|Picture of Jesus by 8-year old Akiane |
Kramarik as He looked in her dreams.
Friday, April 17, 2020
This week we celebrated our Lord upending death and rising alive. Three days before we remembered the grief of His brutal, torturous death. Crucify him. Crucify him. Another group wept for His release, for this man in whom was found no fault. Death. A binary option in favour of the masses in AD 33.
This year is 2020 and a new plague has overtaken the world, bringing death involuntary. And polarized opinions. To close borders or not to close. To shut down the economy or not to shut down. To reopen the economy or not to reopen. To hoard toilet paper or not.
Most people are frightened. Many are angry. Several are unaffected. Some are sage-like. A huge number defy the calls for distancing and state of emergency mandates. Everyone is susceptible to the coronavirus.
The world, nay our own neighbourhoods, have become melting pots of housebound, home offices, party halls, and place of worship. The media got hold of a few people buying toilet paper in some part of the world and made it front-page news. Television and social media consequently played streams of clips of shopping carts of reams. This group, in effect, induced panic-buying. To a world that had been cheated of the truth of the coronavirus outbreak, the masses were taking no chances with a probable toilet paper shortage. They had no control of the genetic code of the virus but they sure had over bathroom tissue. Then same media tried to shame those who purchased.
The Pharisees had spread hate news about Jesus. They had reframed His goodness as evil. The media of His day carried the sign in Pilates’ unique font, JESUS OF NAZARETH KING OF THE JEWS. Written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin.
But whereas pandemonium buying of ultra soft would cease, Jesus’ fate was irreversible.
First, distanced emotionally by a betrayer. Then distanced physically from the ones He loved and who loved Him. Singled out for death.
Then the shutting down came. Stay at home and only go out for food or medicine.
The worship of celebrities strangely died. Devoid of the glamour and glitter they were hardly recognizable from their abodes. Their influence dissipated like dew in sunlight.
That Friday evening in AD 33 after a bitter vinegar drink, Jesus said, “It is finished”. Every organ shut down, and despair gripped the ones who loved Him. Darkness filled their world.
Essential workers embrace the darkness of the possibility of contracting COVID-19 from the ones they serve.
The disease has stripped status and equalized people as no one could have imagined.
Calvary has equalized the spiritual fate of every person born. It’s level ground for any body shape or bank account.
Church buildings, the arena for grace, morphed into breeding grounds for outbreaks. But while all things are not good, all things work for good (Romans 8:28). Astute leaders turned to online services and just like that, in a wink the Millennial generation is reached.
John 1:6 asked the obvious of the day - Could anything good come from Nazareth?
Last week's remembrance attests. Go to Calvary and see. The spiritual awakenings that sweep the globe during COVID-19 is a testament. Hearts return to their maker, faces lift up, and so-called atheism has been eroded.
The true source of power has been recognized. It lies not in an employer who cannot give life or spare the loss of his own. It lies not in an agent who gauges by the number of followings on social media. Stripped, they grapple for their basic survival. The modus operandi has changed. Nothing or no one will be the same.
Only Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
If you have not invited Him into your life, a sincere asking through the simple prayer below will make Him your Lord and Saviour.
"Dear Jesus, I have sinned and I need your forgiveness. I invite you to be my Saviour and Lord. Help me to be the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sin and for giving me eternal life. Amen."
I invite you to view an 18-minute clip of my Easter special that I taped for my show ETERNITY. It’s found at: https://youtu.be/Cq6OQEWM-aI
Here’s what you can find when:
30s – Cartoon video It’s A Happy Day – for kids and any age.
4:27 Song video In The Garden (I put this together with lots of flowers)
7:46 Reading John Chapter 20 – the Resurrection story
12:48 – Christ The Lord is Risen –chimes (I put this together)
14:38 – Call to Salvation and prayer 17:08 – This music is my brother’s who has long passed away.
SUSAN HARRIS is the host of ETERNITY on cable television in eastern Saskatchewan. If you would like to view inspirational videos, stories for clips, and cute animals, check out her YouTube channel and subscribe at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB30i05nvacFIJ1ciaQ0ClA
Saturday, April 11, 2020
As a friend put it, after a positive eye check-up early in the year, she hoped that this year her vision could be 20-20. That she could continue to see clearly and also look ahead to the new year with renewed courage.
Symbolic perhaps until we were hit with the coronavirus that has shut down so many businesses and left people, including me, wondering how long this will take to pass us by.
Is it anything like the Israelites getting the word to leave Egypt for the Promised Land, leaving other hardships behind to be faced by the Red Sea on one side, mountains on another, and their former captors coming after them? That would have been a dire situation. It terrified them, and they asked if they would have been better off staying where they were. Not unlike us now.
Those who’ve read that Exodus story (Exodus 14) know what happened. They thought they were doomed, but Moses asked God for help. And he followed what God said, to raise his walking stick, and the sea parted. They were rescued from what we could call an enemy.
Our time now might be likened to the situation at the Red Sea. Not the same for sure, with our electronic capabilities, our modern society that offers many advantages that the Israelites would never have dreamed of. Neither would we have been in this place 20 years ago.
We fear for lives; we practise physical distancing. We have the internet and telephone to stay in touch with family, even when we cannot be near them. And we can order online.
I miss the hugs of my family and my grandchildren, and time with friends. It’s a kind of grief to leave behind what we had and to face the unknown. The virus is such a new thing that epidemiologists are studying and still trying to understand. And for now, we practice being apart, even when it’s terribly hard.
I listened to a message this evening from a local church, taped today for their Easter Sunday. We have beautiful churches with stained glass windows where worship took place up to the beginning of March. But it is the people in it who are the church. The people who go out of their way to assist those who need help, who are involved in front line care of the sick, people who deliver groceries to those who are unable, or better off not to go out. Many more acts of grace are out there, I’m sure.
The church is active outside the building. Our adult children are taking care of our groceries and we’re staying home, except for a short daily walk, because it is better that we do. Ministers, including our own, are presenting short services and meditations, offering music and prayers on a variety of platforms, and those who can support the effort are doing so.
Last week, while keeping our distance, two grandchildren danced for us on our driveway. Their mom had been coaching them and their dad supported the effort. It was a gift and a ministry at a time when my heart needed some consolation in our “Red Sea” event.
Who will rescue us?
We hope that the death count slows and that fewer contract the virus. We want people to do what they can, even when we feel restless ourselves, until a vaccine can be created. And then we have God knowing, God’s 20-20 vision, his love helping us get through it.
As we celebrate this Easter, in a time that may be hard and tiresome, painful even, remember that God is with us. Our vision may not be 20-20, but through Jesus’ resurrection, we are promised a place in heaven at the end of our lives. We need help to see this through, and God can do that.
Carolyn Wilker is a writer from southwestern Ontario.
Friday, April 03, 2020
After many years of faithful service the ambassador to a major country was fired. His offense? He became entrenched in the politics and culture of his foreign assignment and forgot who he represented. It all came to light when a dispute arose between his home country and the one he served in as ambassador. He was required to speak at a press conference on his government’s behalf, a reasonable expectation of a diplomat. He sided with his country's adversary. His career as a valued emissary ended in disgrace.
The primary requirement of an ambassador is faithfulness (I Cor. 4:2). Forces entice us to become overly comfortable in the land of our ambassadorship, like the fallen diplomat.The world is adept at making its viewpoint appealing, pedaling it as loving and kind, everything a Christian should be. The unfaithful lean away from scripture and toward prevailing opinions (2 Tim. 4:10). Love for Christ constrains us to make a decided commitment to remain faithful ambassadors for Jesus regardless of consequences.
Mordecai is an example of a faithful ambassador. An Israelite living in exile in a godless country, he never forgot where he came from and who he belonged to. The king Mordecai served unwisely elevated an evil man, Haman, to a high position in his cabinet and then decreed that all underlings bow down to him. To save their lives, all the king’s servants obeyed. Except one. Mordecai. Worried for his safety, Mordecai’s friends tried to persuade him to conform, but he was an Israelite, he said, and he bowed only to God, never to man. Faithfulness can be dangerous. Prideful Haman went into a rage and contrived to destroy all Jews because of his hatred for Mordecai. (This hateful spirit didn’t die with Haman.)
Mordecai called on his niece, Esther, one of the king’s wives, to take a stand in defense of her people. He warned her not to think that she would survive the coming holocaust because of her position in the palace. He reminded Esther that God had put her in a position of power “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Without Mordecai, Esther might have forgotten who she was and where she came from.
Paul used the analogy of an ambassador to show that followers of Jesus live in the world and speak to the world on Christ’s behalf (2 Cor. 5:20). Mordecai’s words are a guiding light to all ambassadors for Christ reminding us that we are called at this particular time in history to serve as obedient, courageous and faithful ambassadors of Christ.
Rose McCormick Brandon writes from her home in Caledonia, Ontario. She is the author of Promises of Home - Stories of Canada's British Home Children, One Good Word Makes all the Difference and numerous articles and devotionals for Christian publications. She has two blogs: Listening to my Hair Grow and Promises of Home.
Wednesday, April 01, 2020
Our family loves to get together to celebrate birthdays. This week my daughter had a birthday, but how to celebrate with her posed some interesting challenges. We were not able to go into her house, nor were she and her family able to come to ours. We settled for an option that adhered to the Coronavirus directives and still enabled us to be together. We drove to her house with our gifts and placed them on her front porch where she could pick them up and take them inside. Then she and her family brought their lunch out on the porch and we got our folding chairs out of the car and placed them more than two metres from the porch. We took our packed lunch out of the bag and ate it and were able to have a conversation together without any personal contact. It was a birthday celebration that we will likely talk about for years.
When I began writing this series on The Interrupted Life for this blog just a little over a year ago, I had no idea that all of us were going to experience a huge life interruption by a virus called Covid-19. I could not imagine the way that this pandemic would bring to a halt our crazy busy lives and our bustling communities turn to ghost towns. Unexpectedly our electronic communication devices have become our links to one another.
We are facing a reality we have never experienced before. We find ourselves anxious and
In addition, many of us face huge economic challenges with the disappearance or significant scaling back of occupations. Lack of public support eliminates the entertainment industry. A dried up market threatens the precarious balance of knife-edge solvency for small businesses. Our governments who have treated the health care crisis as the emergency it is have provided guidelines and as necessary, sanctions to try to curb the impact of the virus on our lives, seeking to preserve our livelihoods with financial aid.
We continue to reel as we try to figure this out in our spirits. Is this a punishment from God for the way we have been living or is it a curse from the Enemy who wants only our destruction or is it something else entirely? In searching for answers people come to all kinds of conclusions and none can be proved right or wrong. I find that for me, this is where my faith comes in to play.
This crisis reminds me that my faith has not always been as primordial as I would like it to be. Hugh Palmer, the Rector of All Souls Anglican Church in London, England reminded us of this in a recent service. As Christians we have relied upon the economy and our finances instead of focusing on God as “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
I love the story of the elderly preacher who, in failing health, was visited by a younger minister who asked, “How is your faith holding up now when you are able to do so few of the things that brought joy to your life?”
The minister explained that for years he had tried faithfully to carry his faith and now the time had come for his faith to carry him.Many of us have carried our faith through the sometimes-significant interruptions, in our lives. We have not been alone but have in these interruptions plunged into new depths in our understanding of the faithfulness of God. Now when our whole world is interrupted we find that the faith we have carried can carry us. We will eventually be on the other side of Covid-19. Our lives may never be exactly as they were before, but we will have a greater appreciation of the One in whom we have learned to trust.
|Word Guild Award|
Eleanor served as a Salvation Army officer for thirty years in Canada and France. Her writing has merited several awards. The Hot Apple Ciderstory won an Award of Merit in 2009. In 2011 her book, More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listeningwon The Word Guild Award in Christian Leadership. Christianity Today awarded it a four star rating. In 2012 she won Short Feature award for a Breakthrougharticle. An Award of Merit in 2016 came from The Canadian Church Press. In 2018 her Personal Experience story won in Christmas withHot Apple Cider.
| Word Guild Award|
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