With Rev. Tobey away for the next couple weeks we will be joining Living Faith in Baxter. Rev. Jonathan will start a 4 week sermon series this called “A Time Such as This.”
Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.….let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”
For many people, the pandemic meant isolating away at home alone without the usual visits of family and friends or social outings. For some, the pandemic meant being at home 24 hours a day with family or roommates, spending more time together than they may have wanted. At times, they might have felt their loved ones were a little too close for comfort. In reality, we need each other. We need connection with each other, especially in difficult times.
The Christians of the early church faced many challenges and they needed reassurance that they were not alone. The Bible describes a ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who had known God’s presence and promise and who have inspired and encouraged people of faith throughout the ages. It’s that kind of connection to the past that teaches us the importance of being connected with each other today. We learn from those who have gone before us as we turn to each other to help us through the challenges of life.
Come to worship this Sunday to sing, pray, and explore what connects us together as a community.
John 15: 4 “Abide in me as I abide in you.”
As the delayed 2020 Olympics get under way as safely as possible, we’ll spend the next couple weeks admiring the staying power of the athletes. Staying power is the ability to keep doing something even when it is really difficult, and you just want to give up. Elite athletes learn, train, and compete in their various sports over years and years with a staying power that overcomes all kinds of obstacles. While most of us are not elite athletes, I think we can all relate to what it means to persevere in hard times. We’ve all needed a little extra staying power this past year and a half as we’ve adjusted to new routines during the pandemic. As things open up again, we’ll continue to need staying power to keep following guidelines that will keep us all safe.
In the Bible Jesus uses the word abide to describe the relationship God has with human beings, a relationship that has staying power. Abide means to continue, remain, or stay with someone or something. When we abide in God and God abides in us, we trust that God’s promises of love, grace, peace, and hope remain. We believe that there is nothing that will separate us from God. We believe that even if our faith may falter, God’s staying power is big enough and strong enough to overcome anything.
Please join our ONLINE only worship service where we will abide in God as God abides in us. We will also lift our hearts in prayer and continue to learn about the hymns we sing.
Give it a rest!
Psalm 23: 1-3 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.”
Mark 6: 31 “Jesus said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”
We all need rest. In the Old Testament, the very well-known Psalm 23 is about trusting in God as the shepherd of our lives, it is about the promise of eternal life, and it is about resting and restoring ourselves when we are weary. In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus and the disciples also needed rest and a chance to get away from the crowds who followed them. They needed to take the time to be renewed in body, mind, and soul.
Rest from our routines, from work, from stress, and from the busyness of life is necessary for our physical well-being, our mental and spiritual health, and for the benefit of our relationships with others. Rest may look different for everyone. Maybe rest for you is getting away in nature, having a nap, taking time for meditation and prayer, or turning off your technological devices. In these summer days, as we hope the pandemic is nearing the end, I encourage you to just ‘Give it a rest!” in whatever way that restores your body, mind, and soul.
Please join Knox Alliston, St. Andrew’s Mansfield, and Living Faith Baxter Presbyterian Churches for our ONLINE only worship service where we’ll rest in the presence of God, lift our hearts in prayer, and learn more about the hymns we sing.
Outdoor Fellowship at Knox
Come out on Wednesday July 21st at 10am with a lawn chair to enjoy some in-person fellowship. No need to register ahead and we’ll social distance as necessary. All welcome!
John 6: 11 “Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.”
Have you ever been the recipient of a baker’s dozen? It is the welcome surprise of an extra donut or bun when you’ve ordered only a dozen. The practice of giving an extra loaf of bread dates back over 800 years when the trade of breadmaking was regulated in England.
The Bible tells a baker’s dozen kind of story when Jesus performed a sign, or miracle, with some bread and fish. People had gathered on a hillside to hear Jesus preach when they became hungry and there was not enough money to buy lunch for everyone. So, a young boy presented his basket of food to share. After Jesus prayed over the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, the skeptical disciples passed it around to the crowd and amazingly everyone had enough to eat. What began as a small, unlikely act of generosity became a huge unexpected act of abundance.
How can we also live our lives with the same kind of generosity? How can we share our gift of abundance with others? In these days, when many are in need, it might not take much for us to make a baker’s dozen for someone else.
