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Sunday Summary

Autumn

Autumn-Sept-20-2020

Sunday was the final service of summer with autumn beginning just a couple days later.

Autumn was the incentive for the service with hymns chosen that reflected the wonder of the world in which we live.

The message didn’t quite follow suit as you will discover should you take the time to listen.

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

Running on Empty

Running on Empty September 6

I almost ran out of gas on Thursday — speaking of my car of course.

I started the car to head up to Woodstock to visit a couple folks and noticed that the yellow low fuel warning light was on; however, the computer screen was telling me that I still had 100 Km in the tank.

Now there are three gas stations in Norwich so there’s no shortage of choice. Their prices however are usually 3 – 5 cents higher per litre then what I usually pay in Woodstock and my Visa card gets me a discount of three cents per litre when I fill up at Petro Canada. So, with 100 KM in the tank and Woodstock just 25 KM away, saving 6 to 8 cents per litre seemed like a sensible decision.

As soon as I turned left onto Highway 59 I noticed that the screen in my car said I had 85 Km left. Four kilometers later I was down to 75Km. I tried doing the calculation in my head. If the computer is showing a 10 Km diminishing for every 4 that I drive, how many Km will I be able to actually drive before I run out (doesn’t this sound like one of those tests meant to determine how smart we are).

Anyways, I couldn’t figure it out. I work with words, not numbers, and I made the assumption that no matter what the screen was telling me, I would easily make it to Woodstock.

Just as I pulled into the PC station just over the 401 on Norwich Ave. a warning indication began to sound, and the screen said to stop the car and put it into park. I’d never seen that before.

The final anxiety involved the situation that every pump was occupied and I had the vision of running out of gas 20 feet from a pump.

Embarrassment was the major concern. With all of the instrumentation and fuel calculations a modern car can give, how does anyone run out of gas?

I ignored the warning alarm and was able to get to a pump and fill the car.

I actually felt a little light headed as I got out of the car. Probably the result of being anxious about being stranded on the side of the road or as I have said even worse, 20 feet from the fuel my car so desperately needed.

So really, what was the worst that could have happened.

Ever watch one of those adventure shows about life in Africa. A solitary driver riding in their open Jeep just in sight of lions and elephants. I watch those shows and wonder what will happen if the vehicle breaks down out in the open like that. Then I realize, there is someone behind the camera that is filming their adventure and probably a few extra “someones” also along for the ride with extra fuel and rifles to keep the host safe.

I wasn’t in Africa. I was in Oxford County. Only wildlife I was riding in sight of was a few squirrels and raccoons. Some of whom had met up with other vehicles and lost.

The worst that could have happened to me would have been to pull my vehicle over to the side of the road, call Pam or the CAA and read something on my iPhone as I waited for help arrived.

Small embarrassment and inconvenience and had I actually run out of fuel I probably wouldn’t be writing this reflection letting you know.

Kevin and Heather recently reminded us of the inconvenience of a power failure. As frustrating as it can be, we should be reminded that so many in our present world can only dream of a constant flow of electrical power for our refrigerators full of food, air conditioners, televisions, computers, cell phones and so much more.

We live with what many refer to as first world problems that pale so much in comparison to third world realities.

I can hear some saying “let’s not forget about Covid-19. That’s an “every world” problem. And I wouldn’t minimize that reality for a moment but it would seem to me that every generation has had to deal with its own issues. It may have been war, other major epidemics, political turmoil. Whatever we have been called upon to endure, we have been called to endure with joy and faith and to find refuge in the Lord we worship.

“The Lord is good. When trouble comes, God is a strong refuge”.

Nahum 1:7

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

The Sower: Part Two

The-Sower-Part-2

As you listen to this weeks podcast you may feel that you’re having a Yogi Berra moment of deja vu all over again.
Last week I shared a reflection on The Sower that grew out of the funeral service I led for our good friend Dennis Pilkey.
I decided to elaborate on it for this past Sunday’s service.
Even if some of the thoughts are coming around for a second time, I hope that the depth of Jesus teaching will bring out
another good thought or two.
Pastor LLoyd

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Sunday Summary

The Sower

The-Sower

Here is the reflection for Sunday the 23rd of August.

There’s not much to add by way of introduction as I have explained the nature of the content in the podcast itself. Suffice it to say that it revolves around the funeral service I led for a dear friend, Dennis Pilkey, on Saturday.

