The Meaning of Faith

Hebrews 11:1-3; 23-29


The Meaning of Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

The Faith of Moses

23 By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger; for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

The Faith of Other Israelite Heroes

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.
Moses didn’t want to do the job. When God called Moses from the burning bush to go back to Egypt Read more…

The Voice of God Speaks

The voice of God speaks.

There is power in the voice of God. There is power in the Word of God.

The psalmist captures the power of God’s voice, which can break the mighty cedars and shake the wilderness.

There is power in the voice of God.

You and I know that, for there are memories we carry for a lifetime. I am making an assumption here, because I know this is true for me, and I imagine it is also the same for you.

What voices have had power in your life?

Whose voice do you remember that first gave you a word of encouragement?

Whose voice is one that tore you down, and decades later, you can still hear that voice?

Sarah and Paul were children in my first congregation. They were two of three children. Their brother, Scott, had died of smoke inhalation. The smoke came from a fire Paul started in the family’s house. Paul had found his mother’s cigarette lighter, and lit the couch on fire. Everyone got out, but Scott died a few days after the fire. He was only four years old and the baby of the family.

Sarah and Paul were eight and six years old at the time. Their grandmother helped out where she could, but the family was broken. They had no home to live in, so they lived with grandma. Saddened and depressed, they had a hard time keeping it together.

Grandma wanted to do what she could. She knew that the kids needed a different environment. So, the summer after the fire, which happened in January that year, she signed them up for camp at Lutheran Memorial Camp in central Ohio. She was concerned about what they might experience. She let the camp staff know about the accident, and told them that camp fires might be difficult for the kids. Mindful of what had happened, the staff assured grandma and the parents that they would keep a close eye on the kids.

I was present when Sarah and Paul were dropped off for the week at camp. I saw the hesitation in their eyes, and in the eyes of their parents and grandmother, too. After a few tears, the adults left and the kids started the week at camp. I was dropping off my daughter that week, too.

I attended the week’s closing ceremony, a time when families gathered to pick up their kids and hear their songs and share a meal. I remember at that ceremony, when Paul saw me — his pastor — he ran over to me and said hi. He started to tell me about his week at camp, and how much fun he had.

Then Paul pointed to his counselor, Steve. Paul told me that Steve was the best counselor at camp.

Paul looked at me and said, “Pastor, do you know what Steve told me? Steve told me that I am special.” The smile on Paul’s face and the glimmer in his eye were powerful.

For the previous six months, Paul had heard many other voices.

At camp, through a messenger of God named Steve, Paul heard another voice.

The psalmist writes “May the Lord bless his people with peace.”

Through a counselor with Steve, the Lord did just that.

What a powerful voice.

Let us pray: 

Thank you for those who speak powerful words of peace, love and hope. Help us to do the same when we open our mouths. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Psalm 29 


Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,

    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;

    worship the Lord in holy splendor.


The voice of the Lord is over the waters;

    the God of glory thunders,

    the Lord, over mighty waters.

The voice of the Lord is powerful;

    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.


The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;

    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

    and Sirion like a young wild ox.


The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.

The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;

    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.


The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,

    and strips the forest bare;

    and in his temple all say, “Glory!”


10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;

    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.

11 May the Lord give strength to his people!

    May the Lord bless his people with peace!

HTF Update from Maya

Meet in Person with Maya 
Tuesday, March 3 
7:30 PM, Austin Campus
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than 6 million Haitians live below the poverty line on less than US$2.41 per day, and more than 2.5 million fall below the extreme poverty line of US$1.23 per day. The political instability of the past year further hindered Haiti’s economic and social development, and the unrest has directly impacted our partners and the Haitians they serve.
We have an exciting opportunity to welcome HTF’s Haiti Country Director Luckner Fond Rose (better known as Maya), who is the in-country, on-the-ground leadership of HTF. Maya will give an update of how things are going on the ground now that the period of civil unrest has settled, and he will speak to how HTF’s mission model proved strong through that time. He will also update us on the executive director transition currently taking place. 
Please join us in welcoming Maya and hearing his message.

Rise Up for Haiti

To the right is a picture of HTF’s in-country director, Maya, as he makes plans for food distribution on November 26 for 100 families in the Jacmel area. He identified families from several partners there to receive cooking oil, spaghetti, rice and sardines. HTF wired funds to cover the first round, but more can be done through your donations.
After two months of government, business and school closures, the Education Ministry called for children to return to school on Monday, December 2. Some schools were about a quarter full and other schools had only a few students in attendance or didn’t open at all. Click here for a full New York Times article.

