Palm Sunday Reflections

April 5, 2020

Dear St. A’s Family and Friends,

As I typed in this date, I wondered if some broadcasters will ask at some future time, “Do you recall where you were on Palm Sunday of 2020?”

This is NOT what we were planning! By now Memorial Hall would be set up with chairs and many of our Drama Group would be reviewing their characters for the traditional Palm Sunday play. But we are not. I like what a couple of characters said in a movie when life was not going as wanted for them, “But God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.” It is a good phrase to remember, and a good truth, even when we sometimes have trouble believing it.

Last Sunday I shared some meaningful thoughts from Mr. Bill Gates, -thoughts forwarded to me by a clergy friend. Today, we have another guest, Mr. Dale Chamberlain. I have Les Spurrel to thank for forwarding these thoughts. I was pondering what to write, and this man, Mr. Chamberlain writes “so good” I thought he was worth sharing.

As part of this worship experience, you might want to turn to two Scripture readings for this Palm Sunday: Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29, and Matthew 21: 1-11.

If you’d like to be part of some vibrant singing, I’d suggest going to You Tube for “30 Minute Gospel Music Hymn Sing” sites.

Thank you for all the encouragement you are passing around to one another and to our front runners out in areas of vulnerability. Please also continue to pray for them.

Please also remember to pray for John Wiwcharyk and Andrew Eccles both still at CHAL, and people who are isolated (and their families) because they are in seniors’ homes or other places where they cannot be visited.

Again, if there is any way we can be of help, please get in touch with your elder or leave a message at the church office or message/phone me.

Benediction: Keep the faith, keep the hope, remember God loves us.

May the blessing of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Love and hugs! Oh, and please read and reflect on this meaningful message from Dale Chamberlain.

Why Palm Sunday Is Still in the Palm of God’s Hand Despite Pandemic

Dale Chamberlain | Contributing Writer

COVID-19 has hit us hard. Some are fearing for their lives, or the lives of loved ones. Others may be fearing the loss of your livelihood, as non-essential businesses have been forced to close indefinitely, leading to profit losses and mass layoffs.

In addition to all these worries, as we head into the week of Easter, we do so unable to meet together with our local church families. Palm Sunday is this weekend, and it’s usually a day of hope and celebration. But this year’s celebrations will look quite different. And that may be leaving you with the feeling that life is spinning out of control. That’s a completely understandable feeling to have.

But we know that God is still in control of all things. The psalmists talk about it all the time—probably because they, like us, needed to be reminded often.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46:1-3)

Even in the midst of a pandemic, Palm Sunday is still in the palm of God’s hand.

And even though our churches’ plans have been altered this year, God’s plans are never thwarted.

Here are three truths that will help you look to Palm Sunday with hope and faith, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

1. COVID-19 isn’t a surprise to God.

When we look back to when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, it’s easy to see how God was in control. A crowd of people gathered around Jesus, and they were singing his praises. The Messiah King of Israel entered into the capital city, and the people recognized his authority, laying down their cloaks and palm branches so that his donkey would not need to tread on the dirt.

Flash forward to that following Friday, and it’s a little harder to see how God was in control, when the same King was hanging on a cross.

But here’s the thing. None of this was a surprise to Jesus. It wasn’t a surprise to him when the people sang his praises as he entered the city. And even as he rode into Jerusalem, he was fully aware that this was the last week of his earthly ministry. He knew full well that this week would end with his crucifixion. Jesus knew that while this crowd of people sang his praises, a different crowd would surround him later that week to call for his death.

But even more than that, Jesus knew that God the Father had a plan.

In the same way, God isn’t surprised that COVID-19 has become a global pandemic. And he also isn’t surprised that this crisis is going on during Holy Week. And what’s more is that he still has a plan, and God is still in control. He has a plan to use even the worst tragedies to do amazing things.

And that’s because while God isn’t the author of evils such as the COVID-19 crisis, he works through all things for good (Romans 8:28). Trust that he has a plan even now as you celebrate Palm Sunday from home.

2. Our need for salvation hasn’t changed. We just feel it more. (And that’s a good thing.)

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the crowd of people who were praising him were using a word that may seem unfamiliar to many of us.

