Welcome to Church on the Hill, Glenavon, Sask, Canada

Friday, January 30, 2009

Prayer and Faith Go Hand-in-Hand

Scripture: James 1:2-8 , Heb 11:1, and 11:6, Matt 21:18-22, John 15:7

Pastor Lorne started his message by telling a story about a fella who was visiting a church where the pastor stood up, spoke for about 10 mins and then was finished. That was very unusual for the pastor as he usually had long sermons but as he neared the end, he apologized and said it was because his dog likes paper and ate the rest of his notes. When the service was over, the visitor shook the pastor’s hand warmly and asked, ‘Does your dog have any pups? ‘Cause I’d like to give one to my pastor.’ (laughter)

Pastor Lorne said he wanted to draw our attention to prayer. He said when he got into it, he realized he had to talk about faith as well because he said the more he tried to separate the two, that’s kind of where it went.

He asked us to open our Bibles to James. He said when you get into reading James your realize he doesn’t mince or sugarcoat words. You know exactly what he means. He just tells them plain and straight as he is inspired by the Holy Spirit. James 1:2-8 says ‘2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.’

Pastor Lorne said James is speaking about the fact that we have to face trials in our life. He said he didn’t think there was anyone in the congregation who hasn’t faced some trial or problem that may be unpleasant. Maybe something that was difficult that you had to go through. James said we are to consider it a joy when we face trials and adds about persevering and to ask God if you don’t know how to get through. God gives generously without finding fault or laying down a bunch of rules and regulations for us.

Then in v6 James says, ‘...he must believe and not doubt...’ Pastor Lorne thinks the greatest reason for unanswered prayer is because we doubt. We look at circumstances and being human, the doubt rises. Pastor Lorne said he might be the only one but maybe you have that same experience. James is very straight and clear on this. He says you must believe and not doubt. He said the guy that doubts when he prays is kind of blowing around here and there and doesn’t know where he’s at.

There’s only one thing that’s important for us when we come to God in prayer and that is that we come in faith and not doubt. Not questing, not wondering but He asks us to pray in faith.

Heb 11:1 says ‘Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’ Pastor Lorne says he likes the King James version where it says: its the evidence of things we don’t see. So when we have faith, we’re certain of what we hope for, we know what’s going to happen and it’s the evidence of things we don’t see.

If you need a new or better car and you’d like a Nissan Ultima, when you pray you say you need a new car because your old car is worn out and falling apart. But in your mind when you pray, do you see the old car that’s falling apart or do you see the new Nissan Ultima? When we pray and ask God for something, it would almost seem we almost need to have in our mind a picture of what we want God to do. That doesn’t mean you have in your mind a picture of a Lamborghini and expect God to give it to you. But then it probably wouldn’t work out in this country anyway – the bottom of the Lamborghini is so low, it would get caught up in the snow drifts. (laughter)

It seems that our faith sees what we are praying for before we ever see it.
Sometimes we just have to put our faith and our trust completely in God and just believe that He will bring these things to pass.

On one of Pastor Lorne and Dianne’s trips to Hungary, they took a plane from Regina to Calgary. Pastor Lorne said he hasn’t flown a lot, but he’s never been on a flight like that before or since. He said there was heavy cloud and turbulence. The plane was just dropping. He said you could hear it creak and crackle. They were sitting in the back and he was thinking that sometimes these planes break and the back end falls out. It was so bad the stewardess even sat down and buckled herself in. But Pastor Lorne had been at the Calgary airport before and he started to visualize it. He said he had to trust the pilot who he didn’t know and had never seen but was somewhere in the front of that plane. He said all kinds of things went through his mind like, did they check the oil? Fill it with gas? They had to put their faith totally in the unknown pilot. He said if you think back to the accident in the States this past week, you realize that some of these pilots have real God-given abilities to bring the plane down. So there they were with the plane creaking and cracking and they could feel the plane going down and Pastor Lorne said he looked out the window and he could see the airport and they arrived safe.

Pastor Lorne said sometimes in our life there is cloud and turbulence and all kinds of things. But, we need to put our faith in Christ. To know that when we pray and call on Him, that He hears us and then He answers us.

Pastor Lorne said in your prayer life, if you want your prayers to be answered - maybe you have family you’re praying for or a neighbor or a friend. Maybe you’re wondering about a new direction in your life. Maybe it’s finances. Whatever it is, when you pray and seek God, Heb 11:6 says ‘...it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists that he rewards those who earnestly seek him’.

