Daffodils and Delighters

Daffodils and Delighters_large_all
 
Recently, Meagan McRae, a member of our church family here at Zion wrote an article that was featured in “The Banner”, the denominational magazine for the Christian Reformed Church.
 
Her article, Daffodils and Delighters is a great reminder of God’s work of redemption here on this broken world, our role in that (stewardship of and participation in God’s creation), and how delight factors in to the equation.
 
If you have a moment, give it a read by clicking the link below!
 
 


Transforming Tradition

We reach that time in the year where we participate in well-established, long remembered, sentimental family traditions. Can you think of one? Perhaps it is reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve, leaving cookies by the fireplace, volunteering as a family at the local homeless shelter, or perhaps competing with neighbours to have the house that is best-dressed in lights on your street!

Traditions can be beautiful and unifying, but we have to be wary of the limitations they bring. I can’t help but think of the story behind the well-known Christmas hymn, Silent Night.
 
Christmas at St. Nicholas’ church was going to look different in 1818 due to the slight problem of a broken down church organ. (Fellow organists, I can just hear the gasps already! :-)) For many of those congregants, and even Josef Mohr, the Assistant Pastor, calling quits on the Christmas service altogether could have been an easy decision if they didn’t look past their tradition of organ accompaniment for congregational song. Instead, Mohr and church organist, Franz Gruber, worked together to write Silent Night, not for the church organ, but for the guitar. As a result, the beautiful and peaceful song was formed and sung, and continues to be used today.
 
And isn’t that the point of the season? Although we associate so many traditions with Christmas, we acknowledge our reason for anticipation and celebration:the arrival of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Jesus wouldn’t simply be a peace-keeping leader, but would be a man that would go against traditionalistic thinking, and in fact, would open minds, and hearts to God’s love for his children beyond their initial cope of understanding.
 
So this season, let us enjoy our Christmas traditions, but not limit the power of this advent season to them, but rather, acknowledge the transforming love, mercy and grace which comes to us in the form of a humble baby. Like in the formation of Silent Night, if/when we allow our minds to think outside the box of our expectations, beautiful things can happen!

 

William Jones
Worship & Ministry Coordinator’
 
Source:
“The story behind ‘Silent Night'”
Culbertson, Howard. Last Updated April 13, 2014.
URL: http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/silent.htm


Living Liturgically

I have been reading a book entitled, “The Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services” by Contance Cherry. For all of you who may be worship planners, or those wanting to expand their knowledge on the role of worship planning and leading in the church, I would highly recommend it!

In the chapter I am working on now, it is discussing the word “liturgy”. For many of you reading this, you may not know what liturgy is. For others, perhaps liturgy is a term you dread. Often we think of liturgy as that traditional structure which has been sitting on the shelf, left in a pile of dust that no one wishes to touch. I must admit, for years, I thought along those lines.

However, Constance dives further into the meaning of true liturgy… in fact, liturgy derives from the Greek term, “leitourgia“, which in modern day language translates to “the work of the people“. Constance reminds the reader that liturgy is simply “a biblical word that reminds us that whatever worship acts we offer to God constitute our liturgy”.

I love to think even broader and propose that we are living liturgically not only on Sunday mornings when we enter our worship service, but also throughout the week. We offer acts of worship in our daily lives – opening that door for the mother carrying a child and bags of groceries, lending that extra dollar to someone short changed in the line at Tim Hortons, being a listening ear for someone who just needs a companion to talk to. When we offer ourselves, our gifts, our skills throughout the week, we offer them as an act of worship to Christ, who modelled this when he walked with his people here on earth. Let us live together liturgically for the glory of God and his Kingdom.

 

Lord, as we live lives of worship this week, help us to use our giftings, our skills and our talents to serve you. Amen.

 

William Jones
Worship & Ministry Coordinator

 

*Excerpt taken from “The Worship Architect” by Constance M. Cherry.


Journey to the Cross…

I love the Easter and Lenten season. Not only is it a time of hope, and new life, but it is a time of intentional self reflection.I always hear of those who give up something for the 40 days of lent, whether it be afternoon naps, maybe Facebook, or perhaps for those extremely brave souls, coffee or chocolate! Often we get a chuckle over what people are willing to give up and joke about whether or not they can go without for that long, but it does serve as a serious reminder – Christ sacrificed his life in order that we might be saved and offered the free gift of eternal life. It becomes easy to know that we are saved, to know that we are given the gift of eternal life, but we must move past knowing and live as a people filled with the hope and grace we receive through Christ Jesus.

This hope is not something that only is limited to the 40 day Lenten season; it is a gift that lasts for life… in fact, beyond life!
As we continue to journey to the cross together, let us live as children of the risen King!

William Jones
Worship & Ministry Coordinator



Basking in God’s Glory

It’s that time of year when students start back to classes! This semester I get to take an Intro to Biology class as part of the core-requirement for a ‘Liberal Arts’ education.

One of my favourite parts of attending a Christian institution is starting a lecture with a devotional. This week, our Biology Professor had cut out individual verses of Psalm 148 and asked each of us in the class to read our verse in order from verse 1-14. Rather than reading them right after another, he asked for us to wait a moment and to soak in the wonder of God’s creation in the verse we just read.

The exercise sounds quite simple, but looking back on it now, it really made me think. How often do we approach God simply to bask in his glory? To bask is to “lie exposed to warmth and light, typically from the sun, for relaxation and pleasure” (Oxford Dictionary). So often when we talk to God, we approach him with purpose; Lord, I need this… Father, be with so-and-so, Lord we need to confess… etc. How often do we simply come before God to sit in his presence, to be still and be in awe of the Lord’s goodness.

I think of basking like sitting on the beach. You aren’t thinking about what you have to do next, you aren’t worrying about the things of the past, you are simply sitting in the moment; soaking in the sun, absorbing the heat from the rays, resting on the warm bed of sand – enjoying the beach for what it is and for the comfort you get from it – everything else just fades away.

In this New Year, take time to bask in God’s glory. Open up the psalms and read verse by verse, pausing between to be filled with awe, with wonder, and to be overcome by the Glory of God.

 

   Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
   Look full in His wonderful face,
   And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
   In the light of His glory and grace.

William Jones
Worship & Ministry Coordinator



A new thing…

I don’t know if there are any others out there like me, but I am not a fan of change.
Part of me finds a comfort in the old, the familiar.

I currently work on the Worship staff at Tyndale University College & Seminary, and we are currently in the transition time of moving to a new campus. In light of this coming change, our Tyndale Seminary Student Council chose Isaiah 43:19 as their theme verse for the year:

   See, I am doing a new thing!
   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
   I am making a way in the wilderness
   and streams in the wasteland.

I love this verse; it reminds me that God is a God of new life, and that he is in control over his creation, and over change:
am making a way in the wilderness”. 

At times we don’t perceive new things, perhaps because we aren’t looking for them, or perhaps because we don’t want to look for them. Maybe, like me, you fear change as well. As we venture forward together in our Christian walk in this new year, let us open our hearts and minds to the new things God has in store for us and let us be reminded that amidst the new, our God never changes!

Lord, we give you thanks for your unchanging love for us, and we pray that you will open our hearts to the changes you desire for our lives!

 

William Jones
Worship & Ministry Coordinator



Bringing it into focus…

At this time of year, when the leaves are changing colour, I love to go out into the forest with my digital SLR and take pictures of God’s creation! As I prepare to take a picture, I look through the lens. It gives me a good view of the big picture, each and every colour, texture; many intricate details of God’s handiwork.

In order to take the shot I need to focus. It is the most important step! If I do not focus the lens on the camera, the picture comes out blurred; you can’t discern any of the intricate details, much less enjoy the picture.

Similarly we can struggle with this step in our Christian walk. Our lives are filled with so many distractions: health, relationships, global events, work, education; the list is endless. These things, each being important aspects of our lives very easily take our lens out of focus. Like the psalmist, we lift our eyes to the hills seeking where our help comes from, yet many times we can’t look past the clouds of our own distractions that block the view.

Take a moment to focus, to turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in his wonderful face. Is is when we shift our focus away from these things that distract us to the one who controls all of these distractions, that the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

Blessings on the journey as we together focus on our glorious and gracious Saviour.

William Jones
Worship Coordinator



Listen Up!

Last night, Sunday March 3, we hosted a youth service with several other Christian Reformed Churches in attendance last night. We were focussing on the theme of “listening for God”.

Take a moment to think… when was the last time you listened for God?  Perhaps you don’t hear an audible voice speaking to you plain as day, perhaps it is a small voice somewhere inside you… do you listen for it? I confess, I struggle with this. It is often hard to listen for what matters amongst the many, many distractions the world has – media, our work, our education – we get caught up in our busyness, and seldom forget or seldom remember to listen for God’s calling in our lives.

In Psalm 46:10, we are reminded to “be still, and know that I am God”.  May you be encouraged today, no matter your age, whether you are 18, 48, or 88, to take time to be still, to be silent, and to know that God is there waiting for you to listen for him!

Blessings,

William Jones | Worship Coordinator



Merry Christmas?

I'm not sure if you know this, but recently we've been hosting a worship service every Thursday morning for clients of our Food Bank. It's a small affair in most ways, really. The first week we did it, we had 3 people show up. Same with the second week. Then we had SIX the next week! Then zero the week after… :-(. But then we had six this week too!

I know it's not about numbers, but you know what? I'm THRILLED about how things are going! We just get together and sit in the sanctuary. We share our prayer requests with each other, and I'm stunned at how open we're able to be with each other! Many of us have never met until that moment, but yet people share some pretty deep stuff.

We then share and talk about the scriptures we're going to have for the Sunday worship service, and then, as you can imagine, as we've only been doing this a little while, we've been singing some Christmas songs.

I've been touched and blessed more than anybody else, I think, at each of these services—even the one where no on showed up (I really needed a “people break” that day). But one of the things I've been reminded of again is just how difficult Christmas can be for so many folks. Some of the people attending our Thursday morning worship service (we're calling it “The Well”), are content and ready for Christmas. But many others are hurting and sad. Struggling with a lack of work, with family, with the deaths of loved-ones around this time of year, with missing family, and so on.

So that is my prayer for today: that we would all experience the light of peace from Jesus Christ our saviour, even if our lives seem particularly dark at this time of year.

May you and yours be blessed even so.



Trees…

A Tree

A gnarled tree on the coast of Bowen Island, BC

Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.

Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;
they will sing before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his truth.

I love trees. I wouldn't say I'm a “treehugger” in the sense of the word that most people use, but I do love trees.

I remember being in high school and one day having a discussion with a friend of mine for a couple of hours about trees. We marvelled at how God had created them; how they had textures in bark that were works of art— each one of them. How they, each one of them, was unique from all others. How old they could be, how large, how strong, how useful, how beautiful.

To me, trees are a wonder. When I read Psalm 96, as quoted above, I can't help but think of those trees— I can totally see them “sing[ing] for joy.”

And when I think of me… well, sometimes I'm not <em>the</em> most expressive person during worship… and when I'm tempted to think that I should somehow be more exuberant, I remind myself that if the trees can sing for joy— maybe sounding like the wind in branches?— then I too can worship: it doesn't matter whether I wave my branches around or not. God's joy can whisper through my branches, or I can shout for joy like thunder in a spring storm: all of it is a “joyful noise to The Lord.”