Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ: First Advent Sunday 2021: Hope

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now open by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF.

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ:

‘First Advent Sunday: Hope’

© November 28, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on November 29, 2020, December 2, 2018, and November 22, 2015 

BLCF Bulletin December 2, 2018

BLCF Bulletin November 22, 2015

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Music Special:

Tithing and Prayer; Prayers; Praise God – Lauren Daigle – Music Special:

Lauren Daigle – “To God Be All Glory” (Lyric Video)

 

Responsive Reading #610: Christ in Prophecy (Isaiah 11 and 42, Jeremiah 23, Malachi 4)

Lighting of First Advent Candle (Hope):

At this time, let us light the First Advent Candle to signify our Hope in the Lord:

Light of The World – Lauren Daigle (Christmas story) https://youtu.be/Z4nvVw8z6K8

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, where on this glorious Sunday morning, we mark the beginning of Advent. We signify Advent’s arrival by lighting the first of four Advent candles. For our lesson today, entitled: Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love in Christ – First Advent Sunday: Hope’, we begin by understanding the significance of the events described in the Bible, which combine to cover the arrival of people, things, and events that comprise what we refer today as Advent.

Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

To add to today’s celebration, BLCF Church would like to give each member of the congregation apersonal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers). We will be using  this songbook for today’s Advent Service and for the following four Sunday Services. So please remember to bring your Songbook back for the the remainder of the year.

Let us give the songbook a trial. At this time the Congregation is invited to make selections from their personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers), selections will be accompanied with the corresponding music track from the companion CD: Classic Christmas Carols – 30 Sing Along Favorites.

Let us continue with today’s Advent message:

Let us look at some definition of terms regarding Advent. For this we shall check our Wikibits:

ad·vent ˈadˌvent/noun

noun: advent; plural noun: advents

  1. the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

E.g. “the advent of television”

synonyms: arrival, appearance, emergence, materialization, occurrence, dawn, birth, rise, development; More

 

approach, coming

“the advent of a new school year”

antonyms: disappearance
       
  • the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

noun: Advent

  • Christian Theology; the coming or second coming of Christ.

noun: Advent

https://www.google.ca/search?q=advent+definition&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=_gRbVobdA8O9eZb4tNgF

The Advent season marks the beginning of the Christian year in western Christianity. Its length varies from 22 to 28 days, beginning on the Sunday nearest St Andrew’s Day and encompassing the next three Sundays, ending on Christmas Day. St Andrew was born in Bethesda on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and was the younger brother of St Peter. Both he and his brother became disciples of Jesus. He is said to have died bound to an “X” shaped cross at Patras in Achea in Greece. This shape is now reflected in the Scottish flag, known as the Saltire. St Andrew has been recognized as the patron saint of Scotland since at least the ninth century. St Andrew’s Day falls on November 30, according to many Christian churches. St Andrew’s Day is a bank holiday in Scotland. However, the bank holiday falls on Monday, December 1 or 2 if November 30 is a Saturday or Sunday.

The church year begins in September 1 in many eastern Christian churches, so Advent starts at a different time to when it starts in the western churches. The eastern equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, which runs for 40 days.

Background

It is uncertain as to when exactly the celebration of Advent was first introduced in the Christian church. Some sources say that Advent began on November 11 (St Martin’s Day) at some time in the fifth century in the form of a six-week fast leading to Christmas. Advent was reduced to its current length at some stage in the sixth century and the fasting was later no longer observed. Advent is originally a time to reflect and prepare for Christmas similarly to how Lent is in preparation for Easter. Advent has sometimes been referred to as the Winter Lent. In recent times the restrictions that Advent brings to Christians have become more relaxed.

Symbols

Purple is historically the main color used for Advent because it reflects penitence, fasting, and the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the king (Jesus Christ). The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his first Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Some churches use other colors in recent times. For example, some churches mark the third Sunday of Advent with pink or rose, colors that represent joy. Many Protestant churches use blue to distinguish the Season of Advent from Lent.

Advent wreaths are symbolic of Advent in some countries. They are usually made of fir and decorated with gold and silver ribbons or scarlet woolen threads. Lit wreaths may be displayed on the table where family and friends sit while singing carols and preparing handmade gifts.

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/first-day-advent

In our first Scripture Verse, Isaiah 11:1-10 (ESV), we find a prophecy of the Advent of the arrival of the “shoot from the stump of Jesse”, a descendant of Jesse, the father of King David;

The Righteous Reign of the Branch

11 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

Our second Scripture Verse, Jeremiah 33:14-16 (ESV), where the Lord describes the prophecy in terms of the Advent of a fulfillment of His Eternal Covenant:

The Lord’s Eternal Covenant with David

14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

In our third Scripture, Romans 15:12 (ESV), the Apostle Paul, indicates the significance for believers today, and for all generations, of the Advent of Christ:

12 And again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

We find that in Advent, not just the anticipation of the birth of Christ, and the “Good News” that our Lord brought to humanity: salvation by way of the cross, sanctification through the Holy Spirit, and the hope in the promise of eternal life.