The first thing we have to believe is that God exists. Pastor Lorne said when he was on that plane, he didn’t see the pilot but he knew he existed and was flying the plane and he brought them in totally safe.

So, when you come to Christ, you must believe that He is and that He will reward you and that he’ll answer your prayer when you call out to Him. It’s so important to believe and trust when you pray.

In Matt 21:18-21, it was early morning and Jesus arrived hungry at the fig tree and thought he’d get something to eat but the tree was all leafed out without any fruit. And Jesus said, in v19 ‘May you never bear fruit again.’ The disciples watched as the tree dried up right before their eyes. Some of the disciples didn’t believe it and that’s when Jesus said in v22 ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Pastor Lorne said that’s quite a statement. He said prayer is a very important part of a Christian’s life.

You might think there must be something you have to do. Or it can’t be that easy. Here’s what Jesus said to his disciples in John 15:7 - ‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.’ So, if we are living for Christ and in Christ and we have His word in our hearts and in our lives then we will be asking for things that are right. Asking for things that will bless people and bring people to the Kingdom of God. And we won’t be asking for Lamborghini’s and penthouses and all those kinds of things that cost thousands of dollars. But if we are with Him and He is in us, we can ask anything we wish and it will be given to us. So, Pastor Lorne wants to encourage us to ask Him in prayer.

Pastor Lorne said in closing, we may think we’re insignificant - that maybe we live in a farm in the sticks (as city people would say) and think we don’t amount to much in the economy of things. We’re just one person...maybe not even too popular...we don’t always have our name or photo in the paper... not too important at all.

But Pastor Lorne wanted you to know that when you lock yourself in your bedroom or your car and go to the Lord in prayer, as weak and insignificant as you feel, you become a very powerful person when you pray. You can literally move heaven and earth when you pour out your heart to Him in prayer.

So often, we sell ourselves short. But when you pray, you can bring change to people’s lives. You can change the heart of those who are in government and positions that make the legislature and laws that we have to live by.

And, like Pearl testified last week when they prayed over the fridge motor, bring even the little things of life that would be boring to others to God and ask Him to fix things. He says He will do it.

Pastor Lorne said you are so powerful, that you can literally shake the gates of hell with your prayers. Jesus said, if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. Pastor Lorne stressed that you are not to sell yourself short and say you are of no importance. The devil in hell will tremble when you come before the Lord in prayer and avail yourself of all the power of God and everything God wants to do to this world. Don’t doubt it. Just trust Him.

If you would like to speak to Pastor Lorne about this, please email .

Who is Jesus? Find answers at: http://www.who-jesus-is.com/

Sunday, January 18, 2009

5 Testimonies

Pastor Lorne asked if anyone had a testimony on Sunday morning and the following people responded to his call:

- Lorette – She awoke this morning and realized it’s been 5 yrs since they started attending this church. She thanked God for calling Richard to come to this church because it made such a difference in their lives. They were missing so much, not attending any church. They needed to hear the word of God and be with Christian believers and it’s just filled their hearts, lives and homes. God has blessed them richly and they are so thankful they have Christ in their lives.

- Rhonda – She’s had a partial healing and is feeling so much better. One step at a time. There are still places she needs to be touched by the Lord but she’s on her way. She can stand and even stood to worship this morning. She thanks God for all the church mbrs and their prayers and friendship. Especially the Keller family who kept stopping in and ministering to them. She said they have no idea how much their little visits meant and blessed them so much. God is good.

- Tammy – She found a part-time position in Fillmore which is a lot closer for her to go to work. Praise God.

- Frank and Pearl – Their fridge had a bad squeal to it. Pearl said she first anointed the top and prayed over it and it worked for about 3 hrs. Then she anointed the housing over the evaporator coils and motor and again it worked for a little while. And then this last Mon, she felt God was telling her to try again so she had Frank take the motor right off and this time both of them laid hands and prayed – it made perfect sense to them – and there hasn’t been a squeal since.

- Kathy – She wants to thank God for the wonderful relationship she now has with her mother. She didn’t have it when she was growing up as a non-believer. But now, thanks to Him, they talk and laugh like any regular mom and daughter. She said if it wasn’t for Him, it wouldn’t have happened.

Pastor Lorne said God gives us things we ask for because he loves us. Sometimes it’s little things and sometimes it’s big things like a job or healing. God just wants to bless our lives.

