAC projects.  We are going to have a discussion as a church family when we are able to do so.  This discussion will include accountability for where this money has been / will be spent.  It will also include information on Phase 2 of our HVAC needs.  We were planning to have that meeting on 4/1, but we’ll find a time to meet when the situation allows. 

GIVING TO HOPE While we are not meeting in person, you all have proven in many ways that church is still very much happening. Your response to donating for our food pantry and your commitment to connection have truly been a blessing.
As a church, we also continue to have bills to pay. So we ask that you be as faithful as you can be in giving to Hope. We have updated our online giving categories to better reflect where our money is going. These additions include our benevolent fund which is being used to help meet the tangible needs of our Hope family during this time.  If you are currently in need (food, financial, or otherwise) don’t hesitate to reach out to needs@hopechristianfellowship.org.
Listed below are some ways to give:
1.  ONLINE GIVING – Visit hopechristianfellowship.org and click ‘give online’.
2.  TEXT-TO-GIVE –    609-251-4223
3.  MAIL A CHECK –    246 King St. Woodbury, NJ  08096

Now more than ever it’s important that we are able to stay connected with each other.  We can have access to the entire church directory on our laptops or on our phones through the app.  We’re better able to connect if we are all participating in the directory.  To sign up, simply contact Emily at emilydilorenzo@hopechristianfellowship.org and she will get you set up!

 If you’re looking for ways to help Seed of Hope,check out the following:
1.Drop-off one case of water and/or individual packaged snacks (like cheese crackers, granola/protein bars, trail mix, etc.) in bulk to the following locations:
Seeds of Hope Ministries, 1700 S. Broadway, Camden, NJ 08104
Contact Percy Carter at carterpercy68@gmail.com or 856-209-8005 before coming to make sure someone will be here to receive it. 
OR Seeds of Hope, 1 W. Walnut Avenue, Merchantville, NJ 08109
Contact Rebecca Bieber at rebecca@seedsofhopeministries. org or 609-304-6748 before coming.

2.As a family, together and make sandwiches(turkey & cheese, beef bologna & cheese)…place them in individual sandwich bags and drop them off to:
Seeds of Hope Ministries, 1700 S. Broadway, Camden, NJ 08104
 Please contact Percy Carter at carterpercy68@gmail.com or 856-209-8005 before you come.  

We at Hope would like to reach out to your loved ones who are in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, hospitals, or just ill and shut in alone at home by sending them a nice note or a cheery card.  You can email Lorraine Otis at otislorraine20@gmail.com with names and addresses of those who would enjoy a card.  If anyone would like be on a list of volunteers sending these notes and cards, please email your name to Lorraine as well.  

If you or anyone you know is facing the loss of their job, Governor Murphy recently posted this helpful information:
Businesses across New Jersey are looking to hire THOUSANDS OF WORKERS, including those who lost their jobs or have had hours reduced as a result of COVID-19. Check out this link in order to help with your job search:  https://jobs.covid19.nj.gov

The Tomb is Empty!