Advent describes the events of the arrival of travelers: a nation of Chosen People, to a Chosen Land, to receive a Chosen or Anointed Saviour. In their travels, the people travel in and out of bondage, to Egypt, the wilderness, and to land that was promised.

We also see the arrival of the Magi or Wise Men, who reveal that Christ’s arrival was also significant to the Gentiles, as well as to the people of Israel.

We see the arrival of shepherds, who come to see the arrival of Jesus, to signify that Christ arrived for the benefit of both, the high and meek, alike.

We see the advent of angels, who are sent to inform Mary and Joseph of the arrival of a child, who is both son of man and Son of God. Angels had arrived to announce to the shepherds the arrival of the Christ child. We observe the advent of angels who warned both the Magi and Joseph and Mary of King Herod’s plot to kill the child, Jesus. And by lighting a candle today, we mark the advent of a star over a manger in Bethlehem, to signify the arrival of the “Light of the World,” that is the advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus, the living Christ.

Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

At this time the Congregation is invited to make selections from their personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers), selections will be accompanied with the corresponding music track from the companion CD: Classic Christmas Carols – 30 Sing Along Favorites.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special:

My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less by Buller, Balzer and Aichele https://youtu.be/3n5w_2IXvuA

Benediction – (Romans 15:13): May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15 -13

Staying on the Path to Salvation: Through Humility and Forgiveness

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now open by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF.

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the  BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

‘Staying on the Path to Salvation through Humility and Forgiveness’ 

© November 21, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on lessons shared with BLCF on January 21, 2018, July 20, 2014, and February 28, 2010

BLCF Bulletin January 21, 2018

BLCF: Bulletin July 20, 2014

BLCF Bulletin February 28, 2010

Announcements and Call to Worship:     

Opening Music Selections:

Cochren and Co. Church (Take me Back) https://youtu.be/3eTOcrWu8mQ

Lauren Daigle ~ Love Like This (Lyrics) https://youtu.be/U7eyU9EPGWo

Tithing & Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings  

Responsive Reading 667: Humility and Exaltation (Philippians 2 and Matthew 23); Prayer

 

Let Us Pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service for Sunday November 21, 2021. Next Sunday marks the first Sunday of Advent, where we celebrate and remember the arrival of Christ the Messiah, the Word made Flesh. For the next four Sundays, we have planned to celebrate the arrival of Advent in a special way, stay tuned to find out how.

Recently, the Board of BLCF had to pay for some needed repairs to the church furnaces. And the Board is in the process of getting bids to effect repairs to the roof area above the Prayer Room and the adjacent office. The Board ask for your prayers and patience, during the repair process. Now, let us begin today’s lesson.

I would like to begin this lesson with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice. 

If you picked up a newspaper recently, you may have read the following headline and news story:

Accused Florida school shooter pleads guilty in 2018 Parkland massacre

Oct 20, 2021 (Reuters) – Accused shooter Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty on Wednesday to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the deadliest ever at a U.S. high school.

At a hearing, Cruz, 23, stood hunched over and entered one guilty plea at a time as the judge read off the charges. His lawyer, David Wheeler, Broward County’s chief assistant public defender, said last week Cruz intended to plead guilty in the Valentine’s Day attack.

Cruz was a 19-year-old expelled student with a history of mental health and behavioral issues at the time of the “cold, calculated and premeditated” killings, Broward County’s State’s Attorney Office said in court documents.

After the pleas were entered, Cruz removed his COVID-19 mask and apologized to his victims.

“I am very sorry for what I did and I have to live with it every day,” he said. “And that if I were to get a second chance I will do everything in my power to try to help others … I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares that I can’t live with myself sometimes.”

Cruz wore a dark blue sweater vest above a blue shirt. He was thin and had on large glasses. His hands clutched the wooden podium he stood at while the judge spoke to him.

As a prosecutor read a detailed account of the incident, relatives and friends of the victims sat in the courtroom gallery, wiping tears from their eyes and holding each other.

Because prosecutors have vowed to seek the death penalty, his change of plea from not guilty opens the penalty phase. A jury would decide whether he should be sentenced to life in prison or death. In Florida, juries determine whether to impose a death sentence. If prosecutors are not willing to drop the potential death penalty as part of any plea deal that may be struck with Cruz, then a jury would decide.

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/accused-florida-school-shooter-set-plead-guilty-2018-parkland-massacre-2021-10-20/

Much of today’s news media contains a litany of stories describing the sadness of when innocent lives are lost or to quote a well-known book:

When Bad Things Happen To Good People

When Harold Kushner’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease and that he would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of life’s most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being. Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow. Since its original publication in 1981, When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers and its author has become a nationally known spiritual leader.

When my younger sister, Rhona, died from blood poisoning related to an abscess bedsore, it was very difficult for my dad. No one wants to outlive his or her child. Rhona’s last words to dad were: “I am not ready to die.” I believe that the whole family was surprised by her untimely death at age 42, as she successfully represented the disabled and elderly segments of Toronto through her Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson – All Rights Reserved) having won numerous awards for her work for the rights of the disabled:

RHONA MICKELSON (From Hansard Transcripts – Legislative Assembly of Ontario) 36th Parliament, 1st session, October 29, 1996:

RHONA MICKELSON

Mr. Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): On October 22 the disabled community lost a very special friend. Rhona Mickelson, founder of Star Tracks Performing Arts Centre and Talent Agency for the Disabled, passed away from heart failure..

