Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the St. Andrew's Family

The long history of St. Andrew's in Belleville has spanded over decades. The first church was built in 1831, the second in 1871 and the third was dedicated on November 17, 1895.

The church has been filled with the Spirit of God and hundreds have enjoyed worship there, while being led in worship by many ministers and lay preachers.

On August 28, 2022, with the retirement of Pastor Job van Hartingsveldt and our organist Jacqueline van Hartingsveldt, the extensive repairs necessary to the church and the lack of resources, the congregation made the decision to close the doors of the church.

The congregation wants to send blessings and love to everyone who has shared in the community of faith within the sanctuary of St. Andrew's. We will miss everyone and trust that God has a plan for each and every one of us.

From all of us, to all of you, we send a Merry Christmas blessing and pray for everyone to have a happy, safe and healthy New Year!

A Christmas Letter from Pastor Job

Greetings to all friends and family:

This world has certainly changed. Many of you can remember a time when we put up a string that went from corner to corner to corner, all laden with an abundance of Christmas cards, not “holiday” cards, but Christmas cards with a message, reminding us of Christ’s birth and all the joy that comes with that great occasion. Now I see a short string with a few cards, most of which come from businesses who would like us to continue with them. I’m certainly not bemoaning the fact that this has happened because it also means we no longer take the hours writing cards, going to the post office – on time – being surprised at the cost of stamps which we rarely use, or not at all, and then hope we haven’t offended some poor soul we have forgotten. Add to this the fact that, at our age and time of life, we don’t like going into town, life is busier in retirement, and it takes twice as long to do half as much!

However, for all of you who receive this letter, the message is the same. Jacqueline, Joel, and I wish you all a BLESSED, HAPPY, PEACEFUL, and JOYOUS CHRISTMAS, and GOD’S richest blessings in 2023. As much as the world may see this time of year as a business opportunity, hoping their profits will be driven by big spendings which only result in fleeting, happy moments, it is our hope and prayer that you may be most blessed by the heart knowledge that Christmas is part of God’s great plan of salvation and find your joy new every morning.

This all leads me to the next part, updating you on the status of our lives. I recall the Christmas message of the queen that referred to her year as the “Annus Horribilis.” That is how we felt some days this year. Then I am reminded of the song made public by the well-known bluegrass singer, Alison Krauss,

I’d rather be in the palm of Your hand, faith can see right through the circumstance,
Sees the forest in spite of the trees, Your grace provides for me.
If I trust the One who died for me, who shed His blood to set me free,
If I live my life to trust in You, Your grace will see me through.

So, the glass is at least half full, not half empty; and here are some of the facts. From last Christmas on, for three months, Jacqueline spent the majority of her time bed-ridden with excruciating pain in her shoulder and neck. After a series of tests, cat-scan, MRI, she was put on non-opioid pain killers and sent off to the spinal surgeon. He said the surgery was too risky and may not help. A combination of wear, tear, arthritis, mostly due to organ-playing and choir directing was causing the pain. Add to that, the aftereffects of Lyme’s disease still flare up from time to time. Thankfully all that has been brought under some control that makes life livable. She continues to get eye injections each month to slow down the disease that is causing her vision loss. Then came the day her license had to be revoked. That was not a happy-wife day! A person with good eyesight has at least 120 degrees of peripheral vision, but she now has less than 20 degrees. I still don’t get away with much though! Hence, we sold both cars and bought one that works for us. Then, just this month, she knew something was wrong. The eye clinic called her in and determined that one of the implants from her cataract surgery was coming out. This is rare. This is fixable, but few surgeons in Canada can do this. Fortunately, we have four in Kingston and Jacqueline meets with him in early January.

Job is doing fine. In February he broke his leg attempting to feed the birds on an icy and rainy day. He landed on his head and saw constellations never before seen. He drove to the hospital where the surgeon wanted to put a plate in his leg until he found out Job’s heart is battery operated and moves like the Duracell bunny. Surgery cancelled! Job discovered that moving around the house on a knee-scooter was actually faster that walking. After twelve weeks with a cast, on the very day the cast had to come off, he went to the hospital because of a gall bladder attack. It was removed and now he is fine. Ain’t life grand!

Joel is still the same Joel. He is all of about 95 pounds and will be celebrating his 46th birthday in January. He loves his quarters here has become a real home-body. He is turning very gray and the doctor reminded us this summer that Job and Joel are about the same age physiologically.

In the meantime, son Michael has had by-pass surgery, as did my youngest brother Peter. The “Zipper Club” is certainly growing in this family, a legacy left by Job’s mother.

