The Love of Jesus as Expressed in a Parable, a Lesson, and a Judgment – 2023

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

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

They will know us by our Love Like Jesus

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

The Love of Jesus as Expressed in a Parable, a Lesson, and a Judgment’

© February 5, 2023, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on March 7, 2021, and February 9, 2020, 

BLCF Bulletin February 9, 2020

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                           

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumentalhttps://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Music Special – There’s a Quiet Understanding – (Lyrics) – Christian Music Artists – https://youtu.be/BJTj8CGjJbg

Music Special: Beatitudes – Hillsong United –  (cover by Wade Cambern with Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/oFGYzpqUD7E

Responsive Reading #671: God’s Love and Ours (1 John 4)                          

Message by Steve Mickelson:

‘The Love of Jesus as Expressed in a Parable, a Lesson, and a Judgment’

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service for the first Sunday of February 2023, which also happens to be a Communion Sunday. Today’s lesson, entitled The Love of Jesus as Expressed in a Parable, a Lesson, and a Judgment, we will examine three expressions of our Lord’s love, from a parable, a lesson, and events on Judgment Day.

Jesus answered the question, “How does one inherit eternal life”, with the aid of a parable, as described in Luke 10:25-37 (ESV):

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

 25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 10:35 A denarius was a day’s wage for a labor

In this passage, a lawyer who is knowledgeable in the legalities of the Scriptures sought to test Jesus by asking him what does he need to do to inherit eternal life, to which the Lord replied what is his understanding of this matter from God’s Word. The lawyer replied by stating the requirement of unconditional love for God and to love our neighbor as ourselves, which is a distillation of God’s Ten Words or Commandments given to Moses to be delivered to the People of Israel, dealing with how God expects his people to relate to Him and to others.

A definition of the 10 Commandments comes from the online Encyclopedia Britannica:

Ten Commandments, also called Decalogue (Greek: deka logoi [“10 words”]), list of religious precepts that, according to various passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy, were divinely revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai and were engraved on two tablets of stone. The Commandments are recorded virtually identically in Exodus 20: 2–17 and Deuteronomy 5: 6–21.  https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ten-Commandments

When the lawyer asked Jesus to explain,” Who would he consider to be a neighbour?”  Jesus answered the lawyer’s question by telling him a Parable about an act of kindness given to a beaten traveler by a Samaritan passing by. Jesus described how both a priest and Levite, also passing by the beaten man, refused to stop and render assistance to the beaten man. Jesus asked the lawyer, which of the three passers-by proved to be a neighbor to the man who was beaten and robbed, to which the lawyer replied, the Samaritan. Ironically, the Jews were too busy traveling to stop and give assistance to the traveler.

And when ministering to others, Jesus emphasized humility, as we see in his lesson taught washing his disciples’ feet, as described in John 13:1-17 (ESV):  

Jesus Washes The Disciples’ Feet

 13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Footnotes: a.John 13:10 Some manuscripts omit except for his feet b. John 13:10 The Greek words for you in this verse are plural c. John 13:16 Or bondservant, or slave (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface)

In this passage, Jesus indicated that we should remember his lesson of washing his disciples’ feet and performing the act of a humble servant. This lesson emphasized a construct that is inverted from how many prioritize their relationships with God and with others.

Often we may behave in a manner where our needs are first, and then help our neighbors, and lastly how we honour God. This is the opposite of how Jesus taught in his foot-washing exercise, where he sought to have us place ourselves subservient to others, which is submissive to God’s will.

Jesus’ lesson has God at the top of our priority list, with our neighbors next, and ourselves last.

Just how important the relationships between ourselves to God and our neighbours are with respect to how we will be judged by the Lord on Judgment Day is described as the parable of the shepherd  sorting out his flock of sheep from the goats described in our final Scripture passage in our lesson today, found in Matthew 25:31-46 (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.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

It is obvious how we demonstrate our love and compassion to the least of our brothers and sisters will reveal how we honour our Lord, and how in turn we will be judged, and in-turn inherits eternal life, on the Day of Judgment.

BLCF: Psalm-119-105._jpg

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

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing, it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Katy Nichole – Lyric Video https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y

Benediction – (Romans 8:38-39):

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Note: Sunday Morning Worship Service canceled for Sunday, January 29, 2023, Only! See you next Sunday!

Please Note: Due to Inclement Weather, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church has canceled Sunday Morning Worship Service for January 29, 2023, ONLY! See you next Sunday!

Sunday service cancelled due to weather

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine, booste shots, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

The following Message was shared with BLCF previously on February 6, 2011, March 1, 2013, January21, 2014, August 13, 2016, and January 29, 2023:

homeless-man2

Transformed by the Touch of a Homeless Man

– A True Story – by Kent Holland

I had just sat down in the Philadelphia 30th Street Station and tucked myself comfortably behind a newspaper to await my train to Washington, D.C., when, to my dismay, I saw a homeless man walking up to me.  His approach was slow and deliberate. He stood before me, waiting for me to make eye contact.  When I finally looked up to acknowledge him, I was discomforted by this man, probably in his mid-forties, with dirt and grease on his hands and unkempt clothing.

What struck me most about him, though, were his indescribable eyes, eyes that seemed to know me, that seemed to penetrate right through me; that appeared be full of love, compassion and sorrow. Being a rational, unemotional lawyer, I tried quickly to put those thoughts out of my mind.  I thought I must be imagining things.

We looked at each other in silence for a moment and then he asked, “Sir, may I speak with you?”

My first thought was, “Oh no, here we go again, another bum begging for a handout.” I had never appreciated the plight of the needy.  They made me uncomfortable and perhaps a bit afraid.  I felt they should stop bothering people, and go out and get a job like everyone else.  I had apparently never learned (or perhaps I had forgotten) the Scripture that tells us:  “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”  1 John 3:17-18.

I wasn’t inclined to give this man any attention, and I certainly didn’t want to give him any money.  But he hadn’t asked for money.  He asked only: “May I speak with you?”  What kind of a question was that?  As I pondered him and his question, his incredible eyes gripped me.  Finally, I couldn’t remain seated any longer.  I stood up to face him.

“Will you feed me?” he asked.

I wasn’t prepared for that question.  As he continued to speak, his language seemed peculiarly articulate, and his words became increasingly strange and disquieting.  He spoke like a well-educated and intelligent man, not at all like what I would have expected based on my image of him.

All around me, finely dressed men and women hurried off to dinners, shows, and business meetings.  Others, like myself, looked forward to getting home to their families.  Many milled about in the cathedral-like structure, with its spacious halls and its magnificent columns rising to meet beautifully carved and painted ceilings high above.  Others slept. Some chatted with colleagues or friends.  Others sat idly, lost in thought, daydreams or fantasies.

I wondered why he had so intentionally picked me out of this mass of people.  So, I asked him, “With all these people sitting around daydreaming, why did you choose me? Why did you pick me from behind a newspaper?”

“Because,” he answered, “you look like a gentlemen with whom I should speak.”  Those were his actual words.

This homeless man actually used better grammar than I normally do.  He sounded like an English teacher and I wondered,  “What’s going on here?”

Even stranger than his speech was the fact that instead of asking for money, he said his purpose in approaching me was that he thought he “should speak” with me. Now, this got my interest.  What could he possibly have to say to me?  In my cynical heart, I was disdainful and critical of this man.  He looked like he was perfectly capable of working for a living, but had chosen to live the life of a bum instead. I just came right out and challenged him, saying,

“You’re obviously a well-educated man.  You speak better than I do.  Why aren’t you working instead of being on the street?”

“I’m glad you asked that,” he replied. “I hoped that you would permit me to share something with you.  I’m a pharmacist by training.  For twenty years I was employed as the pharmacist at a hospital right here in town.  Life was good.  I had a wife and two children.  I had a nice house.  I thought I had it all.  Yes, life was good; until the day I received a phone call at the pharmacy telling me that my house had burned down and my wife and children had perished in the flames.”