At the age of three, Miss Mickelson was playing with her dolls when an improperly constructed patio roof gave way at the family home at San Antonio, Texas, caving in on her. The resulting spinal injury left her a paraplegic and required the use of a wheelchair.

In university, she noticed during film studies that able-bodied actors were used to play the roles of people with disabilities; thus the idea for a talent agency for the disabled was born. Her efforts opened doors for people with disabilities in the world of film, advertising and employment. She found work for people with disabilities as models, in magazines, films and commercials. Rhona Mickelson lived on a disability pension and supported Star Tracks out of her own pocket.

Rhona was a personal friend who was always there for me, with a smile, with a laugh, with optimism abounding.

Whatever damage was caused from the accident, the spirit of a remarkable woman survived. There are examples of courage everywhere, from the tenacious desire of Terry Fox to the determined perseverance and courage of Rick Hansen. Rhona Mickelson personified all that and more. Her unfailing spirit and selfless concern for others is a remarkable legacy that will never be forgotten.

Rhona, you are among the leaves, the trees — you will always be among us.

Our deepest sympathies go out to her sister, Penny, brother, Stephen, and father, Harry.

https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/house-documents/parliament-36/session-1/1996-10-29/hansard#P28_4668

14 Feb 1997, 102 - National Post at Newspapers_com Rhona Winifred Mickelson 1997 King Clancey Award

14 Feb 1997, 102 – National Post at Newspapers.com Rhona Winifred Mickelson winner of 1996 King Clancy Award

When a child dies, the surviving parents and family are not only struck by their own mortality, but are distinctly aware of the loss of someone close to them with whom there will be no more conversations, no more laughter nor jokes. For a parent they sense a loss of someone who was to carry on with the family name. Lost, are the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that the parent had for the child.  Such a loss can be very difficult to accept, the causes are often hard to reconcile, and for those outside the family, such loss may be hard to understand.

Such was the case in Nickels Belt, Pennsylvania, when Charles Roberts, a 32-year-old milk truck driver, burst into an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania on Monday, October 2, 2006 and killed five schoolgirls execution-style and then shot and then killed himself. Initially, the public viewed the tragedy as another case of a disturbed individual acting out his psychosis by killing innocent victims. It was just another school shooting by a man who was described by neighbors as a soccer dad, a seemingly good husband, and hard worker who just snapped. A rambling letter written by Roberts prior to his death blamed his emotional state upon a personal loss, some years previous.

The scope and scale of the tragic loss of life at the Amish schoolhouse paled in comparison to the reaction given by the families of the five victims towards the killer Roberts and the Roberts family. Though the act of violence against the children in the Amish schoolhouse by this outsider had shaken the community to its core and in spite of Amish community’s feelings of shock, disbelief and then grief, the reaction of the Amish community to the deaths was not what others had expected. Members of the Amish community sought to support all of the families who had suffered a tremendous loss; both Amish as well as Roberts’ family. Within a day of the shootings, members of the Amish community, friends and family of the slain girls called upon the parents, widow and children of Charles Roberts to embrace the shooters family, to show forgiveness towards the killer and to support the Roberts in their time of personal loss and grief.  This reaction of forgiveness stunned both the public and the media.

Dr. Donald Kraybill co-authored: Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, and wrote the following:

One of the fathers who lost a daughter in the schoolhouse and had another one seriously injured said, “Our forgiveness was not in our words, it was in what we did.” What did they do? How did the Amish enact forgiveness?

Two days after the shooting the Amish formed the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee to disperse, with fiscal integrity, the financial gifts of goodwill that were suddenly coming from people around the world to help the suffering families. Composed of seven Amish leaders and two outside businessmen, the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee decided to give a proportion of the funds they received to the widow and children of Charles Roberts. In time, the committee received about $4.2 million from generous donors around the world.  

One of the most striking expressions of forgiveness occurred at Charles Roberts’s burial on the Saturday after the shooting. Roberts was buried in the Georgetown cemetery, about a mile from the school, beside his firstborn daughter whose premature death nine years earlier he blamed on God and gave as the reason for his murderous acts. Over half of the people in attendance were Amish. They spontaneously decided to attend. Some had just buried their own daughters the day before. After the burial they hugged the widow and the parents of Charles Roberts. It was a remarkable act of grace. The funeral director supervising the burial said, “I realized that I was witnessing a miracle!” The Amish families bestowed other gracious acts of kindness on the family of Charles Roberts. Some sent meals and flowers to his widow. At Christmastime children from a nearby Amish school went to the Roberts home to sing carols.  

