Shocked was the word people used most often to describe their reaction to the announcement we made last Thursday of life changes that we plan to make, although not surprised “surprisingly“ was mentioned as well. It was an announcement that I did not plan to make. To be honest, I was – am – surprised by the direction that we feel God is taking us. Just this past summer as I was talking with someone, I said that I thought that we had many more years of ministry here at Trinity Church. However, God is leading us elsewhere . . .
As I shared, after much soul searching and prayer, Cindy felt that it was time for her to step away from child care, and informed “her parents” that she would no longer operate her home daycare after June 2022. We had – have – been talking (and praying) about what that means for our future, and with God leading us have decided to move to Alberta in the fall of 2022. This was a difficult decision to make. We have loved our time in Ottawa and our being part of the Trinity family (and still do), but with retirement looming (sooner than I had thought) and Cindy's mother aging we believe that this is what we should do.
This is going to be a change for us personally (I had always thought that we’d retire in Ottawa), but also for Trinity Church. However, God is leading the way and has something great in store. We had already realized the church is in transition and that our younger leaders were taking on a greater role; this will give an opportunity for a fresh vision to take hold. We will continue work together as we plan for the future of this church . . . to God’s glory.
Meanwhile, we press on in ministry, reaching out to our community in Jesus’ name, and supporting and encouraging one another as a people of God. Our Sunday services continue, although with some changes in format. Yesterday our service “liturgy” ( we call it an “order of service”) was a little different than what we are used to. We began at 11:00 as usual, but sang fewer songs at the beginning of the service.
Our message began shortly after 11:15 instead of the traditional (to us) 11:30; then we continued in praise and worship “until we were done”. This will be the “new normal” – and not because we are nearing post-pandimic life.
Part of this has to do with our on-line ministry as we stream our services. We have discovered (and it only makes sense) that worshiping at home is different than worshiping in a sanctuary. We are hoping that by breaking up the song portion of our worship time all will feel drawn closer to God and that those who are on-line will sense greater community.
There are two ways to look at streaming services on-line for those who cannot attend. The first is to see our services as a re-broadcast from the sanctuary for people to watch. The second is to see the services as as “hybrid” – as services with those on-line rather than broadcast for those who are on-line. It may be splitting hairs, but I don’t see our sanctuary services as “those there watching and those here worshiping”, but rather as “all of us together, though in different places”. We want to do our best so that everyone engages.
One other thing: beginning this coming Sunday our worship team will lead a time of pre-service singing, beginning at 10:45, as people find their way into the sanctuary.
We have begun our fall series: Keys to Kingdom Living. We began with a challenge to radical love. There were so many ways that we could have looked at this subject . . . so many Scriptures that talk about love. We could have used 1 Corinthians as our basis: love is patient, love is kind. We could have focused fully on John – his letters or his gospel: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends, he said [John 15:13]. Instead, we looked at what Jesus had to say about love – you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength . . . and your neighbor as yourself.
As we looked at what that could mean I shared what I called a philosophical suggestion (it was not a thus sayeth the Lord pronouncement): that we really do need to be careful not to choose rights over responsibilities to others. While this could extend to many issues, I specifically spoke to our responsibilities in COVID time. It is a controversial issue. Some believe that it is a God-given right that Christians worship together. Some go so far as to say that God demands that people get together to worship on the Sabbath. I’m not so sure about that – in fact, I’m positive that’s not right! Then, some who are part of the church and some not part of the church believe that expecting people to wear masks and be vaccinated is an infringement of personal rights. I talked about our responsibilities in love regarding the decisions that some are making.
Responsibilities . . . in love. I quoted this article as a Christian basis for receiving a vaccination. It speaks of being vaccinated not just for oneself, but for others also. It is well worth taking the time to read.
Our message was not about vaccinations. It was about love. Love God. Love others. Love yourself because you are loved. Show it. Express it. Live it. And the most difficult challenge issued: be radical. Be different. If love focuses on others first, then become a person that focuses on others first! The message transcript has been posted to our web site.
Next Sunday is Freedom Sunday. Or Anti-Slavery Sunday. Or Justice Sunday. Or . . . you understand. We will focus on the horrors of human trafficking. We will be reminded that we are in a battle against evil. We will be reminded that some of the evils in this world are hidden from us, and too easily forgotten. We will be reminded that injustice abounds in our world.
And we will be reminded that as people of God we have a responsibility (there’s that word again) to do something about it. To denounce it. To stand up against it. To act. Because if we ignore this evil, we are complicit in what is happening.
Each month, along with our regular tithes and offerings, we have an opportunity to give to a special church mission project. September’s emphasis is the Alabaster Offering. Based on the selfless giving of the woman who broke a flask of expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus [Matthew 26], we receive a special offering each September, used for the work of the Kingdom world-wide.
Money raised through this offering is used to purchase land and to build churches, schools, medical facilities, and homes for missionaries and national workers.
Tuesday is now a get-together-to-learn night. Each Tuesday there will be a different opportunity to study/discuss/learn. I know that life is busy, but join us as you can through the month:
- 1st Tuesday: Young Adult Question and Answer
- 2nd Tuesday: “Traditional” Bible Study
- 3rd Tuesday: Book Study/Discussion
- 4th Tuesday: a Discussion of Biblical Proportions (misunderstood verses)
E-mail the church office for links to join the ZOOM discussions.
Tomorrow we will begin our monthly Bible Study . . . looking at the words of Qoheleth – the book of Ecclesiastes. The book is attributed to the wisest man ever – the biblical King Solomon. We can learn much though his . . . adventures in life(?) . . . even though he concluded that everything we do is “vanity”. This will be an interactive study . . . read chapter one (or more) and come prepared to share thoughts and ideas on life.
In September’s book study we will (begin to) look at Jesus Is ___, by Judah Smith. Click here to order the book from Chapters (it should only take a few days to arrive). Come with questions of your own as we talk about and learn from the challenges offered.
The “Discussion of Biblical Proportions” would normally be the last Tuesday of the month; however, I am unable to lead that night, so for September only we will meet together Thursday (September 30).
We continue to meet Wednesday evenings for a time of prayer together, though ZOOM. Please feel free to join us as we unite our hearts to meet with God (and He with us). E-mail the church office for the link.
The musical group JCL (Jesus Christ Living) we lead in praise and worship in a more informal evening setting. Their first “concert” is scheduled for 7:00 pm September 26. They will lead from the sanctuary; for those who cannot attend in person, the musical evening will also be streamed from our Facebook and YouTube sites.
- Sep 19 Keys to Kingdom Living: a passion for justice
- Sep 26 Keys to Kingdom Living: lavish generosity
- Oct 3 Keys to Kingdom Living: extravagant forgiveness
- Oct 10 thanks for . . . our Thanksgiving message
- Oct 17 Keys to Kingdom Living: inclusive hospitality
- Oct 24 Keys to Kingdom Living: compassionate action
- Oct 31 Keys to Kingdom Living: selfless service
- Nov 7 Keys to Kingdom Living: creative non-violence
- Nov 14 Keys to Kingdom Living: simple living
- Nov 21 Interlude: Matt sharing
- Nov 28 Advent begins