Please remember Rhonda and the rest of the people on the prayer list.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You Can Have a Personal Relationship with God

Scriptures: Acts 4:32-37, John 17, Phil 4:4-7, Acts 12, 1 John 1:9

On Sunday morning, we had just finished singing ‘His Eye is On the Sparrow’ when Pastor Lorne took the pulpit and announced, “Well, isn’t that a great thing to know.” He said out at his farm in the wintertime, those sparrows are just a nuisance and to think that God watches over them. And, it’s good to know that He watches over us.

He said it’s one of the things to know about serving God. He said some other religions don’t view God in a personal way but it’s so good to be a Christian and know the God we serve and try to live for is a God who cares about us personally. He doesn’t just look down at the church, or the town, or the group of towns and see a bunch of people but He sees you and He sees me. He knows the things that we’re going through. He’s concerned. He cares about us.

Pastor Lorne said in the scriptures that Nastassja read for us earlier (Acts 4:32-37), it talks about all the believers sharing what they had. He said if you read through that, he doesn’t believe they sold everything they had, put it all together and divided it out equally to everybody. He said he doesn’t believe that’s what the scripture’s talking about. He said to think about it – if they sold their houses and their land, where would they live? How would they eat if they had no land to grow crops on? He said he got to looking at it a little closer and maybe it was extra parcels of land and extra houses that they didn’t really need to make a living on. So, they sold some of that so that the people who were in need would have something to help them and live on. Because they didn’t claim their possessions as their own but realized it was through the mercy of God that they had what they did have.

Acts 4:33 it says, ‘With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.’ And so because of their care for one another, because of their willingness to give up their extras to help people who had problems and needs in their lives, it says they could give witness to the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead with great power. And the grace of God was upon them. He was blessing their gathering of the people together.

Pastor Lorne said this caused them to be a..."well, pardon the expression but ‘one big happy family’". God was blessing the church as they met together. This is part of what Jesus had prayed for. Last week he spoke on John 17 and the prayer of Jesus. A whole chapter in the Bible is given to what Jesus prayed for. He said he wasn’t going to go back and read it but he wanted everyone to turn to John 17:20-21 – ‘20“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’ Here, Jesus’ prayer was for those who were going to believe in him – not just for those in His day, not just for His disciples – but also for the ones who heard about Jesus from the disciples and so on down the generations.

Jesus prayed that we might all be one – a real group of believers in the church with a unity.

And do you know that Jesus prayed for you many, many years ago that you might be one with other believers? That you might have Him in your life? That you might be connected to Him just like He was connected to God, His Father? That was the prayer He had for us so long ago.

In John 17:24 Jesus says, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” Here, Jesus prayed that He wants all of us to see Him in His glory. You know, according to what the Bible teaches, I believe that’s going to happen. Some day we are going to see Jesus in all of His glory and in all of His splendor when the day comes where we get to meet Him in heaven.

He said it’s important thing for us to have a personal prayer time. It’s a special time where we talk to God about our needs, about how we’re feeling, about how great He is in our lives, the great things He’s done for us, and all those things.

Pastor Lorne said a ‘body of believers’ is just a term that means a group of people who meet to worship the Lord together.

Prayer is a very important part when a group of believers meet together. In our church organization, they want to start project called, ‘A Church A Day’ where each church will take a day and get together for that 24 hr period to pray whether at the church or in someone’s home. They want it so that 365 days a year, believers are praying for one another or people in need. Here in Canada even with the downturn in the economy, we still have so much to be thankful for compared to other countries. Think about it and we can be a part of it if we wish to do so.

Phil 4:4-7 says, ‘4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ Here Paul is writing to the Philippian church and says we aren’t to be anxious as a group of believers or to be worried about things but rather, ‘present your requests to God.’

We have that great avenue that we can take our worries, our sorrows, our loneliness and whatever in our life and lift it up to the Lord in prayer. We don’t have to worry. We won’t be able to understand, but the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds

Pastor Lorne said he wanted to encourage you to pray for your own needs and the needs of others like we do regularly in church and as we will be doing at the end of the service.