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosannato the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!Hosannain the highest!’ (Matthew 21:9, emphasis added)

Hosanna is a Hebrew word that can literally be translated as “please save.” So as the crowd sang the praises of Jesus, it was their expectation and prayer that he was the one who would come and save them.

The people of Israel had been living under the oppression of one foreign empire or another for the better part of the last five centuries. They were waiting for their Messiah to come and liberate them from bondage and finally set them free, once and for all.

What they didn’t realize is that Jesus came to set them free from something far greater than the Roman Empire. He came to set them free from their bondage to sin and death. And this is the same salvation that Jesus offers us today. Without Jesus, all is lost.

We don’t always feel the reality of that, though. Living in the modern world with relative wealth and comfort, we often fall asleep to our need to be saved.

But as we live through this current threat to our health and well being, we’re reminded of just how delicate life is, and how much we need Jesus—both in this life and in the next.

3. Palm Sunday is a day of expectation.

Palm Sunday is a great day of anticipation. It’s the beginning of Holy Week, where we remember the week of Jesus’ three-year ministry, climaxing with the celebration of his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Holy Week tells the story of why the Church exists, where we find our hope, and what the future holds. It’s a week of eager expectation about the great things we know God will do among us, in the very same way it was for the crowds on that first Palm Sunday. God is still in the business of doing great things, even today.

So instead of allowing yourself to be filled with a sense of discouragement, dread, or disappointment this week, ask Jesus to once again fill your heart with a sense of hope. God has done great things. He is doing great things (even if you can’t currently see them). And God will do great things.

Believe it. It’s what this Palm Sunday is all about.

So as you celebrate Palm Sunday, do so with the same kind of desperate, yet joyful, dependence that the crowd placed on Jesus as he entered Jerusalem.

This is a Holy Week to remember.

Regardless of what happens this Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter, this year’s Holy Week will be memorable. Choose to look for all the unique ways that God is working in your life, in your family, and in your community during this time.

He’s working. Are you watching?

The God who saves has not left us. He is actively working. He has a plan. Miracles we can’t yet imagine are just around the corner.

March 29th Reflections

March 29, 2020

Dear St. A’s Church Family and Friends,

Well, here it is Saturday evening, and for the third week in a row, I have no Sunday morning service to finalize! And it is not vacation time! In truth, it feels a little strange. I actually had time to make a pot of homemade soup and to go for a walk today! Craig and I will likely watch another movie tonight from Pure Flix, a movie streaming service of positive movies and shows.

How are you folks doing? From phone conversations and email contacts that Sandra and I have been having with you, we are encouraged that you are all holding your own, and “making the best of it.”

Despite the challenges of this crisis, some really positive things have been happening. Last week, a restaurant -bar in Montreal contacted the church and offered us some fruit. We were able to distribute it to three families. This week, Sandra was once again contacted at the church by a restaurant in Lachine. They were also shutting down and offered us food,- bread and fruit. One staff member delivered a car load of bread to the church, and Craig, who “just happened” (coincidence?) to be working in Lachine that morning, was able to go and pick up another load. When I asked the contact person how come we in Chateauguay were approached, she said they picked up the telephone book and the first church number they saw was ours. Again, I believe the Lord’s hand was in this. As well as some families that we were able to assist, we contacted the Rencontre Chateauguoise who came and took the rest, stating their outreach has increased greatly and one of their food sources was not able to give as much as normal.

Two young ladies (names just now withheld for privacy reasons) have offered to deliver to seniors who may not be able to get out for groceries and medical supplies. If this applies to you, please let Sandra or myself know, and we will endeavor to link you up.

Many of you have been in touch with one another sharing comical and inspiring material via the computer, helping to keep up one another spirits. Thank you, Sandra, for your gifted and warm contact with people, and to Karen Snair and Craig for looking after the church Facebook site and the church website. You all are being the Body of Christ to one another. It is with this spiritual fellowship in mind that I share reflections from Bill Gates (our guest speaker this weekend) sent to me from Rev. Ian Johnston, a Presbyterian minister friend (FYI, Jessie Amy). You might want to read Romans 12 as the Scripture lesson. J

By way of announcements, we extend our sincere sympathies to Woody Paulette in the passing of his dad Dr. Robert Paulette, a well-loved surgeon originally from Sherbrooke, Que., who died in Calgary on March 21st.