Having said all this, Jacqueline and I took a trip to Europe this summer before her sight becomes such an issue that she cannot experience the beautiful places to visit. We took our second river cruise, this time on the Danube from Nuremburg to Budapest. The waters were so low not all places were accessible by boat, so bus travel was the answer. Several days it was over a challenging 40 degrees and some days Jacqueline was not well. However, we experienced some incredible places before flying back to Amsterdam and visiting an afternoon with her aunt (mother’s sister) who she hadn’t seen in at least 40 years, and with her cousin and family on her father’s side. In October, the three of us flew to Nova Scotia to celebrate her mother’s 96th birthday. Mom Hogeboom still lives in her own house, and we had a great visit. Jacqueline is still helping out with services, and she is still producing artwork. It is a joy to see her sitting in her studio, relaxing and painting. She has been commissioned, and she has sold and given away. Yet, the house looks like an art gallery. What a joy. And this coming from myself who cannot even draw stick people.

This year we determined it was time to retire. Jacqueline had been an organist and choir director for 60 years and my age (76) was affecting my work ethic. On August 28 (her birthday) we said goodbye to St. Andrew’s Belleville after eight years of serving that congregation. We both miss it, but it was time, especially since the traffic on the infamous 401 is becoming an issue. The days are long gone when trucks were not allowed on that highway on Sundays.

It’s been a year of the good, the bad, and the ugly. But we rest on His grace; we move forward; we pray for the best. And we are extremely thankful to all those who keep in touch through visits and telephone and facetime, and those who have pitched in when help was needed.

Christmas blessings from Job, Jacqueline, Joel

Never Alone

This writing was prompted when a number of people, because of circumstances, told me that they felt lonely. That’s not unusual given the world of today. That feeling goes back all the way to just after creation. Humanity was created to be in communion with God, with nature, and with each other. When sin entered the world through the first Adam, all these communions fell apart and God promised a needed Saviour to arrive someday because, try as we might, it’s not a problem humanity could fix.

But it’s not a problem that is endemic to unbelievers alone. I think we would be hard pressed to find a single soul who has not suffered loneliness at some time in life. God saw that coming and in Genesis 2:18 we read that God said, “it is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.” Creation was now perfect. It did not stay perfect and loneliness entered the world with all other problems.

There are many Biblical stories. Jacob, who often was on the run as a result of his own actions, had moved all his goods and family across the river in Genesis 32. He feared his imminent meeting with Esau. Jacob stayed behind that night, finding himself all alone, in the dark, worrying and praying the meeting would go well. But he wasn’t alone. He wrestled with the angel of the Lord. In the morning he crossed the river, strengthened by the blessing of the Lord.

In 1 Kings 19, we read the account of Elijah, bolder than most of us could ever dream to be, mocking the prophets of the pagan God Baal. They were cutting themselves, praying, dancing, calling and shouting to their dead god for a response, and received nothing. Then Elijah prayed, not with shouts and demands, but in full confidence that he was not alone, and he said, “O Lord, answer me, so these people with know that you, O Lord, are God.” The answer was swift and terrible. And it was game over for the prophets of Baal. Yet in the next chapter we read just how really human Elijah was. Suddenly he felt alone, especially after his life was threatened by the evil Jezebel. He fled, and we find him all alone, hiding under a broom tree. Well, God found him, and asked, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” He told the Lord that he thought he stood completely alone as a servant of God. God told him two things – that there were at least seven thousand others faithful to God, and, secondly, to get back to work. After everything Elijah had just seen and encountered on Mount Carmel, he should have known he was not alone.

Then there was Jonah, instructed by God to go to Nineveh, (today – Mosul, Iraq), and preach repentance there. Jonah didn’t think they deserved a second chance and took action that landed him in the belly of a great fish. I imagine it was pretty lonely there because Jonah went to his knees real fast and repented. The great fish spit him up and Jonah was given another chance.

