Tic . . . tic . . . tic . . . the countdown is on. I think. It is March, isn’t it? And that means that we are closing in on the spring equinox – emphasis, spring. And yet as I look out my window I wonder. We’ve gone from cold to warm and from freezing rain to rain to snow . . . and everything in between in these past few days. “Lakes” have formed on our pathways and on our streets (walkers: there is a “splash warning”; drivers: be aware of walkers!). Oh, and potholes develop right before our eyes as we drive, it seems – beware!
And yes, I may have been a little less than dignified yesterday when I used the old line Some people are like slinkies: they aren’t really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs – I was just trying to use a little light humour about the whole “spring” thing. And about the spring time change. I’m not a big fan of “losing an hour of sleep”, and I’d have no problem abolishing the idea of springing forward, although the Ontario provincial government has decided that the fall time change is the one to end. The headline in November 2020 said Ontario to move permanently to daylight saving time (the bill that passed through legislature cited studies indicating negative health effects and productivity loss related to the time changes). Many people were excited by the news . . . until they read the caveat: as long as Quebec, New York follow. It may be a while until this comes to pass. Until then, remember to set your clocks forward Saturday evening/early Sunday morning so that service isn’t over when you arrive at the church.
Spring also means that the community garden leadership committee has begun planning for the coming season (he says, as he stands to look out his window and sees an inch / a couple of centimetres of snow on the ground and more big fluffy flakes falling). There are a few plots available this year if you would like to try your hand at vegetable gardening. Just Foods COVID protocols remain in effect but will (hopefully) ease as the year progresses. E-mail Rhonda at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. Registration will take place in April (Next month! Spring is coming!).
We are in Lent. As I said last week, we know that it is Lent because it is Tim Horton’s Roll Up the Rim time. And for those who are fasting from sugar this year, I am sorry that you have to see and hear donut commercial after donut commercial. It just isn’t fair . . . at least, if you like those sugary treats.
Lent is a time of discipline and self-denial – Christians choose to fast from or refrain from some activity. Many people will fast from some enjoyable pastime, usually food – often chocolate or treats of some kind (hence the reference to donuts). The purpose: to create space in their lives so they can “feast on the presence of Jesus directly.
Fasting during Lent is an experiment in grace. Through it we strive for self-control. We gain an awareness of the things (habits) that hold us and control us. We gain an awareness of how much we have and of how much we take for granted. And we strive for a greater awareness of what Christ wants of us.
Yesterday was the first Sunday of Lent. It was also the first Sunday of lifted COVID restrictions for in-person gatherings. Unfortunately, it was also the first Sunday of March, which meant that weather could be . . . a bit off. And it was.
So if you were not able to join us in the sanctuary for worship (and most people did not risk driving) we are glad that you joined us on line.
In our message we looked at Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and at our journey there with Him. We read that Jesus steadfastly set His face [or steeled Himself] to go to Jerusalem. He knew what lay ahead for Him. He had told the disciples what they should expect. Although they didn’t want to hear it. And in fact they argued with Him about it: Mark writes that Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. He looked at Jesus and said no no no. And Jesus looked at him and said yes yes yes. Jesus would not be deterred from His work – the work that brought us into a renewed relationship with God.
Others steeled themselves to go along with Him as long as they were comfortable (that’s how I interpret Luke 9:57-62). Someone said “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” . . . but Jesus warned Him of that following Him was not sunshine and lollypops, but in fact (while not misery) a life of discomfort and of dis-ease. Someone else said “I have things to do but then I’ll come with you” . . . but Jesus said that the time was now. Another person suggested that he’d follow eventually . . . but Jesus challenged him to make us his mind and act immediately.
Our call – our call – is to steel ourselves to live for Him fully, The Christian life is about walking with Jesus to Jerusalem. And when distractions come our way to keep on going. In Lent we remember that our direction is Jerusalem. We are walking toward Easter, and renewal in Jesus. So we walk with Him. We listen to Him. We find Him anew. So that we can tell the world about Him, and to bring people to Him to find what we have found.
You can “revisit” yesterday’s service 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 (or click here).
