May 24th 2020 Reflections

Hello, dear St. A’s Church Family and Friends … welcome back to our present pandemic version of gathering for worship! Once again, I suggest you tap into this YouTube video, and after singing “There Shall be Showers ….” , pause the tape, and read this section, including the Scriptures (do you have a Bible handy?) before continuing on. God bless you all, and it is good to hear from you. Thank you!

Scripture Readings: John 17: 1-26; Ephesians 1: 15-23

Link to YouTube service …

Reflections: Hello Everyone,

Here’s something for your funny bone…. A man went to the doctor with a swollen foot. After a careful examination, the doctor gave the man a pill big enough to choke a horse. “I’ll be right back with some water”, the doctor told him.
The doctor had been gone a while and the man lost patience. He hobbled out to the drinking fountain, forced the pill down his throat and gobbled down water until the pill cleared his throat. He hobbled back into the examining room.
Just then the doctor came back with a bucket of warm water. “Ok, after the tablet dissolves” he said, “soak that foot for about 20 minutes.”

Oops! Hopefully we can laugh at that, but maybe we can relate a little to that man by our getting short on patience regarding this pandemic. We pray plaintively like the Biblical people of old, “How long, Lord, how long?” We want a return to normal. How long, Lord, how long do we have to wear these masks? How long, Lord, how long do we have to remain socially distanced in waiting to get into a store, or talking to people? How long, Lord, how long before I can visit loved ones? How long, Lord, how long before I feel less afraid?
We’re getting weary…energy is running low…we need a boost. The concept of running a marathon came to mind, as I thought of this, when the energies part ways through a race start to flag. Stories can be told of people coming from the sidelines and running with their loved ones to help keep their spirits up, – to help them cross the line. Sports games also need their fans to cheer them on. They need encouragement and a focus to win.

This week, many in the Christian community world- wide have been mourning the passing of Rev. Ravi Zacharias to cancer. (You can see him on You tube) He had a major impact on thousands, maybe millions, of Christian and non-Christian people in universities and government circles as he brought, like St. Paul of old, the relevance of the Christian message to them. Wally Walker, Craig, Angus, and myself have all had the pleasure of being in his company. On what I suspect was one of his last presentations (The Task in a time of Crisis) before a gathering of thousands, he encouraged the listeners to keep going, saying that we are here for a reason at this specific time. If we are Christ followers, we have a calling. No work is secular work even if the world regards it as secular. He encouraged his followers to keep going to cross the finish line.
Long, long ago , as Jesus was preparing to face His greatest challenge on His time on earth, -that of going to the cross, He prayed to His Father God for the strength to do it, …He prayed for His followers at that time, … and He prayed for us. Imagine that! Jesus prayed for us! He knew back then about us here now.

Astronaut James Irwin wrote: “I tell people that God has a plan for them. I say that if God controls the universe with such infinite precision, controlling all the motions of the planets and stars, this is the working of a perfect plan for outer space. I believe that God has the perfect plan for inner space, the spirit of man. This plan was manifest when He sent His Christ to die for us, to forgive our sins, and to show us He has a plan for our lives.” This was written by a man in what would be considered ‘secular work’. How might you see God using you now in 2020?
Jesus asked His Father that His followers would see His glory. (John 17: 24) Do we, His followers, have that as our focus, our aim? St. Paul, in writing to the Ephesian believers, desired that they might know the risen Lord better, the tremendous power He has to give us, and “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints”.
All of this to remember that even though we may not be able to see it just now, but even in this, God has not deserted us – His followers. He is continuing to go forward with His plans for His Kingdom of life and goodness and righteousness, and we are part of that plan. As someone has so wisely said, “The world at its worst needs the church at its best”. The Lord has need of us in the places where we are now.

