Encouragement From The Word

Who was, and is, and is to come

These are crazy days, aren’t they?  There are statements made and retracted by provincial and federal governments, vaccine taxes being assessed in Quebec, numbers being reported in limited ways, and just a whole lot of confusion around the pandemic.

In one sense, it’s understandable, since none of us has ever gone through anything like this before.  (Remember “Two weeks to flatten the curve”?  That’s ancient history now!)  We are all tired and frustrated, and we want life to go back to normal – or at least to proceed toward the new normal, post-pandemic.  And we just wish that we’d get some definitive answers.  But in such an unpredictable season, those answers are not forthcoming.

Amid all the uncertainty, there are some things we can know for certain.  One of them is the sovereignty of God: the belief that God is in charge.

It might seem like a goofy concept, thinking that God is in charge with the mayhem swirling around us.  But it’s true.

We don’t know why a sovereign God sees this going on and seemingly stands there.  (I would argue that if God were just ‘standing there’, matters would be a great deal worse!)  Our role is not to know why; it is to trust in the One who does know why.

As John the apostle begins the recording of his vision from the Lord in Revelation, he offers this greeting to the seven churches to which the book was originally written:  “Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come” (Revelation 1.4b, NLT).

The Lord is, he was, and he is still to come.  God has seen all of history.  He sees the future.  And he sees what we’re dealing with today.  And he remains Lord of all, even though, at times, it might not seem that way.

On those days when you feel especially frustrated, at your wits’ end, or hanging on to the end of your rope, just remember that verse and proclaim – even if just to yourself – that no matter what, you trust the One who is, who always was, and who is still to come.

We will get through this.  God has promised that he will preserve his church, despite all odds.  It might not look like it always has, but it will still be the gathered faithful, praising the Eternal Father of the universe, rejoicing in the saving grace of the Lord Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

By the way, this Sunday at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, we are beginning a new series on the book of Revelation!  If you’d like to learn a bit of background about the book, you can watch this introductory video here.  And you are welcome to attend in person or tune in online to any of our services.

Grace and peace!

Encouragement From The Word

The elusive subway train

While on vacation in early August, my wife and I paid our first visit to New York City. It’s a fascinating place, great for people-watching, and I recommend that you go if you haven’t been before. (We found a place to camp in New Jersey that was very handy to the train that goes into Manhattan, so while not cheap, it was less expensive than taking a New York hotel room!)

Since the constant gridlock traffic that characterizes downtown Manhattan would drive any Canadian crazy, we relied on public transit to get us around New York. And we learned something fascinating: the New York City subway system is very confusing – even to locals.

We were in Fulton Street Station in lower Manhattan, and we wanted the Number 1, 2 or 3 train to head up to 42ndStreet.  It shouldn’t be too hard, we reasoned, since any one of those three trains would get us there.  But the platform we landed on did not have any of those trains; we weren’t interested in a trip to Brooklyn, so we started watching signs.  Every so often, as we walked along the platforms in the hot, sticky air, we would see a sign that pointed to the Number 1, 2 and 3 trains.

We went up stairs.  We went up elevators.  We went down stairs.  We walked across what felt like miles of platforms.  And this was all in the same station!  At one point, we encountered a lady who, in conversation, told us that she lives there, and she gets confused by the subway.  She wanted the same train we did, and she was as helpless in the process as we were!

Eventually, we found the right platform – no worries about getting my 10,000 steps in that day! – and made it uptown.  But oh, my, what a confusing episode.

Understand that for someone who is new to the church, who perhaps went as a child or has absolutely no faith background at all, walking into a church building on a Sunday morning can be a bit like my experience in the New York City subway.

It’s up to us to assume nothing, keep it simple, and be willing to help people navigate through a service that may be old hat to us, but not to our guests. This is true whether your worship gathering is simple and streamlined, or requires you to follow along in a book or a bulletin.  Whatever we do, it may be gibberish to someone who is new to the church.

Let’s do all we can to grease the path that leads to Jesus.  That way, our guests will be able to echo the Psalmist:  “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122.1, NLT).