The Bible says because of the peace of God we don’t have to worry. Yes, there are things we have to concern ourselves with and Pastor Lorne says we have to have some kind of way to make a living so we can pay our bills. So our minds have to be on that for a time but when all these things come down and weigh down so heavy upon us, we can pray as a body of believers and also individually. We can trust God to know and that He will be there to help us and keep and protect us

Pastor Lorne said Acts 12 about Peter in prison is almost comical when you think about it although he’s sure it wasn’t at the time: v4 ‘After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.’ Peter was kept in prison but the church was earnestly praying for him. So there’s Peter in prison with all those guards around him keeping him safe so he wouldn’t get away so they’d be able to bring him to trial. Pastor Lorne said he wasn’t going to read the whole story but an angel came and Peter’s chains fell off and the angel led Peter past the guards and through the streets and to the house where they were praying for him.

Acts 12:12-17 reads, ‘12.When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!" 15"You're out of your mind," they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, "It must be his angel." 16But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.’

So here, the body of believers were praying for Peter to be released from prison and when he was miraculously released from the prison, he could hardly believe it himself – he thought he was dreaming – and he went to the house where the prayer meeting was taking place. And they didn’t believe it was Peter and yet, Peter was there at their door.

A body of believers – a church – praying for somebody in trouble. God heard their prayer and delivered Peter from the chains and guards of imprisonment.

From this, we see that a church bands together and seeks God and asks God to do some special thing or fill some special need. There’s great power in it and it does move the hand of God. So as a church when we pray in unity for someone, it’s not our power but God’s power that makes the difference and makes it work. It’s a wonderful thing to have when there’s no hope - that we can turn to God in prayer and know that He will hear and answer your prayer.

Pastor Lorne said ideally he’s a perfect person, he never makes any mistakes, he always treats people properly, is always considerate and compassionate, and always does what is right. That’s ideally.

But what sometimes happens is that he’s inconsiderate, that he doesn’t treat people properly and that he’s sometimes not as kind as he should be and all that.

He said ideally, he’s a perfect husband but his wife could tell you different. (Laughter) That’s why he’s so happy with the scripture found in 1 John 1:9 ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Pastor Lorne said he is so happy that when he asked Jesus to enter into his heart and life to be his Lord and Saviour, that Jesus did. That when he makes a mistake, or falls and commits a sin, that God is there to forgive him and that because of the blood shed on the cross of Cavalry, he can go and ask forgiveness and God forgives him and keeps forgiving him. Pastor Lorne said he’s sorry to say God has to keep doing it over and over again because he’s human and he tends to fail and to fall. But, he said, with his confession and Jesus’ blood, God will forgive his sins.

He said he wanted to encourage you with all these things of being a believer and the unity of being a group of believers but the most important thing that we as a church can do or have is to be careful in our walk with the Lord and to have that right relationship with Him.

When Jesus prayed in John 17, He wanted them to have a relationship with the Father. So Pastor Lorne would encourage you - each day of your life – to have and to work on that relationship with Jesus. We get involved in our work and in our relationships with other people but the most important relationship that you can have is the one with Christ.
Treasure it...it’s precious and it’s the best relationship you can ever have.

Pastor Lorne said he’s so thankful he doesn’t have that relationship with Christ because of all the good things he’s done. Or, because of all the money he’s put in the offering plate. Or, for all the scripture he’s read, but because Jesus shed his blood on the cross of Calvary and all Pastor Lorne has to do is to trust Him by faith.

Pastor Lorne said he’s so thankful that every one of you don’t have to look back and think you’re such a terrible person and that you can’t be part of a church or you can’t be part of God’s family because of all of those things that you’ve done in the past. He’s so thankful that when he goes to Christ, He doesn’t look at all the bad things he’s done. When he stands before God, his righteousness will be the righteousness of Christ.

That is the relationship that is so important to each one of us and to know that it is only by faith in Jesus that we can have that personal relationship with God. It’s not by what we do or don’t do but our faith in Him.
If you would like to speak to Pastor Lorne about this, please email .

Who is Jesus? Find answers at: http://www.who-jesus-is.com/


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Joseph: The Unsung Hero

Scripture: Rev 3:20, Luke 2:15-18, Matt 2:1-3, Luke 2:25-32, Matt 1:21-21,

On Sun, Jan 4th I did not attend church due to illness, so I don’t have the message for you, but I do have it from Sun Dec 28:

Pastor Lorne thanked everyone who took part in the Christmas program in whatever way they helped whether in the performance or behind the scenes making the set, decorating, food prep, cleanup, etc.

