Ouch! November! I thought that I might title today’s Musings the Post Halloween Edition. Then because of that extra hour of sleep on the weekend (for those who didn’t say hey, I can stay up an hour later tonight) I thought that I might title it the Time Change Edition. Then I woke up this morning to a howling wind and blowing snow (blowing snow!!!) and wondered if I should call it the Winter’s Coming Edition. As you can see, I went with the old standard: it’s the Nothing Special Edition. Except that every day is special when we remember that the Lord has made the day for us to rejoice in!
Yesterday was a great day in which to rejoice as we met together to celebrate the goodness of God and to worship Him. The theme of our song service was His amazing love for us: both the old hymns and the new worship songs are powerful (although it was older new worship songs that were sung). I’m sure that it was difficult for those who were part of the in-building congregation to sing quietly . . . I look forward to the day that we can all raise our voices again!
I didn’t quote him yesterday – but only because I almost always do when we talk about prayer. I refer to Søren Kierkegaard and to what he had to say about it: A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening. Sometimes I wonder if we have forgotten how to listen to God – or if we no longer care to listen to Him! We might just be shaken from our comfort if we do.
I remember when an automatic transmission was an option in a car. Air conditioning? Cruise control? Options. Regular sized spare tire? Not an option – standard equipment! Now a regular sized spare tire is an option and air conditioning and cruise control are standard equipment. Things have changed!
Things have changed in the church as well. Regular – that is, every week – attendance at church services used to be “standard” and expected, not an optional activity pushed aside by “something else”. Suits and ties/dresses were the “standard” mode of dress. And prayer . . . prayer was expected. COVID-19 has made physical attendance at a church service more of a deliberate and careful choice (although we had already been letting other activities crowd church attendance out). “Sunday best” is seen as a relic of our rural roots and is not as important as it once was.
But prayer . . . prayer is still something that is expected. It is one of those Great Expectations. Though we need to be careful, says Jesus, that we don’t make prayer a ritual or a chore – something to be checked off of our “to-do” lists. And we need to make sure that it does not become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal or just noise (think Charlie Brown’s teacher). We need to be sure that we listen for and to the voice of God so that He can lead us.
Click here to download a copy of the message . . . and when you contemplate prayer think on these questions:
- What are some of the things that keep us from prayer
- Are these justifiable reasons
- Is there wrong with praying the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus taught it?
- Is it consistent that Jesus gives us a repetitive prayer and tells us not to repeat ourselves when we pray?
- What do you need to do to be more of a pray-er?
Yesterday was also the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. While we did not focus on the implications of those being persecuted (or on persecution) we should always remember those who do not have the freedom to worship as we do (corporately or even individually). Do pray for those in other world areas who fear for their well-being or lives as they serve God.
I was recently asked why we have so many problems streaming our services live on Facebook and on YouTube. The answer: most problems are due to the equipment that we use. The Spanish congregation has an amazing sound system, and we have been able to use it (and Glenn has done a fantastic job in figuring it out, and looks after the sound in our services. So the audio works “mostly great”, although it is a work in progress.
The main problem is with our video stream, although David does an impressive (to me, anyway) job getting things up and running each Sunday. We are using older used cell phones to broadcast our services, and they don’t always work as they should. Yesterday, for example, the main one we use wouldn’t work at all so we had to borrow one from someone who attended the service. This is not the best way to do things, but right now it is all that we can do. Eventually we will need to purchase a couple of actual video cameras. Until then, please be patient!
Leonard Sweet recently tried to define different churches with a one-word description. The Methodists, he suggested, would be known by the word fire. The Baptists by water. He worked his way through the various denominations and when he got to the Nazarenes he used the word . . . potluck. And that’s probably pretty accurate. We (used to) potluck because we care about being community (not just because we like to eat).
We haven’t had the opportunity to potluck lately, and we won’t this Sunday as we get together. Which might have been an awkward thing to do anyway, as we will look at another of the Great Expectations in our service: fasting. John Wesley wrote that Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly disregarded it. We don’t want to ignore it – it is one of the spiritual disciplines – and it’s not just something for Lent! Yes, it is a difficult discipline to embrace, but an important one none-the-less.
Join us for our service in the building or on line this coming Sunday as we look at what Jesus has to say about this. Click here to link to our Facebook feed; click here to link to our YouTube feed, or link from our web site (click here). Lisa monitors the Facebook comment section through our services and shares the comments that come in. She also monitors e-mails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org from those who are watching the service on YouTube and sending questions and comments. It is our hope that those who are joining us from home will still feel part of our services. Please let us know if you join us on line – send us a message or an e-mail – we want to be part of your service as you are part of ours.
Our Advent celebrations are going to be more than a little different this year. Normally we’d be letting you know about our Festive Fellowship and we’d be asking you to be part of our Christmas musical celebration and we’d be telling you the date of the Parsonage Open House and we’d be planning for our Candlelight Christmas Eve service. This year we are planning a Christmas Eve service only, and even that will be different. The worship team is preparing to record a service which will be broadcast on our YouTube channel and our Facebook page at 7:00 pm December 24. We are sad that we will not be able to get together in person, but we can celebrate together on line.
We continue to meet together to pray each Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm through ZOOM in our "virtual prayer room" . . . to pray for one another and for others . . . audibly or silently. The prayer requests and the sign-in information is sent each week (to enter the prayer room click here . . . or when you open ZOOM in your browser or open the app the Meeting ID is 760 4098 0245; the passcode is 3R9gvp ).
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. If you can, please join us.
I normally try to avoid talking about giving and finance – I have been told more than once that the church only cares about money (I don’t think that’s true, but people will believe what they want to believe). However, sometimes it’s a good thing to do – to remember that our faithful giving makes a difference in what is happening in our world.
Thank you for your faithfulness to give to support the work of the church. We continue to receive your tithes and offerings through the Canada Helps web site – click here – and through e-transfer at email@example.com). 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.
As we speak about Stewardship, these are our emphases for the coming months:
Every November we receive a special offering for Eliezer Suarez, who was left an orphan when his parents were killed when Cubana de Aviación Flight 972 crashed in May of 2018. We as a church have committed to support him until he reaches 18 years old (4 more years).
We have designated December as Compassionate Ministries Month at Trinity Church. During the “festive season” we identify a specific local and a specific international need and receive offerings to help meet these needs, distributing the funds at the end of the month.
This year money raised for international compassionate ministries will be designated to help meet ongoing needs as we work with those affected by the explosion at the port of Beirut in August (the picture is of sculpture by Hayat Nazer, who used debris from the explosion in her creation).
Our offerings received for local compassionate ministries will be given to support Annakay and her family (although she herself is not “local” she is part of “us” and we want to help with the medical expenses that are being incurred. The burden is great on her family, as they have to pay for any and all medical needs and care.
Oh, and . . . yes . . . November is Movember. I am part of the effort to raise money for men’s health – I do this in honour of Cindy’s father, who passed away of cancer at the age of 42. Click here if you wish to give to this cause – I don’t push for donations, I simply make the announcement. There are many other good causes to give to outside of the church as well, and if you let me know what you are raising money for I can include it in our Musings as well.