Then look at what King David writes in Psalm 13. After all David had experienced in life, overcoming a lion and bear to protect the sheep, killing Goliath to protect his people. He knew that God was always near him, he wasn’t alone. Yet he feels alienated from God. We don’t know his situation in Psalm 13. Four times he uses the question, “How long?” How long will you forget me, hide your face from me, wrestle with my thoughts, my enemy triumph over me? Clearly the wrong thinking of a man who, in spite of all the servants, family, and friends around him, still felt alone. He doesn’t wait for God’s answer. He himself gives the answer. “But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Psalm 137 tells us more. The Israelites were captives in Babylon. They were taunted by their captors. “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” But they just couldn’t. On the poplars they hung their harps and lamented, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”

Isaiah 49 picks up on this theme. Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; the Lord has forgotten me.” But nothing could be farther from the truth. God responds with these words, “I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” There are many more examples. You see, the truth is that we all, as humans, have the propensity to feel a little sorry for ourselves. That is normal. We see that in all the above examples. But the Psalmist picks up on the positive necessity. “I trust in your unfailing love.” That tells me three things. God knows everything about me, that he loves me, and he never fails. Sum that up and it tells me God is right here for me and I am never alone. I may have moments when I feel lonely, but when I think on him, I can rejoice and be glad.

In Ephesians Paul makes a point of reminding us that, as people of God, as those who belong to our faithful Saviour, as the bride of Christ, we are all both victims and involved in spiritual warfare. There is nothing Satan would like better than have us feel as if we stand alone, and are lonely. And it is never a good thing to deny those feelings, to “suck it up” as we say. That’s why the Lord gives us each other so we can talk about it and express it, pray for each other, and encourage each other to stand firm. He created us to be in communion with each other and with him.

When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace, in every high and stormy gale. Edward Mote 1836

Pastor Job

Truth and Fairy Tales

We all like fairy tales don’t we, whether or not we like to admit it. We are attracted to stuff with happy endings. As I sit at my desk and write this message, I’m looking at a card that I mailed out at Christmas. It is an artist’s depiction of three men riding camels, headed toward some clean white buildings that look like part of a royal city with a big silver star above it. Each person is wearing a crown. Palm trees are waving in the wind. In the center of that royal building are a man and woman bending over a manger. Artists are allowed to do that; they have the liberty to depict scenes as they like. It’s always up to the viewer to decide whether it represents fact or fiction. And we may start humming “We three kings.”

The bit of information that Matthew 2 gives us is enough to help us realize that many artists have got it wrong, turning it into a fairy tale. They show three camels because there were three gifts. The wise men are wearing colorful flowing robes. The star they saw is outstandingly beautiful, yet no one else seems to notice. And often they arrive at the stable right after the birth, sometimes even meeting the shepherds at the door, which is impossible.

It’s necessary to look at the real facts. Who were these “wise men?” They came from the east where they had spotted the star. That’s a fact. It is assumed that they came from Babylon and that for some reason they studied the stars. They were probably called “wise men” because there were groups of men who studied all kinds of strange phenomena in a variety of fields such as astronomy, dreams, sacred writings, and magic, all in pursuit of wisdom. You may remember from Daniel 2 that the king of Babylon had a dream and he called for the wise men of his court to come and interpret his dream. Wise men were considered a normal addition to the court of pagan kings. We don’t know how many came to Bethlehem or how large this entourage was. We may assume there were more than three camels because they would have to take along food and a change of clothes. Babylon to Jerusalem is at least 1200 km. Perhaps these men had already studied the Hebrew scriptures because Daniel had quite an influence. These men may have studied the story of Balaam in Numbers 24:17, where Balaam had been ordered by the king of Moab to curse God’s people. Instead of a curse he heard a far-reaching blessing and prophecy. “I see him but not now, I behold him but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, a scepter shall rise out of Israel.” And now these men saw a star that had not been there before. We don’t know if it made them think it may be that star of Jacob that represented the royal scepter of a king.

But there is information given us by Matthew, important things to notice. The wise men head for Jerusalem, the most logical place to look for a King. They end up at the palace. Where else would you find a future king? Probably in a glorious room with his princess mother. But Matthew says all Jerusalem was troubled and so was Herod. Especially Herod. Herod was always paranoid because he never wanted anyone trying to take away his kingdom. After all, he was Herod the Great. Not because he was a nice king, but because he was a man ahead of his time and had about 25 major construction projects built. He was so paranoid that he even had his favorite wife, two sons, and 300 of his military leaders executed. Herod didn’t know the answer to the question of the birth of a king. So he called his own wise men and asked them. They instantly knew the answer; Micah 5:2 tells them Bethlehem was the place.

We also know he met with the men from the east secretly. That made sense. He didn’t want this news to get out, and he was also devising a plan. He told them he too wanted to go and worship Jesus. Anyone who knew him well would have known that Herod was out to kill our Lord. For that reason he wanted to know “when the star had appeared.” Apparently they saw “his star when it rose.” He did the math and devised the plan.

