Parish NEWS

wheels to worship sm.jpg

GOOD IDEA!  It's a great time to keep an eye out for supplies to fill your Samaritan Purse shoe boxes this year.  Boxes will be available for pick up from St. George's on Sunday, October 2. For more information please call Kathy Burk at 705-457-2357, or visit the Samaritan's Purse 'Operation Christmas Child site here

Open to all seniors: The VON SMART exercise program helps with balance, strength and flexibility Classes held in Haliburton at Echo Hills 1 p.m.Thursdays; in Minden in the Hyland Crest auditorium 11 a.m. Wednesdays.

Women of the Word  Bible Studies runs Wednesdays from 9:15 to 11:45 a.m., beginning September 28 at Lakeside Baptist Church. Childcare provided.  Study option 1:  Judges: Driving Out Your Enemies (more homework).  Study option 2:  Lord, Only You Can Change Me (less homework). For more information and to register, please contact Wendy (705-457-2851; wendy@mylakeside.ca) or Dana at 705-457-3253.  Not sure?  Please come along for the September 28 class orientation to see what it's like.

St. George’s popular Beef Barbeque will be held Saturday, October 1st with sittings at 5:00 and 6:30 p.m.  Please speak to Carol Browne (705-457-4551) if you are interested in helping out.

The Blanket Exercise, an experiential learning about Indigenous history in Canada, is being hosted by St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Sunday, October 2.  Noon: Lunch;   1:00 p.m.: Part I  Telling the Indigenous Story;   2:00 p.m.: Part II  The Talking Circle.   Cost is $10.  To register, please call Andrea at 705-286-2541.

What is Anglican?  Come find out at a church history event with Michael Bedford-Jones at St. James Fenelon Falls, Saturday, October 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.   $15 includes lunch.   To register, call 705-887-2537.

Justice in the Biblical Story with Sylvia Keesmaat begins October 20th for four Thursdays from 7 - 9 pm at St. James Anglican Church, Fenelon Falls.  Cost is $25, or pay what you can.  For more information, please  call 705-887-2537. 

The ACW Deanery Day will take place at St. James, Fenelon Falls, on Thursday October 27th, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The guest speaker will be from A Place Called Home. All welcome!

Men's fall FLAME Conference

When: Oct. 28-30

Where: The Salvation Army Conference Centre, Jackson’s Point

Conference theme for this year is taken from Psalm 91: "You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God in whom I trust."  The Anglican Church of Canada’s first National Indigenous Anglican bishop will be the speaker. For more details, please visit the website.

                                   

The Highlands Community Pregnancy Care Centre needs additional volunteers as they move forward in their newly-expanded space,. The HCPCC would not be able to operate effectively without the dedicated service of volunteer staff. They require an 8-hour-per-month commitment and provide comprehensive training.  To begin the application process or to find out more, please call Executive Director Julie at 705-457-4673. As Julie says, "If you have a passion for life, let's talk."

Ongoing outreach to the Ways (Jeff, Carol, Naomi and Leah), a Canadian missionary family living and working in Eden Children's Village, Zimbabwe. Your loonie or toonie, on the second Sunday of each month, will help them care for children orphaned by parents with AIDS. We first did a story on them here:  Love in action: the Way family now living and serving at Eden Children's Village, Zimbabwe. Several buildings in the village have burned to the ground in recent months, so they are in special need now to rebuild and recover. You can visit Eden's website here and their Facebook page here

GOD SIGHTINGS!

God is at work in all of our lives and in our community. We just need to pay more attention. Here's the challenge: look for God at work, in your home, out in the community. When you see God's work or feel God's presence, write it down. Think on these amazing things and when you feel ready, try to share with your church family. Anne will offer an opportunity at the end of the service to share. We are God's witnesses and have an opportunity to help one another grow in our faith and draw closer to our Lord.

The beginnings of answers for a yearning young woman

Dynamic young Sonya Flatman has been an important part of the St. George’s community since a toddler. She just spent a life-changing summer at Circle Square Ranch in Arden, Ontario and shares her experiences with us here. Sonya went into a four-week Leadership in Training program to become closer to God, she explains, not knowing exactly how that might happen.  We can all learn from her longings for more, and her discoveries on the myriad ways God moves and speaks.

By Sonya Flatman

Staff members at the ranch are amazing people, and so connected to God. I wanted what they had; I was jealous of how holy they were and how they seemed to always have Jesus with them.

Two weeks into the Leadership in Training program, I finally felt I came close to Jesus. I would go on walks after worship and would feel as though God was at my right, Jesus at my left, and the Holy Spirit all around me. Now feeling confident in my relationship with Jesus, I decided to begin praying about what God wanted me to be after I graduate from high school. 

A few days into praying about my future career, I felt God abandon me. I would pray for the Holy Spirit to be around me and comfort me, and I would feel nothing.

My frustration increased since around the time I felt Jesus leave me, some awesome stuff started happening at the ranch. Friends of mine began speaking in tongues, and miracles of healing were occurring. All of these wonders made me even more frustrated.  I felt annoyed that God was healing and talking to people in a secret language, and yet I couldn’t even feel His presence.  

One night at worship, the frustration built in me so intensely that, after everyone left, I burst into tears. I cried out to Jesus, asking why he had abandoned me. I’m not a big crier, and haven’t balled that hard in three years, so it was an emotional night. Before going to bed, I opened my Bible and asked God in a sassy voice, “If You don’t talk to me through my soul, well, please talk to me through Your Word!”

I then opened to the title page of Zechariah, and over the next few days, read through the entire book. Two verses really stood out to me: 

Therefore, say to the people, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:  Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.’ Don’t be like your ancestors who would not listen or pay attention when the earlier prophets said to them, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Turn from your evil ways, and stop all your evil practices.’ (Zechariah 1:3-4, NLT)

 I realized that I had to cut out all of the wrongness in my life and turn completely to Jesus. I prayed forgiveness for all the grudges I had held, and deleted music from my phone that I didn’t believe was good, among other things. I started reading my Bible a lot more, trying to find verses that stood out to me, and hoping that God would speak to me more through His Word.

After about a week, I was searching for a verse for one of my campers, when God hit me with the right hook.  John 5:39 popped right off the page: “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” I sort of laughed when I read the verse, feeling that God was giving back the sass I’d given Him just a week ago. I realized I’d been reading the Bible religiously, yet not praying about what I read.

I continued to read, but not as much, and began to pray more often. During the last week of camp, at worship on Wednesday night, I got down on my knees and prayed , asking God to reveal Himself to me. I saw visions in my head, but wasn’t sure if they were from Jesus or my own imagination. I prayed, but received no answer.

The next night, on my knees again, I asked God if the images were from Him.  I said I knew He wouldn’t answer until the right time, but I prayed anyway. A phrase came into my head: “I am preparing you for something great.” Shocked, I asked God to repeat the phrase if it was truly from Him. It thumped in my chest, and I knew it was from Jesus.

For the second time that summer, I wept … but now with tears of pure joy. I had never felt such peace and happiness in my life. I now knew the wonder of God, and the joy I felt could only come from Jesus. I decided right then that I wanted to give my whole life to Christ, and walk in his footsteps.

God hasn’t yet answered my prayer about what He wants me to do after high school, but I know that whatever happens is meant to happen, and that I am meant to jump at any opportunity that comes because God wants me to be there. I no longer have fear of my future, because I know that God will prepare me.

Circle Square Ranches operate across Canada, and are part of the Canadian InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s camping ministry.

                                                                                          Sonya, front row left, with her whole LEADERSHIP in TRAINING GROUP

                                                                                          Sonya, front row left, with her whole LEADERSHIP in TRAINING GROUP

FAMILY FIRST? Yes and no

[based on a sermon by Anne Moore]

Tough scriptures: to be glossed over or gleaned from?

I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. (Luke 12:49-53) 

How is a listener or reader to handle this one? What happened to the Christmas ‘Peace on Earth’ proclamations?

No one doubts the importance of families. Within and from them we learn right and wrong, the importance of relationships, social skills, handling conflict, and much more. So why this talk, by Jesus, promoting actual family division, not reconciliation? It seems to make no sense, especially coming from our loving saviour.

We do tend to gloss over the tough scriptures. Yet knowing they exist within our Bible, we should instead try to glean wisdom and truth from them.

As Anne pointed out in a recent sermon on the reading, these words of Jesus do not deal with internal family issues but, instead, with the division often caused by following him. Other scriptures back this up, as does history and current news reports. We need only look at the horrific outcomes in the Middle East for so many who choose to follow Jesus, right now.

In Luke, we have Simeon’s words to Mary when she and Joseph were presenting their new infant at the temple for his dedication:

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." (Luke 2:34-35)

And how about when Jesus' own hometown folk tried to toss him off a cliff right after his first recorded sermon (Luke 4:14-30)?

Later in his ministry, when Jesus’ mother and siblings waited outside after requesting he come out and speak with them,  Jesus redefined family:

While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand towards his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matt. 12:46-50)

The family of God has no political, racial, socio-economic, gender, or whatever barriers.  In calling us to be his disciples, Jesus cares only that we trust in and follow him, even if it means persecution and messes. The call of Christ overrules all other commitments, relationships, and even logic. Joy overrides any fear, and this divine connection proves itself over and over to be infinitely better and more delightful than any personal relationship. 

Killing Christians: the dead serious work of expanding and maintaining the Faith

Book review by Anne Moore

 I read another gripping book Sunday night which I had just picked up from our library that morning: Killing ChristiansLiving the Faith Where It's Not Safe to Believe (2015) by Tom Doyle. The book describes the lives of eight believers living in various Muslim countries, all converts to Christianity. They are our brothers and sisters, our family. Their lives are brutal but represent what goes on, daily, in other parts of our world.

