Come celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Risen King, with us at New Hope Christian Church in Rockland County, NY. Our Easter Sunday church service begins at 11 o’clock. Free child care is offered.
If you can come early, we have an pot luck breakfast that everyone is invited to beginning at 9:30 in our fellowship hall. After the service ends, at about 12:30, we have an outdoor Easter egg hunt for kids with treats in every egg and prizes for children (weather permitting).
You are invited to join us for worship on April 20.
James, our pianist, has gone away to college in Virginia, so we are looking for a Christian pianist as soon as possible!
The pay rate is $120-$150 per month ($30 per week), and we can provide transportation to and from church.
Rehearsal is Sunday mornings starting at about 9:20, and the church service itself gets out by 12:30 p.m.
We need a pianist who can play hymns and contemporary songs with an ensemble led by KateLynne Hahn, as well as incidental music during the service such as prelude, offertory, doxology, and so on.
If you’re interested, we would love to hear from you: please call the church at (845) 356-2031, and press 2 to speak to Pastor Phillip. This is especially a great opportunity for Nyack College students who want a church home and a place to minister with their musical talents during the school year.
Beginning June 9, our opening Psalm will be 22:1-12, to the tune “Horsley“:
My God, my God, O why have You
Forsaken me? O why
Are You so far from giving help
And from my groaning cry?
By day and night, my God, I call;
Your answer still delays.
And yet You are the Holy One
Who dwells in Israel’s praise.
Our fathers put their trust in You;
From You their rescue came.
They begged You and You set them free;
They were not put to shame.
But as for me, I am a worm
And not a man at all.
To men I am despised and base;
Their scornings on me fall.
All those who look at me will laugh
And cast reproach at me.
Their mouths they open wide: they wag
Their heads in mockery.
“The lord was his reliance once;
Now see what God will send.
Yes, let God rise and set him free,
This man that was His friend.”
You took me from my mother’s womb
To safety at the breast.
Since birth when I was cast on You
In You, my God, I rest.
Be not far off, for grief is near,
And none to help is found;
For bulls of Bashan in their strength
Now circle me around.
Last month in my pastoral letter “Don’t Leave Any Praise Out,” I wrote about how the whole Psalter praises God, even the songs of lament and sadness. For four weeks beginning June 9, our opening psalm will be just such a lament, Psalm 22:1-12:
My God, my God, O why have You Forsaken me? O why Are You so far from giving help And from my groaning cry? By day and night, my God, I call; Your answer still delays. And yet You are the Holy One Who dwells in Israel’s praise.
Our fathers put their trust in You; From You their rescue came. They begged You and You set them free; They were not put to shame. But as for me, I am a worm And not a man at all. To men I am despised and base; Their scornings on me fall.
All those who look at me will laugh And cast reproach at me. Their mouths they open wide: they wag Their heads in mockery. “The Lord was his reliance once; Now see what God will send. Yes, let God rise and set him free, This man that was His friend.”
You took me from my mother’s womb To safety at the breast. Since birth when I was cast on You In You, my God, I rest. Be not far off, for grief is near, And none to help is found; For bulls of Bashan in their strength Now circle me around.
I’m sure there are times when all of us can relate to how David felt when he wrote that. As we open our worship with Psalm 22, we remember that we are united in Christ to brothers and sisters around the world who are feeling that way on any given day. Maybe you yourself wake up on Sunday morning feeling abandoned by God, unable to cope, overwhelmed by grief or worry, or else strained and unhappy in your relationships and equally estranged from God. Perhaps there’s bitterness in your heart toward yourself or others that is choking the love.
No matter how we feel, we come to church and lay our joys and our cares at Jesus’ feet in worship every Sunday. The times in life when we feel farthest away from God or feel the least love for him are the times we need him most. We praise him, confess our sins to him, and find refreshment in the promise that he has forgiven us for Christ’s sake. We remind ourselves of all that God has done for us in the past and all that awaits us in the new creation. Sunday is a new beginning! That’s basically what David is doing in Psalm 22: drawing near to God when he feels farthest away from him.
