Blog

Check out our latest news below!


Contact Us

Quiet Time in Quarantine

Friday March 27, 2020

Good morning Charlottetown CRC. Waking to a beautiful snowfall ought to be a beautiful setting for some morning devotion. I pray that you're all doing well and relishing the time God has given to us with family and friends, and His church. Welcome home to many of you; glad to have you back on island from away. Hope that your trip back has been a good one. We are glad for your return and look forward to hugs and greetings once the occasion permits. In the meantime, we fellowship in the Spirit. Blessings on your day Charlottetown CRC.

Reading: https://www.dailylectio.net/2020-03-27/preparing-for-the-fifth-sunday-in-lent

Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxvNybMo1So

Devotion: Together they make for an especially beautiful illustration of the Gospel. The Psalm is the same as yesterday, and so we should be a bit familiar with the theme of forgiveness already emerging in the there. It's more than just forgiveness for things done wrong; it's that even in the things done right we fall short. That whether in our 'righteousness and iniquity' or unrighteousness and wickedness', regardless we are doomed. "Repentance" isn't about deciding to do good; it's about coming to the realization that you can't do any good, or at least that your 'good, isn't good enough'; that the problem isn't about being better, the problem is one of newness; that in the Fall we are dead. Yes we still retain the image of God and can do 'good things', but that is hardly the point. The fact is we are dead and we need to live, and God freely offers it, has seen to life in His Son, who will take the place at the top of the human family tree; become the new Adam & renew the whole human family.

The Rev. reading gets at the heart of what sin has done; it has caused a rift not just in the world, but between heaven & earth. In the heavenly/spiritual perspective, Adam is the king who led a great rebellion against God. Whether or not he 'meant to' hardly matters; the consequences of sin are their being driven out of the Garden and immediate presence of God, East of Eden. The whole human epoch from thereon is one of making it so that God might come near and dwell with us in that same way as in the beginning once more. The Gospel results in a complete reuniting, a new wedding, of Heaven & Earth; an event that all Creation will attend & sing of in its own newness. What John of Patmos is announcing and depicting for us, is that that reign has already begin in Jesus. The king is on his throne; or as C.S.L. made it famous to say, 'Aslan is on the move!' He is already making all things new; we are awaiting the consummation. 

Let that be or hope today, that is not about how good we are, but the fact that we are new in Christ, and that one day the renewal will be complete, and the whole world along with us. Amen

Prayer: http://commonprayer.net

Quiet Times in Quarantine

Thursday March 26, 2020

Good morning church! I hope this finds you well on a beautiful early-spring morning. I continue to hear reports of how much our body is connecting with and praying for each other during this time. I appreciate as well the many of you who've reached out to check in with us, and give me feedback on how you're enjoying these morning blogs. 
Devotion: A common theme again runs through the 3 readings today. The first is of the Psalmist, who "waits on the Lord", because the Lord is worth waiting on. The Psalmist is acutely aware of his own sinfulness, and so aware that he desires not the company of himself, but the company of God. There is a sweetness he recognizes in the Lord, a depth of being and character that draw him to God, for He is a God of compassion, who alone has in Himself the power to forgive sin. This is why "his soul waits for Him", with an eagerness that outpaces "those who watch for the morning." The "night" in Hebrew imagery is a large & involved metaphor; it means not merely the time when the sun goes down and we all sleep. It  is a far more poetic device used to indicate the absence of all good things, when one is alone and left only to oneself. The Psalmist is experiencing an awareness of himself as his only keeper & company, and he despairs of it. The Lord alone has the power to redeem (to recover and reclaim what was lost; that's the meaning of 'redeem') and rescue us from the vicious company & cycle that is our own sinfulness.
That's the gist as well of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a prophet in the midst of the Babylonian exile. He was called by God to give firsthand account to the "events beneath the events", the insider's look at the "why"of the exile; to give heavenly-authoritative-commentary. & what Ezekiel sees is that the exile is God's way of disciplining His sons and daughters, His way of moving them and all nations towards the day of great redemption; when the very son of God would come and experience the exile of all exiles, and suffer for us the discipline of the wrath of God against sin, in order to redeem us from our sin. It is then, 'bittersweet'; it is like medicine of old (before they doctored it up with fruity flavors and turned them into gummies; and don't hear me complaining on that score!) difficult to swallow, but good and healing, necessary treatment.
Which leads to the reading from the Book of Revelation. Revelation continues to prove the most difficult book for us to interpret in the Church. We tend to treat it like a book of prophecies, in the sense of "end times". But the ancient church understood it quite differently. For one they noticed that though it contains no direct Old Testament exact quoting, that it alludes to it quite conspicuously nearly 700 times! Our reading here is just one such occasion. But the general gist of Revelation is that it is a book devoted almost exclusively to giving us a "Heavens' perspective" and authoritative commentary on what has happened and is happening in Jesus Christ, in his life, death, resurrections, ascension, and return yet-to-come. Our passage is a direct allusion to the book of Ezekiel, a way of saying then that that the spiritual warfare unleashed on the earth by the Gospel, and the exile that those called by God in the New Testament era would endure, all of it was a sort of truer, fuller fulfillment of what had happened to Israel in the Babylonian exile. This was what life was feeling like for the 7 churches to whom the letter is addressed (see the Matthias Gerung, c. 1531 painting of the 7 Bowls & the Angels; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_bowls#/media/File:Ottheinrich_Folio298r_Rev16A.jpg); and this is what life will largely be like for the church in this age until the end comes when all things are made new. There is a "bittersweet"ness to it to be sure; for against the backdrop of sin & death, we are being redeemed, as are people from "every tribe, tongue, and nation"; coming to know real & eternal life in the forgiveness of sins that is offered and held out in the Son and He alone, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 
So let us hold fast to His grace; let us see and taste the bittersweetness for what it is, and give thanks to God for the redemption He is accomplishing in and around us.
Blessings on your day Charlottetown CRC. 

Quiet Time in Quarantine

Wednesday March 25, 2020

Good morning C-town CRC! 

How we doing this day in quarantine and isolation? I think on the whole our island is doing a great job, and our own church the same. I hear, and have been on the receiving end myself, of lots of virtual communication going on throughout our congregation. I for one am much appreciative of it; keep it coming! The spirit of the church is good and is really effective in maintaining the fellowship and the communion of the saints. I think God is doing good things in our midst, even though the times are a bit trying. But isn't that often how our God seems to work? that in the midst of hard things He leads us into real &l lasting joy, so that even the things temporal are rich as we learn to appreciate the eternal things through them?

Today is what's known in the church calendar as the Annunciation of the Lord. It's a very old tradition, and frankly would likely escape our notice if we weren't reading from the Common Lectionary Calendar of Readings right now; the calendar reads, 'Annunciation of the Lord!' so that folks like me can't miss it :) It seems like a Christmas sort of thing, as the reading is from Luke 1. But notice, today is the 25th of March. So, if you do the math the selection of Mar. 25 becomes fairly obvious, as one realizes it's precisely 9 months prior to Dec. 25 :) (Never mind the fact that Dec. 25 isn't actually Jesus' birthday, but we'll cover that come Advent late this year.) Anyway, that's how the day started back in the early Church to be known as Annunciation of the Lord, the announcement to Mary of the coming birth of her son, who would be The Son of the One and Only God. And it's fitting for Lent because as much of early Christian art was good to remind us, Jesus was born to die (cf. https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/walkinganancientpath/2018/12/07/pondering-the-nativity-through-iconography/)  

I pray a good morning of devotion for you CCRC, that God reminds you of the joy of the Gospel, and that we might live in it, and encourage each other all the more.  

Readings: https://www.dailylectio.net/2020-03-25/annunciation-of-the-lord

Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMwosNne5zI

Devotion: You'll notice a theme running through today's readings; they focus all on the announcement of the Messiah, the one true Servant of the Lord. Isaiah begins with an announcement to King Ahaz of 'a child who will be born as a sign'; it's the precursor to Gabriel's announcement to Mary (there's a huge story to Isa. 7, which we'll cover come Christmas/Advent); the birth of her son is Isa. 7's fulfillment; the true Immanuel, God with us.

The 45th Psalm sings and colors in quite romantic fashion of the kingly and husbandly nature of the Servant of God. He is mighty and heroic. He wins the bride (his Church) to himself; rescues her, and hosts an elaborate wedding celebration, complete with consummation. I'll spare you the details, but the the Psalm is a foreshadowing of Rev. 19, and 'the wedding supper of the Lamb'. The 40th Psalm is a song from the Servant's side, the heavenly groom, who is eager and ready to do from the heart all that God desires in reclaiming us; he is ready to make known the good news of the Gospel and accomplish it. He is the only one of whom it could be said that, 'he truly delights to do His will,' and that the 'law is truly within his heart.'

This is what the writer to the Hebrew church is explaining; that the Psalmists' words were spoken of Jesus, and they have been spoken by him, lived out by him.

And how fitting that they are echoed by Mary herself, the mother of our Lord. We rarely think of the gift that God gave Jesus in faithful parents. In both Joseph and Mary we get positive examples of faithfulness. The apple, as it turned out, doesn't drop far from the tree. We're good to remember that Jesus "grew in wisdom and stature" Lk. 2:52; that he was a real live boy who grew into a man. That his divinity was not confused with his humanity. That he really was the 2nd and better Adam/man, and was so on our behalf, to live out a life that did not fall short of glorifying God in any way (cf. Rom. 3:23). 

Let us give thanks this morning to God, who has seen to all things in giving us Jesus, even to the point of giving him godly parents whose delight it was to be servants of God the Father. And let us give thanks this morning to Jesus, the True & Better Servant of the Lord, whose desire to do the will of God was truly the heart & desire of his whole being, and whose desire was for us, his Bride, the Church, who he redeems and dresses in white (Rev. 19:8). 

 

Prayer: http://commonprayer.net

Quiet Times in Quarantine

Tuesday March 24, 2020

Good morning Charlottetowntown CRC! 

I pray you've all had a good evening of rest and hopefully some good family time as well. I also pray you're able to keep cabin fever at bay. But if not, let me encourage you to freely acknowledge it, and without unnecessary guilt or self-flagellation. Lent's a season that gives us permission to abandon posturing and pretense. Don't beat yourself up if you're already tapping out :) and ready to send the kids back to school! Take a deep breath and focus on the day, not the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel, which appears to be rather elusive at this point. 
Take advantage of some of the online resources our denomination, and others, have to offer, as well as some of those floating around out there on Google; let's connect our kids to each another on FaceTime, let them outside (command if you must) to play in today's possible in-coming snow. Send them out into the woods or nearby fields (maintaining social distancing of course :) on quests. Good books films, etc. Let them help you on that home project you're finally getting around to doing now that you can't go anywhere! Prepare the evening meal together, etc. 
Now for the day's devotional material. 
Song: Wendell Kimbrough (Jo and I sang one of his songs this past Sunday) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vsg-pLr3iyE
Devotion: It may have occurred to you as you read that Ps. 146 sounded eerily familiar, like from yesterday :) The Book of Common Prayer tends to do that during the "high holy seasons"; I'm trying to find out more exactly the purpose behind that; when I do I'll be sure to let you know (I've got inquiries out to a couple of my Anglican friends).
Nevertheless, it's the Isa. 42 passage that is at the center today, and it relates well still to Ps. 146, as well as the epistle reading, as we'll see. Throughout the 42nd ch. God speaks of "[His] My servant," and what this servant will do to lead the nations out of blindness and the following of fruitless paths and gods-that-are-not gods, and to follow the One True God YHWH instead. But of course as we discover in the reading, this servant is a terrible servant, and is herself blind and deaf to the things of God! i.e., we have a dilemma; how can the blind lead the blind?
The "servant" of which God speaks is the people of Israel; this is what God had from the beginning elected her for; to be a light unto the nations. But Israel, like the rest of the world, is fallen as well in sin, powerless to effect her own salvation, even though she has the very Law of God. Therefore there must come "a true and better servant"; that's what the subsequent chapters in Isa. will declare. That "Servant" with a capital S is the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ. It is He who must give us sight; we cannot give sight to, nor can we lead, ourselves.
This is why Paul prays what he does for the church at Colossae; that they "be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding". It is only out of this filling from God that they/we can begin to "lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him." The only thing that measures up to that standard is Jesus himself, who made us pleasing in the Lord's sight by his life, death, and resurrection! We are not made strong, we are not able to bear fruit, by ourselves, but by him alone, by walking into the approval he's given us by his very own life. All that we need & seek belongs to Jesus. Which is why Paul further nuances his prayers for us by adding that we "be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power." This is where "enduring patience" comes from; the kind we need right now; from him, & not ourselves. 
Prayer: this morning's middle mid-day prayer, which begins "Make us worthy, Lord" is a fitting one to frame out how we might pray today. Asking God, just as Paul has asked, to fill us with knowledge of Himself, with His very heart & mind, that we might walk in the newness of life in which he has given us to walk, having transferred us from the kingdom of darkness into His kingdom of Light.
Blessings on you this day Charlottetown CRC,
in Christ, 
Pastor Josh

Quiet Time is Quarantine

Monday March 23, 2020

Good morning Charlottetown CRC, I hope that you all enjoyed a restful Sunday and that you were able to worship our God & King together in some fashion.

I've tried to provide here some resources for the week in hopes of keeping us connected to God and His word, and with one another. I hope to make this a daily offering.

Monday: 

Readings from the Lectionary (annual church calendar of scheduled daily readings): https://www.dailylectio.net/2020-03-23/reflecting-on-the-fourth-sunday-in-lent

Song of worship: Not in Me (thru YouTube, so you'll have to hit 'skip ads' after the guitar lesson ad they likely give you :) ) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mXY3Y-1i-Y

Devotional word: The Psalmist and Isaiah have so accurately described what we see put on display in Saul; that we are blind, foolish, walking after we-know-not-what in our fallenness; that we are prisoners to sin. And as prisoners, me imprison the world around us that unrighteous and injustice flow. "Justice", Isaiah confesses and observes, s"is far from us." But we are not without help. The Psalmists sees that God Himself will set the prisoners free, free from blindness and both the death that they are and the death they cause; "happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob!" Saul, after persecuting the early Church and Jesus, finds just these very things happen to him, blinded and "sat-still that he may know God" and His mercy in Jesus, befriended by Ananias, he is freed from his blindness, set free to declare the Good News throughout the then-known world, planting churches throughout the Roman Empire. Pray the Lord God do the same in us, in whatever empires we live, great and small; that He'd remove our blindness, show us His beauty, and walk instead in His forgiving justice & mercy. 

Prayer: I find the Book of Common Prayer the best historical prayer prompt tool. Do what you like, but if you're looking for prayers scheduled to guide you in prayer throughout the year, you can't go wrong with the BoCP

http://commonprayer.net

Hope these prove helpful to you and your family today.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Josh