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Sunday Summary

Freedom

Freedom

Sunday’s reflection for August 16th has the theme of Freedom. The scripture that forms the foundation is from 1 Corinthians and reads as follows.

 “I have the right to do anything,” but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

1 Corinthians 10: 23-24

The thrust of Paul’s message is that although we can claim to be free in our faith and not be restricted in our lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that we should feel free to do whatever we might want. We live in community with each other and should live so as not to do anything that might bring harm to others.

There’s so much rhetoric in the States right now from those who feel that wearing a mask infringes on individual freedoms. It was an interview with a young man claiming it as his right to not wear a mask that got me looking into Paul’s words.

I trust a focus on this passage will give us opportunity to reflect on how our actions can impact others.

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

Christmas In July

Christmas-in-July

First of all, I need to give credit to Marie Elliott for the subject of this reflection. In her recent financial report, she concluded by reminding us that there are only five months until Christmas.

This is one of the weeks when we aren’t having a worship service at the church. Were we getting together, I’m sure I would have led another “Christmas In July” service. We have done it in years past on the Sunday in July closest to the 25th. Marilyn Schmiedel roots out our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and Lois gets ready to play some of the Christmas Carols that dominate our Advent and Christmas Eve services.

Christmas is a season of hope and optimism. Perhaps we should be celebrating Christmas every month closest to the 25th until we can say that the virus is past.

How can we not love the story told in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels? Starting with Elizabeth and Zechariah, the priest who is struck dumb because he asks the wrong questions. Ending then with Wise men who venture from the East, initially thinking that Herod is someone to be trusted and then discovering otherwise. After they enrich the young family with significant gifts, they choose to sneak out of town by a back way rather than have to deal with the evil that is in Herod’s heart.

We can’t forget the shepherds, given front row seats to a celestial choir and being the first to see the baby in the manger outside of some midwives and Mary and Joseph themselves. All of these events are like the additional acts in a Shakespearean play. They add depth to the story, but they are there only to support the main character in the play and that is Mary.

Here we have a young woman of 13 or 15 years of age, biologically ready for marriage who has the most unique experience of being visited by an angel who identifies himself as Gabriel, of whom Hebrew Scripture acknowledge as being in the upper hierarchy of the angelic host.

The news he has for Mary is rather unsettling. She will have a baby and her child will be the promised Messiah whose kingdom will last forever. Mary is forward enough to question this plan for her life as she and Joseph aren’t yet married so this sounds rather far-fetched. (that last part of her question is my own speculation). Unlike with Zechariah, Gabriel is a little more patient with Mary and gives her answers meant to encourage her, and it works. Mary says whatever will be will be. Whatever God has in store for me. I’m okay with it.

Then there’s a final statement in Luke 1: 38 that I have overlooked before. The meeting ends with “Then the angel departed from her”. Hang on…Isn’t he going to hang around and be with Mary when she tries to explain this to her parents? Why doesn’t he accompany her to the well when she joins the other young women getting water? Why doesn’t he clue them all in, amazing them with his power when they look at Mary and say,” No way girl. What have you been drinking?”

“The angel departed from her”. It’s God’s understanding that she has the strength to handle whatever she has to deal with in this most unusual story of what is to become her life.

When the child grows and matures and begins doing the work of Messiah, Jesus is continually telling us that we can handle whatever comes our way. And we aren’t to try and deal with life under our own power. God is with us through whatever.

In what we refer to as His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6, Jesus tells us to quit fretting about the difficulties we may face in life because “It’s no good worrying about tomorrow because each tomorrow can contain a whole new set of worries.” Instead, trust that God knows what we need and will support us in the pains we may be called to deal with.

He suggested we never forget to share with God the concerns and questions we may have. In Matthew 7: 7-11 he says we should be people who ask, seek and figuratively knock, knock, knock on heaven’s door (I think there’s a song in there somewhere).

It’s good psychology. Talking with God in prayer beats talking ourselves into a state of anxiety.

And there is definitely a lot of anxiety in our world at the moment. I’ve had to pull myself away from watching CNN as much as I would like. This on the instructions from Pam. There’s not a lot of good news. From government dysfunction, to the upward spiraling numbers of the Covid-19 virus along with our concerns about how or even whether our children or grandchildren should be going back to school.

