Sunday, November 13, 2005

Reflections from church today

1. Sixteen year old Anthony Liatsis led worship at New Hope's third service, consistently the largest of the three, with 250-300 attending. Once a month for four or five months, the youth band has led worship at the second service, but this was the first time, to my knowledge, that Anthony led in the third service. He did a fabulous job. Why is this noteworthy? Because the myth that young people are the future is being shaken in New York City churches, and those that embrace and empower young people to "serve the purposes of God in their generation" are experiencing transformation. Kudos to New Hope for modeling what empowerment looks like in our city. 2. Pastor Teresa McPhail preached a great message on dealing with the crises of life by contrasting two Old Testament women, Deborah and Naomi, contemporaries who responded to hardship very differently. When famine hit Israel, Naomi and her husband took their boys and fled to a foreign country. Within ten years, her husband and two sons had all died; she had changed her name from Naomi, which means pleasant and joyful, to Mara, or "bitter"; and she returned to Israel because bread had come back to her homeland. Deborah on the other hand responded to crises by defying conventions, breaking molds, and fighting. At a time when women "knew their place," she arose to serve as a judge, a prophet, and a warrior. She was steady, wise, discerning, and willing to fight, and under her leadership, Israel overthrew the oppressors who had caused the famine by plundering the nation. 3. Pastor T took a 5 minute detour to Psalm 22:4-5 to exhort the congregation not to give up:

In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
Her encouragement was for me.


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