Yesterday, (May 23rd) I officiated at the funeral service for Myrna Hall, one of God’s faithful followers. We also, to our shock, learned that Shirley Christie, another of God’s faithful followers, left for her eternal home on Friday. Both of these ladies were also here for a purpose, and they have crossed the finish line with their faith intact. We rejoice for them, although we are sad for ourselves. They will, as so many others who have also taken leave, be greatly missed by their families and us! But what an example of Christian witness they have left for us to emulate! They were here as God’s chosen witnesses at this time.
So much more could be said, but dear Sandra will be waiting to send this out! Today, let us take courage that our Lord is with us, for He has promised that He will be with us always even to the end of the world; that He will never leave us or forsake us. Thanks be to God!

Prayer: Dear Lord, often we lose our focus on You because we get distracted so easily. And then we get discouraged. Please rekindle our trust in You that You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no other superior meaning to life than in knowing You and in following You. May we never forget this, and may we accept Your offer of forgiveness and strength to continue on with what You have called us to do by way of bringing in your Kingdom. We pray in Your name and thank You. Amen

With love, prayers and computer hugs, …Rev. Alice

Announcements:

Prayer topics: Please continue to remember in prayer: our world leaders, missionaries, the local churches, Rose Nichols (Mark’s wife) and others working with the ill and grieving, those suffering from spiritual and physical hunger, loss, illness,… including John Wiwcharyk, Llew Hall, Troy Cornford, (all now seeking to grow in strength at their homes), a young man named Tanner (severe head injury), …

Media speakers: Just a reminder of the some Christian speakers you will benefit from hearing; Reverends Alistair Begg, David Jeremiah, R.C. Sproul, Ravi Zacharias, Church of the Rock, Max Lucado
rayer topics: Please continue to remember in prayer: our world leaders, missionaries, the local churches, Rose Nichols (Mark’s wife) and others working with the ill and grieving, those suffering from spiritual and physical hunger, loss, illness,… including John Wiwcharyk, Llew Hall, Troy Cornford, (all now seeking to grow in strength at their homes), a young man named Tanner (severe head injury), …

Our church family has been hard hit this month with Bruce Ryan passing away on May 3rd, Myrna Hall on May 10th, and now Shirley Christie on Friday evening, May 22nd. Their departure has left a huge hole at St.A’s, Our love and caring goes out to all these families. …
We are happy to report that Llew Hall has recovered from COVID and was able to come home on Friday May 22nd.
For those seeking to develop a daily Bible reflective time and do not know how to start, there are a number of “Upper Room” and “Our Daily Bread” devotionals at the church. Please either email or phone the church office or Rev. Alice and we will be happy to get you one or both.

Media speakers: Just a reminder of the some Christian speakers you will benefit from hearing; Reverends Alistair Begg, David Jeremiah, R.C. Sproul, Ravi Zacharias, Church of the Rock, Max Lucado

April 26, 2020 Reflections

Hello Everyone,

Well, here we are with our Sunday # 7 get-together. Welcome!

The story is told by Rev. Nicky Gumbel of a shipwreck at Cornwall, off the coast of England 100 years ago. A 15-year-old on board made it to a rock and clung to it all night. When he was rescued the next day, someone said to him, “You must have been scared.” He answered “Yes, I trembled with fear and cold all night, but the rock never trembled once.”

This is the Sunday when we’d planned to have a spring hymn sing at St. A’s with Group Aeternal as our guests. (They send their love.) These weeks are regular reminders of plans gone awry, right?  Believe it or not, we’ve decided to go ahead with the hymn sing anyway! Thanks to Doreen and Craig, you can go to You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWojqts1J44 and find music and words with which to sing along.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken advantage of more at home time to listen to selected speakers on YouTube, (many of which I’ve mentioned to you) while working at a quilt I started around 20 years ago. Before COVID hit, I thought it might be a goal to try finishing the quilt this year. Now it looks like that goal might be achievable!

