September 27th, 2020

“Who do you think you are?”

“By what authority are you doing these things and who gave you this authority?” Matthew 21: 23

This was a question the religious leaders asked of Jesus when he was teaching the people new ways of having a relationship with God. They wondered who in the world did Jesus think he was. Jesus had challenged the status quo with calls to care for the poor, freedom for the captives, and an invitation to ALL people into God’s kingdom. This did not go over well by those who adhered to certain rule and laws that were not to be challenged.

The religious elite of the day were like one of those jokes about changing a light bulb. “How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb? Four: one to change the bulb and three to talk about how good the old bulb was.” How easy it is for us to get stuck in a rut of what has always been and quickly reject new ways of looking at the world, especially God’s way of looking at the world. As Christians though, to be authentic followers of Jesus, that is exactly what we are called to do.

We are called to critically consider the systems and practices that we fall into that do not honour God or each other. We are called to question the authorities of the world when they don’t uphold the dignity of all people. We are called” to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). This is who we are. Thanks be to God.

September 20th, 2020

“The Scales of Justice and The Gift of Grace”

Jesus said, “So, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20: 16

Remember as a child arguing over who should get the biggest piece of cake or the best toy to play with? It felt so important at the time. We like when things are fair and when we are rewarded for our hard work and when others get what they deserve. This is how the world thinks about justice, but we learn from the Bible that God looks at justice differently.

Even if you don’t know much about the Bible, you might have heard this line from Jesus, “the last will be first and the first will be last”. It just doesn’t make any logical sense, it just doesn’t seem fair. When Jesus said it, he was teaching his followers about God’s justice. God looks at justice from a perspective of grace. Grace is underserved favour and love. We can’t earn it and we don’t deserve it, but through Jesus Christ, it is gift of God for all of us. Maybe when we see all people through God’s eyes, our own scales of justice will shift to God’s gift of grace. Thanks be to God.


September 13th, 2020

“Forgiveness Habit”

“Peter asked, “How often should I forgive?”…Jesus said, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18: 21-22

They say it takes from 18 to 254 days for a habit to form and about 66 days for a habit to become automatic. There are habits which are healthy and life-giving and others that are harmful and even dangerous. I would be curious to know how many habits changed in the last six month and how many new habits began. I bet you never thought wearing a mask would become a habit or learning how to stay 2 metres away from others would become second nature. It may not seem obvious when thinking about habits, but offering forgiveness is one of the healthiest habits one can have.

Forgiveness is a central value for Christians. Forgiveness means letting go of anger and resentment. It means wiping the slate clean with a chance to start over, not only for the forgiven but for those doing the forgiving. It is important to remember that forgiveness doesn’t erase consequences, nor does it give license for abuse or injustice. Forgiveness is a burden lifted and an act of mercy. Forgiveness is a habit that softens hearts and reconciles relationships. Jesus’ forgiveness of us is limitless and we are expected to do the same for others. In these uncertain times, a healthy forgiveness habit is needed more than ever.

September 6th, 2020

“Hope in Hard Times”

In times of trouble and great stress, we find ways to cope and get through whatever challenges we are facing. Some people seek out companionship with friends and family, some find solace in getting away from it all, some are strengthened by the experience of those who have overcome great adversity, some fall back on the best cure of all, chocolate!

While, it may be true that chocolate will ‘sweeten’ any trial or tribulation, it really can’t take away the fear, worry, and stress of a really hard time. Chocolate may help us cope, but it won’t make the pandemic that has changed our lives so much in the past 6 months go away. So, where can we turn?

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” “Nothing can separate you from the love God.” “The Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” These are all verses from throughout the Bible that have reassured, strengthened, and encouraged people for centuries. I think there is comfort in knowing that we are not alone, that God knows what we are going through, that God walks with us through difficult times, and that God has given us a language for expressing our fears and for proclaiming our hope. Christians believe that even when things seem hopeless, hope is found in God’s Word and God’s presence. Thanks be to God.

August 30th, 2020

“Who knows?”

 “Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matt. 16: 15

How are we known to others? Maybe by our family grouping: parent, spouse, child, sibling, or cousin. Maybe by our talent: artist, athlete, author, musician, math whiz, or carpenter. Maybe by our employment: teacher, sales person, factory worker, doctor, or bus driver. Maybe by our personal characteristics: kind, impatient, generous, angry, or courageous. There is not a one-word answer to describe us because we all have varied and interesting identities with different gifts and talents and experiences that shape who we are.

Jesus asked his followers: “Who do you say I am?” One of them, Peter, said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” If you had to answer that question, who would you say Jesus is? I bet many would give the same answer as Peter, but I also wonder if Jesus is different things to different people at different times. Jesus is shepherd caring for us, his flock. Jesus is healer, helping the outcast. Jesus is truth, the Word made flesh. Jesus is comforter in times of need. Jesus is miracle-worker, living God’s power in the world. There is not a one-word answer to describe him either. There are many traits of Jesus, the Messiah, who knows which one will change your life.

Next week, we will begin in-person worship at the church. Please read Re-opening Plan. As well, our worship service will be recorded and posted online within a couple days for those who are not ready to return to church yet.

Knox Church Reopening Plan

September 2020

Dear Knox Congregation

After 6 months of not worshipping together at the church, the Session has decided to begin in-person worship again. Our first Sunday back will be Sunday, September 6th at 11am. Since we last met, our world and our lives have changed significantly due to the pandemic. As directed by the province of Ontario and for the safety of all of us, certain protocols will be put in place as we gather at the church for worship.

Your experience on Sunday morning will look and feel different from when we last met and we will all have to adjust our expectations as we adjust to our new reality. Please read this letter carefully.