Another remarkable facet of the Amish response was the absence of anger and rage. One Amish woman said, “When I saw the bodies of one of the little girls at the viewing it just made me mad, mad at the evil, not at the shooter.” In my interviews, I probed for anger toward Charles Roberts but I detected only deep sorrow, not anger. When I asked about Roberts’s eternal destiny, one Amish minister said, “I can only hope for him what I hope for myself, that God will be a merciful and loving judge.” Deep pain and sorrow seared the hearts of the Amish parents. Even months after the tragedy, the memory of the event brought tears to the eyes of many Amish people. “I couldn’t preach in church for several weeks because when I tried, I just cried and cried,” said one grandfather, a minister who lost a granddaughter in the schoolhouse. The Amish are not stoic people; they experience the emotions of pain and suffering like the rest of us.

For all the Amish, as well as for fellow Christians at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship– BLCF Church, the strength to forgive is found through humility and by God’s grace.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, well known for his Christian walk, once said: “Forgiving is one of the most difficult things for a human being to do, but I think it means looking at some slight you feel, putting yourself in the position of the other person, and wiping away any sort of resentment and antagonism you feel toward them. Then let that other person know that everything is perfectly friendly and normal between you…One of the most basic principles for making and keeping peace within and between nations. . . is that in political, military, moral, and spiritual confrontations, there should be an honest attempt at the reconciliation of differences before resorting to combat”

C. Ryle on the subject of humility and love said: “Humility and love are precisely the graces which the men of the world can understand, if they do not comprehend doctrines. They are the graces about which there is no mystery, and they are within reach of all classes… [The poorest] Christian can every day find occasion for practicing love and humility. “

To understand the reaction, we must understand the Amish. There are about 200,000 Amish who live in 27 states and 350 geographical settlements. They came from Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and have lived lives largely separate from mainstream American society ever since.  They have a Biblically-based understanding of their way of life, and they seek to apply their unique ways in terms of their selective use of technology, the way in which they interact with the outside world. Because the Amish are pacifists, they see the school rampage as a test of faith. Part of their faith practices includes not only reciting daily The Lord’s Prayer, but actually incorporating the message of the prayer in their everyday life. As one member of the Amish community stated, “There’s strength and forgiveness and not having the kind of bitterness that we think possibly caused this terrible tragedy.”

In order to achieve forgiveness, the Amish live a life of humility. Their manner of dress is simple and unassuming. They shun modern technology, preferring to travel by horse drawn carriage than by automobile. They live off the power grid; do not have any gas lines, phones, radios or televisions,  computers or internet. They have no commercial insurance policies; say for life or property insurance, no credit cards, no loans. If an Amish suffers a loss, his support network is comprised of the community of fellow believers, who draw close to the person to provide care and support. The Amish learn the Way of humility from the Scriptures, 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV):

14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) Christ’s Example of Humility

2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.         

Footnotes: a. Philippians 2:5 Or which was also in Christ Jesus b. Philippians 2:7 Greek bondservant

But you may ask: “Does God really command or require us to be humble”? We find the answer to this question in Micah 6:8 (ESV):

He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love

kindness,[a]     

and to walk humbly with your God?             

Footnotes: a. Micah 6:8 Or steadfast love

Just as our weakness and imperfections are made strong and perfect through the power of the Holy Spirit; a humble believer will become the greatest proponent of the faith in the Lord:

Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV)

And he said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Steve Marshall in an article on overcoming depression entitled: How forgiveness has healing power over depression states the following:

Healing through forgiveness and growing through humility. Accepting your depression and finding that it is no more than a curtain on the stage of life, your life. What is the real spiritual connection between depression and forgiveness? Is there a causal connection? Can depression be alleviated from a “heartfelt connectingly” deep forgiveness of myself and of others made by myself? Forgiveness always helps because to forgive is to embrace the loving option. Love heals depression by allowing it’s healing “of the opening up of yourself to yourself and of the opening up of yourself to others” to take place. For essentially depression is a sign of your closing down to yourself and to life. The way to allow growth through and past your depression is to start forgiving yourself for having allowed this degree of closing down of yourself to yourself and to life to have taken place. Depression is a really deep, painful and lonely place to be, but it’s very deepness is what allows you to grow. It is true in life that you grow most from the deepest pain and the deepest feelings and that your most penetratingly painful experiences will often teach you the most. And so depression as I have just said allows you to feel feelings more deeply and this then will open the other side of depression in you and which is forgiveness. When you are feeling any feeling other than happiness or experiencing any state other than love, it is time to think about forgiveness. Forgive yourself first by just accepting yourself, for acceptance is the always the first step of forgiveness. The second step is to acknowledge that depression is a part of life and of your life and to look for the hidden jewels hiding within the darkness of depression. Forgiveness is the candle or the light in this darkness that will allow you to see the jewel and which is your soul sparkling and shining with a glimmering hope. That hope is that real hope that you will at last contact your real self as soul and that this contact will now begin to turn you around, and then after that the next step is humility. It takes true humility to forgive, and true forgiveness makes you humble. It goes on from there, and you will find that when you can touch yourself as soul, and feel a little of your true value, and accept that you have indeed a unique purpose and unique gifts and that you are a part of God’s overall plan for all of life, you will maybe realize then that your part in it all is just simply to be you.