Isn’t it just like God to do these things against human expectations. Jesus, not born in a palace. Jesus, not born of a princess. Martin Luther writes about Mary, “Her name means bitter myrrh. Among the downtrodden people she was one of the lowliest, not a maid of high station in the capital city, but a daughter of a plain man in a small town.” Jesus, born in Bethlehem, a town of little value, with the “poor, oppressed, and lowly.” Although it is known as royal David’s city, Bethlehem was a poor town. Jesus was the only true royal person there. His first visitors were those overjoyed, dirty, smelly shepherds who spent day and night out in the fields, living with sheep and lambs that were scheduled for sacrifice.

And now Jesus, who is about to go into hiding in Egypt, gets visitors knocking on the door of their rented house, long after the shepherds and other visitors had left. Personally, I picture the wise men coming in the door and falling on their knees before this little toddler crawling on the living room floor. Perhaps in need of a diaper change. He was that human too. That didn’t matter. They knew he was royalty! Imagine, the “religious” of Jerusalem couldn’t even take the time to travel 8 km. to worship the King of kings, but the wise men came 1200 km. It says they worshipped HIM.

What does our personal worship feel like? Are we apathetic like those in Jerusalem? Or do we say, and know, together with Mary, “My soul rejoices in God my Saviour” and travel the long and difficult road of life just to be with our Saviour, and like the carol says – I give him my heart.

- Pastor Job

Merry Christmas and Happy Holy Days

How language changes over time! We use words now that used to mean something quite different. Just look at the title of this letter. Although we live in an era when many refuse to wish us a Merry Christmas there are still some who do. The word “merry” may not often be used, but when it does it usually denotes a “party” atmosphere. The original intent of the word “merry” was probably “joyous,” in keeping with the fact that we, as Christians, celebrate the birth of our Saviour. So, the Christmas carol “God rest ye merry gentlemen” in today’s language probably could read “God keep you joyous gentlemen” and is followed up by the words that Christ was born of Mary to save us all from Satan’s power. Say that at a noisy Christmas party and it would put an immediate damper on the party. The truth often does.

And the word holiday originates in an old English word “haligdag” and was at one time a term used for religious days only. It was to be a holy day set aside for a special purpose. Now it just means – have a happy time off work.

And now, in a world beset with fear, frustration, greed, advertising products and gifts guaranteed to make you happy, dissatisfaction with governing bodies, mis-information and so much more, many churches have had to use extreme caution and wisdom to close the doors for a while because the pandemic rages on. Now, even those who may darken the door of houses of worship once a year, are prevented from doing so. Add to that the fact that it may also be that-once-a-year event when families gather for Christmas and attend church together and worship the “God of all ages, whose almighty hand leads forth in beauty all the starry band of shining worlds in splendour through the skies; our grateful songs before thy throne arise.” I’m not at all sure what was on the mind of Daniel Roberts when he wrote that glorious hymn. Perhaps he was picturing the starry band of angels that appeared to the shepherds of Bethlehem to proclaim the good news of the birth of a long-expected Saviour.

So now, with the churches being limited, it may mean that we have to change our personal practice. I know I can remember a time when we did not have a Christmas Eve service. I was only a little boy. We gathered with friends at a home. We sat in a circle and listened as one person opened the Bible and read the complete Christmas story. Then someone would lead in singing of carols. Even those who did not normally have a singing voice joined in. No one judged their bad notes, we were celebrating God’s great gift to this world. Someone else was assigned to lead in prayer. I can only imagine that if the shepherds had been there, they would have joined in the singing and the sharing. No one would have cared how they looked or smelled. It was a celebration. And the Jesus we celebrated was in our midst as the unseen guest but very much a presence felt – Emmanuel, God with us. Why do I remember a Christmas Eve like that one, and can’t remember so many since? Probably because it presented the truth more vividly than many services. It was simple, like the birth of Jesus. It wasn’t a social thing, just like the birth of Jesus. It didn’t matter that you couldn’t carry a tune, probably just like the shepherds; the angels did that. What mattered was the spoken word of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We had come through the difficult immigration process. I could only imagine Jesus immigrating from his place in glory to be among us, and just like us, a sojourner in a strange land. There were so many things that made an impression. And it could never be replicated as much as we may try. And the birth of Jesus can never be replicated either, and it never has to. And what could I give Him for that meaningful Christmas years ago? Like Rossetti says in her carol – I can give him my heart. And it has been only over time that we start to truly understand that commitment, even though there are many day we do it half-heartedly.