But do you also realize that the opening words to Psalm 22 are the last words of the Lord Jesus as he was dying upon the cross (Matthew 27:46)? He quoted this psalm because he was experiencing the very thing it speaks of as he died and underwent the wrath of God so that we, his people, would never have to. What wonders! As we begin our worship with Psalm 22, we remind ourselves of what Jesus experienced in order to make us part of his people and to allow us to come into the presence of God with a song of thanks and praise on our lips. With the cross in view, what better call to all God’s people to come, sing, worship?
This Sunday, we will begin our worship with Psalm 146 in the Trinity Psalter, set to the tune “Ripley.”
Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah!
O my soul, Jehovah praise!
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Put no confidence in princes,
Nor for help on man depend;
He shall die, to dust returning,
And his purposes shall end.
Happy is the man that chooses
Jacob’s God to be his aid;
He is blessed whose hope of blessing
On the lord his God is stayed.
He has made the earth and heaven,
Seas and all that they contain;
He will keep His truth forever,
Rights of those oppressed maintain.
Food Jehovah gives the hungry,
Sight Jehovah gives the blind,
Freedom gives he to the pris’ner,
Cheer to those bowed down in mind.
Well Jehovah loves the righteous
To the stranger is a stay,
Helps the fatherless and widow,
But subverts the sinner’s way.
Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah!
O my soul, Jehovah praise!
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Over all god reigns forever,
Through all ages He is King;
Unto Him, thy God, O Zion,
Joyful hallelujahs sing.
The Hebrew name for the book of Psalms is Tehilim, which means praises, and that is interesting when you consider that some of the Psalms would never be accepted as the lyrics of praise songs by many congregations today.
Have you read Psalm 88 recently? The first stanza (vv. 1-2) probably wouldn’t raise any eyebrows:
O Lord, God of my salvation;
I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!
But beginning in v. 3 the lyric turns grim:
For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
The psalmists (the sons of Korah) maintain this dark tone and subject matter straight through to the end of the Psalm. The last verse is this:
You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.
Where are all the hallelujahs and lines about God being our rock and hiding place, awesome and glorious, waiting for him to fill our hearts, fill this place, and so forth? In Psalm 88, we end with a man alone, in darkness, on the verge of death—and it’s all God’s fault. Some praise!
I hope you have realized, though, that the man is not actually alone. The whole Psalm is about him making his complaint and his appeal to God: Every day I call upon you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you. Here he is spreading out his hands again. He knows God hasn’t really abandoned him, and he isn’t going to abandon God either. That’s why he opens the Psalm by addressing God as the God of my salvation and asking him to incline your ear to my cry.
The Psalms were the church hymnbook of Israel. The lyrics of all the Psalms, including laments like Psalm 88, prompted the people of Israel to come to God with all their experiences and all their emotions, good and bad, to lay their whole lives and all their concerns before the Holy One of Israel. None of their life is hidden from God. None of it is held back. We must also remember that as they continued their praise, the cumulative message of the whole Psalter would also shape their understanding of their place in the world and their expectations about how God would act in the future, decisively to save his people from all their troubles.
What I want to impress upon you is simply this: praise is more than good feelings and more than celebration; sometimes praise is downcast and downbeat. Laments have their place in the praises of God’s people, individually and as a body. When trouble comes and your soul is cast down within you, don’t leave any praise out—go to God in that condition and express it to him, trusting that he hears, he is good, and he will do what is right.
A lament may be right for today, but the Psalms also teach us to expect a coming day of never-ending celebration. The Psalter ends with a call for everything that has breath to praise the Lord, and the day is quickly coming in which that call shall be heard and come true.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Th at which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes fr om or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ( John 3:1-8)
Have you been born again?
You say you’ve been baptized? That’s good.
You’re a member of the church? Excellent!
You believe in Jesus, go to church regularly, tithe, read the Bible, pray, and work at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving? All well and good.
But have you been born again?
