Hope Notes 12/15/2021

December 15, 2021

Hello Hoper ~
     Vulnerability Alert:  A few weeks ago in my opening paragraph, I made a reference to my conflicted feelings about the Christmas season.  After some prayer (and a lot of hesitation), I thought maybe I would share with you a testimony of God’s grace and mercy.  Let me preface it by saying it is not a ‘poor me’ story, but rather one that is simply bears witness to His great love for us. Sometimes we cannot share the good that God has done without revealing the other side of the coin.
     Imagine if you will growing up in a dysfunctional home where holidays were not something to be celebrated and enjoyed, but dreaded.  Especially Christmas.  Imagine a little girl having to be forced to come downstairs on Christmas morning, her stomach in knots, knowing what was ahead. Eventually that little girl grew up and moved away.  She met her husband, but most importantly, met Jesus.  That is when Christmas took on new meaning as an actual celebration of Jesus’ birth.  The meaningless and stressful holidays of years past began to be seen only in the rear view mirror.  Yes, that little girl is me and I will tell you that God lovingly gave me my OWN family to bring healing and restoration for all those Christmases past. He began erasing and replacing all those painful memories.  He is so gracious and so good.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”Isaiah 65:17 says “The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”  And finally, Joel 2:25 assures us that God will “restore to you the years the locusts have eaten“.  All these promises and more are true. 
     In full disclosure I admit my flesh still struggles with some of the scars left on my heart during the holiday season but our Lord has fully redeemed Christmas day for me.  The day has meaning because it is a celebration of Jesus’ birth and JOY because of the family God has given me to celebrate with. So, let me tell you this – if there is a place in your heart that is hurting (for whatever reason), I hope my little tale of His loving care brings encouragement to you. He cared enough to bring the true meaning of Christmas into my little girl heart and to give me a safe haven within my family.  He is faithful.  His ‘heavenly eraser’ will soften the edges and blur the hurtful places in your life. He is the source of the ‘peace that passes understanding’ (Philippians 4:7)
Ready to Celebrate His Birth – Lois

Waiting to Worship and Wonder (Matthew 2:1-11)
GoZone Christmas Program

Christmas is THIS WEEK! Part of what makes it so meaningful is the wonder that surrounds it.  We are often so jaded that we miss the moments that can gather our attention toward the profound and what moves us deeply.  This morning we’ll enjoy our elementary kids program and then we’ll look at a part of the first Christmas story that reflects both the wonder and worship of Jesus’ birth. As we wait for Christmas, we can feel the anticipation of the look on a loved one’s face when they see the surprise we have prepared for them.  We can be filled with eagerness for a candlelit Christmas Eve service and the notes of a well-loved Christmas Carol filling the room. But the root of all this wonder is a baby born that stirred both wonder and worship in some foreigners who traveled far to meet the newborn King. Let’s see their story again and remind ourselves why we worship!

Jeremiah 33:3
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

If you’ve been following along with the Hope bible reading plan, we’re ending the year on 1&2 Corinthians. Stay tuned for more information about our plan for 2022! 

Join us Sunday mornings at 8:00 in Pastor Mark’s office to pray for that morning’s services. Contact Bob Baumiester for more information (rbaumiester@gmail.com).    ANNOUNCEMENTS
We hope that your whole family will join us for a candlelit Christmas Eve service next Friday! Each service will be less than an hour long and include scripture reading, songs, and a candle lighting (with glowsticks for our kids!) 

CHRISTMAS CANTATA: 12/26 at Both Services
There are times when God leads us to places that seem impossible to reach and calls us to do what seems impossible to do. Our Christmas choir will be performing a cantata entitled “Almost There” and you won’t want to miss it. Come out and experience the awe and wonder of Christmas as Mary and Joseph did many years ago. We pray that this unique take on a familiar story will draw you closer to the expectation of Christ’s birth and the angel’s joyful song of His miraculous arrival. Please note we will not be live-streaming this service.

Hope Staff is looking for willing hearts & hands who have an hour available to serve during the following times: Tuesday or Wednesday afternoons or Saturday evenings. If this sounds like something you could do, sign-up in the lobby and we will contact you with more information. Any questions about volunteering can be directed to Emily DiLorenzo at emily@hopechrsitianfellowship.org

BIBLE STUDY: Do I Have To Live Stressed Out?
Coming Wednesday Nights starting January 5th from 7-8pm 

You may know someone who lives stressed out, and there’s a pretty good possibility that person is you. As we start the New Year, we’d like to invite you to explore with us whether or not we are doomed to live forever overwhelmed by stress.  Does being a Christian have any impact on how we walk in stressful situations?  Can we discover truths in Scripture that help us see clearly on what a faith approach means to the uncertainties and pressures of life?  We’ll look at some of God’s promises and explore ten lies that trip us up and cause us to get lost in stress. Join us in person or via livestream each week. A workbook will be available for everyone who signs up to help us keep track of what we’re learning and help us put it into practice. Don’t miss out on this transformative study, and make every effort to join us in person for the best possible experience! Sign-up in the lobby now and to ensure you receive a workbook! 

SMALL GROUPS: Launching January!
We already have 5 small groups kicking off this January! To view all the details and sign-up click here. Plus more will be forming and you can start your own. Contact Pastor Dave for more information at dave@hopechristianfellowship.org
Join us Tuesday, 12/21 at 7:30 for some Christmas food and fun! Bring a $10 (or less) White Elephant Gift. Invite friends – the more the merrier!

CHRISTMAS PARTY: This Sunday 6-8:00p
For the last youth group of the year, Hope Youth is having a Christmas party! Wear your favorite Christmas PJs and get ready to enjoy some holiday themed games and treats! We will also be doing a white elephant gift exchange! The spending cap is $5 so we are encouraging our students to get silly, and creative! Hope to see you there! 

There will be no Youth Group 12/26 or 1/2 – Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!


Parents, stay up to date with everything happening by adding the Hope Youth Google calendar to your own! Click here to view

The GoZone Christmas program, “Secret of Snowflake County,” will be performed on Sunday, December 19th at both services. Rehearsal is this Saturday at 11:30. Contact Pastor Ryan at ryanmoreno@hopechristianfellowship.org with any questions. Just a reminder, this service will not be live-streamed (due to privacy & copyright issues) however, Pastor Mark’s message will be posted to Facebook & YouTube later in the day.