Perhaps his story would have made me suspicious since it had obvious potential as a good come-on for a beggar to use.  But truth was in his teary eyes.  Even the genuine sadness in the matter-of-fact way he told his story made it impossible for me to doubt its truth. He went on to explain his situation.

“After losing my family, I could no longer think clearly. I couldn’t concentrate well enough to make a prescription. But even if I could, I no longer had any desire for my job since I had lost my whole reason for living.   Everything I lived for was gone.  I’ve been on the streets ever since, talking to men like you who need to know.  I share with them, and eat with them, but I never ask for money.  It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten, and I’m very hungry, will you feed me?”

Looking back on the scene now, I’m embarrassed to say that by this point in the conversation I was still clueless about what was happening here.  My insensitive and foolish response was to offer a couple dollars so he could buy something.  He looked at me with kind eyes and gently declined my offer of money.

Once again, he asked:  “Will you please feed me?”

Did he mean this literally and, if so, what did he expect me to do?  I asked if I could buy him a burger and fries at the McDonald’s located in the station.  But this was not what he had in mind. Instead, he asked me to join him for lunch at the small atrium-like cafe located in what might be described as a chapel hall just off the main cathedral of the station.

At this point, I didn’t know what to say.  What could I say to this increasingly mysterious man who had picked me out a crowd and then confidently directed me to the specific café where he expected me to join him for lunch?

I had a train to catch but, as I considered the homeless man, my heart was strangely moved.  What began as a passing thought that perhaps I might as well sit down with this man for a few minutes became a compelling desire to do just that.  The train could wait.  There would be another one later. Talking with this man had become the single most important thing I could do at that moment, even though I didn’t understand why.

We went over to the cafe and ordered a good meal.  We sat together and talked for quite a while. Our conversation touched on issues that I wouldn’t normally discuss with an acquaintance of many years.  He asked me questions about myself and what I was doing with my life.  Perhaps my guilty conscience made me imagine things, but it seemed that he knew things about me that I didn’t want him to know.  I felt like he could see the immorality that was ruling my life, and that I was well on the way to destroying my marriage and family.  Without actually saying so, he seemed to know that I was living for my own self-gratification, driven by the desire for prestige, power, and enough money to gain financial independence.  My life style could be described by the motto: “I want it all, and I want it now!”  One of my friends even printed that saying on a large button and fastened it to the lampshade in my law office.

Finishing our meal, I rose to leave.  He turned to me then and asked: “Will you make me a promise?”  I must have given him a surprised and bewildered look.  He held my eyes with his as he said, “Think about this. The next time you see someone who is poor, needy or homeless, remember me!  I once had everything you have now.  I had a wife, two children, a good job and a home.  I lost them all in an instant.  The difference between you and me is so small.  You could lose everything as quickly as I lost it.  Remember me.  And remember that all you have is by the grace of God.”

When he spoke of the grace of God I thought of how often I had heard preachers, parents and teachers speak similar words.  They had always seemed so trite.  Coming from this man, however, I was awestruck by the simplicity and truth of this statement.  In that moment, I experienced an odd sensation. I felt that his words had hit hard right where I needed to be hit.  Even as I stood there, I found myself thinking that this man got to me like no preacher or teacher ever managed to do.  I had often quoted the scripture saying “It is by grace you are saved, through faith … it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8-9).  But I had forgotten the very next verse which states that we are created by God to do good works (vs.10).   Then there is the Scripture in the New Testament book that says:  “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well, keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:15-16). I can tell you that as I stood before the homeless man my eyes were opened to the fact that my own faith was bogus.  It wasn’t real.  It was mere words.  It wasn’t backed up with action.  My faith was dead.

The homeless man wasn’t even done with me yet. Looking steadily into my eyes, he asked: “The next time you see a homeless person or a someone in need, will you feed them, will you care for them, will you clothe them, will you meet their need?  Don’t give them money. That isn’t what they need.   They need you.  Will you give them of yourself?  Will you love them?”  This final question stunned me.

An uncomfortably long moment passed while I thought about it.  Quietly, almost reverentially, I replied, “I will.” His eyes gleamed as he smiled and wished me well.  As I boarded the next train for Washington, the impact of what had happened to me in Philadelphia and how it was going to fundamentally change my life had not yet dawned on me.  This homeless man had ministered to me in a powerful and moving way.  A day has rarely gone by since then that I have not remembered him with his incredible, loving eyes, peering into me.  I often wonder about him and whether he could have led me to such a change without this being a divine appointment.  As a new love and compassion seemed to well up inside of me from depths previously unknown, I realized that when I said “yes” to the homeless man, I had said yes to God.

As the days and weeks passed after that, I found myself practically walking on air with a deep sense of peace and joy.  I began talking to people and taking an interest in people that I previously would have crossed the street to avoid.  While traveling in other cities since then, I have found myself asking homeless men to join me for dinner, buying bus and train tickets for men who claim they need to get home, and spending time listening to them and talking with them. That might seem like odd behavior for even a man much more spiritual than I.  It was certainly extraordinary behavior for me.

Having no rational, reasonable explanation for my transformation, I concluded that I had experienced a spiritual encounter of a most dramatic kind.  In my search for the source of this new experience, I bought a copy of an easy to read version of the Bible, The New International Version (“NIV”).  One of the first passages to catch my attention was in the first book of the New Testament, at Matthew, chapter 25, which describes a scene when people will be brought before the “heavenly throne.”  Two large groups of people are standing before the King.  One group He blesses and the other He rejects.

To those He blesses He says: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  To the surprise of the good people who say that they don’t know when they did any of these things for the King, He will respond: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  And for a final irony, he turns to all those people standing at his other side and tells them they are cursed and must depart his company because they didn’t care for Him when He was in need.

The startled outcry of these people is that they attended religious services and were good and decent folks, and surely there must be some sort of mistake because they never saw the King hungry or thirsty, or a stranger or needing clothes, or otherwise needing help. But the King responds, “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

As I think about all the homeless and needy people I have ignored and passed by, while secure in my belief that I was acceptable to God because I put my faith in Him and attempted to live a good life, my heart aches with the knowledge that by ignoring these people who needed me, I have ignored and rejected God.

Much of organized religion today makes a great show of pomp and ceremony but seems to be lost in empty words, lacking any godly purpose or mission. In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God tells the people “Stop bringing meaningless offerings.  Your incense is detestable to me. . . When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers I will not listen.” (Is. 1:13). This is rather dramatic.  In fact, it’s how I felt in my own life. Just as he wasn’t listening to their prayers, He wasn’t responding to my prayers either.  Why? God rejected their empty worship, and told them the kind of religion he wants to see.  He says: “Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow (Is. 1: 17).  So what is the Religion that God accepts?

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress….” James 1:27.

The Bible states that we are to live by the Spirit of God and bear the fruit of the Spirit, including “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”  (Galatians 5:22-23). If we take this seriously and ask ourselves whether we are genuinely experiencing and bearing these “fruit,” I believe we will see that each of us needs to accept the homeless man’s challenge, to make the decision from the depths of our being, to say yes to those in need, and to give consistently of ourselves (a listening ear, a helpful hand, and a compassionate heart).  This includes sharing ourselves and God’s compassionate love with not only those who have physical needs but also with those who have spiritual and emotional needs — not only those who are strangers to us, but those who are our colleagues at work, family members, club members, and neighbors.  This radical personal transformation of bearing fruit, giving of ourselves  (not just our money and our words), is the natural result of answering the call of the homeless man, answering the call of God.

When I said yes, my life dramatically changed.  An empty chasing of success has been replaced with a life of  significance.  I still earn my living as a construction lawyer, but where I find true peace, contentment and joy is through the experience of God’s love – especially when I share that love with others in meaningful ways.  How about you?  Have you heard the call?  How are you answering?  Are you saying yes?

 
J. Kent Holland, Jr. 6505 Chesterfield Ave. McLean, VA 22101 703-623-1932  Kent@KentHolland.com

             Matthew 25:35-40 (ESV)

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,[a] you did it to me.’

Footnotes: a. Matthew 25:40 Or brothers and sisters

Jim Carrey on homelessness

 

 

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The Holy Trinity and the Human Trinity – 2023

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

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 Message for Sunday:

The Holy Trinity and the Human Trinity

© January 22, 2023, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on August 21, 2022, May 30, 2021, November 3, 2019, September 10, 2017, and September 15, 2013

BLCF Bulletin November 3, 2019

BLCF Bulletin September 10, 2017

BLCF Bulletin September 15, 2013 

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                           

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Responsive Reading #641 “Christian Assurance” (-from Romans 8)

Music Specials: 

Be the Centre – Michael Frye – (lyrics) –  https://youtu.be/MERQ0P6O0CE

Exalt The Lord – Cindy Reithmeir – (lyrics) – Vineyard Worship – https://youtu.be/0O83JgzzoL4

I Lift My Eyes Up – Brian Doerksen – (lyrics) – https://youtu.be/dwdi3pnQ4aQ

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Holy Trinity and the Human Trinity’

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Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service, here at BLCF. We are pleased to have Terry Sywanyk of Coldwater Roots here at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship here to lead us with Worship Music for today’s service. Terry was a stalwart musician, singing and playing for the dinner guests at our BLCF Cafe Community Dinner for over a decade, as well as performing two fundraiser concerts a year in support of the dinner.

BLCF: Terry Sywanyk

Our lesson for today is entitled The Holy Trinity and the Human Trinity, where we examine the Trinity of God, and a similar trinity of humanity. 

Several years ago, some of you may recall seeing the 2017 Stuart Hazeldine movie, The Shack, a Christian film, based on William P. Young’s 2007 novel of the same title. The Shack dealt primarily with the topics of how the Godhead or Trinity of God deals with pain and suffering among Christians, and the nature of the love that God has for us in times of darkness and tribulation.

For the lesson today, I would like to talk about similarities and differences between the Trinity of God, sometimes referred to as the Godhead, and another trinity, namely the trinity of the human race. Yes, there is a trinity aspect of people, though not quite the same as the trinity of God. While one trinity, (of humanity) is not widely known, or at the least spoken about, particularly in the context of the other. And the other Trinity, (of God), though spoken about frequently, is often misunderstood.

Hopefully, by the end of this lesson, we will have better knowledge and understanding of both trinities, particularly how the two relate to each other.

Let us begin with the one that is more frequently spoken about by Christians and frequently misunderstood, which is the Trinity of God. This Trinity is used to describe three Divine aspects or expressions of God: the Father/Creator, the Son/Word-made-flesh, and the Holy Spirit.  It is here that we often encounter some controversy amongst various denominations of the Christian Church, as well as criticism from those who challenge the Christian faith as monotheistic.

When we read the King James Version of 1 John 5:7-8, we see a direct reference to the Trinity being three aspects of one God.

7For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.                    

Recently, some Biblical scholars have questioned whether the disciple John authored this version of the Scripture as found in the King Kames Version translation, since there may be some evidence to indicate verse from the original, which many authorities agree should be read as found in the English Standard Version of 1 John 5:7-8 (ESV):

7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.

At first blush, it appears that the mention of the Trinity, which is clearly described in the King James translation, seems to be omitted by the English Standard translation. However, if we examine the English Standard translation more closely, we see that the ESV implies the same message as the KJV, though more by inference than by words in the ESV, which is a more subtle expression of the same thought.

Godhead Trinity

If this verse were the only passage of Scripture that supports the Trinity of God, then we could say that the existence of the Holy Trinity is open to debate and possibly doubt. Fortunately, we have other verses that support the singularity of the Godhead.

At the beginning of the Bible, we read that God refers to Himself in the plural, using the personal pronouns: “us” and “our” rather than “me” and “my” as we read in Genesis 1:26:

26Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. – Genesis 1:26 (ESV)

But who is it comprised of the ”we” and ”us” mentioned in this passage, describing the beginning of the Bible:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   – John 1:1 (ESV)

So we know that God was the Word, but who is the Word? Those of you familiar with the scripture likely already have an idea, as we read from John 1:14:

  

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.            –  John 1:14 (ESV)  

This passage refers to Jesus, also referred to in the Bible as the “Word made flesh”. But was Jesus there in the creation?  From John 1:1 and John 1:14, we may conclude that Jesus or the Word was with God and the Word was God. To help us understand this relationship better, Jesus put it simply in John 10:30:

  

30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 (ESV)     

What about the Holy Spirit? Was the Spirit there at the beginning? The answer to this question is found in Genesis 1:2:

 

2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.         – Genesis 1:2 (ESV)   

Let us recap. We have at the beginning God referring to himself as a plural Entity, using the personal pronouns we and ours. We are told that Jesus, the Word made flesh, was there at the beginning of creation, as was the Holy Spirit. Not three Gods, but three distinct aspects of the same God: a Trinity.

I wonder how many of you know the children’s story of Peter Pan, a free-spirited eternal youth who became separated from his shadow, which both confused and complicated his life until his friend Wendy took and thread in hand and sewed the shadow back to Peter, making him happy and whole again. This somewhat silly child’s tale makes for a good analogy to the human condition.

Adam and Eve, created in the image of God had a good relationship with the Creator. That was until Satan took the form of a serpent and beguiled Eve and Adam to partake of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden We read in Genesis 3, verses 1-6:

Temptation in the Garden

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.   

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.                                           –  Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)  

 

We see the consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God, in verses 22-23 of the same third chapter of Genesis:

22Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.      – Genesis 3:22-23 (ESV)  

  

Adam and Eve were told that they would surely die if they ate from the tree, commonly called the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil or the Tree of Life. Having done so, Adam and Eve were not only expelled from the Garden of Eden, they had brought the judgment of death upon themselves and their descendants. Once Adam and Eve broke God’s rule, all members of the human race became like the Peter Pan character. But not severed from their shadow, but severed from the Holy Spirit. While the Scriptures have no Wendy to sew things up, we do have a way to repair what has been broken. Jesus Christ came to the world to repair the tear in our spiritual fabric, restore our souls, and bring that joy again to those who have inherited the judgment of sin.

To better understand God’s solution to the problem of sin, let us now talk about the human trinity. Let us recall from Genesis 1, that we were made in God’s image, verse 26:

26Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness” – Genesis 1:26 (ESV)

Let me clarify some misconceptions some Christians have regarding the verse Genesis 1:26, which are gender specific. That is to say, some believers think that mankind refers only to men, and women are secondary because God created Eve from Adam’s rib. To help us clear any misconceptions, let us go back to the Bible and read this verse in its context, as God intended, which we find in, Genesis 1:26-28 (ESV):

27 So God created man[a] in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 
 
 
If we are made in God’s image, it is not hard to understand that God gave us three aspects of our character, a human trinity as described in  1 Thessalonians 5:23 (ESV):

 

 23Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We see that the Human trinity consists of the body, soul, and spirit. Spirit exists like Peter Pan’s shadow, severed from us by the sin of Eden once the human race having eaten of the tree of knowledge became aware of good and evil and the consequences of choice. God provided us with a way to reconnect with the Holy Spirit, by confessing our sins and receiving the gift of salvation through Jesus and eternal life through the Holy Spirit. The proof and the promise may be found in John 20:20-23 (ESV):

20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Trinity of God and Trinity of Man

Dr. Clarence Larkin in his book, Rightly Dividing the Word expands on the Human trinity mentioned in 1 Thessalonians, by describing the three as follows:

The human body touches the material world through the five senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch.

And the gates to the soul are imagination, conscience, memory, reason and the affections.

The spirit receives impressions of outward and material things through the soul. The spiritual faculties of the spirit are faith, hope, reverence, prayer and worship.

To understand God, we must receive the Holy Spirit by faith and trust in God, as we see in 1Corinthians 2:9-11 (ESV):

9But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

 10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

Let us, therefore, pray that we find the faith to trust God’s Plan for Salvation, Reconciliation, and Sanctification, through confession of sin, trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, and acceptance of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: Who Is Like Our God  – (lyrics) – Official Lyric Video – Vineyard Worship – https://youtu.be/xu0QLD1MtdE 

Benediction (2 Corinthians 13:14): The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Perseverance Through Troubled Times – 2023

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

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

Keep your eyes upon Jesus Hebrews 12 1-3

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Perseverance through Troubled Times’

© January 15, 2023, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on November 20, 2022, and October 6, 2013

BLCF Bulletin October 6, 2013

 Perserveremce Header

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Prayer and Tithing; Prayer Requests   

Hymn #572: Praise GodDoxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU 

Responsive Reading #648 (A Challenge to Faith from Hebrews 11 and 12); Prayer 

Opening Hymn: #43: Praise to the Lord, Almighty –  (Nockels, Hymn with Lyrics, Contemporary) – https://youtu.be/BNq0WtMSmIY

Music Special – Open My Eyes That I May See – Jordana Machado (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/vDJaE1o5CUk

Music Special: Open the Eyes of My Heart – Paul Baloche (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/Jfz5CSBGyqU

Message by Steve Mickelson: Perseverance through Troubled Times

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning Prayer and Worship Service here at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship.

Today’s lesson is entitled Perseverance through Troubled Times. I would like to share my experience of a time of trouble and personal challenge.

On a Sunday afternoon in 2009, after our Worship Service here at BLCF, I faced one of the most difficult challenges to my personal health, as well as a test of faith. It began in the middle of October, right here in this church sanctuary, immediately following the Sunday morning service, that I started to see what appeared to be light flashes, not unlike the flashes of a camera, in the corner of my right eye. It appeared as if I perceived, in my peripheral vision, regular flares of light, as if someone were taking flash photos nearby. Then, just as suddenly as the flashes had begun, they stopped, not to return until the next Sunday, accompanied by dark spots of jet-black floating in my field of vision. By alternately closing each of my eyes, I determined that the flashes and spots were only viewed by my right eye. My brain had somehow merged the images so I thought I was seeing them with both eyes.

I recalled reading an article some years ago that described visions similar to what I was experiencing as symptomatic of when the retina of the eye has become detached. The next day, I arranged to get an emergency appointment to see (no pun intended) my Ophthalmologist. After a careful examination and some tests, the doctor told me that he could see no evidence of a detachment or what is sometimes referred to as a hole or tear of the retina and that my symptoms were likely caused when the fluid in the eye thickens from age, slides down in front of the retina. He did say that I had a cataract starting in the other eye, my left eye, but that it would not become an issue requiring treatment for a number of years, and he would be retired by that time. I was sent home.

Over the next few days, however, my symptoms progressed and worsened. Now I could see a dark shadow in my field of vision that bothered me so much that I resorted to covering my right eye with a tissue. The next morning, I returned to the Eye Doctor and was informed that not only did I have a retinal tear, but one so severe that I needed emergency surgery as soon as possible in order to save the vision in my eye! The Doctor apologized that he did not see the tear at my previous visit.

Of the two hospitals in Toronto that could perform the procedure, only St. Michaels Health Care could take me in on such short notice and an appointment was made for the next day. That night, with all the lights out and even my eyes closed, the hole made it appear as if I were viewing some strange green moonscape, its illumination indirect, much like the landscape illuminated by the light from a full moon. My worry and concern about losing vision to the eye were high. I had done all the right things: recognizing the significance of my symptoms and promptly seeking out a specialist. Still, I faced the prospect of losing the vision in the eye, unless I underwent surgery in the same hospital where both my sister and father had died. I was stressed and overwhelmed beyond belief until my phone rang.

On the phone was Diane, a sister in Christ who attended Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, who had called to find out how my visit with the doctor went. It was interesting as Diane was blind from untreated Diabetes in her youth. When I told her that I was to undergo surgery the next day on my eye, Diane offered to say a prayer with me. As we prayed, I felt the peace and presence of God’s Holy Spirit fall upon me. The peace continued at the Hospital and throughout the three and half hours of emergency eye surgery, during which I was not totally under the anesthetic, so I was able to hear, throughout the procedure, the dialog between Dr. Louis Giavedoni, one of Canada’s top ophthalmologists and his student a Dr. Casey (not Ben).

Later, after the procedure, a couple from our church dropped by the hospital to visit,  to whom remarked that for the week before the operation, I felt like a person without a vision, (pun intended). But a year later and two more procedures, one for a new lens and another to clear the sheath by laser, the eye is like it was before the tear. Actually, my visual acuity improved with the new lens.

From this experience, the Spirit taught me patience, trust, and the importance of prayer when facing adversity. I find that the Lord has made me more empathetic than before. I recall tears welling up in my eyes as we followed on TV, as it happened, the rescue of those 33 Chilean miners who had been trapped by a cave-in deep underground. With my vision restored, the Holy Spirit had given me an extra dose of compassion for others who suffer.

The Bible has a wealth of verses that tell believers how to persevere in times of trouble. The following verses found below cover many aspects of how we may cope with adversity and by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, in the process become both stronger and more confident in our faith in God:

  1. Perseverance: Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  –  James 1:12 (ESV)                                                     
  2. Have Fun: A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.   – Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)                                                                                            
  3. Preparation: Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” –  1 Peter 1:13-16 (ESV)                                                                                              
  4. Forget Yesterday: Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)                                                                                                               
  5. Confidence: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  – Joshua 1:9 (ESV)                                                                     
  6. Be Humble: Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  – 1 Peter 5:5 (ESV)                             
  7.  Don’t Forget: But the  Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. – John 14:26 (ESV)                                                                      
  8.  Finally, Follow Jesus’ Example, as described in Hebrews 12:1-3:

Hebrews 12 1-3

Jesus, Founder, and Perfecter of Our Faith

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do Not Grow Weary        

 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

I feel that experiencing life’s challenges, such as I had with a torn retina, tempered and strengthened my soul for other challenges later on in life. Such as dealing with a cataract in my left eye or the current COVID-19 Pandemic.

I did eventually develop a cataract in the left eye, which was corrected with a new lens in a procedure considered to be routine when compared to a significant retinal tear. The worse part about dealing with the left eye was trying to get new eyeglasses, as the Optometrists were on strike, but after three months the strike ended and I got a pair.

And as you already know dealing with COVID-19 and craziness, which I refer to as the COVID-19 Malaise, that’s a whole different story.

Yes, COVID-19 is real, as I can attest to suffering from this virus at the end of March 2021. My illness was severe enough that I lost about 25 pounds, and was hospitalized for a day. X-rays revealed what was obvious to me, that my lungs were full of COVID, I had two blood tests, an EKG, and was hooked up to an oximeter. The reason I spent over 6 hours in Emerge was thy Blood Oxygen hovered at 89%, which is bad enough to damage major organs and close enough to qualify me for a bed in the ICU, hooked up to a respirator. Eventually, the doctors decided to try administering a steroid treatment, to see whether the O-2 would improve, and it gradually rose. I was instructed to purchase an Oximeter and regularly check my Oxygen level, and if it dropped again below 90%, I was to return to the hospital, this time by ambulance, and tell the paramedics that I have COVID. You see I had Sophie drive me to the hospital and my last words to her at the time were that I loved her and to tell the kids that I loved them as well.

Fortunately, I recovered, though some residual symptoms have resulted in follow-up EKG, blood tests, lung X-Rays, pulmonary function tests, etc. Though I am slowly on the mend, the most aggravating part of having suffered from COVID-19 is ignorant people who are skeptical that I had COVID or that it even exists. One Blogger here on WordPress sent me a scathing message to stop lying to my congregation, as well as to the readers here on the BLOG, and admit COVID is just a hoax. Well, I caught COVID from one of my sons, who in turn was one of about 30 employees who caught COVID after eating cake served for a fellow employee’s retirement. Of the 30 employees infected, five were hospitalized and two of the five died from COVID. Some hoax! This is why we have closed the church twice during waves of COVID, suspended prayer meetings and the BLCF Cafe, and mandated restrictions during Worship Services.

I know what this virus can do, especially to vulnerable people. While politicians claim the Pandemic is over, most Health Authorities say it is not and unfortunately, unvaccinated people who refuse to wear a mask or take other precautions are getting infected, some severely, with deaths. The Lord had two comments about those who want to use COVID-19 as a political weapon or use the Pandemic as a test:

Denarius Coin Mark 12 13-17

The first test came from his critics, found in Chapter 12 of Mark’s Gospel:

  Mark 12:13-17 (ESV):

1And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances,[a] but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius[b] and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Footnotes: 1. Mark 12:14 Greek you do not look at people’s faces 2. Mark 12:15 denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer

BLCF: Satan Tempts Jesus

The second test came from the devil himself, as we read in Chapter 4 of Luke’s Gospel:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

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

The obvious message here is if you choose to leave the politicians, preferring to stick with God, don’t decide to put Him to the test! I would compare not getting vaccinated or wearing a mask to not boarding the Ark before The Great Flood as examples of putting God to the test. Here is an example, in parable form, of what happens to someone who puts God to the test:

The Parable of The Flood

A man was trapped in his house during a flood. He began praying to God to rescue him. He had a vision in his head of God’s hand reaching down from heaven and lifting him to safety. The water started to rise in his house. His neighbour urged him to leave and offered him a ride to safety. The man yelled back, “I am waiting for God to save me.” The neighbour drove off in his pick-up truck.

The man continued to pray and hold on to his vision. As the water began rising in his house, he had to climb up to the roof. A boat came by with some people heading for safe ground. They yelled at the man to grab a rope they were ready to throw and take him to safety. He told them that he was waiting for God to save him. They shook their heads and moved on.

The man continued to pray, believing with all his heart that he would be saved by God. The flood waters continued to rise. A helicopter flew by and a voice came over a loudspeaker offering to lower a ladder and take him off the roof. The man waved the helicopter away, shouting back that he was waiting for God to save him. The helicopter left. The flooding water came over the roof and caught him up and swept him away. He drowned.

When he reached heaven and asked, “God, why did you not save me? I believed in you with all my heart. Why did you let me drown?” God replied, “I sent you a pick-up truck, a boat, and a helicopter and you refused all of them. What else could I possibly do for you?”

http://eternalvigilance.nz/2012/01/the-parable-of-the-flood/

So don’t put God to the test, be safe, get a booster, wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Seeking Healing through Christ

 Closing Music: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Look Up) – [Lyrics] – https://youtu.be/bBfHUrLGzNY

Benediction  –  Psalm 121 (ESV):

A Song of Ascents.

121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

My Help Comes From The Lord Psalm 121 1-8

Epiphany: A True Manifestation of Jesus – 2023

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

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 Message for Sunday:

‘Epiphany: Celebrating the Manifestation of Christ’

© January 8, 2023, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on January 1, 2020, December 28, 2014, and December 29, 2013

BLCF Bulletin December 28, 2014

BLCF Bulletin December 29, 2013 

Magi and the star

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Prayer and Tithing; Prayer Requests                   

Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers 

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU  

Music Special: O Holy Night – Lauren Daigle (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/DdeeOPF05QY

Opening Music Special: Lauren Daigle – Noel [Lyrics] – https://youtu.be/jGg7KdN19rs

Responsive Reading #615: (Adoration of the Magi – Matthew 2)   

Epiphany Wise Men Magi

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Epiphany: Celebrating the Manifestation of Christ’

Let us pray…

Welcome and blessings of the New Year to all on this, the second Sunday of 2023, the Sunday closest to January 6, which is the day that many churches observe the Epiphany, marking the manifestation of the Christ or Messiah, who is our Lord Jesus. The Epiphany of Jesus is the subject of our lesson today.

When I talk about Epiphany, we should not confuse it with the secular use of epiphany, such as the ‘Eureka!’ moment experienced by the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes, when he stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose and he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged, known today as the Archimedes’ principle.

By contrast, the Epiphany which is the subject of today’s lesson is spelled with a capital “E”, a term Christians use to describe when the supernatural powers of Jesus, the Son of God, became manifested or expressed to all. We find a little more background on Epiphany from the Web site sharefaith.com:

Epiphany Observances

Observed on January 6th, the Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania, and means “to show, make known, or reveal.” The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany, and its meaning is drawn from these occurrences.

For many Christians, the definition of Epiphany is a reminder of God the Father’s unlimited love and mercy, which He has extended to all of mankind through the revelation of His Son, and of the hope of salvation that is now manifest for all who come to him in faith.                                                       

http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/definition-of-epiphany.html

Author Johann Roten posted the following about Epiphany in the East and West, posted on the University of Dayton Web site:

Epiphany

 Johann Roten  

The feast of the Epiphany, as we presently understand it—the adoration of the Magi—is found very early in Gaul, where it probably predates Christmas.  The Council of Saragossa in 380 decreed a three-week fast before Epiphany.  The feast existed in North Africa in the time of Augustine.  Several of Leo the Great’s sermons witness to the feast’s observance in Rome.  The principal object in the Roman liturgy is the adoration of the Magi.

However, the feast of the Epiphany most certainly originated in the East, where it is mentioned by Clement of Alexandria.  It may have been assigned its date in reference to a pagan feast.  In the Egyptian calendar, the winter solstice and the feast of the Sun-god were observed on January 6.  On the previous night, pagans of Alexandria commemorated the birth of their god Aeon, supposedly born of a virgin.  It was also believed that the waters of rivers, especially the Nile, acquired miraculous powers and even turned into wine on this night.

This may be a partial explanation, why it is difficult to circumscribe the original object of this feast in the East.  By the fourth century Epiphany could embrace the birth of Christ, His baptism, the adoration of the Magi, and the miracle at Cana.  According to some liturgists (cf. C. Mohrmann), Epiphany was an idea feast (as opposed to an event feast) from the beginning and admitted any manifestation of the divine power of Christ. As a matter of fact, in classical Greek epiphany and theophany designate the manifestation of a divinity and, later, important events in the life of a king.  Epiphany is first used in a Christian sense by St. Paul for both the first and the final comings of Christ (Titus 2:11-13).  The word epiphany was soon used to describe the miracles of Christ as manifestations of divine power.

St. John Chrysostom explains the eastern meaning of Epiphany with these words: “We give the name Epiphany to the Lord’s baptism because he was not made manifest to all when he was born, but only when he was baptized, for until that time he was unknown to the people at large.”  In similar fashion, St. Jerome, drawing upon his Palestine experience, declares that the idea of showing forth (Epiphany) belonged not to the birth in the flesh, for then he was hidden and not revealed, but rather to the baptism in the Jordan, when the heavens were opened upon Christ.

According to oriental ideas it was through the divine pronouncement “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” that the Savior was first manifested to the great world of unbelievers.  The western tradition of this feast lies more along the line of what we are used to call fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding).  There is no overwhelming Epiphany or divine manifestation on the path of the Magi.  The Magi were wise men who saw the star and its unusual brightness.  Steadfast in the resolution of following the divine call and fearless of danger, they traveled, inquired, explored, and let themselves be conducted by the star to the place where they were to see and worship their Savior.  But again, no divine pronouncement thundering from open skies, only a poor babe in a manger.  As St. Leo the Great put it, “When a star had conducted them to worship Jesus, they did not find him commanding devils or raising the dead or restoring sight to the blind or speech to the dumb, or employed in any divine action; but a silent babe, dependent upon a mother’s care, giving no sign of power but exhibiting a miracle of humility.”

Eastern theology has always been eschatological in thrust, eager and anxious to show the unabridged Godhead in all its splendor and majesty, beyond and in spite of its manifestation in human condition and according to human categories.  Western theology in turn develops according to a different religious sensitivity: it is more incarnational, amazed by and preoccupied with the miracle of humility, God’s being in the flesh and becoming one of us.  The spirituality of the East is a spirituality of vision, based on “ta phota” (what is visible) or illumination, the Jordan experience; the spirituality of the West is the spirituality of journey, originating in God’s call and transformative power, it is the “Magi-experience.”

Yet, both traditions are but two different and complementary facets of the same reality, just as ear and eye are dependent on and complement each other.  In a similar way, the Feast of the Epiphany manifests the comprehensive reality of God’s encounter with humanity: it shows not only God’s self-giving presence in the miracle of humility, but also his authoritative self-disclosure at the baptism of Christ. Epiphany manifests not only God’s gratuitous and hidden presence to us, it also reminds us of our personal and active role in this encounter with God, made explicit through the acts and gestures of the Magi.

The Magi offer to Jesus as a token of homage the richest products their countries afforded – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Gold, as an acknowledgment of Christ’s regal power; incense, as a confession of his Godhead; and myrrh, as a testimony that he has become man for the redemption of the world.  But even more important than gold, frankincense and myrrh were the dispositions the Magi cherished in their souls: their fervent charity, signified by gold; their devotion, figured by frankincense; and their unreserved sacrifice of themselves, represented by myrrh.      

In the Middle Ages it was customary on this day (January 6) to bless homes with the newly-blessed water, and with incense.  Later the initials of the names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar) were written with blessed chalk on or above the doors of homes.  CMB stands also for Christus, Manisionem, Benedocal (May Christ bless this home).  May these initials be carved on the doors to our spiritual homes, too, as a reminder, that each one of us is called upon by God’s Epiphany to the world to assume a threefold role: that of the child, the disciple and the steward. 

As a child we receive and cherish God’s Epiphany to us; As a disciple we follow God’s call to crib and cross; and As steward we are accountable to God and the world of what we did to his Epiphany, understood as vision and journey.

 http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/meditations/epiphany.html

Depending upon which scholar you talk with, the passage in the Bible that describes the event of Epiphany of our Lord could be any or all of three different events in the earthy walk of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

1) The first is the arrival of the Wise Men or Magi to visit the newborn Jesus at Bethlehem.

2) The second is the Miracle performed by Jesus to convert water into wine at a wedding in Cana.

3) While the third is the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John.

The first of today’s Scripture verses gives the only account of the visit of the Magi or Wise Men who came from the east, beyond the borders of the Roman Empire, as, unlike Joseph and Mary, they came to Bethlehem to worship and bear gifts to the newborn king as foretold by prophecy and guided by a star, and not in response the Census mandated by the Edict of Caesar.

The fact that the Magi were unaware that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, indicates that the three were Gentiles, being ignorant of the prophecy known to the scribes and chief priests, only that a star will mark the location of the birth of the Christ Child as we see in Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Visit of the Wise Men

2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16 b. Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

The birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God, in the town of Bethlehem is an event that marks the fulfillment of God’s promise, an event foretold by the prophets, through visits by angelic messengers, and marked by a heavenly star, Isaiah 60:1-3 (ESV):                                                                                            

The Future Glory of Israel

60 Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,

and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,

and his glory will be seen upon you.

And nations shall come to your light,

and kings to the brightness of your rising.

The next manifestation of the Lord takes place at a wedding considered to be either the first or second miracle performed by Jesus. If you consider the birth of the son of God to Mary, a virgin, a miracle, then this wedding would be the second performed by the Lord which we find in John 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Wedding at Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother, his brothers, his sisters and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters

Epiphany Wedding at Cana

The changing of water to wine by our Lord is considered by many Biblical scholars to be symbolic of how faith in Jesus Christ transforms the believer into a new creature.

Our third Scripture verse for today describes how the spirit of God came upon our Lord after he was baptized in the River, Jordan, which is found in Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV):

The Baptism of Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him b. Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

Epiphany Baptism of Jesus

Epiphany marks three events and aspects of the walk on earth by Jesus: his birth as prophesized in scripture, supported by the visitation by the Magi; the power of the Lord being manifest by his transformation of water to wine; and alighting of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus after His baptism supported by words spoken to John by God.

All three Epiphany Scripture verses demonstrate how our Lord manifests or expresses his Divine power and presence: by his birth, his miracles, and by way of the Holy Spirit. All three accounts take place between the birth and crucifixion of Jesus, while he walked on the earth as a man who the angels called the son of God, but who chose to refer to himself, more modestly, as the son of man.

BLCF: Jesus_and_Mary_manger_by_bnw-cross

The birth of Christ in such humble circumstances, as in a stable, with a manger as a crib, first announced by angels to shepherds, reveals that Jesus came as a child to serve all men and women, not to rule from a palace, as he Magi had mistakenly expected. This child, Jesus, grew to become the Savior and Lord, not by power and conquest of battle and destruction, but by an act of love and surrender on the cross at Calvary.

Before he died on the cross, Jesus lived and experienced the world as a man, died a human death, but was resurrected from the tomb, and then ascended into heaven in order to bring Divine forgiveness and sanctification by taking upon himself our judgment for our sins. And Jesus continued to assure us that we would have Emmanuel or the presence of God with us by way of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Closing Music: In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Katy Nichole – Lyric Video – https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14): The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Have a blessed and safe New Year 2023, may you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child. Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever. – Amen

New Years jumping from 2022 to 2023 actually next year is a leap year

Happy New Year 2023 header

Overcoming Darkness of the World with Light from the Word – 2023

Music Prelude: Noel – Chris Tomlin ft. Lauren Daigle Nativity Story video – https://youtu.be/t-dGh5E_AQw

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

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

Light over darkness

Responsive Reading #631: (The Incarnate Christ – John 1)    

BLCF: animaties-kerststallen-99411

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Overcoming Darkness of the World with Light from the Word’

© January 2, 2023,  by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on December 27, 2015

BLCF Bulletin December 27, 2015

BLCF: Psalm-119-105-22

Call to Worship: Announcements and Prayer            

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Music Special: Ryan Stevenson – Heart and Soul of Christmas (Official Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/nEzrCN_yEvA  

Music Special: Light of the World – Lauren Daigle (with Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/WR5iwssnTn4

Amy Grant – Thy Word (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/sKlQpjl_oqY

New Years jumping from 2022 to 2023 actually next year is a leap year

Message by Steve Mickelson: Overcoming Darkness of the World with Light from the Word’

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service, on this, the first Sunday of 2023.God’s Blessings for a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year. Today is a special Sunday, as it is Communion Sunday, where we will be lighting a candle to honour the birth of Jesus, and of course welcome in the New Year, 2023. Our lesson today will focus on light, the spiritual light that the Lord brought to humanity, a little over 2000 years ago, notable on that Day of Pentecost, when through the sacrifice of Jesus to pay the debt for the sins of humanity, believers were able to receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit of God, illuminating each believer with a flame like glow that came to them not unlike a might gust of wind. That Spirit, a gift of God’s presence continues to be given unto each believer since that day until the present time.

For the last month, we observed each of the Sunday Advent Services by lighting four Advent Candles, one on each Sunday, which respectively represent the hope, peace, joy, and love that our Savior’s nativity brings us.

Due to the severe winter storm that caused the closure of BLCF Church last Sunday, we have chosen today to light the fifth candle, known as the Christ Candle, lit to observe the nativity or birth of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

The 5th Candle: Christ Candle (John 8:12)

At this time of the service, we will light the Christ Candle. Having lit an Advent Candle on each of the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day, a fifth candle is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve or  Christmas Day. We  light the Fifth Candle, the Christ Candle,  in order to reflect upon the following significant aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Jesus is our light, the Son of God and a son of man; the King of kings.

Jesus is our hope; he died a man and rose from the grave; the highest Priest of priests.

Jesus is our peace; he brought us our salvation from the judgment of sin; no more worry, pain or fear.

Jesus is our joy; promising us eternal life. He demonstrates God’s love– pure, holy, undying love.

Whoever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life! (John 3:16).

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD! (Psalm 4:6b)

Christ Candle

Celebrating the birth of Jesus and rejoicing in His coming to us, we light the Christ candle. Let us read the verse: John 1:5 (ESV):

Walking in the Light

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Light represents an important symbol in the Scriptures, often represented by flame or a candle, as we light the Christ Candle, let us read John 8:12 (ESV):

   I Am the Light of the World

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Mary Fairchild, writing in Christianity.about.dot com, gives us  a further explanation of what the light, represented today by a lit candle, signifies:

Christianity Symbols Illustrated Glossary: Light in the Bible

Light represents the presence of God. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and to the Israelites in the pillar of flame.

The eternal flame of God’s presence was to be lit in the Temple in Jerusalem at all times. In fact, in the Jewish Feast of Dedication or “Festival of Lights” we remember the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple after being desecrated under Greco-Syrian captivity. Even though they only had enough sacred oil for one day, God miraculously causes the eternal flame of his presence to burn for eight days, until more purified oil could be processed.

Light also represents the direction and guidance of God. Psalm 119:105 says God’s Word is a lamp to the feet and a light to our path. 2 Samuel 22 says the Lord is a lamp, turning darkness into light.

http://christianity.about.com/od/symbolspictures/ig/Christian-Symbols-Glossary/Light-of-the-World.htm

Continuing with our lesson…

Many Christians mistakenly believe that the New Covenant, between God and humanity, began with the birth of the Lord in Bethlehem and ended with Christ’s death on the cross at Calvary.

This somewhat simplified view of our Lord is both inaccurate and incomplete. To begin with, the New Covenant was spoken by our Lord at the Passover Supper, which Christians commonly refer to as the Lord’s Supper or the Last Supper, in which he broke bread and served wine to begin the institution or practice of the Communion between God and humanity. As part of this New Covenant, believers are instructed to regularly observe Communion until the day the Lord returns.

While it is true that our Savior’s death on the cross was the final blood sacrifice to atone for humanity’s sins, the oversimplified view that the Lord was born to die really misses other aspects of the Savior’s impact upon our lives.

A more complete assessment of the Gospel of Christ could be given, as follows:

Jesus is often referred to as, ‘The Word made flesh‘ and  the ‘Light of the world‘, as we see in Psalm 119:105 (ESV):

BLCF: thyword1

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

This light came from God to shine in a world enveloped in the darkness of sin as described in Isaiah 9:2(ESV):

BLCF: GREAT_DARKNESS_GREAT_LIGHT

2 [a] The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 9:2 Chapter 9:1 in Hebrew

While we have the arrival of the Christ child alluded to by Isaiah, the physical light God provided at the creation, described in Genesis 1:1-3 (ESV) was there at the time of creation:

The Creation of the World

BLCF: Genesis1-1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

The light we celebrate as Christians is not the physical illumination that comes from the sun, but the Spiritual light from the Word. When we say Word, we are not talking about the Bible, but Jesus, the Word made flesh. It was at his nativity or birth, that Jesus not only arrived as the Word made flesh, we see that the Nativity of Christ brought God to humanity, John 1:1-18 (ESV):

The Word Became Flesh

BLCF: True_Light

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.[d] 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God,[e] who is at the Father’s side,[f] he has made him known.

Footnotes: a. John 1:4 Or was not any thing made. That which has been made was life in him b. John 1:11 Greek to his own things; that is, to his own domain, or to his own people c, John 1:11 People is implied in Greek e. John 1:16 Or grace in place of grace f. John 1:18 Or the only One, who is God; some manuscripts the only Son g. John 1:18 Greek in the bosom of the Father

While by Jesus’ birth, we see God coming to humanity, we see in the Crucifixion of Christ, we see the Way he brings humanity to God by removing the judgment for sin, John 12:44-50 (ESV):

Jesus Came to Save the World

BLCF: Jesus-the-true-light-of-Christmas

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

The Resurrection of Christ demonstrates the Lord’s glory as Jesus brings the promise of eternal life to humanity, 2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV):

Christ’s Glory and the Prophetic Word

BLCF: cradle_to_the_Cross

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 1:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

On the Day of Pentecost, Christ sends humanity the Comforter, which is God’s Holy Spirit, so that, as apostles or messengers of Christ’s Gospel, we are empowered by the Spirit to shine the light of Christ throughout the word to the Glory of God,          Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV):

Salt and Light

BLCF: light_salt

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:16 Or house. 16Let your light so shine before others that

BLCF: deliver-us-from-evil-final-deliverance

In conclusion, Jesus, the Word, existed as part of the Godhead or Holy Trinity at the time of Creation.

Sin brought a loss of Spiritual light upon humanity, causing us to fall into a state of darkness, devoid of the Spirit.

Jesus, the Word, came as the Son of God, the Word made flesh, in order to restore the Spiritual light upon humanity, by being a final sacrifice to atone for our sins.

BLCF: from_darkness_to_light

We may celebrate Christ by observing the following:

The Nativity of Christ brought God to humanity.

The Crucifixion of Christ brings humanity to God.

The Resurrection of Christ brings the promise of eternal life to humanity.

On the Day of Pentecost, Christ sends humanity the Comforter, which is God’s Holy Spirit.

And that the light of Jesus, the Word made flesh, shines to overcome the darkness of the world. A light that shines from all who believe in the Lord, by way of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

 BLCF: Psalm-119-105._jpg

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

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing, it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Matt Maher – Glory (Let There Be Peace) ([Official Lyric Video]) – https://youtu.be/QW4c6DcxgGc 

Closing Music Special: In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Katy Nichole – Lyric Video https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y

Benediction –  (Numbers 6:24-26):

 The Lord bless you and keep you;
 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Christmas Prayer Pandemic

amen

 

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Fourth Advent Sunday 2022: Love

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

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

Music Prelude: – Noël  – Chris Tomlin ft. Lauren Daigle Nativity Story video https://youtu.be/t-dGh5E_AQw

 

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

Message for Sunday:

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

– Fourth Advent Sunday: Love

© December 18, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on December 19, 2021, December 20, 2020, December 23, 2018, and December 20, 2015 

BLCF Bulletin December 23, 2018

BLCF Bulletin December 20, 2015

Call to Worship; Prayer 

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Responsive Reading #627: (The Saviors Advent – Luke 2)

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

Music Special: Ryan Stevenson – Heart and Soul of Christmas (Official Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/nEzrCN_yEvA

Music Special: Lauren Daigle – Light Of The World (with lyrics) – https://youtu.be/gDSuYXdW63g

Lighting Fourth Advent Candle (Love) – Luke 2:10-11, John 3:16-21, and Luke 2:10-11 (ESV):

10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

John 3:16-21 (ESV): For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Footnotes: a. John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world 

Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

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

 

 

Message by Steve Mickelson: Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Fourth Advent Sunday: Love

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, for our Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Over the last several weeks, we have observed the Advent or coming of the birth of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, by lighting on each of the four Sunday’s a candle, part of the Advent wreath.

The candles represent the aspects of God’s plan to bring to humanity: hope, peace, love, and joy, through our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Today’s candle is called the ‘Candle of Love’, also known as the ‘Angel’s Candle’.

The significance of the ‘Love Candle’ is how important love is to the faith walk of the Christian believer. We may get an understanding of love from the first of today’s Scripture Verses.

Jesus indicated that love is a key aspect of the ‘great commandment in the Law given to us from the Lord, Matthew 22:35-39 (ESV):

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Love is not only a key aspect of our relationship with the Lord and our neighbor, but it is also the most important gift given to us by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV):

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

We see the importance of love as both a Commandment and Gift of the Spirit. What is meant by love? For an answer, let us see what we may find in our Wikibits Sources:

How to Define Love

 “How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?” — Albert Einstein

Love is difficult to define. How do you avoid confusing it with infatuation or lust? Philosophers and psychologists both have attempted to define love, or at least its difference from infatuation and lust. If you are looking to find love, the following observations may be helpful.

Love is much more than a risk but is a risk that one can take and grasp and fall into a dark abyss or dig oneself a hole and only crawl back when you overcome your emotions.

How can one truly define what love is? Not even an experienced person can truly grasp or explain love to its truest and deepest meaning. Its concepts are just a never-ending story of an open book of experiences. But love does lie in one’s heart, where memories are but shadows lingering in your soul.

Look at how the ancient Greeks broke down love into four categories. Think of which category of love you feel for the people you are close to.

  1. Agape is unconditional love. It is love by “choice” even if you are not pleased. A good example is “God loves us with our faults”.
  2. Philia is charity or brotherly love, guided by our likes or our healthy or unhealthy needs and desires. This is why Philadelphia is called the “City of Brotherly Love”.
  3. Storge is the word for family love and the physical show of “affection”, the need for physical touch. Sometimes it’s the love between exceptional friends (the movie Grumpy Old Men for example).
  4. Eros is the physical “sexual” desire, intercourse. It is the root word of erotic, and eroticism.

http://www.wikihow.com/Define-Love

The Bible adds to our understanding of love, by telling us that love is not only an expression of true Christian faith but describes a characteristic of God, God is Love in 1 John 4:7-21 (ESV):

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Footnotes: a. 1 John 4:20 Some manuscripts how can he

BLCF: God is Love

We see in this passage, that God is love; that God loves us; and through Jesus, God’s love becomes perfected in us. If we abide in God, we receive His Holy Spirit so that God abides in us.

What is stated in 1 John 4:10, is because God first loved us, Jesus provided an atoning sacrifice to appease or turn away God’s wrath against sinners.

We see that Jesus came because God loved us, not to remove or God’s Law, but to remove the judgment for our sin, which is the punishment for violating the Law.

When we accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sin, and confess that sin, we receive salvation from God’s judgement, as well as the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit: kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, which are bound together in perfect harmony through love, Colossians 3:12-15 (ESV):

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

This Christmas, let us reply to the love through Christ. God is love and Jesus came because of His love. To the faithful, the Holy Spirit comes to us bringing to each believer the love of God. Let us be thankful that through the Resurrected Christ, the love from God binds us together in His grace as a single unified body of believers, so that we may bear witness of His love to a dark and sinful world.

Let us pray…

Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

Let us give the songbook a trial. At this time the Congregation is invited to join in singing a couple of selections from their personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers), selections will be accompanied by the corresponding music from the overhead.

#20. Josh Groban – O Holy Night [with lyrics] – https://youtu.be/17kiIIxSdC0

 #24. Carrie Underwood – Silent Night (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/vlJi4LMmhL4

Closing Music Special: In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Katy Nichole – Lyric Video https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y

 

Benediction – (Ephesians 6:24): Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

Church of the Crusaders (Now known as Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church​) taken circa 1980 courtesy Toronto Public Library

Church of the Crusaders (Now known as Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church​) taken circa 1980 courtesy Toronto Public Library

BLCF Church Crusaders Church circa 1980 courtesy Toronto Public Library Aechives

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Third Advent Sunday 2022: Joy

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

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 – Third Advent Sunday: Joy

© December 11, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on December 12, 2021, December 13, 2020, December 15, 2019, and December 13, 2015

BLCF Bulletin December 13, 2015

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

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

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU 

Responsive Reading #627: (The Saviors Advent – Luke 2)

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service on this, the Third Sunday of Advent, where we will light a candle to commemorate the Joy of the Saviour’s birth, known also as the Shepherd’s Candle. 

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

.Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

But before we begin, Let Us Pray…

Opening Music Special: Christmas Hallelujah – with Lyrics – Christmas Hallelujah was written by Cloverton and this version was covered by Bethel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TjiC_uIpUc

 

Music Special: Ryan Stevenson – Heart and Soul of Christmas (Official Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/nEzrCN_yEvA

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

 

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Responsive Reading #631: Incarnate Christ (John 1) 

Tithing and Prayer 

Today’s candle is lit to celebrate the joy of the Savior’s birth. The candle is therefore referred to as the ‘Joy Candle’, known also as the ‘Shepherd’s Candle.’

Lighting The Third Advent Candle (Joy) – Hebrews 12:1-2 (below):  

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Message by Steve Mickelson:  ‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Third Advent Sunday: Joy

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, on this, the Third Sunday celebrating the advent of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This is the third of the four Advent Sundays, where we light a candle on each of the four Sundays, with each candle representing: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ, respectively.

The joy and the shepherds are both found in the first of today’s Scripture verses, Luke 2:7-20 (ESV):

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[
a]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Footnotes: a. Luke 2:14 Some manuscripts peace, good will among men

In this Scripture passage, we have an angel suddenly coming upon and startling the shepherds, who are watching their flock on that special night. The angel instructs the shepherds not to be afraid, and to replace their fear and trepidation with joy and praise, (Luke 7:9-10):

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

What is not told directly in this narrative is that Mary treasured all of the evening’s events, while pondering them in her heart.

Remember Mary has just gone through childbirth in a stable, probably not the place where she had expected to give birth to the Son of God. Since Jesus was born as a son of man, it is likely that the Christ Child, though conceived supernaturally, was delivered in the same manner as all children. Mary likely suffered the pain of the contractions of childbirth which God promised to Eve and her descendants, following the sin in the garden, Genesis 3:16a (ESV):

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.

I was fortunate to be present with Sophie at the birth of all of our four children. I remember the pain of the contractions she suffered, with each birth.

However, once the baby was delivered, her pain was forgotten and replaced with the happiness and joy that our child gave her. After the first birth, the joy continued so a few years later, Sophie and I considered having another child. The joy that each child gave Sophie exceeded the extreme pain.

Jesus is the alpha and omega, that is being at the beginning of creation, and at the end of time was aware of what was expected of him, in order to bring forgiveness and sanctification to all sinners, for all generations.

However, Jesus did not dwell on the pain and suffering he would endure on the day he would be crucified. Instead, the Lord rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, celebrating that his crucifixion would bring conviction and understanding to those who believe. Such is the will of his Father in heaven, Luke 10:21-24 (ESV):

Jesus Rejoices in the Father’s Will

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[a] 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 10:21 Or for so it pleased you well

Any sorrow Mary experienced in childbirth was displaced with joy, once her baby was born.

We see in our third Scripture, that Jesus references the transformative results that take place among his disciples, after his impending death on the cross. He tells them that they will experience sorrow and anguish not unlike what a woman would experience in childbirth. But once the process is complete, their sorrow will turn to the joy that cannot be taken from them, John 16:16-24 (ESV):

Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 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.

We see that Jesus describes his own death on the cross will be a paradox: while his disciples are experiencing sorrow and lament at the death; at the same time, the world will rejoice. But like the woman the disciples’ sorrow will turn to joy after the child is born.

In this passage, Jesus talks about his own death, which will bring the joy of salvation to the world. While his death will cause the disciples to lament, their sorrow will change to joy, after his resurrection. And after the Day of Pentecost, the Lord will send believers a companion in the Holy Spirit, so that they, too, may experience the same joy in the Spirit that Jesus described previously, in Luke 10.

In conclusion, the passage in John 16, talks of the pain of childbirth that will result in the salvation of sinners everywhere. Those who believe and confess their sins will experience the fullness of joy from being born again in the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

At this time, let us try a couple of selections taken from your personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers), selections will be accompanied by corresponding music on the overhead.”

# 9. Good Christian Friends Rejoice – Rockwood First Congregational Church – Worship Music Video with Lyrics (Service Music) Advent – We do not own any rights to the music, videos, or images – https://youtu.be/Jq0z7wgfbss

# 14. Joy To The World –  Lyric Video – Reawaken Hymns -Modern arrangement of the classic Christmas hymn Joy To The World with lyrics from the album and devotional, “The Soul Felt Its Worth”. Arranged and Recorded by Nathan Drake; Written by Ri­chard S. Wil­lis, 1850 –  https://youtu.be/TX6ThHbts5Y

Closing Music Special: Katy Nichole (ft. North Point Worship) – In Jesus Name (God Of Possible) (with lyrics)(2022) – https://youtu.be/zn5rBZgF1os

Benediction – Doxology – Jude 24-25 (ESV):