The stories tell how the individuals came to be followers of Jesus, what happened to them immediately after their commitment, and what they are doing now. All look forward to the day when their persecution will end and they will enjoy life in heaven. For some, that may already have happened.

The book challenges my pitiful, little faith, and leaves me questioning if I am even a follower. 

Some quotes from the book:

“What I thought was sacrifice was actually just inconvenience.”

“There is remarkable freedom in having no expectations, no plans for tomorrow [because I might die before then].”

“How could I leave the religion I had so faithfully studied and taught with passion all those years? .... I followed Jesus because he is the only one who could fill my empty soul. I may have been a religious zealot, but I ached to know God and could not find Him even though I had searched all my life.”

Bless you as you read this demanding volume.

 [Editor] More insight from the book’s introduction:  Could you retain your faith even if it meant losing your life? Your family’s lives?

To many Christians in the Middle East today, a “momentary, light affliction” means enduring only torture instead of martyrdom. The depth of oppression Jesus' followers suffer is unimaginable to most Western Christians. Yet, it is an everyday reality for those who choose faith over survival in Syria, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, and other countries hostile to the Gospel of Christ. In Killing Christians, Tom Doyle takes readers to the secret meetings, the torture rooms, the grim prisons, and even the executions that are the 'calling' of countless Muslims-turned-Christians.

Each survivor longs to share with brothers and sisters ‘on the outside’ what Christ has taught them. Killing Christians is their message to readers who still enjoy freedom to practice their faith. None would wish their pain and suffering on those who do not have to brave such misery, but the richness gained through their remarkable trials are delivered—often in their own words—through this book. The stories are breathtaking, the lessons soul-stirring and renewing. Killing Christians presents the dead serious work of expanding and maintaining the Faith.

Sizzling Summer Service 9: Hallelujah Haliburton!

Since beginning to work on her message for the annual Service in the Park, Anne confessed to having had an old song scrolling around her brain. “I’m a stranger here” by the Five-Man Electrical Band, first appeared on their album  ‘Sweet Paradise’.

lakeside baptist church musicians and singers

lakeside baptist church musicians and singers

She read its first verse:

“Well, I'm a stranger here in this place called Earth
And I was sent down here to discover the worth
Of your little blue planet, third from the sun
Come on and show me what you've done.”

The song goes on to lament how earth’s residents had roundly messed up their ‘paradise’. The words led perfectly into an elaboration on the verses from Ephesians read earlier in the service (Eph. 2:1-22) by David Lloyd of the Lighthouse Church.

There, the apostle Paul points out to the church in Ephesus their once messy, sinful lives. Then, including himself, he wrote:  “We tried to satisfy what our sinful nature wanted to do. We followed its longings and thoughts” (v.3).

In fact, the whole Bible tells the story, over and over, of humanity tending to pull back when God reaches out. We do our own thing, run away, miss the mark.  “But God loves us deeply. He is full of mercy. So He gave us new life because of what Christ has done” (v. 4-5).

 "One way!"   bev hicks and anne moore lead the kids in their charge to the crowd

 "One way!"   bev hicks and anne moore lead the kids in their charge to the crowd

As Bev Hicks of Northland Faith Church had the children remind us earlier, “God's grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn't come from anything you do. It is God's gift” (v. 8). 

 “So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are members of God’s family,” verse 19 goes on to triumphantly remind us.

This brought to mind for many of us the family of Syrian refugees we’re ready and waiting for. Will we be able to help them feel like members of our community, help them heal from the hurts and fears of feeling unwanted and alien in their own country? We all pray we can share the love of Christ effectively with them.

lakeside Baptist church holds several baptisms in the lake after the service!

lakeside Baptist church holds several baptisms in the lake after the service!

The ‘I’m a stranger here’ song ends with these words:

"We got the rivers and the mountains and the valleys and the trees
We got the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea
We got the ―
Oh, you crazy fools!
Don't you know you had it made?
You were living in paradise
                                                          [photo credit: Elaine Figueroa]

                                                          [photo credit: Elaine Figueroa]

But take it from one who knows
Who knows the gates of Heaven can close
I only pray that you take my advice
'Cause paradise won't come twice"

Finding peace with God, only possible by becoming a friend and follower of Jesus, is beyond remarkably easy. Have  a simple conversation with God (that’s prayer). First, tell Him you’re sorry for the things you’ve thought and done wrong. Ask for His forgiveness. Then thank Him, and ask that His Holy Spirit would live in you forever.

Welcome to the family!

Lacking power? How long will you go limping with two different opinions?

[inspired by a sermon by the Reverend Canon Anne Moore and the OT reading for the day]

 “Elijah came near to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ The people did not answer him a word." (1 Kings 18:21)

Could Elijah’s challenge to the ancient Israelites back in the 9th century BC be at all relevant to us today? While the Hebrews responded with silence, I can hear you, me, all of us, arguing how nonsensical that would be with respect to our lives. “I believe in God!” we respond.

The Israelites could say that too, and often did. The 'one true God’ was theirs. But as they acclimatized to the lands they had moved into, they gradually adopted the lifestyle and customs, social and religious, of the native Canaanites. 

What could be wrong with ‘adding on’ the gods of our neighbours? Isn’t that being inclusive, open-minded, and neighbourly?

In her sermon on the reading, Anne mentioned many of these other idols: status, wealth, career, power, popularity, appearance, possessions, ‘bragging rights’ (could even be for our good deeds!), celebrities, pro athletes, New Age practices, buildings, ‘up-to-date’ morality and so forth. Yet, cherishing and idolizing them diminishes our reliance on and reverence for God. We distance ourselves from our heavenly Father, and so are deprived of the power, love, joy and security to be found only in an exclusive relationship with Him.

In the case of the Hebrews, adapting Baal worship entailed all manner of spiritual and moral debauchery, totally against everything God had been trying to instill in them since the time of Abraham. Rampant sexual sin in fact was a ‘hallowed’ part of venerating Baal.

“I don’t need to follow biblical teachings to the letter to be a good Christian,” many believe. “What’s the harm in adding a bit of astrology, exercise and meditation classes rooted in Hinduism, or in sleeping with my boyfriend/girlfriend?”

Elijah’s subsequent dramatic challenge to the prophets of Baal, and the outcome, left no doubt in any of the onlookers’ minds or spirits who the 'one true God' was. If they were to stop limping painfully and aimlessly, they would have to get both feet in HIS camp. (I Kings 18:30-39 tells the dramatic story.)

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider where you are and where you would rather be, now and for eternity. Our merciful and loving God does have standards, and as we choose to ignore them, we choose a twisted, crippling path.

Could it be God is talking to you? Trying to love you back to Life before you, yourself, make it too late? He loves you, and wants only the best for you.  Renounce the ‘idols’. Some may be more entrenched than you realize. The deep interconnectivity of our society means all manner of profound bonds have been forged, and it may take some ‘spiritual surgery’ to break free of the wrong ones.

For an excellent short article on how to liberate yourself and others from all and any of those wrong ties that bind, please read, Soul ties, and how to be free of the unhealthy ones.

In their darkest hour, Jesus appeared to light these refugees’ way to shore, and to a relationship with God

“I want to share an amazing account that recently came to me,” writes Erick Schenkel, Executive Director of the Jesus Film Project.

A group of refugees fleeing the fighting in the Middle East were jammed into several pontoon boats. They were trying to make it across the Aegean Sea to Greece.

“The seas were very rough and dangerous. Some of their boats capsized. But the people in one boat cried out to God. Suddenly, a ‘shining heavenly figure’ appeared in the boat, and they all immediately knew it was Jesus. From that point the sea became calm and peaceful, and they finally landed safely on shore.

“Convinced that the heavenly figure was truly God, they all wanted to become followers of Jesus.

“Many weeks later, the refugees were together in a discipleship group, sharing what happened with their Bible teacher—himself a former jihadist and now a vibrant Christian. He is the one who passed their testimony onto us," Schenkel reports.

“God has a heart for all people. He desires that they come to faith in the Light of the World, Jesus.”

Find out more about the Jesus Film Project here.

How are Christian churches like hospitals? With help from James, Eugene Peterson offers an answer

Introduction to the book of James, by Eugene Peterson (The Message)

"When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does. Outsiders, on observing this, conclude that there is nothing to the religion business except, perhaps, business—and dishonest business at that.

"Insiders see it differently. Just as a hospital collects the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the church collects sinners. Many of the people outside the hospital are every bit as sick as the ones inside, but their illnesses are either undiagnosed or disguised. It’s similar with sinners outside the church.

"So Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior. They are, rather, places where human misbehavior is brought out in the open, faced, and dealt with.

"The letter of James shows one of the church’s early leaders skillfully going about his work of confronting, diagnosing, and dealing with areas of misbelief and misbehavior that had turned up in congregations committed to his care. Deep and living wisdom is on display here, wisdom both rare and essential. Wisdom is not primarily knowing the truth, although it certainly includes that; it is skill in living. For, what good is a truth if we don’t know how to live it? What good is an intention if we can’t sustain it?

"According to church traditions, James carried the nickname of “Old Camel Knees” because of thick calluses built up on his knees from many years of determined prayer. Prayer is foundational to wisdom. The prayer is always foundational to the wisdom."

As usual, Peterson presents a thoughtful, caring approach and analysis. But as churches and believers mature, we know there is so much more! The 'hospital' will always be an important wing of the church, but as people heal and grow, they will learn to fly. And hopefully, become part of the true purpose of Christ's Church on earth, That's a whole other story that has already been writtenthe rest of the Bible.

Behind closed, locked doors: does Jesus need permission to enter?

[extrapolations on a sermon by the Reverend Canon Anne Moore]

Our weekday service started late on Monday as we waited for an elderly saint who, another parishioner reported, had locked herself out of her car at the grocery store. We all hoped and prayed the CAA would come with their usual quickness to rescue dear Doreen.

Beginning the service about ten minutes before she arrived, we all paused to give her a cheer when she strolled through the sanctuary door. Anne soon got to the same Gospel reading that would have been heard at Sunday service the day before.

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’” (John 20:19)

Reading on through verse 31, Anne then launched into a few funny stories of her own experiences with needing, or lacking, protection.

Few of us in our mostly safe Highlands really need to bolt ourselves, our possessions or our cars from intruders, but we all do. Why? Each of us has fears requiring locks to keep the perceived threat from getting in. As John 20:19 explains, that’s why the disciples had tightly secured the doors of the home they were in. They were sure that those who had killed Jesus would hunt down and murder them as well.

But Jesus being Jesus needed no key to get in. He simply appeared in their midst—likely walking through the walls as easily as he once walked on water.

Our English bibles translate Jesus’ first words to the panicky disciples as “Peace to you”. While he spoke Aramaic, Jesus would have used the far more comprehensive Hebrew word ‘shalom’ here. Vastly more than the simple absence of war or discord, ‘shalom’ encompasses all the following and probably more: completeness, wholeness, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, fullness, rest and harmony.

We lock our home doors, our car doors, our safety deposit boxes, and some of us attempt to bolt up our hearts. We may even try to lock Jesus out of some or all parts of our lives. But as he moved through the defenses the frightened disciples had in place, he can break through ours.

Perhaps you’re one of those people who has always felt close to Jesus, so getting to know him was straightforward. Most of us, however, likely sensed him knocking at the doors of our lives, our hearts, for years before we let him in. We understand well the scripture, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If any of you hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with you. And you will eat with me.” (Rev. 3:20). There’s no getting away from the fact that, right there, the implication is he needs our permission.

But then there are the remarkable stories of times he miraculously ‘appears’, ostensibly uninvited. He powerfully visits Paul on the road to Damascus, knocking him to the ground, admonishing and then re-directing him. A recent post on this site showed how Jesus appeared to a Syrian Muslim family, telling them he’d be sending a man to tell them more about him (you can read that here).  

This past week’s Gospel reading likewise showed how easily Jesus got through to the disciples gathered in fright behind locked doors a few days after his crucifixion.

So which is it? We have to open the door for him, or he’ll walk through our walls? As with all things Jesus, either or both seems to be the answer.  Every situation and every person being unique, he'll do what he knows is best. If we pray according to God’s will, I truly believe we can hasten/empower/work with God to accomplish that. But as these stories make clear, sometimes Jesus will just float or blast his way in anyway, without our or any other earthly permission!

The Road to Emmaus

By the Reverend Canon Anne Moore

The Road to Emmaus is a much-loved Easter story recorded in Luke’s gospel. Two followers of Jesus had thought all was lost after they watched Jesus die on the cross. Heading home two days later, they thought ‘it was finished.’ A man caught up with them as they walked, and asked what they were talking about. They seemed incredulous that he didn’t seem to know anything about what had happened in Jerusalem over the weekend. The stranger asked, “What things?” The two began to tell him all about Jesus. In the middle of their explanation, they used these words, “But we had hoped….”

We had hoped …

→ that our friend would be healed

→ that the business would survive

→ that there was some other reason for this sudden change

→ that there would be forgiveness and reconciliation

→ that all would be well after all

→ that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel

But … the two walkers had had their hopes dashed. Jesus was dead, a criminal on a cross, buried in someone else’s tomb. Done. Finished. The end. Let’s go home and get on with our lives.

But … “some women went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body.” That has proven to be the biggest ‘but’ ever uttered! Jesus was alive and appeared to numerous people at different times, in different places, in differing circumstances, all recorded in the four gospels. These are reliable and true accounts of resurrection. The definition of resurrection is: “The return of Christ to bodily life on the earth on the third day after his death.” (The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary)

The whole world changed that first Easter. Now we can cancel all the ‘buts’ in our lives. The same stuff may happen. However, because Jesus lives, we can put him in charge of our lives. When we do that we know that he will keep us in his love and equip us to face each difficulty with his power.

The situation may not change but we will be changed. We will have complete peace and be able to sit back, wait, and watch what God will do. We can be restored to a full and wonderful relationship with Jesus. God’s power and promises turn everything we know upside down. 

No longer will we say, “But we had hoped.” Instead, we say, “It is in God’s hands so all will be well.”

May you experience the power and certainty of the risen Jesus this Easter and always, no buts required.

Jesus appears to Syrian Muslim family, tells them he is sending a man to tell them more

Early this year, Haliburton began planning to welcome a refugee family. Plans and prayers for the family—who will likely be frightened Muslims from Syria—progress wonderfully. (See our original story here: Open arms and hearts in Haliburton Highlands join in Canada’s welcome to refugees).

Around the same time, an astounding story began circulating of a fellow who had been a missionary in Syria to Muslims. Tyler Connell with the Ekballo Project toured American college campuses sharing stories and videos from his most recent trip to Middle East, where he documented a dramatic move of God among Muslims, particularly with refugees.

“At every stop we saw the presence of Jesus break in to these college campuses and touch students, with bodies healed, people saved, and people giving their lives to serve in the mission field,” Connell exclaims.

His first film chronicles a young missionary named Daniel*, 24, originally from Vermont. Two years ago Daniel moved to the Middle East to work with Syrian refugees.

“They go house to house and visit these Muslim families and sit with them and talk with them and find out their names, their stories, and love them. As trust is built, they begin to open up about the Gospel.”

“Jesus is moving in these Middle East nations,” he says. “Many there are disillusioned and broken and just want to know the truth. Now more than ever there is a harvest among Muslims that has not been seen in history.”

One afternoon Daniel walked into a white tent with a family of eight people inside. “Hi, I’m Daniel and I’m here to tell you about Jesus,” he announced.

He wasn’t quite prepared for their reaction. “The family freaked out, they looked at each other, almost turned white. The father was excited, yelling.”

What’s going on? Daniel wondered.

The interpreter explained that the night before Daniel’s visit, the whole family was sitting in their tent having tea together when a man in white opened the door to their tent and stood at the entrance. The man was glowing.

“Hello, my name is Jesus and I am sending a man tomorrow named Daniel to tell you more about me.” Then he disappeared.

So when Daniel arrived at their doorway and told them his name, they were completely undone. “They asked him to tell them more about Jesus and he gave then the Gospel and the whole family gave their lives to Jesus,” Connell reports.

*Name changed for security reasons

[from Assist News. You can read more at Godreports here]

Wisdom from the judge: Each has their special celebration days—Christians, Jews and atheists alike

In Florida, an atheist became incensed over the preparations for Easter and Passover. He decided to contact his lawyer about the discrimination inflicted on atheists by the constant celebrations afforded to Christians and Jews, while atheists had no day of their own to celebrate.

The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the long, passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel and declared, “Case dismissed!”

The lawyer immediately stood and objected to the ruling, saying: “Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and many other observances. Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah. Yet my client and all other atheists have no such day!”

The judge leaned forward in his chair and simply said, “Obviously your client is too confused to even know about, much less celebrate, his own atheists’ day!”

“Your Honor,” the lawyer pompously pronounced, “we are unaware of any such day for atheists. Just when might that be?”

“Well it comes every year on exactly the same date,” the judge replied. “April 1st! Our calendar sets April 1st as April Fools’ Day, and consider that Psalm 14:1 states, 'Fools say in their hearts, There is no God. '

So, in my opinion, if your client says there is no God, then by scripture he is a fool, and April 1st is his own special day to celebrate! Now have a good day and get out of my courtroom!”

[Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 both attest to this tendency of fools. We cannot, however, attest with certainty to the veracity of this story]

What does it mean to be transfigured?

How can we ever figure out what it is to be transfigured? Transform, metamorphose, convert—all those words, considered synonyms and heady enough, somehow don’t go far or high enough. “Her face was transfigured by the sight of the triple rainbow” may come close.

Possibly the only way to understand the word is to climb the mountain with Jesus for a prayer meeting [Luke 9:28-36; Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10].

[The following is based on a sermon by the Reverend Canon Anne Moore]

Have you ever, as a child, been outside on a warm summer night and caught sight of fireflies, or lightening bugs? You run to their flashings, and then perhaps think, “I’m going to catch them and put them in a bottle!”  Freeze the moment and make it last. But does it?

The movie Chariots of Fire tells the mostly true story of two British athletes at the 1920 Paris Olympics. Harold Abrahams struggles with himself as well as other runners, but wins in the 100-yard dash. Eric Liddell, a devout Christian, refuses to run on Sunday so switches to the 440, and wins gold.

After the games are over, the movie shows the athletes returning to London, and then rushing off excitedly at the station.  All except Harold Abrahams, who keeps to himself. His girlfriend waits for him, the crowds thin out, and when the station finally empties, Harold slowly emerges. He has achieved what he set out to do: he has been to the summit. Down from the giddy heights, he must face reality. Nothing will ever compare to that mountain-top moment, now unfrozen and never to be recaptured. *

Peter, James and John all got their own mountain top experience with Jesus in what we recall and celebrate as Transfiguration Sunday. Jesus took the men up the mountain to pray with him. While they fought off sleep, Jesus prayed.

 “The appearance of his face changed. His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in shining glory. Jesus and the two of them talked together. They spoke about his coming death,” which would happen soon on a wooden cross outside of Jerusalem.

The tired disciples suddenly woke up to the brilliant sight.  Peter blurted out, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters. One will be for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

As often seemed the case with Peter, the Bible tells us, “he didn't really know what he was saying.” All Peter knew is that he wanted to capture the moment, make time stand still, stay and have it all right there forever. None of this nonsense about suffering, rejection and death!

A cloud then descended and surrounded them, terrifying the three followers. The Voice and words heard at Jesus’ baptism thundered out again, "This is my Son, and I have chosen him. Listen to him."

On the way down, Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone what they had seen until he had risen from the dead. As usual, they had no idea what he meant. But they did keep it to themselves until after the resurrection, when so many of Jesus’ teachings finally began making some sense.

Just after they came down from the mountain, their behaviour reverts back to normal and we read later in Luke 9:46 about an argument. “The disciples began to argue about which one of them would be the most important person.” The disciples have seen the glory of the Lord but they didn’t allow his glory to transform them. Eventually it will.

After Jesus death and resurrection and empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter wrote to his friends as a changed and strengthened man. He explained how he had been an eyewitness to Jesus’ majesty.

“We told you about the time our Lord Jesus Christ came with power. But we didn't make up stories when we told you about it. With our own eyes we saw him in all his majesty. God the Father gave him honour and glory. The voice of the Majestic Glory came to him. It said, ‘This is my Son, and I love him. I am very pleased with him.’ We ourselves heard the voice that came from heaven. We were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)

Unless our search for God produces a new person, there is no reason to continue searching. Commitment to Christ is commitment to the CHOSEN Son of God and his mission on earth, not to a memorial where people can glory in what they have experienced; not the three tents. Commitment to Jesus is not commitment to a sacred place with its sacred memories, but commitment to a mission.

Visions and holy moments in God’s glorious presence are not the essence of religion, or the goal, or the norm. Walking to the cross after Jesus is. God said “Listen to him.” We listen in order to believe, to commit, to learn and to follow.

Prayer:   Ever-living, ever-loving God, grant us grace to worship you as you are rather than as we would have you to be. Give us the courage to see you as you would appear to us, rather than as we would like you to look. Guide us into the depths of your mystery. Help us to scale the heights of your glory. In all things, help us to love you as our God, our Guide, and our Saviour.  Amen.     (William Willimon)
* Chariots of Fire illustration thanks to N.T. Wright

Five Helps for the New Year by Bishop Michael Ramsey

1.  Thank God. Often and always. Thank Him carefully and wonderingly for your continuing privileges and for every experience of His goodness. Thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.

2.  Take care about confession of your sins. As time passes the habit of being critical about people and things grows more than each of us realize

3 Be ready to accept humiliations. They can hurt terribly but they can help to keep you humble. [Whether trivial or big, accept them, he says.]  All these can be so many chances to be a little nearer to our Lord. There is nothing to fear, if you are near to the Lord and in His hands.

4.  Do not worry about status. There is only one status that our Lord bids us be concerned with, and that is our proximity to Him. "If a man serve me, let him follow me, and where I am there also shall my servant be". (John 12:26) That is our status; to be near our Lord wherever He may ask us to go with him.

5.  Use your sense of humour. Laugh at things, laugh at the absurdities of life, laugh at yourself. Through the year people will thank God for you. And let the reason for their thankfulness be not just that you were a person whom they liked or loved, but because you made God real to them.

Michael Ramsey, an influential Anglican theologian and writer, served as the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury (from 1961-1974). He gave the "Five Helps" as a talk to his clergy one year. Ramsey died in 1988 in Oxford, England, at 83. He had a particular regard for the Eastern Orthodox concept of 'glory', and his favourite book he had written was his 1949 work The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ

The enduring mystery, wonder and JOY of Christmas

by the Reverend Canon Anne Moore

I came across this quotation recently. So many of my senses are involved in reading it that I found it quite delightful.

"Late on a sleepy, star-spangled night, those angels peeled back the sky just like you would tear open a sparkling Christmas present. Then, with light and joy pouring out of Heaven like water through a broken dam, they began to shout and sing the message that baby Jesus had been born. The world had a Saviour! The angels called it ‘Good News,’ and it was.”  (Larry Libby, "The Angels Called it Good News" in Christmas Stories for the Heart)

I think I like it because it reminds me of the King James Version of the Christmas story as Luke records it:

"And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:9-11)

Our little human brains can’t describe that night in the kind of precise adjectives that our computer-obsessed society is comfortable with. This is mysterious stuff! So we have to resort to pictures that aren’t as well defined. That shouldn’t be so surprising. After all we are dealing with a once-in-a-lifetime event—the birth of the Saviour of a world gone wrong. Those unschooled, illiterate shepherds did a fine job of getting their story across. I think it was more in the joy on their faces than in the communication through their words. Each time they told the story, to their families, to their friends, to anyone who would listen, that joy must have looked like a bonfire, rays of hope radiating from their whole beings. Good News! Sing it out!