And you may ask what Christ said we may expect if we do not forgive those who have wronged us? Let us read from Matthew 25, verses 31-46 for the answer let us look to Matthew 25:31-45 (ESV):

The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

In other words, we will be judged according to how we have treated others. We cannot expect forgiveness and salvation if we do not forgive others. And we cannot forgive others if we have not humbled ourselves in the eyes of the Lord. Or to put it a little more clearly:

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

And if we must remember Christ words, while nailed to the cross, through His anguish and pain the words He spoke were of suffering but forgiveness:

Luke 23:34 (ESV)

34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments.                                                                          

Footnotes: a. Luke 23:34 Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus… what they do

So, we can see that one of the requisites for our Salvation is humility and in order to be forgiven, we must first forgive. These are not guidelines but a path which we may walk as do the Amish, it is a way of life. The Scriptures become alive for you and me only after we chose not just to speak the cripture, but to live the scripture. To demonstrate by our actions humility before the Lord and forgiveness to others who have wronged us.

Danish philosopher, theologian, and psychologist Soren Kierkegaard once said: Christ did not appoint professors, but followers. If Christianity… is not reduplicated in the life of the person expounding it, then he does not expound Christianity, for Christianity is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men’s lives.

Humility and forgiveness are the sacrifices we must make to be worthy in God’s eyes so as to receive Christ’s gift of salvation. His sacrifice for our forgiveness was great. What we must sacrifice is relatively small, we must be humble, forgiven and receive the gift of salvation.

With respect to forgiveness and the Christian walk, author CS Lewis observed: To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

Over the last century alone, history bears witness to a host of inexcusable circumstances, a World War meant to end all wars” that failed in this purpose, a Spanish Flu Pandemic, a Great Depression, another World War which included a Holocaust that epitomised man’s inhumanity to man, the Atomic Bomb that drove Superpowers to a protracted cold war that nearly ended with a Missile Crises in Cuba, more wars, police actions, interventions, racial riots, mass shootings, terrorist attracts, and our current COVID-19 Pandemic. All of these have put people’s faith and trust in God to the test, as some deny war and Holocaust,  deny pandemics and vaccines, deny sin in general, preferring to hide the lies of their sins under a veil of fig leaves, oblivions to the truth. The human reaction to such horrific events is the adrenalin driven “flight or fight” syndrome, whereby they run away and hide from the horrors, pretending that it does not exist and if they deny it, and it will just disappear and go away. On the other hand, they could decide to put on the armour that God has provided for just such events and fight their own fears and frustrations, avoiding any denial of the truth, being confident that the Lord will bring them through the storm, safely to the other side.

Let us conclude this morning’s lesson with the same quote from Mahatma Gandhi that used at the beginning:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special:

O’ Lord w/ Lyrics (Lauren Daigle) https://youtu.be/K42bvpgimTg

Benediction (Romans 15:5-6): May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God Saved This Sinner

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now open by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF.

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

‘God Saved This Sinner’

© November 14, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message shared at BLCF on July 2, 2017

BLCF Bulletin July 2, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Music Specials:                                                           

Mighty To Save – Laura Story (w/lyrics) – https://youtu.be/6nrmb1WOkO0

Amazing Grace – Judy Collins (with lyrics) https://youtu.be/CDdvReNKKuk

Prayer and Tithing 

Responsive Reading #640: Redemption in Christ (Romans 5)                        

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’

Saved

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday worship and Praise Service, here at BLCF, where we celebrate the gift of salvation from sin, given us by our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

Today’s lesson is entitled: ‘God Saved This Sinner’. But what does it mean when someone says that: “God has saved me”?

Let us look at some examples of circumstances where people believe that God had  interceded in a life or death challenge, and where the survivors describe their being saved as an example of Divine providence. As it happens, these testimonials came from my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

San Marcos River flash flood in Palmetto State Park, Texas

Many years ago, while a child living in Texas, I recall our family visited my three year old sister, Rhona, at Gonzales Warm Springs Rehabilitation Center. Rhona had suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury and had to be taught as to how to use a wheel chair, walk with crutches, and others skills to overcome her disabilities. Warm Springs, built in 1937 during the polio epidemics and closed in 2001, was one of the few facilities equipped to address the needs of  civilian paraplegics and quadriplegics in Texas at that time.

The distance from San Antonio to Gonzales was 74 miles, over an hour’s drive,  and dad worked six days a week to help pay medical expenses, causing the family to be limited to visiting Rhona on Sundays.  We often would pick up Rhona from Warm Springs and go for a picnic at the Palmetto State Park which was situated adjacent to the Rehab Center.

The park had volcanic warm springs, having many ponds with a high in Sulphur content, there were a number of picnic areas located along the banks of the San Marcos River which ran through the park.

Texas Hill Country

The park itself was set in the Texas Hill Country, a region which, following thunderstorms and heavy rains, would  be subject to flash floods. On occasions of severe floods, most of the park was below grade and would end up some 15-20 feet underwater.