Last but probably least of our worries is watching the Jays play in the States without any fans in the stands as the manager comes out to replace the pitcher in a face mask.

Everything seems upside down at the moment. 

At the end of Jesus time with us, He promised that those who followed Him would be supported by His Spirit, continuing to help and guide and lead us through any difficulties. I think we would agree that Covid-19 is more than a difficulty. It’s a danger to our physical health and our mental health so don’t deal with it alone.

Then there’s the sound advice to reach out for help from others should your experience of dealing with the epidemic be too much for you to handle at the moment.

Marie reminded us that we are just five months away from a time of great joy and celebration. There’s no reason to wait five months. We can be Christmas people now. Living in the confidence of God’s joyful presence in our lives.

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

I Turned 70 This Past Week

Turning 70

That’s not necessarily a devastating milestone in anyone’s life although it carries some significance.

Even saying it.

I Turned 70 this week.

I know a few of you have already passed thru this threshold of age and everything kept on as before.

We were in NOTL, (Niagara on The Lake) with our daughter, her husband and our two granddaughters..

Our son came for dinner with his wife and our 13 year old grandson.

It doesn’t get much better than that all things considered.

Interesting lesson that is sometimes hard to get into our minds that it’s in the looking forward to things that tend to create the most excitement.

Once the day is come and gone it’s as Peggy Lee sang:

 Is that all there is.  If so, let’s keep dancing.

The earth didn’t go off kilter when I turned 70 as it probably didn’t for you or won’t if you’re not there yet.

The Bible has some good advice for hitting 70, or 80, or 90 or more.

Even to your old age and gray hairs

I am he, I am he who will sustain you.

Isaiah 46:4

What a great promise, that God doesn’t give up on us as we age.

The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.

Proverbs 20:29

Unfortunately, there’s an over abundant reference to hair, of which I have little.

But even again that’s a minor frustration.

Here’s one I kind of like from 1 Kings

When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. 2 So his attendants said to him, “Let us look for a young woman to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.”

1st Kings 1

But here’s a better one.

 Isaiah 40

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

No reference to age here as far as being renewed in our strength when we spend time meditating on God and the fact that God is our everlasting support, whose understanding of our situation knows no limit.

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2nd Corinthians 4:16 – 18

So age doesn’t matter.

What should matter most to us is having a meaningful relationship with the God who never tires of us even when we might become tiresome and who understands everything about us and still loves us.

Puts being 70 into a new perspective.

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Sunday Summary

Generosity

Generosity

We spent a few days this past week with family at a cottage on Lake of Bays outside of Huntsville. It’s probably not correct to consider it a cottage. A lake house is more correct as the home had 5 bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large deck for eating and reading and steps down to a beautiful lake. (Pam wants me to add there were 45 steps down that seemed like more on the way back up.) 

Our son in law rented a boat and mentioned how easy it was to get lost in the numerous bays on the lake. That’s when I had one of those epiphany moments and offered up the awareness of “that’s why it’s called Lake of Bays.” The family all looked at me with concern. 

I can be slow on the uptake at times.

When I was out in the boat, it was impossible to not be impressed with the magnificent homes that have been built around the lake. Some of the boat houses at lake level were more impressive than some of our homes.

I’ll be honest, it’s easy for me to wonder if I had made other choices in my life, perhaps being a neurosurgeon, a lawyer or corporate executive that I too might have owned one of the palatial homes on the lake shore. Then I think of the blessing to be able to enjoy the experience if even for just a week or two. Not everyone can do this. Not everyone can spend time with family in such a beautiful place, enjoying a wonderful meal every night with birthday cake to celebrate our grandson Eli’s 13th birthday. (Those of you who know me know my love of birthday cake.)

But I digress.

Money is a wonderful thing. Having more than enough is a wonderful blessing. I wonder what happens when we have way more than enough, way more than we need.

In the news this week was the story of young Patrick Mahomes, NFL Quarterback who has just resigned a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs to become the highest paid athlete in the sports world right now. Patrick led the Chiefs to a win in last year’s Super Bowl, the highest honour in professional football. I recall announcers saying that he wasn’t highly paid in comparison to other quarterbacks and would certainly be getting a raise before this next season. A raise is hardly the right word. His new 10-year contract could end up bringing him $503 million if all of the stars line up.

