December 21, 2017

Hey people of Hope,
 
I reflected on a breaking and entering incident at my childhood home on Christmas Eve one year. The man allegedly entered through the back door of our house. I remember hearing a fuss …… a door slam and then my dad yelling “There he goes!” My sister and I ran out of our bedrooms to see what was going on. Evidently a portly bearded man in black boots donning gay apparel snuck in our back door because we didn’t have a chimney for him to slide down. My dad tried to tackle him in our living room after the man announced having candy for children. Immediately we knew it was Santa Claus and shouted out with glee. We ran to the window and saw a couple of fresh boot prints in the snow as hard evidence that someone in our house had run out the back door. We couldn’t believe it! Santa was in our house!! Sound ridiculous? In debate, sometimes Atheists equate faith in Jesus with belief in Santa to show how Christians suspend reason when we embrace Jesus as though His virgin birth, resurrection and promise of heaven are a fairy tale. I don’t know too many people who would swear under the penalty of death that they spent time with Santa and saw reindeer pulling him in his sleigh - but most of the apostles died refusing to deny having seen Him alive. Listen to how Luke’s gospel begins, “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-4) At least my folks eventually admitted they played a hoax on us……the apostles did no such thing, most paid their lives when they stuck to their eyewitness accounts.
 
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE TIMES
Can you believe Christmas is already upon us! We’ll have only one morning service at 9:00 am and two Christmas Eve services; One at 4:00 pm and one at 6:00 pm. The morning service will feel similar to our normal Sunday services while the evening will be focused more on a special candlelight experience. I would highly encourage you to invite someone to join you on Christmas Eve, especially for an evening service. Lots of singing and a clear focus on God’s love for us by sending Jesus.
 
NEWCOMERS LUNCH – January 7th  
Join Jeff and I for a lunch and discussion about Hope Fellowship after the 2nd service on January 7th. This is for anyone who is interested in getting to know us and learn about the church a little more. We’ll also explain membership in case you’re wondering about that. Childcare is available for this. Mark your connection card this Sunday or email Jeff to let us know you’ll be there. jeffsmith@hope-fellowship.net
 
WOMEN’S STUDY – January 9th     
Ladies! A great way to start the year with a perspective of health with a study called Made to Crave.  Meetings will take place on Tuesdays at two different times with childcare included. Mornings from 9:30-11:00 am and Evenings from 7:00-8:30 pm. Don’t forget to mark your connection card this Sunday.
 
MEN’S GROUP – January 9th
Join me for a 10-week study called STEPPING UP – A Call to Courageous Manhood. In a culture intent on defacing true masculinity, this study lays the foundation for men to think through what it truly means to be a man. Older men, step up and bring a young man with you! We’ll be meeting on Tuesdays at 7:00. Email me back to let me know you’ll be there!
 
See you soon,
Ben