Burning Hearts

Have you ever given thought as to who was at the cross? We know that it was quite a retinue that followed Jesus to that hill of Golgotha. This included soldiers, weeping and wailing women, a number of women who consistently attended to the disciples during Jesus’ ministry. But who stayed at the cross during the death and crucifixion? There were the soldiers who mocked Jesus and then drew lots for his garment. Simon of Cyrene was there, an out of towner who was probably from the Jewish community in Libya and was forced to carry the cross. The women from Galilee were close by. There were Jewish leaders who “sneered” at Jesus. Luke talks about “all the people who had gathered to witness this sight;” they beat their breasts and left after Jesus died. But where were the disciples? If some of them were present they were watching from a distance but, probably most of them were in hiding, assuming they would soon be handed an arrest warrant.

John was there. Either he was brave or had a special pass from the authorities. It was necessary for Jesus to have John there because it was in that very time and place, and done from the cross, that Jesus handed over the care of his mother Mary to John. No wonder John named himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” What an honor.

I want to look at two disciples who were not part of the inner circle of twelve but were close followers and also at Thomas, one of the twelve.

On Resurrection Day we find two people sauntering from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus. That’s only a seven-kilometer trip. Luke gives us the impression (24:13-36) Cleopas and friend (or wife) weren’t exactly rushing home. Luke tells us they were talking and discussing when Jesus came up behind them. What does Jesus do? He plays ignorant of the facts so he may show them just how ignorant of the true facts they are. He needs to explain to them in great detail about God’s plan for salvation. When they explained that they “had hoped” for physical redemption from the Roman oppression he went ahead to explain their hope in him was not ill-founded, only short-sighted. He came for the sake of spiritual redemption with the eventual result in complete physical redemption in “his glory.” When Cleopas and friend explained that the women had gone to the tomb and couldn’t find Jesus’ body, and had seen a vision of angels, they seemed to think the women were rather unstable in their grief. Yet Jesus turned the whole thing around and called them “foolish and slow of heart.” And while they didn’t recognize Jesus, he was able to explain everything to them from the beginning to their present stroll on their way home. They invited him in to have a meal, and when he broke the bread, they recognized him, and then he was gone. What they then said was so important. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he opened Scriptures to us?” The more literal translation from the Greek is “were not our hearts on fire within us?” They had feelings they could not explain. All this knowledge Jesus had imparted to them was finally making the trip from their minds to their hearts. They were so overwhelmed they quickly run back to Jerusalem to tell the others and then Jesus shows up once again. Oh, what a day it was.

I also want to look at Thomas (John 20: 24-29), the disciple who is rarely mentioned but became very important to the resurrection narrative. We aren’t even sure what his real name was since Thomas is an Aramaic form of “twin.” He is often credited with being a doubter. Perhaps he was just more cautious. When the disciples met with Jesus, he was absent. Would that be intentional on Jesus’ part? When the other disciples told Thomas they had seen the Lord, his response was that he wouldn’t believe unless he could place his fingers on the nail marks of Jesus’ hands. A week later Thomas was with the disciples. John makes a point of telling us the doors were locked when Jesus just came and stood among them. It must have been frightening because Jesus said “Peace be with you,” to calm their terror. Then he told Thomas to place his fingers on the nail marks. We’ll never know if Thomas did so. Personally, I can only picture him falling to his knees before his risen Holy Lord and exclaiming with strained voice, “My Lord and my God!” What a profession of faith! Was Thomas experiencing what the two people from Emmaus felt? Was his heart burning within him when he uttered those words? Was his heart on fire? Was he dealing with feelings he couldn’t explain? Could he now grasp with his mind that the political misunderstandings needed to be gone, that he was dealing with matters of the heart?

I encourage you all have to exercise introspection. You and I have to recall when our hearts were last burning with love for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Jesus told Thomas he believed because he had seen; “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” That’s us. We believe through faith alone; we are blessed through faith alone; our hearts burn through faith alone. And we can only know through Scripture alone under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. For us he died and rose again. These are the words of one of the great hymns of the Church:
Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me; illumine me, Spirit divine!
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.

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

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

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