As we once again find ourselves in a Christmas season that is so very different from Christmas as we picture it, I ask myself – why are things the way they are, why has God allowed this to happen at this time? Is it perhaps that our Sovereign God is putting a gentle pressure on us as his church all over this world to stay prepared for the second coming of Christ? How near that is we don’t know. But we must wonder how long our God is going to put up with the nonsense and rejection of this world. And we can add to that the laid-back and apathetic attitude of his own people, the church.

Folks as a pastor I urge you, as I also point to myself, to find a way to celebrate Christmas, perhaps differently, but in keeping with his will and his gospel. And to always remain prepared, keeps our oil lamps trimmed and a supply of oil abundant as in Matthew 25. And as it says in verse 13: “keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

May you have a blessed Christmas as you celebrate our God’s gift of grace to this world. We don’t know what the next year will bring. One thing we do know, There is no shadow of changing with God, he is who he is, a God of grace who does not measure out according to our deserving, but gives us mercy and grace we didn’t earn. It is through faith alone, through grace alone, through Christ alone. May God keep you joyous in these difficult times.

Greetings and blessings from Pastor Job, Jacqueline & Joel

Happy Thanksgiving

Do You Ever Wonder?
Recently we were driving home after worship at church. It was a beautiful day, worship was worshipful, limited fellowship on the parking lot was helpful for morale. As much as everything is very different from a few years ago, there was still a peace in our heart. As we travelled home, my wife, because she is artistic by nature, remarked just how beautiful the sky was and how lush and green the trees were, even with the approaching fall and winter. I agreed with her and also reminded myself how blessed we were that traffic was light, making the driving less tense. ,

Then I started thinking about – and wondering – why it is this way for us. We live in a world that is torn apart by strife and hardship. There are wars and rumours of wars. There are earthquakes in various places. Things Jesus said would come. He didn’t add all that we see today because, in Matthew 24 he was speaking to his disciples. They wouldn’t have a clue what he was talking about if he had mentioned wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, erupting volcanoes, climate change, carbon footprint, airplane crashes, drones strikes, nuclear threats and so much more. They might have known what poverty was. But they would not have recognized the meaning of pandemic, exorbitant gun violence, drug trade, terror attacks. If he had mentioned these things as signs of the end of the age, perhaps Peter would once again have taken him aside and rebuked him for speaking such foolishness. And Jesus would again have had to tell him, as in Matthew 16, that Peter did “not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” And he would again have been right to do so. When Jesus said the words about “the end of the age” the disciples were calling Jesus’ attention to the beauty of the temple building. And it was beautiful and impressive. There are stones so large that it boggles the mind to ponder, in an age of no technology or heavy equipment, how these buildings could have been constructed.

But Jesus was thinking, seeing, and prophesying into our day and beyond. Perhaps he already had in mind the day in the future when all those coming occurrences which he knew of, and the disciples could not envision, would come to an end and he would be taking his church of believers of all ages to a new heaven and earth. Then those same disciples will really have something to admire and thank God for. If we look back to the Old Testament, we know that some of the horrors of today were already happening then. Cain committed the first murder. Then God passed judgement, not on the ungodly, but on the righteous who had ignored Godliness (Luther), and destroyed the world with the flood. If we move ahead to Isaiah, we hear God saying, “what do you mean by grinding the faces of the poor?” After that we see God sending his people into captivity in Babylon for seventy years for disobedience. Then look at the book of the prophet Habakkuk. He was pre-Babylonian captivity, and he saw it coming. He sees the wrongs of the world around him. “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save. Why do you tolerate wrong?”(Hab 1:2) Habakkuk is a bit of a philosopher. He asks questions because he wants to understand. He sees what is going on all around his world. In the end, with no clear answer in his mind he finishes his prophecy with these words. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of the deer; he enables me to go on the heights.” (Hab 3:17-19)

The verse from Isaiah, and the first verse from Habakkuk certainly look much like the world of today. But this last reading from Habakkuk only looks like part of the world today. And that is where my dilemma comes from. Why is it that part of the world looks like the world of Isaiah and many of the prophets, and my part of the world stands in sharp contrast to all that. When I consider myself and those around me, I am no more deserving of God’s goodness and grace than those who have nothing. A prosperity preacher would possibly say it’s because we, or I, am doing all things right. I refuse to believe that. I have known people of strong faith to be some of the poorest people. I sit outside today and look at the calm blue sky, the green of the trees, the peace and the quiet, the abundance of food in the cupboard, and if I need something, I just go to the store and get it. I have good health, good health care, good friends. If I need to talk to a friend to lift my spirits or pray with me, I pick up my telephone. If the peace and quiet need to be enhanced, I just turn on some beautiful music. And it just goes on and on. I don’t deserve this anymore than others with much less.