This Sunday, Knox Presbyterian Church will gather virtually around the Communion table to give thanks for God’s abundance and we’ll also hear songs of praise that remind us of our call to share with others. Join us here for our ONLINE only worship service.
Time for Justice
Amos 5: 24 “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Throughout the ages, people have voiced their cry for justice in song. Songs of resistance became rallying cries for change during the Civil Right’s Movement. Over the years, celebrities have lent their voices to songs that bring attention to a need in the world like the Ethiopian famine in the 80’s. Even in the Bible, the book of Psalms includes expressions of fear and distress over injustice the people have experienced.
This week, as part of our hymn series, the focus will be on hymns of justice and peace that we sing in worship. Christian songwriters describe where justice is needed, they remind us of God’s call to care for others, and they encourage us to speak up and take action to make the world a better place.
Join us for worship on Sunday to praise, pray, and sing together.
Isaiah 6: 3 “And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
In our online worship service over the next few weeks, we’ll be learning about some hymns and songs used in Christian worship. Music has always been a big part of worshipping God. The words used in hymns of praise tell the stories of Jesus, they proclaim what we believe, and they describe the divine. Glory is one word found in the Bible and in hymns that is often used to define God.
Glory is not a word we use often in casual conversation, but there are number of phrases we associate with glory. Crowning glory. In a blaze of glory. Into glory. The glory of love. Glory days. They all refer to something that is special, that deserves honour, and is worthy of praise. Throughout history, even in the midst of slavery, discrimination, and war, there has been literature, poetry and music that have called on and proclaimed a need for glory.
This week, we’ll hear the hymn, ‘Mine eyes have seen the glory’, with its well-known refrain: “Glory, glory, hallelujah, God’s truth is marching on.” The hymn was written in response to the Civil War in the U.S. and the need for justice, as well as proclaiming the power of God.
Join us on Sunday as we hear more about God’s glory and as we sing, pray, and worship together.
Cross My Heart
Mark 8: 34 “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
There are different kinds of people we look up to these days. Leaders who get things done. Celebrities who entertain us. Sport stars who help our team win. Prosperous business owners whose products we buy. We may even try to be like them and wonder if we only work harder or smarter, we will be just as successful.
Jesus turned the world’s view of what was important and successful upside down when he modeled a new way of living and being together as human beings. When Jesus preached the good news of God’s presence in the world, it was with a call to recognize and reject those things in society that cause harm to one another. Instead of accepting and even participating in prejudice, injustice, and selfishness, Jesus showed a way of reconciliation, inclusion, and justice.
Our own ideas of success can be re-defined as we model the same values as Jesus. We can speak for those who have no voice, we can stand up for those who daily face acts of hatred based on their identity, and we can reject systems that belittle and demean others. When we work harder and smarter for the benefit of others, we are successful witnesses to the good news of God’s kingdom. Thanks be to God.
Knox Presbyterian Church will continue to worship ONLINE only for the next couple of months as we move closer to the time when in-person worship is safe again.
Growing by Leaps and Bounds
Mark 4: 30-32 “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed… though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants.”
It’s that time of year again. The time when I decide what to plant in my garden and I find a package of zucchini seeds. I say, ‘I think we should plant two seeds.’ My husband says, ‘Don’t you think one is enough? Do you remember what happened last year and the year before and the year before that?’ Of course I do remember; we’ve had an over abundance of zucchini every year, some the size of a small child! It is always amazing to me how one tiny seed can produce a plant with vegetables that could feed a village.
In the Bible, Jesus told a story about how God’s kingdom will grow like the tiniest seed into a great plant. Like a seed planted in the ground, God’s kingdom begins with hope, hope in the good God has planned for the world. Next, just as a young seedling takes root in the soil, God’s kingdom is established with patience as evidence of the love and compassion of God is seen. Finally, the flourishing healthy plant provides a harvest just as God’s kingdom values of peace, grace, and joy are known and shared with the whole world.
If you want to know what God’s kingdom is like, take a look in the garden. It begins as the smallest seed of hope and grows to an overflowing harvest of love. By the way, there are two good-sized, healthy zucchini plants sprouting in my garden. Thanks be to God.
Please join Knox Presbyterian Church as we worship together.