Aloha, Hope Chapel Honolulu!
We’re entering our sixth month since reopening our doors for Live Celebrations, and very grateful not only for the LORD’s protection over our gatherings, but also for all the help of our volunteers without whom we would not be able to be and do church as we do! If you’re not one of these volunteers, please do share with me in expressing your gratitude to them when you join us in-person or on-line!
This COVID Pandemic Thing…And How Should We Then Love?
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV)
Churches around the world have been divided over what these words mean and how best to apply them since the pandemic first broke out. However, most of the disagreement was largely due to trying to understand and apply verse 25 before understanding and applying verses 23-24. If our order of priority is first holding fast to our hope in Christ and trusting in His faithfulness, secondly finding ways to encourage one another towards love and good works, and then “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (from Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV quoted above), we will probably find more to agree upon than disagree about. Our manner of providing both live and online meeting options, with a continued emphasis on prayer and meaningful relationships through small groups that imitate and encourage MiniChurch participation, have been and will continue to be based on such an understanding.
Kuleana, 責任, 책임, Responsabilidad…Our Responsibility
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
(Romans 13:8, ESV)
Many modern interpreters think and teach that Romans 13:8 is first of all a truth about finances. Yet a closer look at Romans 13:1-14, the context from which verse 8 is taken, makes it clear that this verse—while possible to extrapolate meaning for personal finance and the use of credit—is really about recognizing and fulfilling personal responsibility as a believer in an unbelieving world. When we speak of personal responsibility, we mean beginning and ending in love as we serve and disciple based on who Christ is here in Honolulu, the Pacific, Asia and beyond. I believe that as citizens of Heaven, just as Christ chose to love us and give all of Himself for us, we should prioritize our responsibilities and relationships over any rights or privileges we enjoy as citizens of the U.S.
Although extremely blessed here in Honolulu by the availability of charitable and government assistance, adequate medical care, as well as testing and vaccinations, this is not the case everywhere around the world. The recent wave of COVID cases in India—one of the world’s largest providers of pharmaceuticals—have not only temporarily broken their health care system, but also led to thousands of daily cases and deaths. We should at least be watching and praying even though these events seem far away. And here in the Islands, while I won’t pretend to fully understand what government officials and medical professionals know, I do know that we’re still seeing “triple digit COVID cases.” Because of our economic dependence on tourism, whether in our Celebration gatherings or MiniChurches, we’ll need to continue to watch and pray, as well as wash, mask and social distance from those who are not fully vaccinated, more vulnerable or even less careful. Additionally, while those who are fully vaccinated are being told that they no longer need masks for outdoor activities, except where large crowds gather, the CDC continues to recommend masks in those indoor spaces with poor ventilation such our church space. As such, we will continue to vigilantly clean our meeting space, require the use of masks and reservations to ensure social distancing as “love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24, ESV) at least for the time being. If interested, you can find more information regarding CDC guidelines here: Choosing Safer Activities | CDC.
2. Please offer up prayers of thanksgiving and blessing for new and incumbent members of our Church Council, Oversight Team, MiniChurch Pastors, and our many volunteers without whom our live and online gatherings would be impossible. 3. Please pray for our provision and protection as we prayerfully seek to follow God’s leading, wisdom, direction and resources, too!
3. Please continue to pray for those nearly 60% of our local population who are unable to pay some or all of their bills, who are anxious about unexpected expense, their health or that of their children, food, clothing and shelter, let alone education or entertainment. Please also pray for local business owners, their employees and their families! Please pray that they would seek and learn to trust in the God of heaven and earth in these difficult times!
4. Please continue to send prayer requests and praise reports to email@example.com and, if you haven’t already, please join our email Intercessory Prayer Team so that you can help support others in prayer and rejoice with them at God’s miraculous answers!
May the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be revealed to you abundantly, I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ!