Important Announcement to the BLCF Community

Sadly, for the first time since we first opened January 2008, the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner will suspend operations due to the threat of the COVID-19 Virus, in order to protect the vulnerable.

BLCF Cafe has suspended operations as we are not equipped for take-out service and are unable to safely serve a eat-in dinner involving a group of some 100-150 guests and volunteers during the pandemic.

Please follow our social media channels for postings of when BLCF would be able to safely reopen in accordance to the guidelines set forth by Public Health Agency of Canada and local health officials allowing for operations within current social-distancing guidelines. Our goal is providing a safe environment for all.

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COVID-19: Letter to faith community leaders from Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer

April 3, 2020

Dear Faith Community Leaders

I am reaching out to you today to thank you for your efforts to date in helping Canada delay the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Over the past few weeks, we have seen the number of COVID-19 cases increase in Canada. To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in communities across the country, governments and health officials have asked the public to practice social distancing. This means staying home, avoiding crowds and refraining from common social greetings like handshakes. This is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak.

I am asking you to follow the advice of your local, provincial, and territorial public health authorities with regards to social distancing and restrictions on mass gatherings, which likely includes suspending all regular services for the time being.

Social distancing involves creating a two-metre zone of protection around ourselves—the distance that infected droplets can spread from a cough or sneeze. It is only through social distancing that we can protect our communities, including older adults and medically vulnerable Canadians, who are most at risk of severe illness.

Many community members may want to use this opportunity to host small gatherings in their homes, apartments, and multipurpose rooms. I urge you to use your leadership role to discourage these gatherings, in order to protect the safety and health of your congregants and community.

I know this is not easy. It is an uncertain and difficult time for many and people in your communities are likely turning to their faith for support. I ask that you continue to provide leadership and encourage all of your community members to stay home. I have been encouraged seeing many stories of faith leaders across Canada who have adopted innovative alternative options to reach their communities, from offering services online to using social media. I hope to see more of this as we stay the course in our collective efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at the community level.

We can only respond to the challenge COVID-19 places on our country with your support and leadership.

For more information on Canada’s response to COVID-19, including awareness resources and guidance documents, visit Canada.ca/coronavirus.

Thank you,

Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/covid-19-letter-faith-community-leaders-from-canada-chief-public-health-officer.html

 

Luke 4:12 (ESV)

And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ 

 

Be Safe!

 

To our Guests, Volunteers, and Friends of BLCF Cafe,


Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, located in the heart of Toronto, has suspended operations on March 16, 2020. As we are not equipped for take-out service and are unable to provide Personal Protection Equipment to our vulnerable volunteers and guests as a sit-down dinner. Please follow our social media channels for postings of when BLCF would open after health officials post the all clear for reduced social-distancing guidelines which are currently in place. 

Be safe.

Sophie Mickelson

Director-Coordinator BLCF Cafe Community Dinner

 

My Refuge and My Fortress during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Psalm 91:1-10 (ESV): My Refuge and My Fortress

 91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge —
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

A Virtual Prayer Walk in the Heart of Toronto for Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

RE: A Virtual Prayer Walk in the Heart of Toronto for Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Dear Fellow Prayer Warriors,

Greetings and God’s Blessings from BLCF Church and BLCF Café!

As Christians, we discover ourselves in the same boat as non-Christians, facing the hard times that come from the invisible threat of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

At such challenging times, we must persevere by keeping our faith and hope while trusting GOD for guidance. We need to listen to recommendations of the public health officials, scientists and the government to wash our hands, maintain social distancing, staying at home for the health and safety of ourselves and others.

Many of our church members, as well as guests at the BLCF Cafe, are on the mature side, some with health issues, making them vulnerable to the deadly COVID-19 virus.  We pray for safety and protection for the BLCF Community from the Lord. We pray the Lord’s protection and blessings from the Holy Spirit for the people and businesses of the Bloor Lansdowne Community.

As a church, we keep open the lines of communication by calling our members, friends, and families, either by phone or by computer, so that we may share support and pray together.  Though isolated at home, this contact allows us to keep our unity in spirit and in faith.

Let us find solace by continuing to read the Bible, by praying, and by seeking God’s guidance while supporting one another. We may not be able to walk physically with each other, we still can walk together with the Lord, united by His Spirit.

At times like this, may we take comfort while meditating on the following Scripture passage:

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

10 fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, stay healthy, keep safe, and travel with God’s speed. And for those who believe that the COVID-19 Coronavirus indicates these are signs of the end times, I reply is Christ Jesus here? He will come on that last day, for only the Father in Heaven knows the time that the Lord will return. Matthew 24:36:

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

In these challenging times, dear friends, we encourage you to keep the faith, maintain 6 feet of social separation, and wash your hands!

Yours in Christ,

Steve and Sophie Mickelson

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Cafe

The Lesson of Lazarus of Bethany

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:          

The Lesson of Lazarus of Bethany’  

 © October 6, 2019, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 6, 2019

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer 

Opening Hymn ##499: The Master Has Come, and He Calls Us; Choruses

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

Responsive Reading #644: Christ and Immortality of Prayer (1 Corinthians 15)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Lesson of Lazarus of Bethany’

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church on this, the first Sunday of October 2019. Being the first Sunday of the month, we will share communion with all believers present who desire to partake in the Lord’s Supper and remember Jesus’ sacrifice to pay the judgment for the sins of all humanity; that judgment being death. With  Jesus’ death comes a reconciliation to all those who are willing to accept the Lord’s gift, confess their sins, and choose to follow His way or path as described in His Gospel.

For our lesson today, entitled: ‘The Lesson of Lazarus of Bethany’, we will examine one Jesus’ miracles, namely the resurrection from the dead of a man whom the Bible identifies as Lazarus of Bethany, brother to Martha and Mary.

Those who were here two Sundays ago, on September 22, may recall the lesson, ‘Claiming a Blessed Inheritance, by Loving Our God Lazarus Miracle, namely and Our Neighbour’, which included as one of its Scripture Verses,  John 12:1-8 (ESV):

Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany

12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound[a] of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it[c] for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

Footnotes: a. John 12:3 Greek litra; a litra (or Roman pound) was equal to about 11 1/2 ounces or 327 grams b. John 12:5 A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer c. John 12:7 Or Leave her alone; she intended to keep it

It is the resurrection of Lazarus, described in Verses 12:1-8 of John’s Gospel, which is the focus of our lesson today. You will find the account of the Lazarus miracle in John 11:1-44 (ESV), which is printed inside of the Bulletin, having the title:

The Death of Lazarus

 11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus[a] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin,[b] said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

At this point I would like to pause so as to recapitulate that there was a man named Lazarus, who had two sisters, Martha and Mary, the three lived in the village of Bethany and were loved by Jesus. Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus that their brother was ill, hoping that that the Lord would heal Lazarus. Jesus waited two days before informing the disciples of their friend was asleep, later explaining that Lazarus’ asleep and that he had intended to waken their friend in order to Glorify him as the son of God, which in-turn would glorify God, the Father. Rather than just healing Lazarus of his illness, the Lord chose to wait until Lazarus had died in order to awaken from the sleep of death, and by resurrecting their friend, the disciples might believe in the glory of God and the glory of their Lord. Let us continue reading from Chapter 11 of John’s gospel, at verse 17, of John 11:17-27 (ESV):

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles[c] off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[d] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Jesus arrives at the house of Martha and Mary in Bethany, near Jerusalem, where Martha comes out of the house to meet Jesus, but Mary chose to remain inside. Martha reflects Jesus that it had been there before her brother had passed, that the Lord would have not allowed Lazarus to die.

Jesus responds to Martha indicating that her brother will rise again, but Martha thinks the Lord is talking about the resurrection of the faithful that will occur on the Day of Judgment. However, Jesus tells Martha that he is the resurrection and the life. Again, Martha again assumes Jesus is talking about Judgment Day. Let us continue with our Scripture at Verse 28 of John 11:28-37 (ESV):

Jesus Weeps

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[e] in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

When Mary hears of Jesus’ arrival and echoes her sister’s complaint implying that Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ death. Mary’s weeping, as well as the grief of the other Jews who had come to console Mary and Martha moved and troubled Jesus so much, that the Lord was moved to tears, as we read in of John 11:28-37 (ESV):

Jesus Raises Lazarus

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Footnotes: a. John 11:6 Greek he; also verse 17 b. John 11:16 Greek Didymus c. John 11:18 Greek fifteen stadia; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters e. John 11:25 Some manuscripts omit and the life f. John 11:33 Or was indignant; also verse 38

It is at this point in the Lazarus narrative that Jesus thanks his Father in heaven for a miracle which would convince those not only Martha and Mary, but the disciples, and those gathered around the tomb would believe that Jesus was sent by Father and that the Holy Spirit had answered the sadness that troubled Jesus with making the words spoken by the Lord, “Lazarus, come out” a true miracle, proving the Lord’s glory.

A bit of Bible trivia, John 11, verse 35, “Jesus wept” happens to be the shortest verse in the Bible. Also, the name Lazarus comes from Hebrew Eleazar, which means “God Has Helped”.

Christian author C.S. Lewis comments on the resurrection of Lazarus as:

“we follow One who stood and wept at the grave of Lazarus-not surely, because He was grieved that Mary and Martha wept, and sorrowed for their lack of faith (though some thus interpret) but because death, the punishment of sin, is even more horrible in his eyes than in ours.”

― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics

When we consider the love that Jesus had for his friends, Lazarus, and the grief that he shared with Martha and Mary, we might consider a commentary on love made by C.S. Lewis:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Jesus wept because his heart was broken by the sadness and grief that his human side of the Son of God shared with those who wept.  The vulnerable expression of weeping by the Lord came as a human expression of shares grief and sadness of his spirit. God responded to Jesus’ grief by restoring life to Lazarus as proof that Jesus is His own Son.

In Romans 12:15, the apostle Paul describes sharing tears with those who grieve as a “mark of a true Christian”, Romans 12:15 (ESV):

Marks of the True Christian

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

In his second letter to the members of the church, Paul describes the mortal bodies that we have now in this life, as temporary residences not unlike a tent, with body awaiting us in heaven being described as an eternal, not like those built by human hands, accompanied with burdens that make us groan. It is the presence Holy Spirit given as a reward to the believer’s faith is also a guarantee of the resurrection and a new eternal body when our Lord returns, Corinthians 5:1-10 (ESV):

 Our Heavenly Dwelling

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on[a] we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Footnotes: a. 2 Corinthians 5:3 Some manuscripts putting it off

Maria Teresa Pereira (right)

Last week marked the passing of a sister in Christ, Maria Teresa Pereira, known affectionately to family and friends as Teresa. At BLCF, we became acquainted with Teresa as a volunteer with our BLCF café Community Dinner. Teresa’s faith was revealed by both her spoken testimony and deed as she helped prepare and serve meals at the community dinner. Her witness and testimonials were shared both individually as well as to all from the pulpit. Like Lazarus, Teresa had two sisters, who grieved when the time came to leave her temporary home. But unlike Mary and Martha, Teresa’s sisters have a faith in the Resurrected Christ and the promise of an eternal home waiting for her in heaven.

By his sacrifice in the cross, Jesus paid the price for reconciliation with God of the believer’s debt for sin, giving the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promise of a new eternal body with the Lord in heaven. This is why a Christian funeral is a celebration of an eternal reward, rather than grief and sadness for death as a final debt for sin. Jesus paid that bill for all who believe and have faith in him. This is the Lesson of Lazarus of Bethany. Remember:

Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #440: All the Way My Savior Leads Me

Communion: Responsive Reading #626: The Last Supper (Mark 14)

Benediction – (2 Thessalonians 3:16): Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Important Announcement to the BLCF Community

Sadly, for the first time since we first opened January 2008, the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner will suspend operations due to the threat of the COVID-19 Virus, to protect the vulnerable.

Luke 4:12 (ESV)

And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

 

BLCF Church invites you to a Prayer Walk in the Heart of Toronto.

BLCF Church invites you to a Prayer Walk in the Heart of Toronto.

JOIN US

ON A WALK TO PRAY FOR OUR

COMMUNITY!

On the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m.,

join with those from other local churches to worship,

and to pray for one another

and for the surrounding neighbourhood.

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On TUESDAY, MARCH 3rd.

we will be gathering at

KEELE STREET CHRISTIAN CHURCH

97 ANNETTE ST.

(AT THE CORNER OF ANNETTE AND KEELE STS.)

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Come out to bless and be blessed as we hear about what God has been doing at Keele Church Christian Church!

Let’s join together in faith

looking to God for His blessing

for our community!