The story hasn’t changed. When we tell it, do we express that same joy, wonder, certainty? Remember this joy doesn’t have to be limited to just Christmastime. The overflowing joy of knowing Christ’s presence in our lives was one of the themes of Jesus’ final teaching with his disciples the night before he died on the cross. He told them of his extravagant love for them—that he loved them as the Father loved Him (John 15:9). After sharing what this eternal relationship looks like, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (v.11). What a promise! Through Jesus Christ our hearts can be filled with joy—real joy!

May you experience real joy this Christmas and always.
 

Love in action: the Way family now living and serving at Eden Children's Village, Zimbabwe

Jeff and Carole Way spoke recently at St. George’s on their ministry to orphans in Zimbabwe. With their house, car and most of their belongings sold, they plan to live and serve at Eden Children’s Village in Doma, Mashonaland West, Zimbabwe.

To learn more about the ministry of Eden Children's Village, please click here. To get updates on Jeff and Carole's work, adventures, ministries, and needs in Zimbabwe, please visit their their Facebook site, The ZimbabWays.

"Right now we are receiving about $800 Canadian a month and we budget for $1200 American," Jeff explains. "With the exchange rate as it is now, we are quite a bit short of what we need.  So whatever you can do to help is great."

They are now back in Canada temporarily, awaiting new permanent visas.

You may donate online, or mail a cheque (payable to St. Croix Vineyard) to St. Croix Vineyard, 8 Main St, St. Stephen, NB. E3L 3E2, c/o Lorna Jones. To arrange for a pre-approved debit, contact Lorna at lornajones@ssu.ca. Jeff and Carol may be contacted at thezimbabways@gmail.com.

Open arms and hearts in Haliburton Highlands join in Canada’s welcome to refugees

A refugee sponsorship committee has been put together from members of our community and parish, with plans to sponsor a refugee family some time in the spring.

It is amazing to hear of all the volunteers offering such diverse gifts as driving, advertising, fund-raising, providing help with finding health services, and teaching English. Donations are already coming in.

Justin w refugees.jpg

Outfitted in new winter coats and clutching their yawning 16-month-old daughter in the wee hours of Friday morning, a Syrian refugee family on the first large government flight began their new life in Canada—or, as they call it, ‘paradise.’

"We really would like to thank you for all this hospitality and the warm welcome and all the staff—we felt ourselves at home and we felt ourselves highly respected," Kevork Jamkossian told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "You are home," Trudeau said. "Welcome home."

from Allison Jones of The Canadian Press

If you would like to donate (eligible for a tax receipt), you can do so online at Canada Helps, or with a cheque made out to St. George’s. Please include “refugee sponsorship” on the memo line.

.To learn more about The Haliburton Refugee Sponsorship Committee’s goals, ways to donate, and upcoming meetings, click on the link above, or here for their Facebook site.

OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD: Haliburton Highlands does it again

Needy children from around the world thank you, Highlands individuals and churches! You filled 600 shoe-boxes, soon on their way to children in Africa, Central America, South America, needy Caribbean countries, and the Ukraine.

               Some of the 600 shoe boxes collected in the highlands, with brenda watson and chief coordinator, kathy burk

               Some of the 600 shoe boxes collected in the highlands, with brenda watson and chief coordinator, kathy burk

A hands-on project of Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child has been bringing help, hope and joy to children in the developing world and areas of conflict for years. Each shoe box communicates the simple message of God’s love to the child who receives it. Operation Christmas Child also opens doors for Samaritan’s Purse to provide further assistance to children, their families, and communities.

Here's but one amazing story of how a shoe box gift had a powerful and lasting impact on Lejla, one of the first children ever to receive an Operation Christmas Child gift box:

Poetry praising the 'King of Praise'

The King of Praise
by Eleanor Cooper

                      Blaze of the sky in the morning sun,
            Shine of the moon at night,
Glow of the stars in the heavenly vault,
animated dove photo: dove dove.gif Bespeak Thy glorious might
O King of the light!

Sweep of the ocean in mighty roar,
Calm of the water at rest,
Blast of wind over tidal wave,
Height of the foaming crest,
  Bespeak Thy glorious might
      O King of the sea!

         Gold of the autumn foliage,
             Green of the springing turf
                            Chill of the ice on a snowy road,
                                           Tide of the summer’s surf,
               Bespeak Thy glorious might
                            O King of the seasons!

                                                             Quiet of sky on a summer’s night,
                                                              Still of a sunrise below,
Shine of the moonlight over the land,
Light of the starry glow
           Bespeak Thy glorious might
O King of all heaven!

Eleanor Cooper, a multi-talented long-time member of St. George's, is active in the church choir, other musical groups, and  many other community goings-on. She also writes a column for The Haliburton County Echo.