We have been fortunate. More than 490,000 Hydro One customers just experienced power outages caused by one of the worst wind storms in recent years. High winds of more than 100 km/h swept across the province late Saturday night causing significant damage and delaying power restoration efforts. In Ottawa, Hydro Ottawa reported outages across the city due to the windy conditions Saturday evening. Power was restored overnight.
Compare this to what Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear calls a collection of tornadoes that is considered the most destructive in the state's history . . . tornadoes that extended across a number of States (including a "Quad-State Tornado" which may have set the record for the longest continuous tornado in American history that ripped across four states – Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky – in four hours). Entire blocks were flattened. Entire communities were devastated. Entire towns were destroyed.
I have always wondered how much joy we should feel and whether we should even “thank God” for protecting us when others were not protected and their lives were destroyed. Does He care for “us“ more than He does “them”? To be wandering around saying “Merry Christmas” doesn’t seem quite right as it will not be merry for many.
There is little that we can do “up here in Canada” . . . or is there? This is yet another opportunity to show compassion – to be compassionate. Yes, we are already involved and giving to the needs of others. The focus of our compassionate ministries offering this December is Haiti and the devastation and restoration there – any offerings given for NCM or compassionate ministries will be directed there unless otherwise designated.
However, if you wish, our own church is already involved in relief efforts in the tornado ravaged areas, as is the Red Cross, and as are other agencies. And Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada has developed a “compassionate giving catalogue” for Christmas. Print copies are available; an on-line catalogue can be found by clicking here. The MacMillan family has asked that in lieu of flowers donations can be made in Pastor Al’s memory to NCMC.
You may give through Trinity Church or directly to Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada (click here) indicating where to direct your gift.
Last week it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. This week it just looks like . . . yuk. The rain has washed away much of the snow, and what is left looks dirty and dull. My preference is snow for Christmas and for winter to be winter (none of these temperature bounces – once December hits I’d like it to be minus 7 for three months). Of course, I spent my younger days on the prairies, where once snow came it stayed, and where minus 7 was a mid-winter thaw!
I know . . . I admit it . . . I can get caught up on the “looks” of Christmas. On the “feel” of Christmas. Maybe even on the secular side of Christmas. And that’s where Advent comes in. I’ve said that Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. Not a longing for family visits and presents and turkey dinner (although those are nice), but a longing for a fresh touch of God’s Spirit and a deepening of our relationship with Jesus – the Babe in the Manger who is Christ the Lord. The outward look is not near as important as the inner work.
Our Advent series has focused – is focussing – on those who were Lost and Found. We began by looking at Gabriel giving Direction; then we saw the not-so-wise men becoming Lost; yesterday we joined with the shepherds in their Surprise Find; Sunday coming our District Superintendent will be with us (we’ll be Visited). Our Christmas Eve service will look at our relationship with the Babe in the manger – that we’ve been Found.
In yesterday’s message we talked of the many surprises caused by the angels’ visit to the shepherds as “they watched their flock by night”. They were surprised by the visit and by the fact that they were visited. They were surprised that they were visited by angels. They were surprised that they were the ones told that the Christ was born. And they were surprised to be given this important announcement before anyone else!
And in the back of my mind, I hear but wait – there’s more! because there were indeed even more surprises, not just for the shepherds but for the Jewish nation itself (the Jewish people themselves . . . although many refused to believe what they heard). Surprise! The Messiah is born. Surprise! The Messiah is born where He is born – in a stable, not in a palace. Surprise! The Messiah is born as He is born – to a simple peasant family, not in royalty. But God delights in surprises, it seems. The greatest surprise of all: that He did this for us. And the question we must answer is always this: how are you responding to His love?
You can “revisit” our service . . . it can be seen on our Facebook page (click here) and on our YouTube channel (click here). Watch . . . be challenged . . . be blessed. The message transcript is available on our web site (click here).
This coming Sunday . . . a “Christmas treat” . . . our District Superintendent Steve Ottley will be with us to share our message. He will guide us through The Long View of Christmas, looking at Genesis 12. Following our service he will take time to greet those who are able to attend, and then will meet with our church board. Join us in our service this Sunday morning at 11:00.
While some people are still hesitant to be with other people inside a building for an extended period of time, and while our services will continue to be streamed on Facebook (click here) and on YouTube (click here), we can properly social distance in our sanctuary as we meet (be sure to have a vaccination certificate handy). If you prefer to join us on-line, drop a note to email@example.com and let us know that you are with us!
I am looking forward to this year’s Christmas Eve Candlelight service. Last year we pre-recorded the service for viewing on our Facebook page and YouTube channels. This year we will be able to meet together “live”, looking at the Christmas story together in song and in Word. Join us at 7:00pm, either in the sanctuary or on-line. May you find richness in Jesus this Christmas season.
Christmas music . . . Christmas songs . . . Christmas carols . . . the Advent Conspiracy has created a Spotify play list . . . click here and enjoy!
Each year during Advent I suggest a reading schedule from the Bible that we can follow together as we prepare our hearts for the celebration of the Christ-Child. This year rather than just looking at the passages that talk about the birth of Christ we’re looking at His life, reading through the book of Luke, one chapter a day. Today’s reading includes Jesus teaching on repentance, healing a crippled woman, some parables, and . . .
Join our discussion on Ecclesiastes tomorrow night at 7:30 . . . we’ll be looking at the 3rd chapter . . . there really is a time for every purpose under heaven. E-mail the church for log-in information.
Prayer is an integral part of the life of the church . . . I’d go so far as to say that it’s our life-blood as we search for God’s direction and power as a congregation. We continue to meet Wednesday evenings for a time of prayer together through ZOOM. E-mail the church for log-in information. Please feel free to join us as we unite our hearts to meet with God (and He with us).
Don’t forget that JCL (Jesus Christ Living) will share a musical “concert” leading in music and worship the evening of January 9 – again, the sanctuary will be open for those who feel comfortable gathering, and the service will be streamed on our Facebook site and our YouTube channel.
As you give . . . thank you for supporting the work of your church locally and internationally. We continue to receive our tithes and offerings through e-transfer (firstname.lastname@example.org) and through the Canada Helps web site (click here); offerings given in the offering plate (which is on the back table for those who wish to use their regular tithe envelopes) are deposited every second week. Donations for 2021 tax receipts must be received by December 31.
We would like to congratulate Lisa on her recent retirement from her job with Health Canada (retirement simply means that she will begin a new job – consulting – in the new year).
We would like to offer our condolences to Joel (Joey), Alex, and Lloyd Rodriguez on the recent passing of their brother Erle. Erle suffered a massive stroke that caused brain hemorrhage last week; unfortunately, he did not recover. Erle had lived in the Philippines the past number of years. He leaves a wife and two young daughters.
(Joey was part of Trinity Church when he lived in Ottawa and visits with us when he is “back home”; Lloyd has led many of our services in pulpit supply; Alex is our “computer tech”).