Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Governor of Minnesota has recently announced plans that allow us to resume public worship in our churches. We give all praise, honor and glory to our Lord who has graciously answered our prayers by allowing us to come together for public worship again.

We must remember that the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away. Health experts are warning we haven’t reached the peak of the pandemic yet. Therefore out of love for one another we want to do our best to ensure the safety of all our brothers and sisters in Christ as we gather in his house for worship. Therefore in keeping with recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health we have developed the following safety plan. Please keep in mind these changes are not permanent. We will continue to monitor the situation and further recommendations from our leaders and we will adjust plans accordingly. We continue to pray for the day when this pandemic will no longer be a threat we will be able to come together for worship with no restrictions.

  1. If you are not feeling well please stay home.
  2. If you are concerned for your health and do not feel comfortable returning to public worship yet feel free to stay home. We will continue to offer our worship services on Facebook Live, our church website and on HCVN as usual.
  3. We are allowed to fill our church to 25% of capacity. That would be approximately 60 people at a time. Remember we offer services at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday (we switch to Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. beginning on June 8) and Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. Additional services could be added if needed.
  4. Temperature checks will be made at the door for all people entering church. This should only take a few seconds per person. Those with a fever would be asked to go home.
  5. Wearing face masks while in church is recommended.
  6. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the church.
  7. Someone will be assigned to open the door for everyone as they arrive at church and leave church.
  8. Church bulletins and any other handouts will be placed on a table where individuals may pick them up rather than having ushers hand them out.
  9. As usual, the entire worship service will be on screen in front of the church during worship. Hymnals will not be needed unless you choose to use one.
  10. If the CWS or LAPPY books are needed during worship the rack will be placed in back of the church and people will pick up their own copy as they enter the sanctuary and return them when they leave.
  11. Collection plates will be placed at the church welcome center in the narthex for people to leave their offerings. No offering will be taken during the worship service.
  12. We will practice safe social distancing throughout the church. In the sanctuary some pews will be blocked off so people sit at least six feet apart.
  13. For the Lord’s Supper groups of no more than 4-5 will be served at one time. Pastor and the elder assisting will wear gloves during the distribution.
  14. After worship people will be ushered out starting in back and working toward the front.
  15. Pastor will still greet people before and after worship but will not shake anyone’s hand.
  16. We will not serve food or beverages in the narthex after worship.
  17. Pews and other high traffic areas in church will be wiped down after worship as needed.

Let us all continue to work together out of love for our Lord and for each other by looking out for the safety of each other as we come together for worship.

34 “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, so also you are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

God’s blessings to all of you.

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Worship Service – August 9, 2020

The Gospel of John – Lesson 30 – John 11:17-44

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha replied, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the Last Day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. 26 And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” 28 After she said this, Martha went back to call her sister Mary. She whispered, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet gone into the village, but was still where Martha met him. 31 The Jews who were with Mary in the house consoling her saw that she got up quickly and left. So they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. 34 He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 38 Jesus was deeply moved again as he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. Martha, the dead man’s sister, told him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, because it has been four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The man who had died came out with his feet and his hands bound with strips of linen and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus told them, “Loose him and let him go.”

Why did Jesus wait until Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days before he finally arrived on the scene? Couldn’t he have come sooner and spared Mary and Martha the grief they were now feeling? Couldn’t he have spared Lazarus from the suffering he must have endured in his final days? Jesus could have done any of those things. But our Lord had an important lesson to teach his followers. It was necessary for Lazarus to die that our Lord could teach us more about himself and the salvation he brings. Let’s learn from the Son of God as he brings comfort and deliverance to those who mourned over the death of Lazarus.

Mary and Martha both knew who Jesus is. Martha confessed that he is the Son of God. She also confessed that Jesus is the Christ. The title Christ means “The Anointed One.” He is the one chosen by God to fulfill the promise of a Savior. Mary and Martha both knew Jesus has amazing power. Both confessed that if Jesus had arrived sooner he could have prevented the death of their brother. But in their grief the sisters seem to have forgotten the full extent of Jesus’s power. Jesus made clear to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish.” Now Jesus was about to back up those words with power.

