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The Balm of Gilead

Today’s message is one I hesitated to write, but I feel I must. It comes as result of several things. First of all, we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic which all of us have never experienced, and we hope never again. Secondly, I have spoken to so many people who are truly struggling with health issues or have family members or close friends who are agonizing and often we don’t know what to do or say. Thirdly, there are many who live in fear and are afraid of becoming ill or even afraid of death. Then there are those who ask the big question – why is all this?

Those of you who know me well also know that often a song comes to mind because of certain circumstances, and it won’t go away easily. This time it was the Afro-American spiritual found in many hymn books, “There is a Balm in Gilead.” I won’t go into great detail about the song, but I do feel it needs a little background. The ancient region of Gilead was an area to the east of the Jordan River, across from the city of Jericho, and today is found in the country of Jordan. It’s the area found between the sea of Galilee to the north and the Dead Sea to the south. If you stand in Israel and look across the Jordan Valley at this land it looks fairly barren. But there are some very fertile sections where, in Old Testament days, growing Balsam plants (bushes, trees) was profitable because the balm that was produced had great medicinal qualities and used for healing. Ironically, the balm was also used by women, because of its fragrance, to seduce the men. Gilead comes up often in Scripture. The caravan that bought Joseph from his brothers (Gen. 37:25) was on its way from Gilead to Egypt to sell their wares. Gilead was also the place (Judges 7) where Gideon defeated the Midianites. Gilead was also home territory for Elijah the prophet of God.

But whoever wrote the spiritual, based the song on Jeremiah 8:22, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” Chapter 8 talks about God’s judgment on his people. God had become very unimportant and ignored in the lives of his people and now his people were looking for a quick fix. And that sounds so much like the nation and the era we live in today. All that was wrong then, and is now, in this world is a result of sin having entered the world after creation, and the mercy, grace, and love of our Holy and Almighty God being undermined. And Jeremiah was basically saying that there really is a balm; there really is a great physician. That balm and that physician dwells among you.

The spiritual echoes that thought.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.
Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.
If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus and say, “He died for all.”

There is great comfort in that message. But the message also requires us to make sure we have “our ducks in a row,” knowing what is most important in life. Jesus is often referred to as the “Balm in Gilead.” He should be your most important person because you are so important to Him. As is often said, “It was not the nails that held him to the cross, but His love for you and me.” He died and rose again for you and for me. We belong to Him. He stands at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us. And whatever you may be going through in this life will all fall away in eternal life in the beauty of His holiness.

The way the world is now, the pain, the grief, the suffering, or the fear you are experiencing now will all pass away some day. The main thing is that you must make sure that you have committed your life to Jesus Christ. He committed his life to all those who love him and keep his commands. Paul talks about asking God to take away his thorn in the flesh. Instead, God rejected that idea in order to keep Paul closely dependent on him. “My grace is sufficient for you.” Maybe that was small comfort for Paul. But he did stay close. And God’s grace is always sufficient for us. Stand in the palm of His hand!

If there are times you feel discouraged, alone, forsaken, or struggling, just remember Jesus has been all those places before you and even worse. The writer of Hebrews says, (4:15-16) “We do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

We all know our need. Our time of need is now! With Jesus as Lord of our life we find a peace that passes all human understanding. It does not mean our pain will go away, but we have the promise of eternity without suffering and tears. What is your comfort? “That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” He watches over me. Like the man on the cross beside Jesus, we will be with Him in paradise. Fear not!
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.


Church
Re-opening Notice
The church will be closed again until further notice.


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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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
613-968-8998

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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