The thought with great power comes great responsibility (from the old Spiderman TV series and comics) has always resonated with me. Not that I have great power – or any power at all, really – but responsibility seems to be a forgotten and ignored quality in our current environment. And I can hear you now . . . “where are you going with this, Pastor? What do you mean?”
There is a lot of information – and misinformation – regarding living in this COVID era. The misinformation seems to be (seems to be – it’s only my interpretation) coming from those who believe that either the disease is not as serious as it is being presented by governments and the World Health Organization (some sort of conspiracy) or that the measures that have been put in place for stopping the spread of the disease are an infringement on human rights. There is a push-back against wearing face coverings/masks, against social and physical distancing, and against groups of people not being able to meet. Rights have overtaken responsibility to the effect that the rate of infection will continue to increase because I am more important than the common good.
Trinity Church will continue in Phase 1 of meeting together for the foreseeable future. We will continue to go slow, get ready, be sure, and stay safe. Perhaps those who are focussing on their rights are right and that we are going overboard; however, we will not take the risk, as we are concerned not for ourselves but for others. Even though we have rights we still have responsibility. So thank you, those who attend our services in person, for being willing to put up with a little inconvenience as you enter the building and participate in our services (I see how much you want to belt out our songs as we worship). We are still supposed to retain distance in and after our services, and not visit in the sanctuary or hallway.
Yesterday we began a short series I’ve called Great Expectations, looking at the first section of Matthew 6 (part of the Sermon on the Mount). I would not say that this section of scripture looks at the obligations Jesus has of His followers as much as it does . . . well . . . the expectations Jesus has of his followers . . . how we live out our lives as they are being transformed by the Spirit of God within. The expectations are not from Jesus saying you must do certain things but are from Him saying as you do certain things you must do. He challenges the way we should be doing the things we already should be doing (if you followed that).
We began by looking at our attitude toward giving. In Matthew 6:1-4 Jesus dealt with our “extra” giving (although we extended it to the attitude toward giving in general). The expectation is that When You Give you will give “just because” not “because of. If you see a need, meet the need. Don’t be stingy, don’t be tight-fisted . . . and don’t give to be rewarded! ” click here to download a copy of our message if you wish.
One of the things I love about Trinity Church is our willingness to share what we have with others. Rarely is there a challenge to give where the need isn’t met. World Missions or compassionate ministries or child sponsorship . . . local or international . . . you give! Thank you for your generosity.
One of the things I love about our denomination is that the funds that we give are used for the purpose specified. As pointed out in the discussion time following our message yesterday, not every organization can say that. Some non-profit groups use a large percentage of what they receive from donors on administration or on fundraising; others use the majority of their donations for the purpose given. It does make sense to “check things out” before you give (MoneySense gave the Ottawa United Way an “A” rating – click here to see the grades of their top 100 non-profit groups).
As to our denomination . . . when we give to the churches we are sponsoring in Cuba, for example, every penny goes to those churches. When we give our Alabaster Offering every penny goes to the mission field to purchase land or put up buildings. The Church of the Nazarene is faithful in using money donated for the causes to which it has been given.
Oh, and for your information, I have been told that we met our Thanksgiving Offering goal!
Sunday coming we will continue our discussion of those Great Expectations. Because November 1 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church we are going to discuss Jesus’ teaching on prayer (which follows His teaching on giving in Matthew 6) then, and look at what I think is one of the most difficult calls to the believer – to anyone! – with regard to relationships we have with others: forgiveness.
As C.S. Lewis said, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.” And it’s easy to talk about forgiveness but we normally want to put conditions on it (I’ll forgive if . . .) or limits on it (70 times 7? You’ve got to be kidding!). But Jesus is quite clear about forgiveness, and Sunday we’ll take His if you forgive to see what happens when you forgive.
Can it be? Can it actually be? Did we really not have problems with our technology Sunday? Did our live streams actually stream and did our sound system actually perform properly? Thank you, David and Glenn, for all you do. And I realize that the sound is not the best on our YouTube feed, but that is something we are continuing to work on (and hope to see improvements soon)
Join us for our service in the building or on line this coming Sunday. 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 email@example.com 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.
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.
We continue to encourage people to give their offerings through electronic means (through the Canada Helps web site – click here – or through e-transfer – firstname.lastname@example.org) as the offering plate will not be passed (although it will be placed on the back table for those who wish to use their tithe envelopes).
As we speak about Stewardship, these are our emphases for the coming months:
- In October we receive a Thank offering, to help share the Good News of Jesus around the world.
- In November we emphasize our commitment to Eliezer Suarez, a child we have sponsored.
- December is Compassionate Ministries Month, and our special offering helps a specific need*.
- In February we receive an offering in support of the two churches in Cuba we have sponsored.
- And in March/April we receive our “Easter Offering”; again, to share the Good News of Jesus.
As the “growing season” ends and as the land enters its dormant phase I want to again thank Anna (and Rick) and Derrick for their leadership and work this past summer. Anna and Rick spent many hours looking after our hedges – pruning them this past spring and then neatly trimming them through the summer – and then collecting the trimmings, baling them, and dragging them to the curb for removal (thanks to Johania for her help too).
Derrick and his team looked after cutting the grass (once the lawn tractor was operational). As good neighbours we want to keep our property in good repair. Thank you, everyone, for your work.
We are still in phase one of our protocol regarding our “grand re-opening” (found at the end of this newsletter). Also note the procedures listed for our return. Please note that entrance will be through the Braydon Place doors only; the Avalon Place doors will be locked and can only be used to exit (you can also exit from the Braydon Place doors).
In order to help streamline our entrance you can use the attached a screening questionnaire – print it, sign it, and bring it with you; give it to your welcoming team when your temperature is taken and you won’t have to answer “the questions”. It will speed our entrance up. We ask that you please make your way directly to the sanctuary while practising physical distancing on entrance. If you're a bit late and no one is at the door to let you in please text Richelle at 613-295-9065.
As I have said, “normally” our congregation activities would include events such as potlucks and Friday night youth activities and Junior Missionary and . . . the things that we do together! Unfortunately, we will meet Sunday mornings only until the new year (or for as long as we can)! Although we don’t meet in person, be sure to keep in contact with one another . . . call or send a card or a note or an e-mail to someone this week. Be an encourager!
And (as I’ve suggested before) why not take this down time as down time in life as well as in church . . . and learn to be still and to listen for and to the voice of God.