Before we see the power of God in action, we need to look at another important truth Jesus revealed about himself. Sometimes people believe God is far away from us. He has no time to care about our day to day problems. Jesus proved that isn’t true. Notice how he responded to the grief of Mary and Martha. He was filled with compassion when he saw Mary weeping. When he arrived at the grave of Lazarus he shared their grief as he also wept. Our Lord is concerned for us in our times of trouble. He personally joins us in our grief. He wants to help us through those difficult times.

Jesus did more than share in their grief. He completely took it away. He called on his heavenly Father with full confidence that his Father would hear him and do what he asked. Then Jesus called to Lazarus to come out of the grave. Death had no choice but to obey. It immediately released its’ victim. Lazarus came out of the grave. God had preserved his body from decay. He came forward, fully restored and ready to continue his life.

What does Jesus teach us in all of this? Our Lord doesn’t promise that he will bring back our loved ones from the dead so they can rejoin us on earth. Such a resurrection would only be temporary. Lazarus had to die again eventually, as did Mary and Martha and all the others who witnessed Jesus’ miracle. Jesus promises something much better. He is the resurrection and the life. He has full control over death. He will raise us up on the Last Day and give eternal life in heaven to all who trust in him. When he raises us up, all traces of sin will be removed from us forever. Death won’t be able to claim us again. As he promised, “Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish.”

Discussion Questions

1 – We often think of Martha as the woman who urged Jesus to tell her sister Mary to help serve the guests rather than listen to Jesus teach. (See Luke 10:38-42) What do we learn about Martha in our Scripture reading?
Martha had clearly spent time learning from Jesus as well. She confessed he is the Christ, the true Son of God. She also believed in the resurrection to life everlasting through Jesus.

2 – Where do we find comfort as we see Jesus weeping at Lazarus’ tomb?
Our Lord is a personal God. He desires to have a close relationship with us. He shares our grief. He cares about us in our times of trouble and he will deliver us.

3 – What was the main reason for Jesus’ prayer?
He did this for our benefit so that we would believe that Jesus was sent to us by his heavenly Father. We believe and we have life in his name.

4 – What does Jesus teach us by raising Lazarus from the dead?
He is the resurrection and the life. He has full authority over life and death. He does not promise to raise our loved ones from the dead in the same way he raised Lazarus. But he does promise that he will raise us up from the dead on the Last Day. He promises to give eternal life to all who trust in him as their Savior.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to

The Gospel of John – Lesson 29 – John 11:1-16

Now a certain man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother, Lazarus was sick, was the same Mary who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, saying, “Lord, the one you love is sick!” When Jesus heard it, he said, “This sickness is not going to result in death, but it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed in the place where he was two more days. Then afterwards he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, recently the Jews were trying to stone you. And you are going back there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? If anyone walks around during the day, he does not stumble because he sees this world’s light. 10 But if anyone walks around at night, he stumbles because there is no light on him.” 11 He said this and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 Then the disciples said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will get well.” 13 Jesus had been speaking about his death, but they thought he was merely talking about ordinary sleep. 14 So Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (called the Twin) said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go too, so that we may die with him.”

It’s always hard when someone close to us becomes seriously ill, especially if the illness is one that could be fatal. When the Son of God became true man to live among us, he experienced what it was like to have a close friend become seriously ill. Lazarus lived in the village of Bethany along with his sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus had been a guest in their home before. (See Luke 10:38-42) When Lazarus became seriously ill, John records that Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus “Lord, the one you love is sick.” The ancient language of the Bible had several words that were translated “love.” The word for love that was used in this case emphasized a close friendship. Mary and Martha now appealed to Jesus to assist his close friend,  knowing that as the Son of God, Jesus could help them through this time of serious trouble.