It will be helpful if you arrive at the church between 10:30-10:45am, for entry through the front door only, to allow time for the pre-screening questions, hand sanitizing, and seating procedures. We will be writing down names and phone numbers for contact tracing purposes to be kept for two weeks. Masks are required while in the building throughout the service and no singing is allowed at this time. Please respect social distancing rules even though it will be difficult since we haven’t been together in such a long time.

It is important that we adhere to the guidelines regarding the maximum number of people allowed in the church building, so the elders will be ushering you to your seat and for now, it might be a different place to sit than you are used to. While we are not planning to pre-register at this time (this could change depending on our attendance numbers), it would be helpful to know if you are not planning to return to worship in the next few months. If you are able, please let the church office know your intentions, 705-435-5081.

There will be no passing of the peace and no greeting or fellowship time at the end of the service. The offering plates will be placed in the sanctuary to be used before or after the service, but not passed around. There will be one washroom available and the basement of the church will not be accessible at this time. Nursery and children’s programs are suspended for now, but there will be activity bags for families to use during the service.

We know that not everyone will be able or feel ready to attend church again right now, and that is okay. We have learned over the last few months that some people are more vulnerable and we don’t want anyone put at risk. If you are feeling ill at all, please stay at home. We plan to record our services at the church on Sunday mornings and have them available on our website for you to continue watching at home.

We know these safety protocols seem like a lot, but we would much rather be safe than sorry. At the same time, even as worship looks different whether at church or at home, we will still praise, pray, listen, learn, and be renewed in our faith because God will be present.

The Session plans to reassess these procedures at the end of September and will adjust as necessary. It is possible that the government may change the guidelines at any time and we will need to be prepared for any eventuality.

Thank you for your cooperation. We are looking forward to seeing you again!

From The Session of Knox Church with Rev. Tobey


August 23rd, 2020

“Mercy Me!”

“Have mercy on me, Lord” Matthew 15: 22

Mercy is lenient treatment or a fortunate circumstance. Mercy is a forgiving response to wrongdoing. Mercy is a blessing of divine favour or compassion. A woman came to Jesus looking for healing for her daughter and she called out to Jesus for mercy. After an interesting conversation, Jesus commended her faith and healed her daughter. A cry for mercy answered by the Son of God.

Mercy, it’s not really a word we use all that often today but that doesn’t mean we don’t need mercy. When we are hurting, burdened by regret, we need mercy. When we hold onto grudges and bitterness, we need mercy. When we seek healing from the pain of our pasts, we need mercy. But, we not only need mercy, but we also need to give mercy. Giving mercy means having a little more patience, gentleness, courage, forgiveness, and love for one another. Mercy frees us to live more fully, to see the world with new eyes, and to re-think what we’ve always believed to be true. Mercy: the divine compassion of God given to each one of us. Thanks be to God.

August 16th, 2020

“Never Fear?”

“But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14: 27

You’re such a scaredy cat! Have you ever been told that? Maybe it was meant as a joke or maybe as an insult. Maybe you had a legitimate reason to be afraid or maybe you are someone who doesn’t scare easily. Whatever your fear factor, I think there are certain things that probably make all of us frightened. We might be afraid for the safety and well-being of ourselves and our loved ones. We might be afraid for our financial security and the economy as a whole. We might be afraid for the future. Fear has definitely played a role in how we’ve dealt with the pandemic of 2020: from the raw fear of getting the virus to the lingering fear of when it will end and how things will get back to normal.

The disciples of Jesus had to face their fears one night on a stormy sea when Jesus came walking towards them on the water. They cried out, but Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.” This is a classic line found throughout the Bible. God knows we human beings can be paralyzed, provoked, depressed, or angered when we are afraid. Some of our worst behaviours can be contributed to fear. But, on the other hand, we can be at our best when we overcome fear and know what it means to trust.

During those times in life when it is like we are in a boat tossed at sea, feeling like a scaredy cat, Christians do their best to trust in the steadfast presence of God, who promises to be there through the storms of life and to help overcome our fear. Thanks be to God.


August 9th, 2020

“In Abundance”

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.” Matthew 14: 20

I don’t know about your garden, but my garden is overflowing with huge tomato, basil, cucumber, potato, and zucchini plants. Every year, it never ceases to amaze me how well the garden grows with an abundance of vegetables and herbs. Every year, I am also amazed to the point of almost annoyance how well just one zucchini plant can produce so many zucchinis. In our house, we’ve had shredded, bbq, baked, sautéed, and raw zucchini…in abundance.

The story in the Bible of Jesus feeding 5000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish is a miraculous story and a story of abundance. What began with a very small amount of food for a couple of families, fed thousands of people with lots of leftovers. Miracles are hard to understand and explain, but they are meant teach us about God. The miracle of God providing food in abundance for a group of hungry people 2000 years ago teaches us about the abundance of God.

Generally, a good rule of thumb is ‘everything in moderation’, but not with God because God works in abundance. God offers us an abundance of justice and peace and grace and hope and love, even more than my abundant crop of zucchinis. Now, that is a miracle.

August 2nd, 2020

“God is Somewhere”

Psalm 42: 2 “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?”

In times of trouble, we often wonder where God is. If we believe God is always with us, why don’t we always feel God’s presence? Even the most faithful of Christians have doubts about God and that’s okay. God is big enough to handle our doubts. It is more important that we find a way through our doubts and again feel and know God’s presence in our lives.

The truth, even if we have hard time admitting it, is that God is always present, and it may be us who are not present with God. We may need to be deliberate in seeing God in the world, through prayer and worship, through the kindness and the need of others, through acts of love and forgiveness. God will always be somewhere. Thanks be to God.