Next Sunday is the second Sunday of Lent. Jesus is still on His way to Jerusalem. The disciples are going with Him. We are (figuratively) going with Him, at His invitation. But as we go we have questions, not the least of which is who am I that He would call me? And second to that, perhaps, is what am I supposed to do? There are so many people that can do so much more than I can! And yet . . . Jesus says follow. And we will. We do. We’ll look at His reaction to Peter and at His reaction to us as He says Yes – This Way. Join us at 11:00 – Daylight Savings Time.
Oh, COVID. Yes, face coverings are still mandated. However, we are glad that a number of the restrictions have been lifted: vaccine passports are no longer required and capacity limits have been removed. It might be awkward for some to join us in the sanctuary each Sunday. If you do not feel comfortable joining with others in the congregation in person please join us through our Facebook feed (click here) or our YouTube feed (click here) – or link directly from our web site (click here). Please “check in” – let us know if you worship with us “live or delayed”.
And if you do feel comfortable, join us “in person” this week . . . and bring someone with you! We will still need to take care to maintain distance. Cleanliness of the building will be maintained. Let us continue to respect one another as we return to community worship . . . let us always respect one another!
Tuesday evening we will continue to look at the words of Qoheleth . . . The Preacher. We continue our study of the book of Ecclesiastes. Join us at 7:00 in our ZOOM room: e-mail the church office for log-in information.
We continue to meet Wednesday evenings at 7:00 – gathering for a virtual prayer time through ZOOM. John Wesley said that God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it. Join us for this important part of the life of the church, as we search for God’s direction and power as a congregation. e-mail the church office for log-in information.
Our District Sunday School Ministries board has developed a daily prayer and Bible reading schedule for the 40 days of prayer . . . a guide to help in renewal in Christ. Each week we will pray for specific zone churches and for district boards and leadership in Ontario. The reading schedule is based on the Psalms and is a re-introduction to biblical Wisdom Literature. Be sure to download your copy.
The heart of our focus as a church is to point people to and to help people into the Kingdom of God. Sometimes, though, we get caught up in making sure the church machinery runs properly and we get caught up in making sure church services run smoothly and we get caught up in day-to-day living itself. And so . . . we pause. We listen for the voice of God. We listen to the voice of God. So that we can start afresh.
Our denominational leadership is calling us to pause and to listen. We have been invited to join with the 500,000 Nazarenes in USA and Canada in a prayer initiative called The Half-Million Mobilization.
More information will be shared in the days ahead, but plan to be part of this concerted time of prayer which will begin May 1 and continue through to Pentecost (June 5). Begin now . . . join us as we pray for protection, for direction, for revelation, and for renewal.
We are remembering the situation in and the people of Ukraine (and Russia). General Superintendent Dr. David Busic has asked us to pray (and that is where we always need to start). Pray for . . .
- Safety of church and leaders. Some of our churches are being used as bomb shelters.
- Finances and resources. Food and money are limited.
- Movement of refugees. Many women and children are fleeing the country for safety reasons - while most men are staying to defend their country.
- Unity for the church. Ukraine and Russia have many family and friendship ties.
Thank you again for your faithful support of the work we are trying to accomplish for Christ through what we do as a church . . . for giving generously of your tithes and offerings to the meet the needs of our local church. We continue to receive our tithes and offerings through e-transfer (email@example.com) and through the Canada Helps web site (click here).
And if we are going to pray about finances and resources, perhaps we can give as well. There is a “special giving emphasis” most months at Trinity Church. In February we were asked to give – along with our regular tithes and offerings – a donation in support of the two churches we sponsor in Cuba. Thank you for your generosity – our support was more than the minimum asked. We did not have a giving emphasis for the month of March. If you would . . . if you are led . . . give to humanitarian aid in Ukraine. You can give through our regular giving channels at the church (envelope, e-transfer, or the Canada Helps giving button on our web site). You can also give directly to Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada (mail to 3657 Ponytrail Drive, Mississauga, ON L4X 1W5, donate online at www.ncmcanada.ca ; call 1-905-602-8220 or 1888 808 7490). Designate your gift "Ukraine".
And thank you for your generous giving to our commitments to Cuba: to our sister churches and to Eliezer . . . we have more than met our financial obligations.