Made For Love – Made For God

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Learning for Life: 9:30 am 
Worship Service: 11:00 am

Bulletin: October 21, 2018

NewsletterOctober 2018

Scriptures: Song of Songs 1:15-2:7Psalm 63Ephesians 5:21-33Matthew 11:28-30

Songs:

Rev. Ron Phillips

Did you know that there is romantic poetry in our Bible? Have you ever read Song of Songs, and wondered what to make of it? This Sunday we will open this little book, and be ready to hear God speak.

Men and Women and the Need for Virtue

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Learning for Life: 9:30 am 
Worship Service: 11:00 am

Bulletin: October 14, 2018

NewsletterOctober 2018

Scriptures: Ruth 3-4; Psalm 17

Songs:

Rev. Joel Russell-MacLean

After a long day’s work at harvest time, the people in the village had gone to bed. In the middle of the night, in the dark of a night without lights, a woman silently approached a man fast asleep. Uncovering him, she laid down next to him.

Even 3000 years later and in different language, this is a dramatic scene. Just what kind of story is this?

Ruth doesn’t hide the threats women faced or the risks they took in the face of famine, poverty, or assault. Ruth is also clear about the ambitions and longings of the women in their story.

As the story moves toward its resolution, we also find ourselves momentarily in the men’s world and priorities: the village hierarchy, the legal proceedings, the record of the male line, and the promise of a future king.

Men and women in Ruth have different longings and social roles. The drama plays on the tension between these differences. However, Ruth presents men and woman as complimenting each other when virtue and faithfulness control them.

Ruth and Boaz’s loyalty was not first of all to each other: they trusted God ahead of everything else.

Ruth and Boaz risked everything by going far beyond what was expected of them, trusting in God’s loyalty and kindness in their risks. Through their relationship, God blessed the community far beyond all the prayers and longings of the men and women of the story.

———

Jane Austen captured (among other things) the tension between virtue, and longings and ambitions of men and women, in her novels. In this scene from “Pride and Prejudice, she gently exposed one way we go astray: “The Accomplished Woman

Good Luck or God’s Favour?

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Learning for Life: 9:30 am 
Worship Service: 11:00 am

Bulletin: October 7, 2018

NewsletterOctober 2018

Scripture: Psalm 67Ruth 2:1-23Matthew 6:25-33

Songs:

Rev. John Nelson

The Bible reveals many stories of several people woven together in such a way as to make them inseparable.

What is shared many times reveals more about their relationship than what we learn about them as individuals. Ruth 2: 1-23 reveals a beautiful example of this `blending of lives` between Naomi and Ruth. What do we learn from the relationship between a mother-in-law (Naomi) and a daughter-in-law (Ruth). This relationship could present more opportunities for tension as for tenderness. However, Naomi`s and Ruth`s relationship reflects just the opposite.

God was at the centre of their intimate relationship.

Their relationship reveals numerous life lessons for us today: how to face a test of character; how to build a good reputation; being thankful as you do more than the minimum for others; understanding how God is working in your life; and so much more. A very important life lesson learned from this passage of scripture, that when God grants us His favor, we should return to Him with THANKSGIVING and GRATITUDE on our hearts.

The story of Naomi and Ruth is a wonderful example revealing to us that the events in our life journey do not occur by luck, chance, or coincidence. Their story reveals the need for us to seek out opportunities, signs of God`s favor. We need to embrace the living God who takes delight in granting us His grace and favor to His faithful children. What would you prefer to base your life on, “Good Luck or God`s Favor“…
The choice is yours, but choose wisely.

Bitterness and Courage In God’s Silence

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Learning for Life: 9:30 am 
Worship Service: 11:00 am

Bulletin: September 30, 2018

NewsletterOctober 2018

Scriptures: Psalm 43Ruth 1Matthew 7:7-12

Songs:

Rev. Joel Russell-MacLean

Ruth simply is a great, well written story. What Jane Austen is to us, Ruth is in her time.

Ruth starts out with the Hebrew equivalent of “Once upon a time…” and ends with everyone living “happily ever after”. But the story itself has nothing to do with fairy tales. Instead of fantastic events to grab the listeners, it is a very ordinary story of love and loss, of hard work and rest, set at harvest time.

Ruth is a woman’s story, told from her perspective. While it is honest about women’s vulnerability in a patriarchal society, the women are not helpless. It is the women’s choices and actions that advance the story. The men in the story only act in response to the lead of the women. I can’t help but think of Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox singing, “Sisters are doing it for themselves!”

Women and men play roles in this story but where is God in all of this? Isn’t this the Bible?

The story begins and ends with God providing for people but in between, God is surprisingly quiet and seemingly absent. Instead, God’s presence and goodness appears through the integrity and virtue of the characters. Human goodness has its limits: in the end, only God can bring about the truly redemptive ending. While we trust and wait for that ending, human virtue is the visible sign of the invisible God’s action.

In your life or in the life or someone you know, does it appear that God is silent or absent? What have others done for you that were signs of God’s goodness? Is there something you could do for someone as a sign of God’s presence?

For Such a Time as This

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Learning for Life: 9:30 am 
Worship Service: 11:00 am

Bulletin: September 23, 2018

NewsletterSeptember 2018

Scriptures: Psalm 30Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, 5:10-20, 11:7-12:14

Songs:

Rev. Joel Russell-MacLean

Can a book that begins,

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the preacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.” –

turn out to be a book about joy?

It is easy to see why people find Ecclesiastes depressing or even nihilistic.

Surprisingly, few books in the Bible devote as much space as Ecclesiastes does to affirming joy and what is good in life.

To be fair, Ecclesiastes does earns its bad reputation. It attacks many of the things Christians and non-Christians alike count on for meaning in life. It attacks our ideas about God and how God works in the world. The author of Ecclesiastes believes that humanity creates and relies on many unreliable illusions in a attempt to be in control as God is in control and to know as only God knows.

We are not left empty handed though. Over and over again, the author exhorts us to see the good in life – to look for it – and to do good things in life. The author also points to the source of joy and meaning in life: God.

“A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without God, who can eat or find enjoyment?”

Perhaps accepting that we are creatures, utterly dependent on our creator for joy and contentment, is the idea that discourages humanity the most and so we prefer the illusions.

Where does your joy come from? What you do think a good life looks like?

We may wish for other times, when everything simply works out for everyone, when God is visible and heard clearly, when there is no injustice – but God has placed us at this time. Ecclesiastes exhorts believers to be absolutely honest about the pain and uncertainty of life and to be honest about God’s seeming distance. At the same time, we are to look for joy and to enjoy the good in life.

 
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