As well as taking in lectures, I’ve also benefitted greatly from music, mostly of a spiritual sort on You Tube. (I’ve mentioned some of them to you, too.) I’ve realized afresh that our western world has this glorious heritage of large and small groups singing of their faith in the living God, – Who gives us every reason to sing! People sing in great cathedrals accompanied by massive organs, all the way to those who are confined in prisons. (Acts 16:16-34)

If we look at the Scriptures we will find the Jews and the Christians were people of song, ( e.g. Psalm 96, Psalm 98) often mentioning that even God’s natural creation sings its Creator’s praises. Have you listened to the birds singing?
As well as singing the Psalms from the Scriptures, throughout the ages since then, people have sung about God and their hope in Him through thick and thin. They have found like that teenager clinging to the rock, that God has been their Rock. “Come let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1)

Those singers have come from around the world. In the songs that Doreen has chosen for today, we have some examples. There is “Welcome Happy Morning” written ca. 582 AD by Venantius Fortunatus of Italy! He was healed from blindness caused by an eye infection from lamp oil. There is the splendid “Thine is the Glory”, by Edmond Louis Budry, a Swiss writer from 1884. The music is that of George Frideric Handel from 1747. In some countries, it is very popular at weddings and at funerals. What a powerful piece! “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, written in 1923, based on Lamentations 3: 22-26, came from American Thomas O. Chisholm, but made famous by our own Canadian George Beverly Shea, (born in nearby Winchester, Ontario) when he sang it at Billy Graham Crusades in England in 1954.

There are also more contemporary writers who’ve shared their messages of faith in song. Bill and Gloria Gaither, (do they really need any introduction?) from the USA wrote “Gentle Shepherd” and “Because He lives”. Both pieces were written as a result of trying times they’d been experiencing. The same goes for “Through it All” written by American Andrae Crouch (b. 1942) who’s been nominated for Academy Awards for the films The Lion King, The Colour Purple, and Free Willy. In the space of two years, both his parents and a brother had died. He later battled with four kinds of cancer and congestive heart failure. While struggling with losing his mom, he asked the Lord “Why?” He eventually sensed the Lord encouraging him to praise Him. After at first resisting God and then obeying, he felt “strength come like a gushing well. The joy of the Lord came in the room and filled my soul…. If depression comes for anything, learn to praise Him. I know I’ve written a whole bunch of songs about that, but I learned it myself. It’s incredible—the power of praise.”

Today we are finding ourselves in turbulent times, like so many of those song writers who survived because of their faith in God. Let us cling to the Rock. God our Rock is not trembling. He wants to hold us steady. I attached a little piece of paper to one of our doors that is similar in thought. It reads “God is bigger than Goliath.” Thanks be to God!

Prayer

Prayer: I will run to you, Lord, whenever I feel afraid. I know Your hand will protect me and lead me into Your shadow, Almighty God, where I can rest and be safe. I know that bad things can happen to all of us, but You are always there to bring good out of it. And You’ve promised me that no one can harm my spirit/soul—the innermost part of me that You’ve destined for eternity. Because when I belong to You, You will give me safe passage—all the way to my eternal home.

But while I’m still living in my temporary house on earth, I pray You will not only guard my heart, but also my mind from foolish thoughts and actions. Expose the lies that try to twist the truth. Give me discernment, Lord, and wisdom for the good times, the hard times, and all the in-between-times. Let me never leave home without Your protection and without the spiritual armor You’ve given me. May I place my trust and dependence on You, today, Lord. Like the commander of a great army, You are in control, and You will go to any lengths to insure the safety of those under Your wing of protection.

I believe You want good, not harm for my life. And I am asking that You will replace fear with the confident assurance that You are always here with me, protecting me from harm. Others may try to hurt my body, Lord. But they can never destroy my soul. I’m safe with You, Jesus. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen

(Content gathered and adapted) from “A Prayer for Supernatural Protection” by Rebecca Barlow Jordan. crosswalk.com

 

Happy Birthday Heather Sheppard, Chris Ryan, (April 27th) Ib Nielsen, Zoey Blum (April 28th), Aria Goodfellow, (May 1st) . Think of how much more cake you get to eat because you don’t have to share with so many people!  I know, I know,- that thought was not very Christ-like. … You could freeze some and save it until you can share. …Or not. Decisions, decisions….!

