Focus on the Center

At home we have a coffee table that is special. It was made for us by a friend. It is a wagon wheel I picked up at a Mennonite shop where they make buggies. It still has the hub protruding through the glass top and it has sixteen spokes. It is also important for another reason I hope you will understand.

Many of us have sung these words: “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence I will live. All to Jesus I surrender, Saviour make me wholly thine.” If that one doesn’t sound familiar, there is another prayer you may recognize. “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.” The writer, Frances Havergal, a poet, hymn writer, soloist, spent much of her short 42 years with health problems, but always dedicated to her Lord. “Take my life, moments, days, silver, gold, voice, will, heart, and love, and consecrate them.” We sing those words, but they are often a problem for us if we really think about them. That is probably because, as human beings, we tend to divide our lives up in segments. We have those parts of our life that we are willing to give up to God, and there are those parts which we reserve for ourselves. Most of us know that divided loyalties just never work in the end. Just think about it, our Holy God has been completely loyal to us in spite of our lives and actions. He has been completely loyal and faithful to his Covenant, the covenant he made with the first Adam and fulfilled in the second Adam, Jesus Christ. God the Father gave his creation in love and created us in love; he ordered salvation in love and gave his only Son. He didn’t leave us floundering and gave the Holy Spirit to show us the pathway and keep us strong. He gave us everything. The Holy Trinity literally consecrated itself for our good. Our God is truly an awesome God.

Now, back to the wagon wheel. When I was in my teenage years, I was blessed with parents who did their best to teach me Biblical truths. I don’t recall the circumstances or when, just the lesson. I was taught that life is like a wagon wheel. I am the outer rim and Jesus is the hub, at the center. I am connected to Jesus through the spokes. You also are the rim, and only you know who is at your center. If it is Jesus then consider the following. If the only connection you have to Christ is church attendance, it is a weak wheel and will collapse. If another connection to Him is prayer, you now have two spokes. If you study your Bible, the wheel becomes stronger. But there is so much more. As I counted out sixteen spokes I wondered if I could come up with sixteen ways to name all sixteen spokes. And it’s a given that the more spokes, the stronger the wheel because it is also a given that this wheel will encounter many bumps and rocks along the journey of life and needs to be as strong as possible. The song, “I Surrender All” talks about Jesus making me “wholly” His. What does that mean? Havergal already gives us seven in her hymn. I have added another three.

Then we have to add our vocation. And if we own a business, do we manage that business in accordance with the will of God? Do we do our work and do business to the glory of God? What is our social life like? What about our relationships and friendships, especially the marriage relationship which is the highest relationship God has established in the world? Do we treat others with the level of compassion and forgiveness that our God has first shown and demonstrated to us? Do we manage our finances in a way that glorifies our God? Remember we wouldn’t have anything without the blessings of Almighty God. We live in a country that has a high debt ratio. Is that because we want what we want when we want it or, do we purchase what is right when it is right? And do we give back to Him Biblically to honour Him? I believe it becomes apparent that there is not one single area in our life that doesn’t come under the watchful eye of God. And, that there is also not one area of life that God will not bless if we live in obedience to Him and glorify Him. Paul writes to the Roman church that we are only able to do the right thing through faith in Christ, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) To the Corinthians he writes, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Cor. 10:13)

Did you make a New Year resolution this year? I certainly didn’t because, for me it’s just a waste of time. I have to make a resolution each day to serve Him better. And yet I fail each day. But then I have to remind myself that God loves me so much that he forgives me, asks me to pick myself up, and try again. He is the God of all grace that gives grace in every area of life when we ask Him to consecrate those areas. And I know, that whatever happens in this world and in my life, Jesus is the Prince of Peace and the King of kings. He has sent the Holy Spirit to keep us strong. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.(2 Chronicles 16:9) Keep your wheel strong, keep your faith and trust strong. May our lives and actions bless and honour God; may Jesus be your center. Encourage each other. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:23) - 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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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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