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our weekly e-newsletter . . . with random thoughts from the Pastor.


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September 14, 2020

Go slow. Get ready. Be sure. Stay safe. And six months after our last service in the sanctuary we returned to meet together in person for our time of worship and praise. I have missed seeing  your smiling faces. I have missed hearing and being part of congregational singing. Yesterday was a treat.

It was great to see everyone again in person this our first day back, although it was a little disconcerting not being able to see smiles behind the masks. And having to cancel so many of our church activities over the summer – including what was to have been yesterday’s post-service potluck with the people of the community garden -- was also disappointing. Eventually, I’m sure, we’ll able to talk and laugh and hug one another . . . I await that time . . . although I loved our brief interactions following yesterday’s service.

Never make a definitive statement like I did last week: We anticipate that things will run more smoothly next Sunday, as David will be back with us to give guidance in person. Of course our service was not without some difficulties and technical glitches. David was back and prepared the system to broadcast on YouTube, but when he tried to life-stream the service he received a message that we have to wait 24 hours after setting the program up before we can “go live”. So . . . can I say next week . . . for sure!

And then the ZOOM feed for the question period following our service (so that it could be more interactive) failed. When I tried to log in I received a message saying that there wasn’t a meeting scheduled . . . even though the program showed meeting times for weeks to come. So we have a change of plans for next week (I think we are learning as we go): we’ll keep the Facebook/YouTube feeds going through the question period and anyone who has questions can text them or use the comment section; Lisa has been monitoring the comments and will continue to do so. Oh, and if you do check in with us on Facebook or YouTube let us know you are “out there” through comment, text, or e-mail.

Thanks, then, to David for his technical help, to Glenn for operating the sound system, to Lisa for watching over the Facebook feed, to Richelle and Lisa our greeters and  for getting everything ready   . . . and to you for following theCOVID protocol so well.

In yesterdays service we continued our look at what was happening in the young New Testament church (from Acts 2). As community . . . We Pray. Our focus was on the call to – and our need to – pray: that the people continued steadfastly . . . in prayers.   

I reminded you of the example of Jesus -- He prayed. I reminded you that the disciples caught His example. I reminded you of what SD Gordon said: The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; not those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray. And I suggested that prayer is searching for God’s heart . . . for God’s direction . . . for God’s mind . . . searching for God’s will; that prayer isn’t saying God, I want you to butit is saying God, what do You want?

And then we talked. We talked about why do good intentions for a steady devotional life can fade, and wondered about how we can develop a more consistent prayer life, and about how we can know God’s voice. We concluded that it is good to have an accountability partner to encourage us in our devotional life (prayer and Bible reading). This means we have to be honest with them when they ask how we are doing. And it means that we need to be willing to find someone with whom we feel comfortable in sharing our triumphs and failures. So will you do that this week – find someone to share with and to pray with? I’ve attached our message to this e-mail again (as well as posting it on line and on Facebook).

Normally if I was asked I’d say that messages on stewardship and money are the most difficult ones to preach . . . and they are difficult . . . but I’m rethinking the “most difficult” designation. This coming  Sunday’s message may be even more difficult, especially in today’s political climate.

Sunday coming has been designated Freedom Sunday in the Church of the Nazarene. It is a day to be aware of the problem of human trafficking – of ongoing slavery – to see what we can do. I’ve said that we will expand this to look at how we respond to the care and cause of widows, orphans, immigrants and the poor – those who have been called “the quartet of the vulnerable” – and to Tim Keller’s expanded definition of who is vulnerable, which includes the refugee, the migrant worker, the homeless and many single parents and elderly people. Looking at justice means that we will look at the Black Lives Matter movement and our reaction to it (including All Lives Matter and Every Life Matters). It is a political hot potato – but what does the Bible say? Our service begins at 11:00 – join us in the building or on-line.

Interestingly, one of this year’s missionary books (there are only three this year, and are available to any who want to read them – and might I say, you should) is of stories of our denomination’s involvement in helping people escape a trafficked life.