Pastor Lorne said we had a treat coming as Maurice would bring the message to us and he appreciated him doing it. He said if anyone feels the Lord is speaking to them and they want to share it, just let him know. Pastor Lorne said he jealously guards the pulpit towards doctrine that might not be right or good for everybody but when someone has the word of God within them, he’s willing to share. He said we can’t all be preachers, then qualified that by saying well, we could but...

He said some are preachers, some lead worship, some teach Sunday School, others do other things that maybe aren’t up front and we don’t see but they’re done and are needed. And he believes when we stand before the Lord we will all be rewarded for what we do.

Pastor Lorne said he was just thinking...he then looked over at Maurice and said he wasn’t taking anything from him and would be done in a minute (chuckles in the congregation)...he continued by saying he believes God rewards people for their faithfulness in whatever you do. Whatever you feel your place or position and feel God has called you to do that, and some of you don’t even realize that you are doing things that help the church, help other people but God has a reward waiting for you and he said we thank you for your willingness to do that.

Pastor Lorne then asked Maurice to come up and share the word of God with us.

Maurice started by thanking Pastor Lorne and saying his words tied in with the message and that’s always the work of the Holy Spirit. He said being that we’re still in the Christmas season (Ukrainian Christmas isn’t until Jan 7th) and the story of Jesus born in Bethlehem in the account of Luke, he was going to speak about a bunch of metaphors which tie in with the Christmas story. He said he loves metaphors because they make a comparison or bring an illustration where you can really see or absorb it.

Maurice said everyone in the Christmas story represents one of us. He said Mary entered Bethlehem carrying Jesus. In a sense, she was carrying the good news of the gospel. The first place Mary knew to go is to a hotel or in this case, the innkeeper. And we know the story well where the innkeeper says, ‘sorry, we have no room’.

How many people in this day and age say they have no room for Jesus in their life? The picture that comes to my mind is in Rev 3:20 where John writes, ‘I stand at the door and knock...’ Let me in and I’ll come sup with you.

So, when they’re at the inn, they knock on the door and the innkeepers says, ‘Sorry, I have no room.’ You would think in the condition Mary was in, he would have gone out of his way to accommodate her since she was about to give birth. But in the end, all he could offer was the stable which was out of the way of the travelers of the day.

The shepherds showed up after the angel had announced what was taking place in Bethlehem just a little ways away. In Luke 2:15-18 says, ‘When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.’ So that tells us Jesus was making a big impression even as a small infant. The shepherds were telling everyone what had taken place. In essence, they were evangelizing way before anyone else was.

Then we have the 3 wise kings...it’s always 3 but we’re really not sure of the number of kings...only that there 3 gifts. There could’ve been 2 or 22 kings for all we know. There is also nothing to indicate how much time passed between the shepherds and the magi. In Matt 2:1-3 ‘After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.’

So, we have these magi who show up and need a bit of direction where to go. The guiding star brought them part ways and by asking directions, they were able to pinpoint exactly where he was. So if you were to ask them if Jesus was hard to find, they’d probably say, in essence, no, Jesus was not that hard to find, which kind of reflects back on us.

Was Jesus hard to find? No, not when they went looking for Him. But Maurice said in his own life, he was an innkeeper for many years where he had no room for Jesus in his life. But Jesus wasn’t hard to find.

Maurice said we just read where they (the magi) went to Herod for directions and in his hypocrisy, he gave directions and asked them to report back so he could go and worship Him. That was pretty mean-spirited because he had an ulterior motive in mind where he wanted to destroy Jesus and even kill all boys 2 yrs of age and under so that Jesus wouldn’t have a chance.
That too reflects certain people in real life. People go out of their way to kill the gospel so the gospel will never be preached again – to snuff out the Good News.

Then if we go to Luke 2:25-32: ‘Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."’ So here, Jesus is just an infant, and yet he’s making an impact on Simeon. This was probably during the time when Jesus was brought to the temple for circumcision and it would be the equivalent to a baby dedication. But here Simeon was, a devout believer, just waiting for something to happen. And once he saw Jesus, he said Lord, now you’re letting your servant depart in peace. He was ready to die because he had seen Jesus close up.

Maurice said another metaphor he found was the stable itself. He said we probably thought he was digging deep here but, God wanted to make it very clear He came to save each one of us. He comes to the slimey, dark corners of our existence complete with cobwebs and dust. He comes to unswept barns and cold nights of despair, just as we are, so He can start the clean-up process.