But if Jesus had such a close friendship with Lazarus, why did he respond to the news of Lazarus’ illness the way he did? If you found out someone who was a close friend was seriously ill, wouldn’t you go and visit if it were possible. Even if you couldn’t visit, you’d probably at least send word expressing your concern and telling your friend that you’re praying for them. Yet Jesus did nothing initially other than to speak to his disciples about the situation.

Here we should look closer at what Jesus said to his disciples. It might seem confusing at first because we know Lazarus did die. If we do a literal translation of Jesus’ words from the original language of the Bible his statement goes like this: “This sickness is not to death but for the glory of God in order that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Jesus didn’t say that death wouldn’t occur. But death wouldn’t be the final victor. Jesus would be glorified which would also bring glory to God the Father. God was in full control, death would only be used to achieve God’s purpose.

For further insight into Jesus’ actions consider how verse 5 tells us that Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus. Here the original language of the Bible used a different word for “love” than the one used in verse 3. In this case the word means the unconditional love that our Lord shows to us. He loves us because he chooses to love us. God wants us to have eternity with him in heaven. The special unconditional love described in verse 5 moved Jesus to act in the way that was best for Lazarus and his sisters, even if it would cause them a time of sadness.

Finally, two days later, Jesus decided it was time for them to go to Judea. The disciples were stunned by the news. The last time they were in the area, the people tried to kill Jesus. Why would Jesus want to go back there now? Jesus made it clear that Lazarus had died. Jesus had waited until the proper time to go, in order to carry out his Father’s will. He announced his intentions to go and awaken Lazarus. In doing so he would strengthen the faith of his disciples, as well as the faith of Lazarus and his sisters.

Clearly the disciples’ faith needed a boost. Thomas saw no hope in the situation. He was devoted to his Lord to the extent that he was willing to accompany Jesus and to die with him. But he failed to trust that Jesus was in full control of the situation and that God would be glorified by what he was about to do.

We don’t always see God’s divine purpose when a loved one dies or when we are put in what seems like a dangerous situation. But remember, Jesus loves us, just as he loved Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. His love for us is also unconditional. He may allow us to suffer hardship for a little while. But ultimately he will use even such troubles to strengthen our trust in him. Let us always be ready to follow Jesus, even unto death, knowing that an eternal crown of life is waiting through faith in Him.

Discussion Questions

1 – When Jesus heard about Lazarus, he said this had happened so that God would be glorified. What did he mean by that?
Everything Jesus did was according to his Father’s will. God’s will is that we would come to believe in Jesus as our Savior and to come to eternal life in heaven. Whenever this happens, God is glorified. In this case, Jesus knew that he would raise Lazarus from the dead. God would be glorified as many people would turn to Jesus after seeing him do this powerful miracle.

2 – When Jesus announced they were going back to Judea, his disciples tried to dissuade him. They were afraid they would all be killed if they went back there. What did Jesus say in response?
Jesus was following his heavenly Father’s timetable. He needed to keep working during his time of public ministry. Jesus didn’t worry about death, because he knew his time hadn’t come yet. No enemy could arrest him and condemn him to death before God the Father allowed it.

3 – What comfort did Jesus give us concerning death in verse 11?
He first of all, said Lazarus was sleeping. Death is nothing more than a temporary sleep for our bodies. Jesus also said he was going to awaken Lazarus. Jesus has full control over life and death. He could call Lazarus from the grave and death would have no choice but to release him. In the same way, Jesus will one day call our bodies from the grave so that body and soul, we will dwell with our Lord forever.

4 – Jesus plainly told his disciples in verse 14 that Lazarus was dead. He also said he was glad for the disciples’ sake that he was not there at the time. Why would he say that?
Jesus said he was glad he was not there so that his disciples would believe. It was time to teach the disciples that he has full authority over death. By displaying this power, his disciples would become all the more certain that Jesus is the true Son of God. This miracle and all the other things Jesus said and did are recorded that we may trust in him as well. (See John 20:31)

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to