1955 Chevy Nomad

1955 Chevy Nomad

It was on one such Sunday, following heavy rainfalls, the family embarked for a picnic in the park. The entrance  to the picnic areas required driving over a fairly steep hill, which had a crown or crest that prevented dad from seeing that the San Marcos on the other side of the hill crest had flooded well above its banks. As we drove over the crest of the hill, dad stopped the car just above the raging river waters, where I recall seeing picnic tables being swept away, along with tree trunks and other debris. If dad had stopped a few seconds later or if  he did not successfully engage the ’55 Chevy Nomad station wagon into reverse gear, both the car and our family would have been lost to the flooding waters. Fortunately, dad backed to car away from the danger.

Years later, I remember dad saying to  me that, “God had saved us.” He then recalled two other life or death incidents where members of the family indicated that God have saved them from an untimely death.

Lighthouse Skagen, Denmark

The first involved his grandfather Knudsen, who was the lighthouse keeper near Skagen, Denmark. Located at the northernmost tip of both Denmark and continental Europe, the Skagen Grey Lighthouse was built on a peninsula that jutted well into the North Sea.

Denmark Map

Dad said that his grandfather remembered  exactly how many steps he needed to climb, carrying barrels of lamp oil, up to top of the lighthouse. On one occasion, great-grandfather Knudsen recalled using semaphore, that is signaling by flag, to a ship that carried Britain’s Queen Victoria. In those days ships and lighthouses had no radios for communication.

Semaphore – Flag Signal Chart

Great-grandfather Knudsen’s other vocation was a fisherman. If the weather was threatening, he would have to man the lighthouse in deference to fishing. It was on one such occasion, that many of the fishermen of Skagen were lost to a severe storm, while great-grandfather Knudsen had to operate the lighthouse. My dad said that great-grandfather Knudsen remarked on that occasion, “God had saved me.”

Pikes Peak, Colorado ( in the Background)

Dad indicated that his father, my grandfather, Niels Mickelson and his whole family, were saved, while on a family outing, where he drove a car to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Pikes Peak, Colorado

The mountain’s elevation is some 14,115-feet or 4,302.31 meters, above sea level, which is well above the altitude of grandfather Mickelsons’s mile-high home town of Denver. A mile is 5,280 feet or 1609.3 meters. In those days, the route up to the summit of Pikes Peak was unpaved and lacked any guardrails or barriers. It was a challenge both to the skill of the driver and  the soundness of the vehicle to make the trip to the summit and back safely.

Road up on Pikes Peak, Colorado

It was on one occasion, while driving up the mountain, that a careless driver speeding down the mountain had the bumper of his car catch the bumper of grandfather’s car, causing both cars to spin on the narrow roadway. Grandfather’s car ended up spinning over the edge of the mountain, the fall was stopped by a small pine tree. My grandfather told my dad that that was the day that, “God had saved both me and my family.”

It is not uncommon for Christians to pray for travelling mercies and protection by God for those whose journeys may bring them into harm’s way.

 

God Save The Queen (Bilingual) – Remembrance Day Canada 2021

God Save the Queen

Last Thursday, on November 11, I watched watched the Remembrance Day Ceremonies, broadcast from Ottawa, which included the Ottawa Children’s Choir singing of the British National Anthem, known in Canada as the Royal Anthem of Canada entitled God Save the Queen, or often refered to as The Queen. The performance led me to think about the topic for today’s lesson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’.

Both the title and the lyrics seem to plea to God to save the Queen, I was curious about the criteria required for the use of the anthem In Canada. This led me to the following Wikibits:

God save the Queen in Canada

Royal Anthem of Canada

The sovereign and her or his spouse are saluted with the entire anthem, while other members of the Royal Family who are entitled to royal salute (such as the Prince of Wales) receive just the first six bars. The first six bars also form all or part of the Vice Regal Salute in some Commonwealth realms outside the UK (e.g., in Canada, governors general and lieutenant governors at official events are saluted with the first six bars of “God Save the Queen” followed by the first four and last four bars of “O Canada“), as well as the salute given to governors of British overseas territories.

 “God Save the Queen” (alternatively “God Save the King”, depending on the gender of the reigning monarch) is the national or royal anthem in a number of Commonwealth realms, their territories, and the British Crown Dependencies.[1][2]The author of the tune is unknown and it may originate in plainchant, but a 1619 attribution to John Bull is sometimes made.

The phrase “God Save the King” is much older than the song, appearing, for instance, several times in the King James Bible.[17] A text based on the 1st Book of Kings Chapter 1: verses 38–40, “…And all the people rejoic’d, and said: God save the King! Long live the King! May the King live for ever, Amen”, has been sung at every coronation since that of King Edgar in 973.[18] Scholes says that as early as 1545 “God Save the King” was a watchword of the Royal Navy, with the response being “Long to reign over us”.[19][20] He also notes that the prayer read in churches on anniversaries of the Gunpowder Plot includes words which might have formed part of the basis for the second verse “Scatter our enemies…assuage their malice and confound their devices”.