Whenever I hear of these almost obscene contracts, I wonder if the athletes who become the recipients of these awesome financial rewards will join the ranks of the great philanthropists. The folks who are able to give large sums of money to worthy causes. That amount of money can only buy so many things; but think of the joy and benefit that one might bring when those with the overflowing bank accounts begin to share the wealth with the less fortunate. 

I have no idea what Patrick’s plans are for his new-found wealth, but he could take lessons from other athletes such as swimming sensation Michael Phelps, fellow quarterback Russell Wilson, Serena Williams and Lebron James. They have all received accolades for their largess along with their sports celebrity. 

The interesting thing is that philanthropy is not a new concept. It’s founded on Biblical principles and it applies to all of us, yes even the rest of us who have yet to sign our $500 million contracts. 

The scriptures tell us that “reaping is reserved for the sowers.” You have probably heard this idea expressed as “you reap what you sow.” That message usually comes with heavy overtones of a negative nature that if you do something bad, something bad is coming back to you.

Jim Rohn, one of the world’s greatest teachers of how to live a successful life was the first one I heard rephrase the statementwithout that negative inference. Those who take the time to sow good seed in the ground are the ones who will reap a harvest. 

“Reaping is reserved for the sowers.”

In 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8 we hear the following.

“The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have determined inyour mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us.”

We’re all just custodians of the riches that this world can provide. All the blessings of this life originate in God’s abundance and when we become the people through whom these riches flow, Paul made the claim that God will provide enough to supply our generosity which implies enough for us to have enough for ourselves as well as enough to pass on to others, and there’s definitely a joy in that.

Do I wish College Ave had offered me a $500 million contract to stay around for another 10 years? Of course. But in their wisdom, they have chosen to not make that offer, at least not yet. 

Don’t wait for the big contract. It may not be in God’s plans, but it is in God’s plan for us to set the example of giving out of our abundance, because as the passage above infers, God is ultimately the one who provides the seeds that we are called to sow. 

One other mention of Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. He is also noted for the generosity of his “time”. He spends countless hours visiting patients in local hospitals. Reminds me that our abundance is not only money but may be our time as well. Perhaps we should understand that God has a call on our schedules. 

Jesus said that as His people there is reward in feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting those in prison.

Matthew 25: 34-36.

So, it’s not all about money, it all comes down to generosity.

We are called to be people known for our generosity.

I trust it will be true of us.

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

Hope Does Not Disappoint

Hope Does Not Disappoint

The apostle Paul had a way with words. That kind of goes without saying.

A keen ability to string a group of words together to make a point without having to write too many extra pages.

In chapter 5: 1-2, of his letter to the Church at Rome he starts off by summarizing his understanding of what constitutes our relationship with God.

It all begins with Jesus and because of what He has done for us, we enjoy a relationship with God based on a faithful acceptance of God’s gift of grace as opposed to our having to make sacrifices or do anything to actually gain God’s favour.

So we stand in God’s grace, and live in a state of hope for what God has planned for us.

Then he gets creative by stringing together the thoughts that suffering produces endurance which leads to character which develops hope, there’s that word again, and finally it’s all supported by the Love of God that is poured into our very being by the Spirit of God.

You might say that sums up the remaining 65 books of the Bible and end it there or you might wish, as I did, to dissect Paul’s progression of thought.

From suffering to Love.

With endurance and character and hope in between.

The Older King James version used the word tribulation for suffering.

Not a term we use much these days. More like something that is depicted in movies of days gone by.

Newer translations such as the New International Version talk of suffering and others of trouble.

Similar to the trouble they had “right here in River City, and it starts with a T and it sounds like P and it stands for pool.”

That’s a totally ridiculous comment to those of you not familiar with that classic play “Music Man.”

But as I often say… I digress.

Forget trouble for a moment.

I looked at a web site I have used before, giving the original Greek words and their translation and the word scholars have translated trouble, suffering etc. is actually constrictions, more closely related to afflictions.

And aren’t we living in a time of constrictions.

Feeling like afflictions.

Constricted from every activity we have taken for granted like visiting family and friends, attending church, going to the theatre to see Music Man, even just going to the store to get the essentials.

So Paul as much as says that in this time of constriction we develop endurance. The ability to take what comes our way and stand firm and gain strength and deal with it.