The truth is – I have no easy answer as to why I am more blessed. One thing I do know – I’m just a sinner saved by grace. Another thing I know – even my best efforts to do what God wants are all stained with sin. And the third thing I know – Thanksgiving Day is coming, and I need to give God thanks for all he gives us. Actually, everyday needs to be Thanksgiving day, even if there may come a time when my life looks like those last verses of Habakkuk’s prophecy. Here is a verse from a poem by Annie Flint.

But God has never said that he would give
Another’s grace without another’s thorn;
What matter, for every day of mine
Sufficient grace for me comes with the morn.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, Pastor Job

Expect the Unexpected

This message was instigated by one of my recent experiences. Sometimes I hear the remark that you should always expect the unexpected. I don’t often give that much thought. Another version of that statement is “I didn’t see that coming!” This time I was on my way to a meeting in Belleville. When I was getting close to the exit, my vehicle stopped running and I was able to move to the right-hand lane, the exit, and onto the exit shoulder. This all required a tow truck. Then the bad news. The engine had seized and needed replacing. I didn’t see that coming. As I was contemplating the high cost, I was then given the good news. It was covered under the company recall plan. I didn’t see that coming either! I offered a silent prayer of thanks and went home. I ‘ve never believed in coincidences. Everything happens under God’s watchful eye, and I wonder whether God has a funny sense of humour or if He allows these things to happen to keep me close. I lean to the second way.

This experience of mine is minor compared to the countless “unexpected” stories recorded in the Bible. It already starts in Genesis 2, when God gave “the man” permission to eat from all the trees in the garden except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil “for when you eat of it you will surely die.”. Did that tree look any different? Probably not because the point was that he had to be obedient to the Lord in all his beautiful creation. So, when Adam did eat of the tree he could fully expect to die. And in many ways, he did. But he did not die physically and in Genesis 3:15 he was promised that the seed of the woman would crush the head of Satan. He was promised a Messiah, a Saviour to repair the damage Adam had done. He couldn’t have seen that coming! Years later we see the arrogant young seventeen-year old Joseph (Genesis 37) strutting around in his “richly ornamented robe”, almost bragging that he had two dreams in which his own brothers would someday bow down to him. He could have expected that his brothers hated him so much that they sold him off to slave traders and he would be separated from his family. What he didn’t see coming was that he would eventually be elevated to second in command in Egypt (Gen. 41) to fulfil God’s will. If we move ahead to Isaiah (Isaiah 6), the prophet had a vision. Isaiah was a prophet who was used to getting messages from God through visions. He had probably come to expect that. What he didn’t expect was that absolutely terrifying vision of chapter 6 where he sees the Lord, “high and exalted” with seraphs flying around and singing “holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory,” to the point that their voices shook the doorposts and thresholds of the temple. What was even more terrifying was that he had seen the Lord and he now expected to die because, as God had said to Moses, “no one can see me and live.”(Exodus 33:20) Add to that the fact that by his own admission Isaiah himself was an unclean man. What Isaiah didn’t see coming was that one of the seraphs flew over to Isaiah with a burning coal in his tongs and burned Isaiah’s lips clean and declare his sin atoned for. That’s when Isaiah realized all this happened because God had a purpose in mind.

Moving on to the story of Jonah we encounter a Jonah who had no desire to go to the city the of Nineveh and warn them that the Lord was tired of their wickedness. Instead, he got on a ship bound for Tarshish to escape from God. He should have known this wasn’t possible and he could have expected trouble. A violent storm came up and the only solution was to toss Jonah overboard so God could spare the lives of the others who were not at fault. At this point Jonah could have expected his life to be over. What he didn’t see coming was that great fish that swallowed him up and kept him safely tucked inside until Jonah was finished pleading with God for his life and promising obedience. Then the unexpected happened and the fish vomited Jonah up on dry land.

Now think of the three friends of Daniel who refused to bow down to the golden idol that King Nebuchadnezzar had built. They would only bow down and worship God. Daniel 3 tells us they were thrown into the fiery furnace which was heated seven times hotter because the king was so angry. From their own words to the king it seems they fully expected to die. But denying God his rightful worship was not an option. What they didn’t see coming or expect was an angel showing up in the furnace with them and walking around keeping them safe.