One other individual who Maurice said is often overlooked in the Christmas pageants is Joseph himself. He’s really the unsung hero.

Joseph walked with his fiancĂ©e Mary for several days to get to Bethlehem in time for the census to take place. And several weeks later, Joseph, Mary and the infant moved again – this time to Egypt – to escape Herod and the death sentence that had been imposed on Jesus.

There are Christmas carols connected to everything to do with Christmas: angels, shepherds, trees, drummer boys, reindeer, kings bearing gifts, Mary herself, but there are no Christmas carols about Joseph.

In all the Christmas pageants and plays held across the country year after year, the person who plays Joseph stands in the stable beside angels, shepherds, kings, camels, sheep and the occasional dog. Joseph never has more than a line or two to say. From this it would seem as if Joseph doesn’t have a very big role to play in this story but in reality, he’s the glue that holds it all together, and keeps it together.

Matt 1:18-19 says ‘This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.’

Here’s were we get a glimpse into Joseph’s heart. Joseph could’ve left Mary to fend for herself. He could’ve gone public and exposed her to ridicule and shame and in those days, that wasn’t something that went over well. It would’ve been a full scandal and Mary’s life herself would probably have been in danger.

When Joseph was asked to go forward with the task of being the earthly father of Jesus, he chose to protect Mary at whatever the cost or sacrifice to himself. And, he chose to keep her pregnancy a secret for the time being. Joseph’s tenderness and concern for Mary is a good example of God’s grace in action.

We talk about defining moments – in Joseph’s case, it would have been the result of the dream he has in Matt 1:20-21 ‘...an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

That was the central theme of that first Christmas 2000 yrs ago and it’s still the central theme in 2008. The secular world of commercialism that’s attached to Christmas nowadays can leave a person wondering what Christmas is all about. But, the theme and the message has not changed nor is it about to change.

If we go back to Joseph and his dream, he awakes and does as an angel instructed him and took Mary for his wife. He became her shield and guardian even though it seemed the child had little to do with him. He accepted his role with willing obedience. None of this is attributable to Joseph in a thousand nativity scenes. You would think someone would have picked up on the significance of Joseph’s role to the new born Saviour and talked about it and written a hymn or Christmas carol about him. And yet the fact that Joseph isn’t celebrated today is strangely appropriate for this man who reacted to his trial with grace and humility.

And maybe there’s another metaphor here if you look back at Joseph’s life and what he did. As Jesus himself later taught in his ministry, those who are first will be last, and the last, first. So Joseph, being one of the first, soon took a back seat in the story of Jesus. His obscurity results from his blending into the background so early in the story. It’s his commitment to guide Mary and Jesus to safety that earned him the reputation of protector and guardian. After that, the gospel falls silent on him and like Mary, he doesn’t appear again until the crucifixion.

In all of Jesus teachings and parables, we don’t hear anything else about Joseph – at least nothing that could’ve been recorded in the gospel. And yet, in this one story we learn of his character, his tender heart, his willingness to serve and his willingness to obey. But it’s in the light of the circumstances that he was put in that we are able to see these things about him. And maybe, that’s the challenge for all of us:
Do we remain committed and faithful in the face of adversity? Do we rely on the Holy Spirit to give us the strength to carry us through?

The lessons of Joseph’s life in this Christmas story should strike a chord in all of us.
Pastor Lorne thanked Maurice and said it’s just great how God uses people in different ways. And yet, everyone is so important. He said if it hadn’t been for Joseph, as Maurice had mentioned, how he took Mary and Jesus to Egypt – looked after them, protected them, provided for them – for all those years.

Pastor Lorne mentioned again that we were very important with God and that whatever God’s called you to do whether it’s just to shake hands with people and give them a smile, bless them, encourage, them...whatever it is, remember what you do is needed and valuable in the kingdom of God.

He said the message really helps us to take heart. It lays a path for us in the new year. He said in the new year, you always reconsider your life and how you’re going to do new things. This lays a path or foundation in the coming months to do whatever we can do and that we are important in the kingdom of God.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Time to End the Old Year

Well, it's Jan 3rd and I guess it's time to take the Christmas stuff down although I really don't want to.

So, stay tuned and I'll have another post ready soon.

Meanwhile, here's one more photo from Dec:

On Dec 21st, we were blessed by a musical performance of Nikita on the flute and Desiree on the Sax. Keep at it, girls. You're doing great.