Paul will later close this idea by telling us that it is in God’s love that we gain this strength and ability to not let it get us down, I guess because what’s the opposite of enduring, could it be unravelling.

So, difficulties help us develop endurance which builds up our character.

Character is basically who we are or better said who we have become as we have dealt with the issues of life.

Finally, Paul says that all of this life experience, when we deal with it with the help of God’s Spirit, founded on love, leads us to hope.

You remember hope. Not the girl from school, the second of the great attributes that Paul said were the three greatest supports in life. Faith Hope and Love. 1 Corinthians 13

So, with everything else we are dealing with: thirty plus degree of heat; chairs six feet apart in memorial hall as we come to worship; hearing the tune to great hymns but only humming and not singing the words; and all the other constrictions on our lives we are still called to be people of Hope, grounded in the Love of God as we are directed by the Holy Spirit.

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Say It Loud

Say It Loud

Between cutting the grass in the back yard and tackling the larger front yard I took a break when Pam chimed in that Tom Power was about to interview Katy Perry on CBC.

I’ve always been enamored with Tom Power’s interview style. Some of it might be because we both share a Newfie heritage. The other may be that he makes me proud to be a Canadian when celebrities end their interviews by saying that Tom can call back anytime. They are as much as saying that his style is always well researched, and most complimentary to his guests.

As for Katy Perry, even when she came on the scene 10 years ago, I was already past the age where I could name her hit songs although not old enough t0 not recognize her voice and music.

What has probably intrigued me about Katy is that we both were raised in the Pentecostal Church and we have both moved somewhat from their fundamentalist mind set about God.

Katy has continued believing in a loving God who powers our lives in love and grace. I like that. That’s the God I serve as well, through the life of Jesus who came to make that loving God known.

Katy says that she has had struggles in her life, times of discouragement and even depression. Even with her success as a pop star and the significant financial gain she has received she readily gives credit to her acceptance of God’s love and care for the stability she has at times had to work to regain.

Towards the end of the interview, Tom suggested that what he was hearing from her was an overwhelming sense of gratitude for everything, even her rather strict religious upbringing and the difficulties that fame has brought into her life.

Katy’s last comment was that she begins every morning, even before she reaches for her phone, with the statement. “Thank you God for today, I am grateful in every way.” Tom replied with the thought that if you say it louder it can have a greater effect.  

Gratitude. I’ve spoken on it often. It’s one of the major themes of the Bible, both Old and New Testament. Looking back however, most of these messages I have shared with you have been when everything is going well in most of our lives. Perhaps it’s time to reflect once again on the key verses in Scripture that drive home the benefit of being thankful as we are all dealing with the daily difficulty of living with the isolation and restrictions on our lives that Covid-19 has inflicted on us.       

I referenced the Old and New Testament earlier. In the Hebrew Scriptures there are more than a hundred mentions of giving thanks. We often think of the Old Testament prophets as being voices of doom and gloom for the nation of Israel. They did take on that role, but their vitriol was directed against the rulers, the executives in their comfortable corner offices as well as the priests. The prophets said that these people had forgotten about the way that Yahweh had instructed them to govern with a focus on supporting the poor and the visitors in their midst.

Makes me think the world needs a new batch of angry prophets standing in the city centres and reminding the governors and religious folk that they are missing the mark. But I digress.

The prophets did talk about thankfulness. Jeremiah was one of the first to say that we are to be thankful to God.

“Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good his love endures forever.” 

Jeremiah 33:11

That theme was then picked up by the poets who wrote most of the Psalms.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100

That theme of giving thanks to God because God is good shows up at least another 30 times in the Psalms, depending on which translation you choose.

Then there’ my favourite from the New Testament. In his letter to the church at Thessalonica Paul makes the following outlandish statement.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Paul doesn’t say, “Let me share with you a good idea I’ve learned on the road”? He’s more forceful than that when he says be thankful thru it all, whatever the circumstance, such as Covid-19, for it’s not only a healthy way to live it‘s actually how we should live as God’s people. We are called to be thankful.

There’s great psychology in this verse. Be thankful and be in a good place mentally.

Be ungrateful and be stressed.

Let me finish with Tom and Katy.

”Thank you God for today, I am grateful in every way.”

Say it loud.

Pastor Lloyd