The New Testament is equally full of stories. Young Mary, because she was engaged to Joseph, fully expected to have a wedding, be married, and have a normal family in that culture. The unexpected was an angel showing up in her room to tell her, a virgin, that she was pregnant through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, this was going to be a boy, and he would be called the Son of God. Later, the apostle Paul hunted down the people who believed in Jesus of Nazareth and were messing with their Judaism. He fully expected the Jewish authorities, and God himself, would richly reward him for his zeal. Then the unexpected appearance of Jesus on the road to Damascus struck him blind and knocked him to the ground. He became the greatest missionary ever.

What is the point of all this? When it comes to God you can expect the unexpected. In all the stories I have cited there is an element for fear. Adam, Joseph, Jonah, Daniel’s friends all feared they would die. Mary was afraid and the angel calmed her. Paul had to change. When God allows the unexpected to happen in our lives it isn’t often easy, but he has a purpose, and we need to trust him even when we don’t see the purpose at the time. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) That requires obedience and trust.

Pastor Job

Easter Sunday –
Worship Service!

St. Andrew's had their first service on Easter Sunday since March 15, 2020. What a joyous occasion for everyone to share in God's word and reunite with friends.
Pastor Job provided a Good Friday and Easter Sunday message and led the church in the sacrament of Holy Communion.
Music and solo performances were provided by Jacqueline Van Hartingsveldt on the organ, Lorraine Ymker on the piano and Joel Bootsmas on the violin.

Happy New Year

By the time you read this we may already be into another year. I find it impossible to think about what this next year may bring and not reflect on what the last year brought. It is different for each person. Some of you are still grieving the loss of a loved one. You may be anxiously awaiting surgery or still recovering. Others struggle financially. There are those who suffer depression, loneliness, anxiety, loss, abuse, failure of sorts, family or marriage breakdown. We live in a world of addictions, of fear, of anxiety. We can fill a page with a list. Then there are those for whom the past year has been wonderful and they hope the trend continues. I think we can all agree that life is always in a state of flux, that nothing ever stays the same.
Then we ought to remember what it is that remains the constant of our lives. Every “what” has a “who” attached to it. We have just celebrated Christmas, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Look at how the gospels relate the story. Matthew tells us about Joseph’s struggle about having to marry a young girl who was already pregnant. The situation had to be explained to Joseph by an angel to put his mind at rest. Then Matthew launches into the story of the Magi who show up in Bethlehem sometime after the birth of Christ. The gospel of Mark starts with Jesus’ baptism. Luke is the only gospel that gives a more complete narrative of that first Christmas. John tells us that “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Perhaps the differences are because the details of Jesus’ incarnation are not as important as the reason, the “who” and the “what.” So then the Christmas message becomes less of the fairy-tale birth so often depicted on cards, in pageants, and in carols. The message is much more about purpose and John says it clearly. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”(John 3:16) That was the message God already gave in Genesis 3:15, the message of his covenant with Abraham, the message through the prophets, the message of the birth narrative, the message of Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost. It is that message that will come to completion when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.
And that means, that amidst all the blessings and all the turmoil of life, salvation and Christ are the “what” and “who” that remain constant. Imagine that! Christmas is all about Jesus the Holy Son volunteering himself, in obedience to the Holy Father, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, becoming one of us in the womb of a sinful human being. That is how much God loved this dysfunctional world, the dysfunctional me, the dysfunctional you. He entered this world so that, by believing in him, we have eternal life. It is just inconceivable that Jesus would stoop that low out of love for us. To us it is unthinkable that he would remove himself from that most beautiful place of eternal glory and enter into this desert wasteland with all its sin, its greed, its hatred, its selfishness, its apathy, its abuse, its hurt, and all the resulting factors of those actions, for the simple reason that “God so loved this world.” And because Jesus said, “I and the Father are one,” it can only mean that Jesus has the same love for this world, proving it by his death on the cross. On that cross is where he felt more forsaken by his Father than we could ever experience. And then to top it off, Paul tells us in Galatians 4:6 that God sent the Spirit into our hearts, and that we have become heirs in his kingdom. That means that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all involved in their love for us. All three persons of the Trinity take an active role in God’s love and our salvation. What a support system we have behind us.
So Christmas again reminds us that, as this world convulses and heaves as the result of sin entering through humanity’s disobedience, Christ came to set things right for those who believe in him and follow God’s will. The convulsing and pain of this world won’t stop until our Lord returns. He said he would. But knowing how much he loves us gives us a peace that passes all human understanding. That doesn’t mean our lives will always be peaceful. But there is a peace that becomes the bedrock of our life, our faith, our trust. And that peace brings hope, works itself out in love, and helps us to emanate joy.
And now we go into a new year in the confidence that God so loved and continues to love. That means we can go into this next year “Living for Jesus.” That is a hymn you may be familiar with, and here is the refrain:
O Jesus, Lord and Saviour, I give myself to thee, for thou in thy atonement, didst give thyself for me; I own no other Master, my heart shall be thy throne; my life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for thee alone. With that in mind, and in heart, we can enter the new year with thanksgiving in our heart, with joy in our heart. Each day, as we renew that vow, we can face the day, moving forward in the name of Christ. It is a difficult world we live in. We have two options. We can either be upset, angry, troubled, anxious, following the ways the world spells out for us, following the ways the powers of darkness would like us to go. The other option is to trust and obey for there is no other way because God so loved this world.
On behalf of myself and my family we wish you a Happy and Blessed New Year

