Reflection on Lent

We are now firmly into the Lent season. What does this mean? Where does the word even come from. It comes from an old English term “lencten” which means the spring season. The Dutch “lente” and the German “lenz” just simply mean spring. For the Christian world it has come to mean something totally different, and, depending when and where we celebrate the season of Lent, it often doesn’t resemble spring outside when we still have snowbanks up to our ears.

The Christian season of Lent is that period of forty days when we approach Good Friday and Easter Sunday. My favourite time of the year! Why forty days? Forty is a rather important number in the Bible. It is a number often associated with a period of preparation. Moses spent the first 40 years of his life living in opulence in the royal house of Egypt. He had to experience (unknowingly) what he would be up against at a later time. Then he had to learn poverty and humility before God for the next forty years. Then, at age 80, God called him to lead Israel out of slavery and spend 40 years roaming around in the desert, preparing the people to enter the Promised Land. Moses also spent 40 days on Mount Sinai where the Ten Commandments were being prepared for the ages to come. Elijah the prophet went 40 days without food and water. Perhaps he thought he was preparing himself to die because he had accomplished a lot for God. But God was preparing him for the next part of his mission. Jesus himself spent 40 days in the desert, preparing himself for his ministry and at the end of those days, tired and hungry, he was tempted by Satan. So now you may understand the forty days of Lent as a period of preparation as we remember the greatest event in history (His Story – God’s story).

During this time of year many Christians observe a period of repentance, moderation, self-denial, and spiritual discipline. And some even observe a period of fasting or denying themselves some of their favourite things. It is supposed to be a time when we reflect on the special mission of our Lord Jesus Christ, his life and suffering, his battle on the cross with Satan and his host, Jesus’ burial and then his victory of resurrection. It is a time when we reflect on the fact that Jesus, in obedience to the heavenly Father, was anointed to take on human form and suffer and die in our place to pay the debt of our sins for the sake of our salvation. It is a time when we reflect on Jesus’ prayer in the olive grove of Gethsemane and he buckled to his knees with his plea to the Father. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” And the Father did not remove that cup of suffering from the Son, and the Son remained obedient. They both loved us that much! They both knew that all of us were totally incapable of paying for our own sins! My question is always this: these truths we reflect on, are these not the very things we should be reflecting on every single day of our lives, every step of our Christian walk? Does it not sound like hypocrisy that we do this for forty days and then get on with our busy, self-centered lives, and then, sometimes, take an apathetic attitude toward our Lord Jesus Christ and his love for us?

Perhaps you understand my ambivalent feelings about Lent and Easter. On the one hand I tend to feel great shame in the fact that I consistently do so much that disgraces my Holy God, disgraces I can never take back or pay for. One of my favourite professors often reminded us as students that “all our best efforts are stained with sin.” We just can’t help ourselves. Then, on the other hand, there is that peace and great rejoicing in the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to offer himself up as the ultimate sacrifice as payment for our shortcomings. Remember the shepherds outside Bethlehem? I think they knew they were raising sheep for sacrifice in the temple at Jerusalem. These sheep were to be without spot or blemish. Now Jesus became that sacrificial lamb without spot or blemish – for us! When I think of that fact, the words of the third verse of “How Great Thou Art” come to mind. “And when I think that God, his Son not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in, that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, he bled and died to take away my sin.” Let me put it a little stronger than that. The Apostles’ creed of the church has been confessed for many ages. There is the one line that says that Jesus “descended into hell.” There have been many who have chosen to change the words to “descending to the dead.” I take serious offence to that. When Jesus cried out the question to his Father, “Why have you forsaken me?” was that not hell itself? Is there anything more hellish than being forsaken by God? Jesus went through all of this for you and for me.

Let me add one more thing that moves my heart. Beverly Lowry wrote a song entitled “I Thirst.” It’s not that well-known. But the words are powerful. It speaks about the Jesus on the cross crying out, “I thirst.” He, as the creator of the rivers and seas, cried out about his thirst. One of the closing lines is this: “And in his great thirst he brought water to me.” He brought us living water necessary unto the salvation of our souls. What a rejoicing that is for us!

As you enter this Lent season I hope and pray that your shame and rejoicing is not limited to the forty days. For the Christian there is nothing more valuable and important than what Christ has done for us. What rejoicing replaces our shame. It is my prayer for you and for me that it all extends beyond forty days and into eternity. And may your heart be singing, “then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee, How great thou art!
Pastor Job

Re-opening Notice

Hello St. Andrew’s family. It is certainly an understatement just how much we miss our spiritual fellowship and worship together.

The Covid-19 restrictions, closures, realities and attempts to defeat this dreaded virus have been exhausting for our small community and attempts to re-open our church for worship services. This virus has affected all nations, ethnicities, sexes, age groups, and the peace of mind for everyone in the world.

Pastor Job, Session and the Board of Managers have met on several occasions, reviewing the possible announcement of when we will be able to join in worship together within the sanctuary of our church.

On December 21, 2020, Premier Ford announced the shutdown of Southern Ontario until the 23rd of January 2021. This of course means that St. Andrew’s will not re-open on the anticipated January 17, 2021 date. It has restricted indoor organized public events and social gatherings.

The continued uncertainties and concerns of what future restrictions may be implemented in the coming weeks, Pastor Job, Session and the Board of Managers have decided that it is too difficult to determine a possible re-opening date at this time for St. Andrew’s.
We will continue to monitor the changes to Ontario’s restrictions regarding Covid-19, and the anticipated vaccine (and its effects on the virus) and re-evaluate the circumstances as updated news is provided by the Provincial Government.

Please know that we all want everyone to stay healthy and safe, and we miss our time together. Please continue with your prayers for Pastor Job, Jacqueline and Joel, and those who are facing challenges, suffering from illness or receiving medical assistance, depressed and are truly in need of our support.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Job, Session and the Board of Managers
January 5, 2021

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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67 Victoria Ave. Belleville

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