Walking Together – Monday

Walking Together – A Daily Devotional
Monday, November 25, 2019
Today’s Texts Micah 7:11-20; Matthew 14: 22-36; 1 Peter 4: 7-19; Matt. 20: 29-34; Psalm 144

Focus Text: 1 Peter 4: 7-19
The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?” Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.

“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.” As he wrote these words, Peter had a strong sense that the second coming of Christ was at hand and that therefore all Christians should keep their houses in order. He believed that order started with love. When Peter wrote that love covers a multitude of sins he meant that we must be slow to anger and quick to forgive and not be broadcasters of others’ faults and weaknesses. One can’t help but think of 1 Cor. 13 where Paul writes, “… Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” However, because 1 Cor. 13 seems to be reserved for weddings we may fall into the trap of thinking it was written only for wives and husbands, but Paul wrote those words for the church and especially for those in the church who were not getting along.

When Peter wrote, “Love covers a multitude of sins,” he too was writing to the church. He prefaced those words by echoing the words Jesus had spoken in the Upper Room, “Above all love one another.” Not only does this mean we forgive a multitude of sins but also that we take no delight in and gossip over another’s downfall, and that we quietly pray for our friends and enemies alike and hold nothing back in love. It is not easy, because some of those sins may involve times when someone stepped on our toes or trampled on our pride, but Peter instructs us to let go. It doesn’t mean we can forgive all sin – only God can do that but we can pray for help in that good work. And of course there are some sins we must not turn a blind eye to, but even in those times when we need to be tough, we must seek to ensure that we are driven only by love.

This text also reveals that Peter was painfully aware that some of his readers were suffering persecution for their faith. Nonetheless he instructed them to pursue love and not vengeance or hatred. The only way I know to triumph in love in the face of such obstacles is to cling to Jesus and to the cross and let the words of Jesus ring true in our hearts and allow them to speak through our lives, “Father, forgive them they know not what they do.” Christ’s redemptive work on the cross covered all sin. Thanks be to God.

Prayer

Gracious God, you know us better than we know ourselves. Search our hearts and see if there be any unclean way in us and forgive us that we might live in the love of Jesus. Thank you for your love and forgiveness poured out on the cross and extended afresh with every sunrise. O Lord your mercies are new every morning. Even so may your love and mercy echo through our lives that those lost in the shadows might look to your new day, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

ADVENT & CHRISTMAS 2019 at YORKMINSTER PARK BAPTIST CHURCH

2019 Schedule of Special Christmas Concerts and Services
at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, 1585 Yonge St.
www.yorkminsterpark.com

*November 26 – Trees go up in the YP Sanctuary – volunteers needed from 7 a.m. till 11 a.m

*November 29 at 7 p.m. – Harp and Holly – Celtic Yuletide Concert
to raise funds for House of Compassion
featuring legendary celtic harpist Sharlene Wallace and friend (Sharlene plays at our Iona service) Tickets from church office $26 or on Eventbrite
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/harp-holly-tickets-79739608315
For a taste of their music please go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udAYsQq8S88
To learn more about the House of Compassion, an important charitable organization started by people at Yorkminster Park go to: https://hoctoronto.com/

SUNDAY DEC. 1 – ADVENT 1
*11 a.m. the Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes preaching – service includes Communion
*7 p.m. Iona Liturgy with the celtic band Iona Passage – homily by the Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes

Dec. 3 & Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. – The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Festival of Carols
https://www.tmchoir.org/201920-season/foc2019/

*Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. CITY CAROL SING
a fundraising concert with CITY TV for our Churches on the Hill Food Bank, and food banks across the country. (to be broadcast Christmas Day and Christmas Eve)
featuring Bach Children’s Chorus, Hedgerow Singers, Yorkminster Park Baptist Church Choir, the Hogtown Brass and LUNCH AT ALLEN’S (Murray McLaughlin, Marc Jordan and Ian Thomas) To sample the music of these legendary Canadian singers go to:
http://www.lunchatallens.ca/
doors open at 1 p.m. – a free will offering will be taken for the Food Bank.

SUNDAY DEC. 8 – ADVENT 2
*11 a.m. the Rev. Dr. J. Peter Holmes preaching, service includes Baptism and the Dedication of newborns
*7 p.m. the Rev. Dale Rose preaching – Helena Bowkun offering preludes 6:40 p.m.

Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. The Bach Children’s Chorus and the Hannaford Street Silver Band present: Winter’s Song
tickets at: https://www.bachchildrenschorus.ca/events/winters-song
or: http://hssb.ca/#

Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Handel’s MESSIAH presented by Elmer Iseler Singers and the Amadeus Choir, directed by Lydia Adams
*200 tickets are available from the church office or on Sundays – all proceeds from these 200 tickets go to the support of the Yorkminster Park Baptist Church Refugee Support Ministries.
https://elmeriselersingers.com/events/messiah2019/

*Dec. 14 at 11 a.m. Service of Comfort and Hope – a hopeful and compassionate service or worship designed for those who approach Christmas with the emotions of grief and loss in their hearts and minds.
Lunch to follow.

SUNDAY DECEMBER 15 – ADVENT 3
*11 a.m. White Gifts – Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes preaching
*4:30 p.m. CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT – the inspirational Christmas presentation by the YP choirs and musicians. (doors open at 3:30 p.m. with free will offering)

Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. John McDermott Family Christmas with Dala and Michelle Kasaboski
tickets at the door $25 – https://johnmcdermott.com/?m=3

SUNDAY DECEMBER 22, ADVENT 4
*11 a.m Family Christmas Service – homily by the Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes
*4:30 p.m. Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

CHRISTMAS EVE (Tues. Dec. 24)
*4 p.m. Bethlehem on Yonge – bundle up for this intergenerational interactive event on the Yorkminster Park grounds then join us in Cameron Hall to sing carols and sip hot chocolate. While this year’s event does not feature live animals it will be full of delightful surprises for the child in each one.
*11 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight with YP Choir and special guests tenor, Richard Margison and legendary Canadian actor R.H. Thomson. – homily by the Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes

*CHRISTMAS DAY COMMUNION (Wed. Dec. 25)
homily by the Rev. Dale Rose – service includes Communion

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29
*11 a.m. the Rev. Dale Rose preaching
No 7 p.m. service

New Year’s Eve (Tues. Dec. 31)
11:15 p.m. Watchnight Service homily by the Rev. Dale Rose

*Denotes a service, concert, or event organized by Yorkminster Park Baptist Church service,
All other concerts involve outside musicians whom we are honoured to have using our space to add to the larger community’s celebration of Christmas. All of the above events are open to the public. All are welcome.

REMEMBRANCE DAY

Remembrance Day – devotional

A reflection on Matthew 15: 1-20 with reference to Nehemiah 9:1-25; Revelation 18: 1-8; from the texts of the Daily Office.

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and on the surface none of these texts prescribed by our ancient schedule of daily readings would seem to fit the occasion and yet as we dig a little deeper we will discover again that the Word of God always has a word for our lives. The Nehemiah reading speaks to a nation’s desire to start out on the right foot after a period of warfare and exile. This involves remembering God’s goodness and unfailing love and mercy and repenting of the pride that had led the nation away from faith in God. The Revelation reading was a prophetic reminder to the early church facing persecution, that evil nations and rulers will all fall and they will have to answer to God. This is a word that still speaks to Christians suffering for their faith. These readings remind me of a chorus written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu that we often sing at our Iona liturgy services on the first Sunday evening of the month. Here is a link to the chorus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1ydJ4JTEYw

Neither does the Matthew reading seem to have anything to say about Remembrance Day. In it the religious leaders accused Jesus’ disciples of not adhering to some of the religious cleansing rituals which involved washing one’s hands before a meal. These were healthy rituals to be sure, but Jesus response was to point out that his critics were focused on getting everything clean on the outside while neglecting their hearts on the inside. Their external cleansing rituals were intended to make them more presentable to God, but Jesus could see that what was needed was a cleansing from within of the sources of murder, greed, adultery, jealousy and lies. Jesus contended that if the religious leaders had been attending to the cleansing of the heart they would have been far less prone to judge the disciples and far more likely to have been caring for their aging parents and for others in need, but sadly they were not. I can’t help but think that if everyone applied this teaching, the world would be flooded with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, spears would be transformed to farm implements and war would be no more. But rather than judge the world we need to begin by getting our own hearts right with God.

Prayer

We remember with grateful hearts those who gave their lives to protect our liberties and we pray for the protection of those who this day continue to serve the security and defence of our nation near and far. Stir our heats by the power of your Holy Spirit that we might be wise stewards of these freedoms and faithful followers of Jesus Christ who laid down his life for us on the cross.

ALL SAINTS’ DAY

ALL SAINTS’ Day
Reflection on Luke 6: 20-31 & Ephesians 1: 1-11
Todays is All Saints Day. Marie Lu is a popular young American writer who recently wrote, “None of us are Saints. We can all do better.” While I don’t doubt we can all do better, I have to take exception to her notion that a saint is someone who is perfect. The Gospel reading for All Saints Day this year is taken from Luke’s version of Jesus’ Beatitudes. The very first of the beatitudes in Luke is ‘Blessed are the poor,’ which Matthew recorded as ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ Some make much of the apparent different wording between the gospel writers, but I believe it was a sermon Jesus repeated in village after village. After all it contains the heart of his teaching and even when one preaches the same sermon twice it does not come out the same.

Perhaps in our place and time it might have come out as, ‘Blessed are you when you are spent emotionally and physically with nothing left to give.’ Why? Perhaps it is then that we begin to truly rely on God. Or maybe Jesus would say, ‘Blessed are you when you are broke or broken,’ for the same reason. Our resources are spent and now at last we let go and trust God who as the Ephesians reading puts it, ‘lavishes us with the riches of his grace,’ (Eph. 1:8)

A saint is someone who knows they are broken and turns in faith to the God who came among us in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, to pour out the currency of his life upon the cross that we might be made whole and live for Christ and enter into the inheritance of the saints. I prefer what Nelson Mandela said about saints, “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” By the power of the Holy Spirit let us persevere as true saints do.

Prayer – Today’s prayer is adapted from the Ephesians reading.
God of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of glory, we pray for a spirit of wisdom and revelation that we might grow in our understanding of Christ, so that, with the eyes of our hearts enlightened, we may know what is the hope to which he has called us, what are the true riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for we who believe, according to the working of his great power….Amen.

P.S. I got away last evening for some time of meditation and writing but in addition to my devotional for the day I add the following poem.

A SNOWY ALL SAINTS

Drove up to Meaford north of town
colourful leaves were mostly down
pumpkins on porches were aglow
but this morning I woke up to snow!

Yes All Saints Day is robed in white
for those who persevered the night.
It will likely melt this afternoon,
but can’t get winter tires too soon.

Dark clouds rise over Georgian Bay
Will dump lots more in coming days.
Batten the hatches, fix the roof
winter’s coming, I’ve got the proof!

Rev. Dr. A. Leonard Griffith – 1920-2019

We are saddened by the loss of a wonderful mentor and friend, the Rev. Dr. A. Leonard Griffith who slipped away early Sunday morning. Leonard was one of the greatest preachers to ever grace the pulpits of this land. His keen insights into both Scripture and the human experience, his remarkable memory, and his deep devotion to Christ and the church endeared him to so many. So great was his following that more than twenty books of his collected sermons were published.

In his sixties Leonard entered the classroom to teach the skill he had mastered and I was blessed to be there for every course he taught, never missing a class. He was so kind to me. He introduced me to his great friend, John Gladstone and then to Kerr Spiers – my two predecessors. And he preached at so many great occasions at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church and in my own life and ministry. He also gave the inaugural lecture and sermon of the Lester Randall Preaching Fellowship.

Janet and I dropped in on Leonard a few weeks ago, only a day or two shy of his 99th birthday. His mind was alert. His faith was strong and he was as inquisitive as ever. But there was one thing there was no question about, the care and support of his family. He expressed great gratitude for their love. And so our prayers today are with his wife Merelie, and his daughters Mary Griffith and Anne Rutherford and their families.


A Memorial Service will be held at St. Paul’s Bloor St., (Anglican) on Friday, May 10th at 11 a.m.
Thank you dear friend.
Rest in peace, rise in glory.
JPHolmes


A Prayer on the Ides of March

We woke up today to the horrific news of shootings in two mosques in Christ Church, New Zealand in which at least 49 people were killed during Friday prayers. These terrorist acts are evil and as Christians we must stand in solidarity with any group of people whether religious or not who come under such attack. And we must work and pray for the day when love is the law in every heart and concern for one another erases all fear, and united as one we find peace for all beneath the shadow of God’s wings. I have written the following prayer which I invite you to pray with me. I also invite you to reach out to your Muslim friends and colleagues and tell them we are praying for their community.

A Prayer on the Ides of March 2019

The heart of humanity aches this day
for those who only went to pray
to God in their week’s most sacred hour
to be gunned down by a malevolent power

There are times when a crime defies any rhyme
or reason apart from what it is in a word
Sin! But who let it in?
Hate! And who took its poison bait?
Evil! Who listened to that Devil?

O God, we all do when in one way or another
we close ourselves to the sister or brother
and even the Christ in a stranger’s guise
and look instead through fearful hateful eyes.

O let the rain fall down and the thunder sound
and remind us we’re on holy ground.
Wash away all pride from deep within
let the burning bush consume all sin
cleanse our soul and unite our hearts
and give this world a fresh new start
that all might sense your grace
without regard for creed or race
and see you smile on every face.
For you O God are love.

In this spirit we pray for all who grieve
for loved ones lost so suddenly and senselessly.
May they hear in the midst of the storm
your still small voice of calm.
We pray for those wounded too,
for medical teams and first to the scenes,
To the nation of New Zealand and the people of Islam
bring a peace that passes not away.

We pray for this world.
O God, let there be light all through this night
Give love the last word and make things right.
May your kingdom come and your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
For you O God, are love.
Amen.
JPH 15-03-19

Grace and Peace,

Upon Seeing our First Grandchild for the First Time

For weeks she’s been told to hurry her birth
then eleven days past maximum girth
Abigail stole our hearts without a word
cooing softly. Beautiful baby bird
with angel wings took flight from womb to light
awakening us all to end of night.

JPH 05-01-19

Welcome Abigail Susan Holmes born in Toronto on January 5, 2019 at 6 a.m. weighing 7 lbs 11 ounces. Congratulations to mom and dad, Michelle and Jamie Holmes!

Saints in Stained Glass

Saints are often compared to stained glass in a church – people through whom the light of God shines. A visit to the Art Zone Glass Studio recently gave members of the Yorkminster Park Baptist Church Stained Glass Window Committee a deeper appreciation for the process of the artistry in creating a stained glass window.

First the glass is blown and then cut into hundreds of pieces and assembled in a jigsaw format according to a grand design with each piece doing its part. Then the glass is further prepared with an acid etching that provides variations to the colour. Eventually it is painted or stained and fired in a kiln before the lead is applied to bond the pieces as one. It is only after all of this handiwork is hung in a window frame and the light pours through that someone will notice the likeness to a saint.

The saintly side of our beings often comes to light only after such a process. The Spirit breaths life and the vine is cut and pruned that it might bear fruit. Some of our colour has to fade and much that is black and white needs to be shaded with love and grace. And no one of us can do it without the others. We are all part of something so much greater than our individual selves – the body of Christ. And Christ’s is the light that bonds us together bringing beauty and love to light.

I look forward to the completion of a new window, but mostly I look forward to the fullness of God’s life and light revealed in the body of Christ.

Grace and Peace

Peter

Prayers for the Jewish Community in Pittsburgh

In Luke 4:16 we read, “When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom.”

Whenever I visit a synagogue I quietly remind myself that it was in such a place as this that Jesus was raised and worshipped. Jesus was Jewish. The thought of someone opening fire on a House of Worship of any kind is appalling, but that it has happened in a Jewish synagogue is so close to home for all Christians.  What happened today is a disgrace.

On our pilgrimages we have had some remarkable and deeply spiritual experiences in Jewish Synagogues and Temples including a Jewish Temple in Pittsburgh. Always we have been welcomed with such warmth and grace. My heart goes out to the Tree of Life congregation in Pittsburgh and to all our Jewish neighbours, friends and neighbouring congregations. Your entire community is in our prayers. Shalom.

Grounded?


Still chewing on a toxic weed
with nothing else on which to feed
at only an inch or two in length
predator ants will test its strength

Then for ten days it closes its eyes
and as a chrysalis all but dies
yet only a few short weeks to go
till it takes flight for Mexico.

If this caterpillar can cross the sea
what is holding back you and me?
so let the monarch show us the way
to life abundant and God’s new day
JPH 03-09-18

(We recently caught our first glimpse of the Monarch caterpillars on a hike around the Island Lake Conservation Area near Orangeville – lovely hike).