We still don’t know when we will be physically able to meet at St. A’s as a congregation, but let us continue to hold up one another in prayer and all those who are on the front lines with this virus.

God bless you all. With love and prayers and computer hugs. Rev.Alice

And now …Mr. Bill Gates

From:Bill Gates

What is the Corona/ Covid-19 Virus Really Teaching us?*

I’m a strong believer that there is a spiritual purpose behind everything that happens, whether that is what we perceive as being good or being bad. As I meditate upon this, I want to share with you what I feel the Corona/ Covid-19 virus is really doing to us:

1. It is reminding us that we are all equal, regardless of our culture, religion, occupation, financial situation or how famous we are. This disease treats us all equally, perhaps we should to. If you don’t believe me, just ask Tom Hanks.

2. It is reminding us that we are all connected and something that affects one person has an effect on another. It is reminding us that the false borders that we have put up have little value as this virus does not need a passport. It is reminding us, by oppressing us for a short time, of those in this world whose whole life is spent in oppression.

3. It is reminding us of how precious our health is and how we have moved to neglect it through eating nutrient poor manufactured food and drinking water that is contaminated with chemicals upon chemicals. If we don’t look after our health, we will, of course, get sick.

4. It is reminding us of the shortness of life and of what is most important for us to do, which is to help each other, especially those who are old or sick. Our purpose is not to buy toilet roll.

5. It is reminding us of how materialistic our society has become and how, when in times of difficulty, we remember that it’s the essentials that we need (food, water, medicine) as opposed to the luxuries that we sometimes unnecessarily give value to.

6. It is reminding us of how important our family and home life is and how much we have neglected this. It is forcing us back into our houses so we can rebuild them into our home and to strengthen our family unit.

7. It is reminding us that our true work is not our job, that is what we do, not what we were created to do. Our true work is to look after each other, to protect each other and to be of benefit to one another.

8. It is reminding us to keep our egos in check. It is reminding us that no matter how great we think we are or how great others think we are, a virus can bring our world to a standstill.

9. It is reminding us that the power of freewill is in our hands. We can choose to cooperate and help each other, to share, to give, to help and to support each other or we can choose to be selfish, to hoard, to look after only our self. Indeed, it is difficulties that bring out our true colors.

10.It is reminding us that we can be patient, or we can panic. We can either understand that this type of situation has happened many times before in history and will pass, or we can panic and see it as the end of the world and, consequently, cause ourselves more harm than good.

11.It is reminding us that this can either be an end or a new beginning. This can be a time of reflection and understanding, where we learn from our mistakes, or it can be the start of a cycle which will continue until we finally learn the lesson we are meant to.

12.It is reminding us that this Earth is sick. It is reminding us that we need to look at the rate of deforestation just as urgently as we look at the speed at which toilet rolls are disappearing off of shelves. We are sick because our home is sick.

13.It is reminding us that after every difficulty, there is always ease. Life is cyclical, and this is just a phase in this great cycle. We do not need to panic; this too shall pass.

Whereas many see the Corona/ Covid-19 virus as a great disaster, I prefer to see it as a *great corrector*. It is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten and it is up to us if we will learn them or not

Amazing Remote Recording by Rome’s International Choir

The wonderful work on the following YouTube link has just been completed by the Rome’s International Opera Choir. ( Project Manager Raffaella Baioni, conductor M ° Giovanni Mirabile)

Raffaella had each choir member record his/her own contribution on a smartphone with the help of a Choir member who is also a sound engineer. The recording files were then cut together, using an ingenious assembly technique and … you can see and hear the result by opening the link below!

From: Richard and Sandra Fortier

A note from Sandra & Richard…

We received the following from a friend and wish to pass it on to you.

When this is over, may we never again take for granted

  • A handshake with a stranger…
  • Full shelves at the store
  • Conversations with neighbours
  • A crowded theatre
  • Friday night out
  • The taste of Communion
  • A routine checkup
  • The school rush each morning
  • Coffee with a friend
  • The stadium roaring
  • Each deep breath
  • A boring Tuesday
  • Life itself.

When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we hoped to be…and may we stay that way…better for each other because of the worst.

If you have something you’ve taken for granted and miss… pass it along to us.  We are missing the warm Sunday morning greetings from all of you. Enjoy the sunshine!

Sandra & Richard