 

 

Benediction: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. —2 Corinthians 13:14

With love, prayers, and computer hugs! Rev. Alice

Inventory of Store and Pharmacy Services

Here is a great list of services provided by local stores and institutions.

Our thanks to Karen Snair for her work in putting it together.

Easter Sunday Reflections – The King is Risen!

Dear St. A’s Family and Friends,

Well, here we are …Easter morning!  Greetings to you all in the name of the risen Lord! Does it seem strange to be reading that while this world seems to be all topsy turvy just now?    Wouldn’t that greeting be more appropriate with us  gathered with one another in the St. A’s sanctuary with the sun pouring through the stained glass windows, the church decorated with Easter lilies and other spring flowers, our tummies “sufficiently sufanceyful”  with hot cross buns, children (and adults!) excited about Easter eggs, the strains of joyful organ music? (If you tune in  to “Easter 2020 at Saint Andrew’s United Church” on YouTube, you will hear the St. A’s organ and you can sing along!  Hey: why don’t you do that right now, but please don’t forget to come back here. I’ll miss you if you don’t.   🙂 )

….Thanks for coming back!  Now, where were we? Oh yes.  This Easter Sunday is very unusual from what we might normally be doing, but these different circumstances do not change the reality of that first Easter morning, when two women in great sorrow and probably great exhaustion, went to the tomb of their beloved crucified friend, – only to find the tomb empty! If you look at the Scriptures you will find lots and lots of confusion.  (Matthew 28: 1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24: 1-12, John 20: 1-18) How would we feel if we went to lay flowers at the gravesite of a recently deceased loved one, only to find it empty? Would we not also be horrified, terrified? Like, who took our loved one’s body!  And then as some accounts say that some of the women/men were met by angels saying Jesus is alive, if the same thing happened to us at the empty grave of our loved one, how believing would we be?

I remember last Easter morning working in the church library in between services. With my back turned to the door and busy working on something, I heard a woman’s voice behind me saying she was in need of talking to the minister. I confess to being a bit chagrined, thinking it might be someone wanting to get married, and I really didn’t have time to talk with her then. Like, I had the second service to finalize!  I turned around, and there was my sister and brother-in-law from Ontario! I was so startled in not expecting to see them that it took me a few seconds to recognize them, and then I just screamed and screamed, with a mixture of unbelief and delight! I can fully appreciate the confusion of those dear Easter morning folks at the empty tomb!

And then there was Mary Magdalene, a very broken woman whom Jesus had healed and who then understandably had become one of His loyal followers.  Now she weeps in confusion at the tomb. – Women do that, you know. 🙂 They weep. Well, men do too, but this time it was Mary who was weeping.  And Jesus first appears to her! Can you imagine that gentle, understanding reunion they must have had of Jesus looking into the tear-streaked face of someone whom He knew loved Him so much?   And have you ever wanted to be the first to tell somebody some exciting news? Then you will understand Mary!  Run, Mary, run!!  Jesus is alive!

This is Good Friday’s surprise ending! Two thousand years later, why is this so important to remember in a world- wide pandemic?

Well, one way why this is important goes back to Pilate’s question to Jesus at the time of His arrest. “Are you a king, then?” And Jesus answers, “You are right in saying I am a king…” And earlier Jesus says to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” …. Do we see Jesus as King, but not of this world?  Someone has beautifully pointed out that although Jesus died as a criminal, he was buried like a king.  A crucified body was usually just dumped in a garbage heap, but Jesus was entombed in a single tomb in a garden, with an enormous, expensive amount of embalming spices.   He was entombed like a king. Remember the wise men’s gifts? Gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death. The wise men knew He was extraordinary!