From the Haitian Timoun Foundation

Our friends in Haiti are living amid dire circumstances. Fuel is scarce, leadership is silent, and citizens are rightfully demanding answers. Schools and businesses are closed, and public transportation is running at skeleton levels. Prices of food and other staples have been increasing at unbelievable rates, because of the limited ability to get goods to market coupled with a collapsing economy. Violence ensues throughout the country to the point that people are afraid to leave their homes. Our hearts break knowing of the suffering among millions of people as the country is held hostage. We are called to Rise Up for Haiti as we stand together with our brothers and sisters as they weather this enormous crisis.

In addition to our Haitian partners continuing to provide necessary services to the countless Haitians in need, they now require additional support simply to provide basic daily sustenance. There is no end in sight for this crisis, therefore HTF is committed to Rise Up for Haiti for as long as it takes.
While Haiti has a history of government corruption and instability coupled with periodic unrest, the situation in Haiti right now is decidedly different. This crisis has been building since the middle of last year and shows no sign of abating.
To learn more details about the recent situation in Haiti read these articles:
As NGOs leave the country and non-essential personnel in the foreign embassies have been sent home, HTF is doing what we have always done. We are standing by our partners and those communities in Haiti with whom we have built long-term relationships.

Rise Up for Haiti will raise funds to ensure that our Haitian partners have the food, water, fuel, and supplies to sustain the lives of their staff and those they serve. Please join HTF and Rise Up for Haiti today!
Please join HTF and Rise Up for Haiti! The time is now. Lives depend on it. God is counting on us so that all may have life!
You can make a donation toward Rise Up for Haiti through online giving, by cash or check designated for “Haiti Rise Up” or by texting “HaitiRiseUp 100” or whatever dollar amount you wish to donate to 833-941-1494. Learn more about GIVE+ TEXT.

Message from HTF Founder

November 2019

Dear Friends of HTF and Haiti,

We need your help. A severe crisis of human suffering has gripped Haiti. Massive protests are taking place against Haiti’s corrupt leadership, and a compromised police force and foreign mercenaries are battling back. Schools are closed, roads are blocked, food and clean water are scarce, inflation is rampant, hospitals lack basic supplies, electricity is in short supply, and those suffering the most are the most vulnerable: the children. In recent days, the violence has hit home as people and children dear to us have been victims of the violence.

While Haiti has a history of government corruption and instability coupled with periodic unrest, the situation in Haiti right now is decidedly different. This crisis has been building since the middle of last year and shows no sign of abating. So far, there is no cavalry coming to the rescue nor any political resolution in sight.

When the January 2010 earthquake happened, television and other media brought it front and center to the whole world. It touched hearts, and people responded. Today, as much of the world and our own country are embroiled in their own conflicts, the situation in Haiti is getting scant attention. This lack of media attention does not make it any less real.
As non-governmental organizations leave the country and non-essential personnel in the foreign embassies have been sent home, HTF is doing what we have always done. We are standing by our partners and those communities in Haiti with whom we have built long-term relationships. The courage of our partners and their resiliency to adjust and carry-on as best they can the essential work that we do together inspire us.

After the 2010 earthquake, the US Peace Corps named HTF as one of their five most effectively positioned organizations to be good stewards of emergency relief funds. Their faith and countless donors’ faith were validated as our grassroots network and presence on the ground saved lives and led towards recovery from the disaster.

We appeal to your generosity so that we can stand with the most vulnerable in Haiti during this crisis. The cards stacked against them are high, but with your help we can get to our partners – from La Montagne to the Central Plateau, and from Jacmel to Port-au-Prince – the resources they need. Together with your generosity we will Rise Up and save lives. Thank you.
Pou tout moun kapab gen lavi (that ALL may have life),

Rick Barger
You can make a donation toward Rise Up for Haiti through online giving, by cash or check designated for “Haiti Rise Up” or by texting “HaitiRiseUp 100” or whatever dollar amount you wish to donate to 833-941-1494. Learn more about GIVE+ TEXT.