Further information: Canadian royal symbols § Verbal and musical symbols, and Anthems and nationalistic songs of Canada

By convention,[64] “God Save the Queen” is the Royal Anthem of Canada.[65][66][67][68][69] It is sometimes played or sung together with the national anthem, “O Canada“, at private and public events organised by groups such as the Government of Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion, police services, and loyal groups.[70][71][72][73][74] The governor general and provincial lieutenant governors are accorded the “Viceregal Salute”, comprising the first three lines of “God Save the Queen”, followed by the first and last lines of “O Canada”.[75]

“God Save the Queen” has been sung in Canada since the late 1700s and by the mid 20th century was, along with “O Canada”, one of the country’s two de factonational anthems, the first and last verses of the standard British version being used.[76] By-laws and practices governing the use of either song during public events in municipalities varied; in Toronto, “God Save the Queen” was employed, while in Montreal it was “O Canada”. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1964 said one song would have to be chosen as the country’s national anthem and, three years later, he advised Governor General Georges Vanier to appoint the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the National and Royal Anthems. Within two months, on 12 April 1967, the committee presented its conclusion that “God Save the Queen”, whose music and lyrics were found to be in the public domain,[77] should be designated as the Royal Anthem of Canada and “O Canada” as the national anthem, one verse from each, in both official languages, to be adopted by parliament. The group was then charged with establishing official lyrics for each song; for “God Save the Queen”, the English words were those inherited from the United Kingdom and the French words were taken from those that had been adopted in 1952 for the coronation of Elizabeth II.[66] When the bill pronouncing “O Canada” as the national anthem was put through parliament, the joint committee’s earlier recommendations regarding “God Save the Queen” were not included.[77]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Save_the_Queen

It seems that my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all believed that they were delivered from certain death by God’s Grace. However, the Royal Anthem has roots in a sentiment that is somewhat different, being rooted in the expression “Long live the King”, which is believed to have been taken from the Scripture passage from 1 Kings 1:38-40 (ESV):

King Solomon

38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule and brought him to Gihon. 39 There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.

By contrast to the salvation described in the Royal Anthem, the accounts of four generations of the Mickelson family members being saved on three occasions, seem to be examples of God’s intervention to deliver them from death. My parents and sister, Rhona, are today with the Lord. For many in the family, the faith in God remains.

Neither the plea to God to preserve the life of a monarch, nor the apparent intervention to preserve my ancestors seem to describe the salvation described in Micah 7:7 (ESV):

But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me.

 Neither the King, nor Queen, nor any of my ancestors seem to be waiting on God for deliverance. The type of deliverance or salvation the Scriptures describe being waited for by the author are of the spirit, not of the body, as we see in Romans 10:5-13 (ESV):

The Message of Salvation to All

 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

It seems that people consider salvation as God saving their bodies from death, when we know the Bible says that our bodies will wither and die. We are born again in the Spirit and that Jesus will intercede upon God’s judgement for our sins, thanks to the grace given us by the sacrifice our Lord, Christ Jesus.

The fact that Jesus has been resurrected forever, means that Jesus is the eternal High Priest for all of humanity who have faith in the Lord for all time, Hebrews 7:22-25 (ESV):

22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost[a] those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Footnotes: a. Hebrews 7:25 That is, completely; or at all times

Let us pray…

Closing  Music Special: Lauren Daigle – In Christ Alone (Lyric Video) https://youtu.be/sr-3ExXX0VM

Benediction – (2 John 3):            

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

 

Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson - All Rights Reserved).

Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson – All Rights Reserved).

Remembrance: By Means of the Poppy and the Cross

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now open by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF.

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the  BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: Always & Forever - Lest We Forget

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

‘Remembrance: By Means of the Poppy and the Cross’

© November 7, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based On Messages Shared at BLCF on November 8, 2015, and November 11, 2012

BLCF Bulletin November 8, 2015

BLCF: In_Remembrance

Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #671: God’s Love and Ours (1 John 4); Prayer

Opening Music Specials: 

Andrea Bocelli W/Jennifer Hudson – Amazing Grace https://youtu.be/ztWJcDuf30w

DEFENDER led by Mandy Harvey https://youtu.be/TyoaHZmMULc

Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

BLCF: In Flander's Fields

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship -BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service.Today, we celebrate the fourth Sunday since we reopened the church after our closing due to COVID-19 in March, 2020. Being the first Sunday, it is also Communion Sunday, where we observe the Lord’s sacrifice paid for our sins, and His gift of Salvation. And as Remembrance Day falls on Thursday this week, we will examine in today’s lesson  how the poppy and the cross are two symbols of remembrance of sacrifice on our behalf.

I stand before you wearing one of these symbols, the poppy, pinned above my heart, while illuminated behind me is the other, which is the cross.

This Thursday, we will have an opportunity to observe, with the aid of the poppy, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, signifying the anniversary of the Armistice that was signed in 1918 to end World War I, ironically called “the war to end all wars”.

Today, the date is called Remembrance Day in Canada and Britain and Veterans Day in the United States. For us, Remembrance Day is a day where we remember all who died not only in this war but in all other conflicts, to both preserve and protect our democratic freedom and way of life in Canada.

We, in the Christian Church, also have a symbol no less important. It’s the Cross of Jesus. One of His great sayings is:

‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’- John 15:13  (ESV).

And that is what Christ did for us.

BLCF: No Jesus No Peace

Two great symbols of sacrifice are the Poppy and the Cross.