Christmas Greetings

MAY GOD Grant you always - A sunbeam to WARM you - A moonbeam to CHARM you - A sheltering ANGEL so nothing can HARM you Laughter to CHEER you, Faithful friends NEAR you And whenever you PRAY, Heaven to HEAR you MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL Ray McCoy

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to our church family, we miss all of you, hope to see you soon. Stay safe & God Bless. – Janis and Joe Drummond

I know we can’t all be together this Christmas, but we will be in each other’s thoughts. Remember to keep the “CHRIST” in CHRISTMAS.– Marie Merrill

Larry and Judy Ducommun would like to wish all their friends at St. Andrew’s a Joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love this Christmas season. Merry Christmas! Blessings, Carol & Noah

Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of Love to those who need it the most. Kevin and I are wishing that our wonderful church family have a very Merry Christmas and a new year blessed with peace and grace in your hearts, happiness and great health. May the light of our Savior shine on you this Christmas.-Love Kevin and Laurie-Anne Hay

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas season. We are missing our friends and family during this pandemic, but you are with us in our hearts & our prayers. Sending love & hugs. Merry Christmas, Bill, Sue, Sara & Gladys Gray xo

To my Church family: although we are unable to celebrate this wonderful Christmas season together, I would like to wish you all the peace and joy of this special time of year. May you and your families enjoy the beauty of the season during this very challenging 2020. Stay safe and God bless. See you in the New Year!-Kim McCann

Wishing all my friends and church family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Missing our Christmas celebrations and looking forward to seeing everyone in the New Year. Stay safe and healthy-Carol Merrill

This has been an extremely challenging time for each and every one of us, but we have made our way through to this most special time of the year. Since we cannot be together to celebrate as we have become accustomed to do, each of us must gather our special memories of the years past and paint a mental picture of all those wonderful times shared with our friends at St. Andrew’s. I am sending my very best wishes (and hugs) to each and everyone for a most Blessed Christmas, good health, and much happiness in the New Year. Sincerely, Jeanette Globe.

Here we are at Christmas 2020. It doesn't seem possible, since we have missed the important holidays of the year. Easter was not the same, as we were unable to celebrate due to Covid 19. The crucifixion and the rising from the tomb seemed to happen without us singing its praise. Spring turned to summer. Summer into fall and the harvest table was just a memory. Christmas is now here, and the music is starting to come on the radio. The malls are abuzz with shoppers gathering gifts for families. Some of us will not be able to share the joy with families. Thankfully some will be able to connect via the internet. My wish for all this season is for health and happiness and that the new year brings us the ability to join together in prayer and praise. I miss my Church family and friends. Blessings to all of you. Donna Johnson

Merry Christmas to all people at St. Andrew’s, especially those facing health challenges, Rev. Job and family, Bev Boyce, Bev Mott and others. Thank you to Rev. Job for the sermons and people like Carol, Judy, and Larry who keep the shop afloat. John Grebby
I would like to wish my Presbyterian friends and your families a special and blessed Christmas and holiday season. I look forward to seeing everyone in the new year. Thoughts and prayers. Shirley Noble

From the St. Andrew’s Congregation – we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with Hope, Peace, Joy and Love!

Blessings from the
St. Andrew's Family

We would like to extend our blessings and comfort to the community.
Stay safe and healthy and know that God is with you.

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Our Promise

A Warm Welcome to You. To preach and teach The Bible in a Traditional Service, Glorifying God through music that maintains quality, and reverence in worship.

Worship Sundays at 10:30am
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
67 Victoria Ave. Belleville

Come to visit and you'll leave feeling blessed and uplifted; come to stay and you'll find a home among those who appreciate everyone's individual talents and who sincerely wish to share God's love with you.


Our Mission Statement

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Belleville, will share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all people through worship, teaching, and service.

Our Vision Statement

To be a living example of Christ’s love and healing power to all people.


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