Meet Jinoue Cherizard

Haitian Education Leadership Program Alumna

Pharmacy – Class of 2016

Throughout primary and secondary school, Jinoue was consistently regarded as a model student. “I was always at the top of my class,” she recalls. “And all of my teachers loved me.”Besides earning top grades herself, Jinoue also volunteered as a tutor for her peers, and found time to participate in a literature club, a dance troupe, and a youth group at her church.
But Jinoue’s family struggled financially, with her parents – a subsistence farmer and a vendor in the local market – barely making enough for the family of six children to get by. Despite her impeccable academic record and excellent reputation, university seemed out of the question for Jinoue until her school principal told her about HELP.
Today, Jinoue is working towards fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming a medical professional. “I want to be an advocate for the healthcare of the Haitian people,” she says. “I hope to play a role in ending some of the public health epidemics we face as a country.” Jinoue continues to thrive academically, and is able to focus on her university studies without the stress of economic hardship. “I’m thankful to HELP because it provides a path to success for promising young people like me,” she says.
Once Epiphany’s sponsorship student is selected, we will share his or her profile and keep in touch through the entire education journey. In the mean time, learn more about Haitian Education Leadership Program Alumni here
You can make a donation toward sponsoring our student through online giving, by cash or check designated for “Haiti HELP” or by texting “HaitiHelp 100” or whatever dollar amount you wish to donate to 833-941-1494. Learn more about GIVE+ TEXT.

Catching up with Larry Hoffsis

Dear Epiphany:
I’m excited to participate in the celebration of Epiphany’s 60 years of ministry. It will be an honor for me to serve as a guest preacher, along with the other former pastors.
It is likely that God called me to Epiphany to give me an opportunity to experience ministry in a setting new to me — that of a growing suburban community.
I had already experienced life in a congregation of farmers, having grown up in St. Paul Lutheran Church in north central Ohio. My first parish, St. John Lutheran Church, was in a small town in Sidney, Ohio. When God’s call came to serve Epiphany, I was in my thirteenth year of ministry at Old Trinity Lutheran Church, a metropolitan church in a large urban setting in downtown Columbus.
The call to suburban Epiphany came in 1979. I retired in 2000. That means I had the privilege of spending 21 years at Epiphany, a ministry which involved expansion of racial and ecumenical relationships locally, as well as numerous partnerships globally.

Catching up with Pastor Josh Nelson

by Pastor Josh Nelson
Greg Van Dunk and Jane Lane happened to attend a concert by noted Lutheran folk musician, John Ylvisaker. Since John and I had known each other for some years, he recruited me to be his pianist for a handful of Ohio concerts, and though I was serving a church in Akron, OH, I jumped at the chance to be on the road for a few weeks with John. Well, at this concert, Greg and Jane sought me out and they must have started scheming about possibly getting me to come to Epiphany as a musician/pastor. That idea didn’t pan out, but later, when Greg took a new call to Wisconsin, Epiphany contacted me about considering the Associate Pastor position. I had indeed begun interviewing back in the Iowa and Minnesota areas, thinking I would head back to my old home region, which was home areas for Beth as well. But we agreed to interview at Epiphany anyway, and had such a fantastic and enjoyable interview experience (over Super Bowl weekend), that we decided if the church offered to call me, we would take it. Which is indeed what happened. And we moved down to the Centerville area in June. One additional funny memory I have of the interview is that when the first question was asked, my wife Beth – who is not a shrinking violet – jumped in and said, “Let me take that one,” and so she answered the very first question that was asked!  

Let’s Write a Song Together

by John Benjamin

Do you have a gift for poetry? I’m looking for lyrics for a new worship song, which will be sung for the first time at our worship services on Sunday, October 6, for Epiphany’s 60th Anniversary celebration.
Your lyrics should focus on celebrating God’s blessings to and/or through Epiphany. You write the lyrics; I write the song.
Here’s how it works:
  1. Write new lyrics to “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (this is the meter John’s tune will fit).
  2. Write as many or as few verses as you wish.
  3. Send your lyrics by August 25 to John Benjamin.
  4. John will arrange the lyrics submitted, incorporating as many authors as possible into the finished product.
Feel free to pass this invitation on to other friends of Epiphany who may not receive our weekly newsletters!
Contact me with questions!

Greetings and Blessings from Boone

by Becca Gummere
I count my blessings that my first call was to Epiphany. Moving from Columbus, where I’d just graduated from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, I began my call at Epiphany in August of 1993, and during the next seven years enjoyed serving alongside Pastor Larry Hoffsis, Pastor Josh Nelson, and later Pastor Fritz Wiese.
Since leaving Epiphany in April of 2000, I served three years as pastor of Circle of Grace, a mission development congregation in Cary, North Carolina, and four years at Grace Lutheran Church in Boone, North Carolina, where I split my time between associate pastor and campus pastor roles with students at Appalachian State University. When I moved to Boone in 2003, daughter Maggie Carey and son Liam Carey joined me here, falling in love as I had with these beautiful mountains. Read more…