Kings usually have kingdoms, whether they are visibly on the throne at the time or not. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray “Thy kingdom come.” We acknowledge in that prayer our hope for the coming kingdom of God that started with Jesus coming to earth, that by His life He showed  how He as King cares for His people and how kingdom people live; that by His death  He defeated His evil enemy who  brought death and destruction to God’s beloved creation, and our expectation  that  one day Jesus  will return for all who have trusted in Him. Now, I know that is a run-on sentence, but it contains oodles of truth, so it may be worthwhile to read again,  – like if you are reading from some of St. Paul’s letters and his run-on sentences!

In short, Jesus is a King Whose Kingdom is not of this world, but Who fully intends to set up His kingdom with His people.  He started that when He came the first time to earth, and even though we may not fully see it realized yet, it will happen, even in spite of this virus.  Rev. Tim Keller, a well- known Presbyterian minister in New York City, uses the illustration of a dad driving his car while his  little son sits next to him with a toy steering wheel. The little guy thinks he’s driving, but who actually is steering?  We can be glad his dad is!

We can be glad that we’re not steering this world. God the King is, even when we cannot look over the dashboard to see the road ahead of us. Let us place our confidence in Him because He loves us.  Jesus showed us that love while He lived here on earth.  He knew what was happening and what would happen.

He was realistic about troubles.  He said we’d have troubles in this world, but to be of good cheer, that He has overcome the world. This pandemic is out of the world’s control but it is not out of God’s control.

St. Paul, who went through enormous amounts of troubles, (eventually martyred) confidently said that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8: 28),  that nothing ( not even a virus, not even death)   can separate us from God’s love … because of our trust in Jesus Who died, Who is risen and Who is sitting at the right hand of God speaking to God about us. (Romans 8: 31-39) Don’t forget, –  they’re a family unit; they can talk to each other about us. Isn’t that nice to know? What do you think they are saying about you?

If our trust is in the crucified and now living Lord, we can  rejoice, – even in a pandemic.  Thanks be to God!  “All glory, laud and honour to You, Redeemer, King!…”  “ Good Christians all, rejoice and sing! Now is the triumph of our King!…”  “The strife is o’er, the battle done, the victory of life is won!… “ “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine… This is my story, this is my song ….”  Joyous Easter, Everyone!

Benediction: Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.Jude 24–25

Announcements: Our sympathies are with Treasa Kenny and her husband Daniel Soucy and children Shawn and Tara in the passing of Treasa’s dad last weekend. Her dad gently slipped away while sitting on a chair by a window, watching the birds. Please also remember to pray for: John Wiwcharyk, Andrew Eccles, and Myrna Hall in hospitals, Caroline Fortier being tested for COVID,  the Ozanick family in the loss of a relative from COVID,  the present world situation, including wisdom and protection for all those at the front lines of this battle, and that God might bring healing and hope to this broken world.


 

Click here to see the Saint Andrew’s Easter Worship video on YouTube.

 

Suggested YouTube sites of spiritual insights

Rev. Mark Hughes: Church of the Rock, Winnipeg (Highly recommended by 3 St. A’s members)

Rev. Alistair Begg (speaks with a beautiful Scottish brogue! ): The Human Face of God, Trusting God in the Dark  + other meaningful sermons

Ravi Zacharias (anything by Ravi,{Wally and I were at college with him} or by his associates at RZIM. Eg. Dr. Vince Vitale, Dr. Jo Vitale, Abdu Murray, Dr.  Amy Orr –Ewing {Abdu and Amy were summer school speakers  that Craig and I attended })

Rev. Dr. David Jeremiah:  various sermons

Rev. Dr. Charles Stanley: various sermons

Rev. Timothy Keller: Trusting God in Difficult Times,  Encountering the Risen King, + many other good sermons

Pastor Francis Chan: Be still and know that I am God + other sermons

Dr. John Lennox: Where is God in a Coronovirus World?  Oxford mathematician and philosopher of science (Dr. Lennox was also a summer school speaker. I have a book he signed for me.  You’ll love his Irish accent!)