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the "Hallowe’en is Coming" edition

October 25, 2021


I know. It isn’t that people are opinionated as much as it is that people have opinions. Yes. I said that. Like that. We base our opinions on what we see and on what we hear and on what we read . . . on what people that we hold in esteem (or at least have influence in our society, whether or not earned or deserved) think and say and do.

For example, I read that actor Laurence Fishburn’s daughter became involved in the sex trade because of the influence of the Kardashians (and how sad is it, that my spell checker didn’t question the spelling of Kardashian?).

Opinions. They vary on how we as people of God should respond to issues. Like Hallowe’en. And there is great debate! For example . . .

David Carson says that while Hallowe’en is just harmless childish fun to many – a childhood celebration with costumes and candy – Hallowe’en celebrates the cult of death and is a blatant demonstration of the occult and of the ongoing spiritual battle we all face. He suggests that Christians should separate themselves from the defilement of the season and use it as an opportunity to explain to others, especially our children, the dangers of occult involvement.

On the other hand, Al Funk says that this thought makes it increasingly difficult for the Church to speak into our world with any kind of credibility. He admits that while Halloween has some dark origins, and while some individuals continue to practice acts that we would consider to be dark, the vast majority of people who participate in Hallowe’en events are doing nothing more than enjoying a fun time with their families. He asks “What if we were known as the house on our block that gives out the most and the best candy? What if we were the most welcoming people in the neighbourhood? What if we used this as an opportunity to get to know our neighbours and they discovered that Christians can be fun people to know?” He suggests that Christians redeem the day rather than to ignore it

And Professor Anderson M. Rearick says “I have always considered Halloween a day to celebrate the imagination, to become for a short time something wonderful and strange, smelling of grease paint . . . How wonderful to be with other children dressed up as what they might grow up to be, what they wished they could be, or even what they secretly feared.”

Finally, some have taken CS Lewis’ thought that Satan hates laughter to suggest that we should not fear the day but should embrace it and fill it with goodness.

I admit that I am on the side of redeeming the day . . . perhaps forgetting the ghosts and ghouls and goblins . . . but making it into something fun, bringing light into the night – much like Christians have embraced the celebration of Christmas (once thought an evil celebration itself) over the years, making a pagan holiday into a sacred time.

And I do like what Funk says. So if you are going to open your door to trick-or-treaters this weekend, be generous . . . be gracious to all.

We are continuing our study of what I have called the Keys to Kingdom Living, and in yesterday’s service we looked at Compassionate Action. To follow the call of Jesus is to do more than mouth our concern for others; we must act on the needs that we see around us. This call is based on Old Testament principles. This call is echoed throughout the New Testament. This call is to the church of yesterday and to the church today. We ignore this call at our spiritual peril.

We looked at the Parable of the Good Samaritan (you can download the message from our web page, click here) – well, we looked at the attitude of the religious leader/lawyer who came to Jesus and asked what do I need to do to get eternal life? And he, I think, was looking for a “floor” answer – what is the minimum that I need to do to get into heaven? Unfortunately, I don’t think the answer he was looking for was any different than the answer many people are looking for today – and though they/we wouldn’t put it quite this way, the question is what do I need to do to slide into heaven . . . and let’s keep the expectations minimal. We can love God with all of our heart and soul and strength and mind . . . but we’ll try to justify our attitudes and actions at times.

Who is my neighbour? The answer is far more involved than we want it to be. But if we are going to be princes or princesses – children of the King – then we must listen to the answer given: these are your neighbours: the fatherless and the widow and the stranger [Deuteronomy 10:18]; these are your neighbours: the hungry and the thirsty and the homeless and the unclothed and the sick and the ones in prison [Matthew 25:35-36]. A neighbour is any person that you may come into contact with. Act compassionately – with loving care – towards that person.

Our questions for reflection included these thoughts:

  • How does it feel to know that you are a prince or a princess?
    • Does it put more pressure on you that you represent/reflect the King, or less?
  • How well do you know your neighbours?
    • Who lives 2 doors down, left or right?
    • Are you willing to get to know them?
    • What if they are not willing to get to know you?
  • Are you willing to extend your definition of neighbour?
    • Have you done anything to show Jesus to those who are not like you?
  • Do you think that you are a compassionate person?
    • What makes you think you are?
  • Are you more like the priest/Levite or the Samaritan?
  • Have you learned to stop and listen to the voice of God?

As it is every week, our service has been posted on our Facebook page (click here) and on our YouTube channel (click here).  