The Road Back: Hope, Help & Healing for Survivors of Human Trafficking is by Dr. David and Lisa Frisbie, and presents the reader with a global effort to combat human trafficking through our church. It introduces us to heroes and heroines on the front lines, seeking to intervene and offer care and hope to those who have fallen prey to the evil that would rob a life of all dignity and self-worth.

The Road Back, along with the other two (Wanda, a reprint of the story of Wanda Knox, and To the Shelter: Middle East Stories . . . are in the sanctuary. You can purchase an e-book copy of The Road Back from Chapters-Indigo for $1.36.

The following Sunday our emphasis (as we complete this series on the church) is stewardship (if I survive speaking about one issue I should be able to survive the other). Hopefully. Although speaking on Acts 2:44-45– all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need – does not always go over well. It sounds like communism. It sounds like socialism. It sounds like encouraging people not to work (I’ve heard Canada’s social net described this way . . . and I wonder if a Universal Basic Income will indeed be proposed by our current government as the CERB transitions out).

Oh, and that will be Alabaster Sunday. The Alabaster Offering provides funds for property and buildings around the world. While we understand the church consists of the people of God and not a building, buildings erected for the purpose of ministry help provide a sense of permanence, functionally enhance ministry efforts, and convey an attitude that the Church of the Nazarene intends to "put down roots."

Alabaster funds help provide land for many Work & Witness projects, and the entire Alabaster Offering goes toward the purchase of land and construction of churches, schools, medical facilities, and homes for missionaries and national workers.

When Alabaster giving began many people would “save their change”, collecting money in an Alabaster Box which would be brought to the church Alabaster Sunday. With people increasingly using electronic payment methods instead of cash, we don’t collect actual “change” as we once did. One way to save for Alabaster giving is to “round up” purchases and direct your bank to put the “change” into a savings account (many banks allow you to do this) and give this to the Alabaster Fund on our collection Sundays.

As we speak about Stewardship, these are our emphases for the coming months:

  • In October we receive a Thank offering, to help share the Good News of Jesus around the world.
  • In November we emphasize our commitment to Eliezer Suarez, a child we have sponsored.
  • December is Compassionate Ministries Month, and our special offering helps a specific need*.
  • In February we receive an offering in support of the two churches in Cuba we have sponsored.
  • And in March/April we receive our “Easter Offering”; again, to share the Good News of Jesus.

 *This year’s compassionate ministries offering will go to our work in Beirut Lebanon. We as a denomination operate a school in the mountains of Beirut, and the church in Lebanon works with refugees from Palestine and Syria.

We will continue our post-message discussions as we challenge and encourage one another to live grace-filled lives. And unfortunately we are as yet unable to participate in communion/the Lord’s Supper as at Trinity Church we partake as a community with shared elements (that is something we will work on as well).

This Wednesday – as we do every Wednesday evening – we’ll meet at 7:00 pm through ZOOM in our "virtual prayer room" . . . to pray for one another and for others . . . audibly or silently. I will send our prayer requests out with the sign-in information today (to enter the prayer room click here . . . or when you open ZOOM in your browser or open the app the Meeting ID is 760 4098 0245; the passcode is 3R9gvp ). Please join us.

We continue to encourage people to give their offerings through electronic means (through the Canada Helps web site – click here – or through e-transfer – as the offering plate will not be passed (although it will be placed on the back table for those who wish to use their tithe envelopes).

Please note the phase one protocol of our “grand re-opening” which is found at the end of this newsletter. Also note the procedures listed for our return (I’ve attached an edited pdf copy of what to expect on Sundays). Please note that entrance will be through the Braydon Place doors only; the Avalon Place doors will be locked and can only be used to exit (you can also exit from the Braydon Place doors).                                

When you arrive your temperature will be taken and you will be asked “the questions” before granted entrance to the building – give yourself lots of time. We ask that you please make your way directly to the sanctuary while practising physical distancing on entrance.