I hope you are having another safe and healthy week with your loved ones. It's been encouraging to hear from some of you about your experiences and activities. Many are finding ways to make positive memories of these days and care for family and friends in intentional ways, Keep those stories coming. We love hearing them and sharing them.
We find ourselves in the most unusual Holy Week of our lives and one that will mark our memories for a lifetime. Unusual, obviously, because of the global pandemic and the measures and changes we have endured stemming the tide of this virus. But also unusual because this year, more than any other, we share a common experience of loss. Loss of family gatherings as we planned, loss of travel, loss of events and experiences, loss of traditions. Some are more painful than others but all are only temporary. And of course, we don't want the season to be remembered for what we didn't have. We strive to find ways to make the memory of this Easter unique and special unto itself. Yet, we do have a unique opportunity to understand this holy week and the work of Christ through the lens of our common loss. Simply pushing the loss and pain aside or denying it will not work. We first acknowledge it's reality and its effects. Only then can we celebrate the joy of our freedom and restoration of it. God's people have for centuries used this week as a way to explore the loss that the passion presents, to fathom the depths to which Christ was willing to go in order to get us back to himself. Without that process, we aren't really captivated but the thrill of the resurrection and what that means for our world and lives. Now, of course, it's trite to compare our pandemic losses to the suffering of Christ but it does give us a vital access point to think and feel his sacrifice in new and powerful ways, which lead to gratitude, joy, and anticipation of being a part of how he is bringing resurrection to our lives and his world.
I hope you will consider taking part in the two live stream services we have this week. The first is tomorrow evening at 7 pm and of course the second is our Easter morning service at 10 am. I'm attaching the bulletins for both the Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In addition, the link for both of the live stream services is below as well. Click on the link and then click on the service date and time you are desiring to be a part of.
Since everyone is "enjoying" the opportunity to be with those who know us best more regularly, I wanted to offer a resource on deepening communication during the quarantine.Communication is difficult under normal circumstances. Under our current conditions of close proximity and elevated fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, communication can be a minefield of conflict. But with the grace of Christ, it can be a season to practice new and flourishing habits and motives,
One of Hanover Valley's chief focal points of mission has been to seek the peace and prosperity of our community through love and service in all aspects of life. We can actually help this along while we spend our time staying at home. Our Mainstreet Hanover community development organization is gathering data about our community, it's growth and people's impression through an online survey. If you have some time please take a moment to give them your thoughts and ideas.
Although the growth groups within the church are not meeting publically or face to face many are meeting regularly through zoom for interaction, encouragement, prayer and Bible discussion. If you are not connected to a group consider using this time of quarantine to explore some new faces and enjoy some human contact so vital to our lives.
We love you and are praying for you. If the session, Noah or I can be of any help or encouragement, if we can be in touch with you or if you need anything we are happy to come to you or to call. Please take the initiative to reach out to folks in your lives, church, and community to share needs and prayer concerns and encouragements.
Link for Live Stream:
I've included another music file from a talented musician I actually know. She is gifted and creative and I hope you find this as inspiring as I do. Nothing speaks like music.
Noah and the session and I love you all. We are reaching out to everyone where we are able each week. If you need anything, if your fears and anxiety rise, if you desire some contact, if you have some concerns for prayer or good news to share please do not hesitate to contact us or each other. We are praying that the Lord who knows all that is uncertain to us and who guides the course of our days for his glory and our benefit, that he will give you peace and confidence and hope to enjoy and pass to others.
HANOVER VALLEY BULLETIN
Little child, for you Jesus Christ has come, he has fought, he has suffered. For you, he entered the shadow of Gethsemane and the horror of Calvary. For you, he uttered the cry “It is finished!” For you, he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and there he intercedes—for you, little child, even though you do not know it. But in this way the word of the Gospel becomes true. ‘We love him because he first loved us.’ - Baptismal Prayer French Reformed Church
Call to Worship
Song of Christ
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
How deep the Father’s love for us, How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father the turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen one
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the man upon the cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life,
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no pow’r, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom.
Corporate Prayer of Confession
O Lord, not one day of my life has passed that has not proved me guilty in Your sight. My prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart; praise has been often a praiseless sound; my best services are filthy rags. Blessed Jesus, though
my sins rise to heaven Your merits soar above them; though unrighteousness weighs me down to hell, Your righteousness exalts me to Your throne. All things in me call for my rejection. All things in You plead my acceptance. I appeal from the throne of perfect justice to Your throne of boundless grace. Grant me to hear Your voice assuring me that by Your stripes I am healed, that You were bruised for my iniquity, that You have been made sin for me that I might be righteousness to You, that my grievous sins are forgiven, buried in the ocean of Your concealing blood. I am guilty, but pardoned, lost but saved, wandering but found, sinning but cleansed. Give me perpetual broken-heartedness. Keep me always clinging to Your Cross. Flood me every moment with descending grace. In the name of Your only Son, I pray. Amen.
Private Confession Words of Encouragement
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds, we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Song of Preparation Once Again Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice. You became nothing, poured out to death. Many times I’ve wondered at Your gift of life, And I’m in that place once again. I’m in that place once again.
Chorus: And once again I look upon the cross where You died. I’m humbled by Your mercy, and I’m broken inside. Once again, I thank You. Once again, I pour out my life.
Now You are exalted to the highest place. King of the heavens, where one day I’ll bow. But for now, I marvel at this saving grace, And I’m full of praise once again. I’m full of praise once again. Chorus
Scripture Sermon - Isaiah 53: 5-6 Death on a Friday Afternoon Song of the Cross At the Cross Oh Lord, You’ve searched me. You know my way. Even when I fail You, I know You love me. Your holy presence, surrounding me. In every season, I know You love me. I know You love me. Chorus: At the cross, I bow my knee, Where Your blood was shed for me. There’s no greater love than this. You have overcome the grave. Your glory fills the highest place. What can separate me now? You go before me. You shield my way. Your hand upholds me. I know You love me. I know You love me. Chorus Bridge: You tore the veil, You made a way, When You said that it is done. You tore the veil, You made a way, when You said that it is done. And when the earth fades, falls from my eyes, And You stand before me, I know You love me, I know You love me. Chorus
Seven Last Words of Christ It was the third hour when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Luke 23:32-34)
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19: 25-27)
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,’” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46)
Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. (John 19:28-29)
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)
Tonight we celebrate a Service of Tenebrae, which is an ancient tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. Tenebrae is a Latin word for Darkness or Shadows. During the service, we will follow the dark road that Christ walked to bear our brokenness and sin. We meditate, through scripture and song, upon the events of the death of our Savior, helping us to prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Sunday morning. The room becomes darker as we progress and we exit in silence.