We are nearing the end of our study of the Keys to Kingdom Living. If we hadn’t already looked at the story, we could have looked at Martha as the antithesis of how to live in this week’s key. In fact, in many ways Martha points at how not to live as a follower of Jesus . . . while she was “doing” for Him she was also “doing” for herself. We will not look at Martha again. We will, though, look at the key of Selfless Service.

It appears that the day has finally arrived: you can come back to church services beginning this Sunday! Some people will be excited at this news. Come to church this week! Some people will still be hesitant to attend service – and that’s OK. Come to church when you feel comfortable!

My understanding of the Roadmap to Reopening Ontario (our provincial guidelines) is that as we are in step 3, attendance at religious services is not longer restricted to 30% of building capacity as long as physical distancing can be maintained. However, proof of double vaccination (a vaccination certificate) must be provided by anyone entering the building. Next Sunday morning as we meet again for our congregational worship time, please have your certificate ready should you choose to join us in person. Our service will continue to be streamed on Facebook (click here) and on YouTube (click here). Join us at 11:00, and if you join on-line be sure to drop a note to trinityconnects@rogers.com and let us know that you are with us!  

I realize that life is busy – that you are busy. And that while you might want to be part of our Together Tuesday book discussion, that it may not work for you to do so. However, if you do read the books that we would talk about at our discussions but can’t join us, you can always contact me, and we can set up a time to go through the books together.

So far we have read Jesus Is by Judah Smith, and Blessed are the Misfits by Brant Hansen. This month I’d like to recommend you read The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. Yes, it is an “older” book (©1990) but it is pertinent today. Order it from Chapters – click here.

We will meet for our “Discussion of Biblical Proportions” tomorrow evening.  We are looking at what can be considered Misunderstood Verses in the Bible. Sometimes these verses are taken out of context. Sometimes we don’t realize the context of the verses. Sometimes we decide in our minds how these verses should be interpreted based on what we think or believe. Tomorrow we’ll look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – a controversial passage—at least controversial in our current culture.

We meet at 7:30. E-mail the church office for log-in information to join our ZOOM discussion on Misunderstood Verses in the Bible.

We continue to meet Wednesday evenings for a time of prayer together, also through ZOOM: E-mail the church office for log-in information and feel free to join us as we unite our hearts to meet with God (and He with us).

The annual Ottawa Civic Prayer Breakfast will be held this Friday October 29 (click here to register). The program will be streamed live at 7:30 am. In-person tickets are sold out.

This year’s guest speaker is Garth Steele (recently diagnosed with ALS), speaking on living a life of faith over fear as he answers the question “who is my neighbour?” (click here to access his blog).

An Introductory Conversation on Caring for Creation

This Saturday (October 30), Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada will host a Zoom webinar titled An Introductory Conversation on Caring for Creation. The webinar will begin at 11:00 am. Speakers are:

  • Keasha Green, a graduate of Tyndale Seminary, who was contracted by NCM Canada to research the Biblical and theological foundation for creation care and to work with NCM Canada to incorporate care for creation as a theme across our ministry.
  • Milon Patwary, a long-time partner of NCM Canada in Bangladesh, who will share how caring for creation is a component of projects (funded by NCM Canada) initiated and implemented by local churches as they serve needs in their communities.
  • Yara Cristales, who will share resources created for supporters of NCM Canada and for local churches, missions groups, youth groups or other small groups that will inform, challenge, and motivate to action – to care for creation.
  • Trinity Church has been asked to share how our church cares for creation and lives out love for our neighbours in the communities surrounding the church through our community garden.  

All are welcome to “attend” the webinar. Click here to register in advance for this meeting.

Mark December 5 and (tentatively) January 9 on your calendar:

  • December 5 is a Christmas Carol sing – or, if we can’t “legally sing”, a Night of Christmas Music, with special song – and (of course!) carols.
  • January 9 JCL is “in concert”, sharing in music and leading in worship.

Our music celebrations will begin at 7:00 both evenings.

Our District SDMI (Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International) has given our church a subscription to Right Now Media – said to be the world’s largest library of video-driven Bible study resources (click here to go to the web site and explore). This resource can be used for your personal devotional time . . . and we will be using it in some of our studies in the days ahead.

Click here to register to use the site; let me know if you give permission for me to put you on their sign-up/mailing list.

The theme of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries is Compassion as a Lifestyle. Jesus said whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me [Matthew 25:40, NIV]. Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada gives many opportunities to compassionate involvement, including providing a “compassionate giving catalogue” for Christmas.

Print copies are available; an on-line catalogue can be found by clicking here. Giving designated “International Compassionate Ministries” through Trinity Church is sent to NCMC. This year’s compassionate ministries offering is designated to the relief work in Haiti.