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21
September 21, 2020

Tomorrow is the first day of autumn (or fall, if you wish). It is my favourite season. I’m iffy about winter, although I enjoy hockey season (I’m still shaking my head about NHL playoffs in August and September), fluffy flakes of snow (not enamoured about -35° nights or days) and hot chocolate. Spring is nice, with the renewal of the earth (not thrilled with the huge puddle-lakes but am glad to see the snow go), the birds singing, and warmth from the sun. Summer is fantastic, with longer days, steady sunshine, and the ability to be outside for hours on end. But fall – autumn – there’s just something about it that appeals to my heart. I love seeing the leaves turn colour and feeling the crispness in the air . . . I can’t explain it. It’s a time for new beginnings.

We are two services into our new beginnings at Trinity Church. It was a long six months of not being able to get together for worship and celebration. Of course we were able to get together through ZOOM meetings, but singing and talking just aren’t the same staring at a screen as opposed to being face to face. Mind you, it is a little different “mask to mask”. Voices are a little muffled and facial expressions are a little hidden. But to be in the same room is a blessing.

Church isn’t church because we meet at 11:00 on a Sunday morning, though . . . it is church because the people of God meet together to encourage and to be encouraged, and to be challenged to live a Christian life – that is, the Jesus life of love and compassion. Yes, there are times we fall short of what we want to be, but the Spirit of God helps us – we learn, we grow, we live.

Yesterday was Freedom Sunday – a day of reminder and awareness of the problem of human trafficking – of ongoing slavery – to see what we can do about it. We looked at what Malachi had to say regarding our response to the plight of widows, orphans, immigrants and the poor – those who have been called “the quartet of the vulnerable” (with 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) – anyone who cannot look after himself. God calls us to stand with and for them.

We added modern day slaves to that list. We don’t like to think about slavery as a modern phenomenon. Slavery happened in the past, and our enlightened society is past that. Or so we’d like to think. But it exists today. We may not see it. We may close our eyes to it. But it is there. People are being exploited. And our question was – iswhat will we the church and what will we as individuals do about it? Our message is attached.

Our post-service discussion was interesting – thanks for joining in from the sanctuary and “from afar” through the Facebook comment section. If you are watching our service from our YouTube site you can e-mail your questions and comments to trinityconnects@rogers.com (please note that the post-service@rogers address is no longer available). Both the Facebook comment section and the e-mail address are monitored following the service.

Our discussion reminded us that it takes effort to discover what is happening in the world and that we cannot (in all good conscience) choose to be blind to the circumstances that affect people. We research. We realize. And once we are aware, we act. We share our knowledge with others. And as difficult as it may be, we change our buying habits to support ethical businesses. Check out Katie Bergman’s article (click here) in Relevant Magazine for her suggestions on how we can help end human trafficking.

Speaking of our discussion time, we continue to change and adapt. It is great to be able to talk with one another, but the masks muffle, and those not in the service cannot hear because microphones are not used. In the future I’ll repeat questions and comments so that everyone can hear.

As I have pointed out, 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.

It’s happening . . . slowly. We are starting to get a feel for streaming our services live. David was able to get both the Facebook and YouTube feeds running, although it took a bit to get the sound right (YouTube audio is still a bit “off”). This week’s note from YouTube was that we were playing copyrighted music (we know that and thought we had permission to do so), so our services have been blocked in some world areas . . . for example, if you live in Denmark you can’t watch them. We’ll work on that  . . . just in case.

This coming Sunday (as we end this series on the church) we will emphasis stewardship. And yes, it is difficult to speak on such a personal subject. However, Jesus did not shy away from talking about it, so it is an important part of our lives as His followers. We will talk about . . . read about . . . be challenged about . . . our attitude toward money.

I realize that 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 – can be difficult to live out (ask Ananias and Sapphira). It sounds like communism. It sounds like socialism. It sounds like encouraging people not to work (I wonder if a Universal Basic Income will indeed be proposed in the Throne Speech later this week – some believe that this proposed social safety net is anti-work). The Bible is clear: they had, they gave. We’ll look at our attitude regarding giving this Sunday.

Also this Sunday . . . it’s Alabaster. 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.

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.

And thank you . . . for the cards and for the “spoken song” and for the gifts . . . I am touched by your thoughts.