I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’
(Psalm 122:1)
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.
(Ephesians 2:19-20)
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
(Matthew 22:34-40)



Dear Fellow Disciples,
     Some months ago I read the book What’s Love Got to Do with It? How the Heart of God Shapes Worship by the Rev. Dr. Sam Hamstra, Affiliate Professor of Worship and Church History at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL. Professor Hamstra was hired by Dr. Charles Hambrick-Stowe, former Academic Dean of Northern Seminary, to this position in 2007. Dr. Hamstra has served congregations in the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church in America, and has a deep interest in Mercersburg Theology.
     In the preface, Dr. Hamstra states that the entire Christian life, including our corporate worship, must be understood as our loving response to the love of the Triune God. Later in the book, Dr. Hamstra writes:
Our loving fellowship as local congregations is both a gift of grace and a command. When we draw from the well of God’s love and love one another, we experience a love far deeper and richer than the fellowship we may have as family and friends. This divine love supersedes the fellowship we may have had as immigrants speaking a common language. It flows from the Holy Spirit of God by whose power we may respond to the love of God with both love for our Beloved and for others. And our love for others, like the love of God, will break down barriers and overcome prejudices; it will be beyond our comprehension (Ephesians 2:19-20), but not our aspirations. (pgs. 59-60)
     At the heart of our faith is our love for God and our neighbor. Our worship prepares us for this way of life. We experience this love as sing praise to the God who loves us, redeems us, and strengthens us. Some of this is at the heart of why I have proposed some minor changes to the Service of Word & Sacrament. There is a separate article about those changes in this newsletter.
     We recently offered this love to five new members who joined our congregation. Look for their pictures and biographies in this newsletter. We also offer this love every Sunday when we welcome others to our church. This is why I am very concerned about locking our doors during our second worship service. I am not naïve to the world in which we live, but I also believe that there is no way we can totally prevent a tragedy from happening. So I raise some important questions: Are we really offering hospitality to our brothers or sisters in Christ? Are we allowing fear to take over rather than believing that the presence of Christ is with us?
     At the heart of the Christian life is love. Yes, our love for one another will break down barriers! Join us in worship this summer as we continue to hear the promise of God’s love, and are empowered to welcome others with the gift of God’s love!
Blessings, Pastor Chris  









Pastor Chris and Michael