“Born Again Christian” has sometimes been used as a way to put down evangelicals, making us out to be “holy rollers,” or what used to be called “enthusiasts,” Christians who are too excitable, too emotional, unbalanced, probably not very smart. That’s how many people think of born again Christians, including many pastors and members of mainline and non-evangelical denominations and churches. Jesus makes it very clear, however, that unless you have been born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus asks him the very sensible question, how can you possibly be born again?
The answer to that question is simple: you can’t—except by a supernatural spiritual miracle from God.
You can’t go back into your mother’s womb a second time and be born once more as an act of will. A dead person also can’t come back to life as an act of will. But Jesus can call the spiritually dead person back to life, and that awakening or regeneration (“new birth”) is what takes place when you are born again. Of course, when you are born again, you are not aware that this is happening. Some people will have an “ah ha!” moment of conversion when they are born again that they will always remember. But not everyone will have an experience like that, at least not one they can pinpoint. Nevertheless, everyone who has been born again will have a telltale mark that can never be erased:
A sense of sin and unworthiness that leads us to cling in loving gratitude to Jesus Christ as the only one who has secured our pardon and accomplished all that is necessary for our salvation.
Do you have it? It’s called saving faith. If you do have it, you can thank God for it, because it’s a gift from him to you. It is that supernatural spiritual miracle I mentioned before. God gave you a gift by sending his Son to die for your sins. Since Christ had already died for you, he applied that gift to you by calling you back to life, so that you will live forever. The first inward sign of the new birth to the person who has been born again is saving faith, which always accompanies the spiritual new birth itself.
Other articles inside the full issue
Report on Baby Bottle Boomerang and Kenya drought relief
New “Show Me Jesus” curriculum in Children’s Church
Nursery church begins for 2s and 3s
Upcoming street fairs, litter pick-up events, and work day
Beginning April 14, our new opening Psalm from the Trinity Psalter will be Psalm 19:1-6 (lyrics below). The lyrics are based on the Book of Psalms (1871) and The Psalter (1912) and set to the tune “Columbia.” Read the lyrics, understand them, compare them to Psalm 19 in your Bible, and come lift your voice to the High King of Heaven.
The spacious heav’ns declare
The glory of our God;
The firmament displays
His handiwork abroad;
Day unto day doth utter speech,
And night to night doth knowledge teach.
Aloud they do not speak;
They utter forth no word,
Nor into language break;
Their voice is never heard;
Yet through the world their line extends,
Their words to earth’s remotest ends.
In heav’n He set a tent
A dwelling for the sun,
Which as a mighty man
Delights his course to run.
He, bridegroomlike in his array,
Comes from his chamber, bringing day.
His daily going forth
Is from the end of heav’n:
The firmament to him
Is for his circuit giv’n;
And everywhere from end to end,
His radiate heat he doth extend.
Our new opening Psalm from March 10 through April 7 will be Trinity Psalter Psalm 25:1-7 set to the tune Trentham (“Breathe on Me, Breath of God”).
In this Psalm, David feels weak and vulnerable to the many people who want to see him ruined. Yet, he knows that he belongs to God, and he commits himself into God’s hands asking God to show him tenderness and mercy. He asks God to forgive his sins, and he affirms that he will wait for God to act to deliver him. Make this your song and your prayer, because even if many people are not trying to destroy you as they were David, you are still faced with obstacles, difficulties, and upsets in your life. Commit yourself to God and wait for his salvation.
To Thee I lift my soul,
O LORD, I trust in Thee,
My God; let me not be ashamed
Nor foes exult o’er me.
Yea, none that wait on Thee
Shall be ashamed at all;
But those that wantonly transgress,
Upon them shame shall fall.
Show me Thy ways, O LORD;
Thy paths, O teach Thou me,
And do Thou lead me in Thy truth;
Therein my teacher be.
For Thou art God that dost
To me salvation send,
And I upon Thee all the day
Expecting do attend.
Thy tender mercies, LORD,
To mind do Thou recall,
And lovingkindness, for they
Have been through ages all.
My sins of youth, my faults,
Do Thou, O LORD, forget;
In lovingkindness think on me
And for Thy goodness great.
This is a Psalm arrangement based on the Scottish Psalter of 1650.