What is so special about a poppy on Remembrance Day? Why not use a pansy? Scarlet poppies grow naturally in conditions of the disturbed earth throughout Western Europe. The destruction brought by the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th Century, transformed the bare land into fields of blood red poppies, growing around the bodies of the fallen soldiers.

In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were once again ripped open as the First World War raged through Europe’s heart.

The significance of the poppy as a lasting memorial symbol to the fallen was realized by the Canadian surgeon John McCrae in his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. The poppy came to represent the immeasurable sacrifice made by his comrades and quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in the First World War and later conflicts. Here are McCrae’s words:

In Flanders Fields – John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

When fighting ceased in 1918 the mud of the battlefields was allowed to rest. Nature began to restore the landscape. Before long, the wildflowers grew and bloomed, including the poppy. The colour of red reminds people of bloodshed and the sacrifice by millions of brave soldiers of their lives. And so the poppy became the symbol of sacrifice.

It is a known fact that people are creatures with the capacity to forget personal pain and suffering. Otherwise, women, for example, would be less likely to have more than one child, after having experienced the labour of the first and all of us would be unable to cope with the loss of loved ones. With the passage of time, the memory of the harsh reality of death diminishes and fades with each successive generation, becoming little more than the image of faded photographs or hollow words to a nearly forgotten poem.

That is why it is important to take a minute of silence to reflect and pray for those men and women who sacrificed their lives both in a distant place and time and in times current so that we may enjoy a relatively free and safe life today in Canada. We read the poem ’In Flanders Fields’, where see that even in the deadly field of battle, God transforms the trenches of death with a tapestry of red flowers and the song of meadowlarks, providing the promise of hope reminiscent of that given by His rainbow and dove with the olive branch after the great flood.

On this Remembrance Day, let us also remember the fallen innocents in past conflicts as well: the civilians who were killed in wars and conflicts, as well as the persecuted victims of purges and holocausts. And, we should remember the families of the fallen, for the pain of the loss of a loved one. Finally, we honour those who returned from battle and war, with the memory of death and destruction etched in their memories.

Some of you may still remember a member of our congregation, our friend Leo, a kindly brother in Christ, who sought to share the love of Christ with his brothers and sisters. I remember, when I had applied to work as an operator at the TTC, Leo commented to me, that after the World War II, he was hired by the TTC and trained to drive a street car. He remarked that as a result of the war, the stress of driving was too great for him, and he left the TTC to work as a carrier with Canada Post.

At Leo’s funeral, the chapel was almost evenly divided between sad, grieving uniformed postal carriers, members of the military and police officers on one side of the chapel; with happy Christian believers on the other. While the former mourned the death of a friend, the latter celebrated the fact that another Christian has gone home to be with Jesus at the Lord’s Resurrection.

While Leo did not give his life in war for his country, he did give his life as a living sacrifice unto his Lord. We see that the poppy represents the mourning for those who sacrificed themselves in battles, police actions and conflicts, which continue to this day. By contrast, Jesus gave his life as the final sacrifice for our judgment for sin, which we celebrate and observe continuously, by means prayer, song, Scripture and with the regular observance of Communion.

The poppy reminds us of the sacrificed lives in battles over the years past, present, and future. By contrast, the cross reminds us of the Lord’s single act of sacrifice and love for all generations, past, present, and future, John 15:10-13 (ESV):

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

BLCF: Love-God_Love-People

The cross symbolizes not only how Jesus sanctifies us from sin, but it is also a symbol of God’s New Covenant of eternal life and is an emblem of His love for us. We are implored to take heart and find joy in the Lord’s gift to us, which are the rewards for our faith, John 16:23-33 (ESV):

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

I Have Overcome the World

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.[a] 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Footnotes: a. John 16:27 Some manuscripts from the Father

In addition to the cross, we are instructed by the scriptures to remember the sacrifice of Jesus through the act of communion, until Jesus returns. This points to the main difference between the soldier’s sacrifice to give us freedom as Canadians and Jesus’ sacrifice to give us freedom from sin, as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promise of the resurrection. It is our responsibility as members of Canadian society to honour the soldier’s sacrifice for a peace from a war that is temporary, as long sin exists, we will continue to have war. As believers in the resurrected Christ, our trust and faith in our Savior’s sacrifice which does not end sin, but the consequences of sin: judgment and death, Ephesians 2:13-18 (ESV):

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Lauren Daigle – “We Will Not Forget” (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/izeZa9wx8wA

Communion: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (ESV): The Lord’s Supper

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,[a] 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[b] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[c] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.[d] 31 But if we judged[e] ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined[f] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brothers,[g] when you come together to eat, wait for[h] one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

Let us pray…

BLCF: may-the-God-of-hope-fill-you-withl-joy-peace

Closing Music Special: Lauren Daigle – In Christ Alone (Lyric Video) https://youtu.be/sr-3ExXX0VM

Benediction – (Hebrews 13:20-21):
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: Peace through Jesus

Time to set your clocks back tonight at BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON…

Compulsive Late Church goers Daylight Saving Time Ends Fall Back

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now open by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the  BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve