April 6, 2020 PASTORAL EPISTLE # 7
“As the Deer Pants for Water”
Our Pastoral epistle today is inspired by one sent out today by Doug Rollwage to his congregation at Zion Presbyterian Church. It is a scripture reading that is very suitable for these days, an adapted form of a prayer that Doug used during worship yesterday, and a link to a hymn adaptation of these five verses.
Last night the College group met online via the Zoom app. Zoom has a cool whiteboard on it, so we decided to do one round of pictionary. Karen gave the clue to Samuel, and then we had to guess what Samuel drew. It was clearly a church but there was no one there. Very interestingly, when Karen was asked to provide a clue, the first thing that came to her mind was “empty church.”
This is not a new experience for the people of God, as the Psalmist also experienced it 3,000 years ago, when he wrote about “how I used to go to the house of God, under the protection of the Mighty One, with shouts of joy and praise.” His solution was to “put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” This is a good reminder for us in these days of social distancing to also ‘thirst after God’ and ‘put our hope in Him.’
So set aside ten minutes today or tomorrow, either by yourself or with your family, to read the following scripture from the Psalms, to pray the following prayer, and to listen or sing along with the hymn below.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 42:1-5
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember as I pour out my soul,
how I used to go to the house of God,
under the protection of the Mighty One,
with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
O God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
We pray that wherever we are today, that we would all know that we are in your presence, for you have promised to be with us, to the end of the age. We pray that we would thirst for you as the deer pants for water, and that even when our souls are downcast, that we would put our hope in you, our Savior and our God.
Bless us this day O Lord. Lighten our loneliness. Ease our isolation. Assure us that even as the Holy Spirit connects us to you, so by the Spirit we are connected to one another,
Father, we confess to you today that, even though you have commanded us to love one another, yet so often, our selfishness has gotten in the way of love. And our patience has often been short, and our tempers even shorter. We also confess that we have not always reflected your love to your world, turning a deaf ear to cries for help, and a blind eye to those in need.
Forgive us our sins, we pray. Help us to love one another as you have loved us, patiently, unselfishly, completely. Help us to bring healing instead of hurt, forgiveness instead of resentment.
Hear our prayers, O Lord. In the name of Christ we pray, Amen!
Hymn: Psalm 42: As the Deer Longs
Lyrics adapted by Danna Harkin from Psalm 42:1-5, in 1975.
The tune is the traditional and lovely “The Water Is Wide.”
As the deer longs for flowing streams,
so longs my soul for you, O God.
My soul does thirst for the living God,
when shall I come to see your face?
My tears have fed me day and night,
while some have said, “Where is your God?”
But I recall as my soul pours dry,
the days of praise within your house.
Why do I mourn and toil within,
when it is mine to hope in God?
I shall again sing praise to him,
He is my help, He is my God.
Pastor Callum Beck
Pastoral Epistle #6 Sunday, April 5, 2020
Hi all! It is a study prepared by Leanna to prepare us for Sunday’s service. God bless you all and see you on Sunday morning. Callum
RED LETTER CHALLENGE
“Where Your Treasure Is, There Your Heart Will Be Also”
Matthew 6:19-21; 18:18-30
Our fifth topic of this Lenten season is GIVING. God is generous beyond description. Everything we have comes from Him – our lives, relationships, homes, families, friends, food, etc. He even gave His only Son, Jesus, so that we might have eternal life.
As people created in His image, God intends for us to also be generous. Jesus spoke more about money than any other topic. Matthew 6:21 provides one of His clearest teachings on giving. He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He knew we would struggle with priorities and made it very clear that giving is a heart issue. God doesn’t necessarily need or even want our money, but He desperately desires our hearts!
It is important to realize that our treasure includes our time and talent, as well as our finances. Essentially, He doesn’t just expect generous giving, but also generous living. When we live generously, God provides us with unspeakable joy and abundant/full life (John 10:10).
God blesses us in order to bless others (Genesis 12:1-3; 18:18-19). Mark Batterson writes, “When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living. Raise your standard of giving.” We can never out give the Lord. The more we bless others, the more He blesses us (see Proverbs 11:25-26; 2 Corintians 9:8-11). It seems completely illogical, but it’s just part of His extravagant, never-ending grace and love.
Using the following questions, reflect on your own heart:
1. Consider the following statement: “True prosperity is not how much we have, but rather how much we give.” Do you agree or disagree?
2. Read Mark 12:41-44.
a. What is it about the widow’s offering that moved Jesus?
b. Have you ever given sacrificially? Explain.
3. Read Acts 4:32-35.
a. What strikes you most about the early believers’ lifestyle?
b. How would our lives be different if we gave like they did?
c. Why do you think it is hard to give away resources that are ultimately God’s anyway? That is, what keeps us from giving more?
4. Read Luke 18:18-30, the parable of the rich young ruler. How does his life illustrate Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:21 about our heart being where our treasure is?
5. Consider your bank and credit card statements and your daily schedule. What do they indicate about where your treasure is? Rank yourself on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is “very poor” and 10 is “excellent”) on how generous you are.
Quote to Ponder: “God doesn’t need us to give Him our money. He owns everything. Tithing is God’s way to grow Christians” (Adrian Rogers).
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, may you be my treasure, both now and in eternity, so that my heart may rest at peace in you.”
Shirley MacKay had a great idea and asked if i could send her a picture of praying hands to put in her window. Feel free to copy and paste this link and print for your window.. if you happen to be in town, i will leave a bunch in our mailbox for you to take..
March 30, 2020 – PASTORAL EPISTLE # 5
Romans 12:12; Colossians 1:9-12; James 5:7-11
Our Pastoral epistle today comes from the pen of Elder Wayne Peters. The topic is patience, but why would he think any of us need that?☹ – Callum
“Are we theeerrrre yet?”
Sound familiar? This lament is most often heard on a long road trip, and emanates from a tired, bored, impatient child (or sometimes, a parent) who has had enough. I think we’ve all “Been there, done that.”
How are you finding your patience level, these days? It seems that there is no news, other than the Coronavirus situation. Our regular lives are on hold, and “normal” is no longer normal.
I have been asked to work from home for the past two weeks. Unfortunately, that can only begin after regular working hours, as we have only so many connections to our network. (I have found that my concentration levels in the evening are not on par with what should be “normal”. Frustrating!) When those connections are available, they still don’t give me the full suite of tools I am used to having at my fingertips. (Frustrating!!) At the office, I have two monitors to give me the space to lay out my toolkit, to help my weary eyes, and I know where everything is. On the laptop, I have no room! (GRRR!!!)
Yes, friends, I am poking fun at my situation. I do realize that I am very fortunate. I am still employed. Hopefully, next week, we will have better (daytime) access to the network. And, I am not sick. God has blessed me in many ways, and I am grateful for His care.
It is too easy, in trying times, to lose sight of what really matters. We sometimes get so worked up about things that are, in truth, small in the grand scheme of things. We lose our patience with others, get frustrated with situations beyond our control, and miss out on the blessings that should be a constant source of amazement. Blessings like family and friends, and phones to keep in touch with them. Kind neighbors and friends who will help us get groceries and run errands. And, we must not forget God’s Love. That’s a huge blessing!
So, before you get to “GRRR!!!” and lose it, take a moment to remind yourself that God loves you. Say it out loud: “God Loves Me!” Say it a few times, if necessary. Take a deep breath. In – hold it – and then Out.
Now, how’s your patience level?
Elder Wayne Peters
March 30, 2020
PRAYER FOR PATIENCE: Heavenly Father, give us patience in our affliction and suffering, whether our trials are small irritants or overwhelming burdens. Strengthen us, by your glorious power, to have great endurance and patience so that we can bear fruit in every good work. Help me to be patient and kind with my family in these trying days, when we are forced to be so close together for such extended periods. Help us to remain calm in our hearts, joyful in hope and loving in our actions. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
In uncertain times, it’s easy to be consumed by fear, anxiety and hopelessness. But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. As we walk this journey together, let us remember our God is not surprised by any of this. He is sovereign. He is in control. He is great, glorious, gracious and good. May we, without hesitation, find strength and peace in that truth.
Jean Wheatley – March 24, 2020
We just heard from Mark Wheatley that his Mom, Jean, a long-time member at Central, just passed away about 8:15pm on Monday night, Mar 23. She had a fall yesterday, and then a stroke. The hospital chaplain and a relative who works at the hospital were in praying over her, and as soon as they finished the Lord’s Prayer, Jean gently passed away into the arms of her Lord.
PASTORAL EPISTLE # 3 – March 23, 2020
“Redeeming the Time” Ephesians 6:10-20
When I lived in Tennessee we had two people in our church who were at opposite ends of a robbery. The first was an old grandmother. She had just got a job at a small convenience store and was held up by a young man with a gun, though they later found out had it no bullets in it. He asked her to hand over the money in the cash register drawer, but, having no fear of eternity and a heart of compassion for this young man, she very calmly replied, “Oh dearie, you don’t want to do this, if you take the money you will just end up getting more charges against you, so just put down your gun and we will call the police.” And he did.
The second case was a young man who got himself into trouble, stole some money, and got two years less a day in prison. I talked to him the week before he went in and asked him, “What are you going to accomplish while you are in jail?” He was kind of shocked by this question, I think he thought he was just going to stare at the walls and play cards with the other prisoners, but then we laid out a plan for all the things he was going to study in his ‘free time.’ Unfortunately, this story does not end well, because his girlfriend dumped him after he had been in for a month, and he was so depressed that he ended up moping around for the rest of his sentence, and accomplished almost nothing.
Still, the idea was good. When we are granted a lot of free time, what do we do with it? Paul talks about the idea of “ redeeming the time because the days are evil.” In some ways, with the arrival of this deadly disease, the hit our economy is taking, and all of the social distancing, these days are evil. We could certainly fill all of our empty hours watching CNN or Netflix, or playing video games. While those are nice things to have in days like these, do you really want to emerge from this forced hibernation in six weeks and look back and say, ‘I just spent the last 1000 hours watching movies and playing Pac-Man’ (okay I am showing my age, but that’s cause I don’t know the names of any computer game made since then)? Do we want to be like the young man in jail who came out of his forced hiatus and had not grown a single whit?
So I think it is good that we think about how we can redeem this time. How, even when we are stuck at home, can we productively use our time to grow closer to our Creator, minister to others, and finish some projects at home that we have been putting off for years. Now for some of us, our time is busier now than it has ever been. Certainly this is the case for our medical people and workers in essential industries. This has also been true for me these last couple of weeks, with trying to get my university courses online and re-jigging things around the church. And many of you are just working from home instead of at the office, so life is not all that different for you. But for many, we are now in possession of a lot of free hours in our day. So what do we do with them?
Lorraine and I have begun to make a list on our whiteboard of all the things we hope to accomplish during the next few weeks or months. This ranges from physical exercise (going for walks and lifting weights while we watch Netflix ☺), to a few projects around the house, to making sure we set aside time each day to be together with our Lord. And if this goes on a really long time, I may even get a chance to finish the three books I started to write eight years ago.
So what are you going to do to redeem your time? Feel free to send an email and let us know what you and your family are doing during these ‘evil times’ to redeem your time. . It should encourage all of us
Belle MacInnis & family wish to Thank everyone for all your love and prayers during Fred’s illness & funeral. Thank you to all who sent cards, delivered food , gave donations and reached out with a phone call. It was sincerely appreciated.
PASTORAL EPISTLE # 2 – March 20, 2020
This is Pastoral Epistle number two. Some of you may be wondering why I chose this name. The first reason is pretty obvious, this is an epistle (which is just another word for letter or in modern parlance, email) from the pastor to the congregation. The second reason is that it is an allusion to a term used in Biblical studies. The Pastoral Epistles are First and Second Timothy and Titus. They are called that because they are personal letters from Paul to Timothy and Titus, in their role as leaders in their Church.
When I went to Bible College I was taught a course on the Pastoral Epistles by Les Jones, who was Bonnie May’s father. The main thing I remember from the course was our discussion around the phrase “it is a true and faithful saying” (trustworthy saying in the translation below). There are five of these, which follow:
1 Timothy 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
1 Timothy 3:1 “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer (elder) desires a noble task.”
1 Timothy 4:8-9 “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.”
2 Timothy 2:11-13 “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
Titus 3:5-8 “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.”
Take some time to reflect and meditate upon these trustworthy sayings today.
But what is at the heart of this phrase, is my feelings of deep concern for each one of you at this time, my concern for you as your pastor. Paul speaks of his deep “concern for all the churches” (II Corinthians 11:28), and he says to the Philippians that “I have you in my heart” (Philippians 1:7). As your pastor that is how I feel at this time. And I want these days to be fruitful in your lives spiritually, that you would grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. So each week I will send out two or three Pastoral Epistles (though some may come from one of the elders or Leanna), and I hope you take the time to read them, reflect upon them, and use them to bring yourself before our God and Savior. Because, it is a true and faithful saying that “godliness has value for all things, holding promise both for the present life and the life to come.”
Yesterday morning Lorraine and I prayed together the prayer in the last epistle, Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, and it was a precious time for us. The next epistle will be on Redeeming the Time.
Email sent out to congregation – March 20, 2020
Wednesday evening the Leadership of Central Christian Church met to discuss plans on how we move forward as a congregation in view of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
After discussing various options, we decided that we would have a live video service each Sunday at 11:00am. The service will be a condensed version with prayer, scripture reading, a message and communion. If you are on Facebook please like our Facebook page, -Central Christian Church. You will also be able to watch this live from our church website @ www.centralchristian.pe.ca/live.
We encourage everyone to participate in the service and to share in the communion time by partaking of the bread and the wine at your own home. Make sure you prepare this beforehand – it will be partaken at the end of the service.
We are also mindful of those who are lonely and possibly stressed over the situation we find ourselves in. We want you to know that we are all in this together and we need to support one another. Although we may not be able to meet socially we can pick up a phone and check in with one of your christian brothers & sisters, Face-time your loved ones, If you are going to the grocery store ask if your neighbor needs anything. (I have attached the church directory link below for those of you who don’t have your church phone book)
It is important that we stay united and take care of each other during this crisis. Remain strong in your faith that God will see us through this. Use this time to draw close to Him. BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD. Maybe that is what He is trying to tell us.
Please check out our website for past sermons, as well as a NEW TAB on the website called Messages & Prayers.This will be updated with messages from Pastor Beck, needs from the congregation, and prayer concerns/updates.
You may be wondering how can I continue to support my church when we are not gathering. We want you to know there is an opportunity to give as the needs are still ongoing.
– E transfer: firstname.lastname@example.org password: giving
– You can pop your cheque in the mail or drop off to the church office mailbox (outside the back door) if you happen to be out
– Credit Card/ Visa debit – Go to our website: www.centralchristian.pe.ca/donate or click on the DONATE NOW button (button should be up by end of day) on our church web page.
For those that require food
– We have limited items available in our food pantry here at the church
– Call the Salvation Army Charlottetown Food Bank (902-892-2281) They will meet you at the front doors of their lobby (not the usual side door) and allow one person in at a time. If you want them to put your groceries in your car, please let them know at the door. This is not a time to be proud -if you need help, please come or give them a call. They understand that many who might normally be a donor or usually have other options are in a unique position in these days. They are not here to judge but to show you compassion. If you are self-isolating, please call them and we will do our best to make arrangements with you.
– Gifts from the Heart – Betty Begg – 902-628-6871
And as always, please give us a call at the church and we will see what we can do to help you 🙂
We here at Central want to keep you all connected!
Blessings & Be safe
Nick Evans update – March 19, 2020
Hey pastor. I’m still in Taiwan. They have not closed the the league only made it closed door with no fans and limited staff. The season is over April 12th and my flight back is going to be made very shortly after. They are paying me ALOT of money and I need this salary to survive this summer. There has only been 100 cases here and 24 have recovered released. From what I understand my return flight to Canada is not in jeopardy even with the new boarder closure in Canada. I do NOT fall into the Unessential category due to marriage and children that are Canadian and my lease on a house. I will be self quarantining when I get back to pei for 14 days. I feel very health but understand I still could be a carrier.
Irene MacIssac update – March 18, 2020
Well a trip to Halifax becomes a crisis which has left me speechless with gratefulness and thankfulness!!!Somehow my brain nudged me to go to Hfx even if I felt something wasn’t quite right.. overnight I developed. Discomfort over my sternum
Like heartburn..a thumping feeling in my chest .. and like many nurses didn’t take it too serious.. again my intuition or Guardian Angel nudged me to take an aspirin which I did.. some relief.. later decided to get checked in Emerg as it was one of the best cardiac hospitals in the Maritimes… immediately EKG showed I was in Atrial Fib.. so the preparation was made to sedate me and use the paddles…praying to remain calm while awaiting the procedure changed the event as my heart picked up
A normal rhythm and I averted the paddles!!what can happen with AF is one can throw a clot if the AF last too long then you end up with a stroke if it goes to the brain and probably a massive heart attack if it goes to the heart!! Someone was looking after me !! I was admitted for the weekend and Catheter Lab Monday for a dye test of the cardiac arteries!! Not to bad a procedure as they give you calming meds and you get to watch the wire go from your wrist to your heart with the dye floating through… No heart damage was seen but 2 blockages which they dealt with by inserting two stents to open the artery!!! The 2 stents in the other artery from 16 years ago were working very well..I am now on my 6th life and for whatever reason I wasn’t wanted on the other side yet… Emotionally I am in awe that I got shingles a few weeks ago therefore I was not in Europe for this crisis..Spiritually I am beyond blessed and felt protected… So presently I am home resting and remaining isolated to stay well and it is time to start heart healthy living so toast with me on that!!PS is wine allowed?
Pastoral Epistle #1 – March 17, 2020
Today is St Patty’s day, but there is none of the usual celebration. Perhaps that will allow us to focus more on the original spiritual intention of this holiday feast.
I received in my inbox today a devotional on the prayer of St Patrick, called St Patrick’s Breastplate. I found it quite moving, especially given the current state of affairs in our world. So I decided today to do the first of my Pastoral Epistles to the congregation, during this period of physical distancing from one another, in order to encourage us all to draw close to our heavenly Father and keep in touch at least virtually. I have no idea on the frequency of future epistles, or the form, but we will see how all of that unfolds.
So here is a bit about St Patrick (stolen from Christian History magazine and supplemented by Wiki), along with a prayer of his, some scriptures and a hymn to help us get through this difficult time.
Biography of St Patrick
The first evangelist to pagan Ireland was Palladius. He was sent there in 431, about five years before Patrick went. Patrick was from what is now Dumbarton, Scotland (just northwest of Glasgow). When he was 16 years old, in about the year 405, he was captured in a raid and became a slave in Ireland. Far from home, he clung to the religion he had ignored as a teenager. Even though his grandfather had been a priest, and his father a town councilor, Patrick “knew not the true God.” But forced to tend his master’s sheep in Ireland, he spent his six years of bondage mainly in prayer. After six years of captivity he heard a voice telling him that he would soon go home, and then that his ship was ready. Fleeing his master, he travelled to a port, two hundred miles away, where he found a ship and with difficulty persuaded the captain to take him.
After returning home to Britain, Patrick continued to study Christianity and eventually became a priest. Patrick recounts that he had a vision a few years after returning home:
I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish.” As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea-and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”
This was his Macedonian call (read Acts 16:6-10), which in turn is the basis for the first line of the old hymn we used to sing, “We have heard the Macedonian call today, Send the Light, send the light.”
Patrick was in his mid-40s when he returned to Ireland. Palladius had not been very successful in his mission, and the returning former slave replaced him. Intimately familiar with the Irish clan system (his former master, Milchu, had been a chieftain), Patrick’s strategy was to convert the chiefs first, who would then convert their clans through their influence. Reportedly, Milchu was one of his earliest converts. “Never before did they know of God except to serve idols and unclean things. But now, they have become the people of the Lord, and are called children of God.” He baptized thousands. Though he was not solely responsible for converting the island, Patrick was the one primarily responsible for bringing the Christian faith to Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Breastplate
This is a powerful prayer of Protection, also known as The Deer’s Cry. It is attributed to Saint Patrick of Ireland.
The story goes that Saint Patrick sang this after an ambush had been laid against him, to prevent him from going to a certain community to spread the gospel. It is said the man lying in ambush did not see Saint Patrick and his monks as they passed by, but rather wild deer with a fawn following them (thus the name the Deer’s Cry). That Gaelic phrase might mean, however, a mist of concealment.
The prayer calls for Christ’s protection using a lorica (shield or breastplate), from which it derives its name, “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”. This is based on Ephesians 6:10-20 (“God’s shield to protect us … from snares of devils”). This prayer recognizes the spiritual battle between good and evil and thus the importance of praying for protection on a daily basis.
I encourage you to read and reflect upon Ephesians 6:10-20, and maybe even discuss it with your family, and then pray the following prayer; because we do not arise today, or any other day, by our strength but by His.
I arise today
through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
believing in the threeness,
and confessing the oneness,
of our Creator of creation.
I rise today
in the power of Christ’s birth and baptism,
in the power of his crucifixion and burial,
in the power of his rising and ascending,
in the power of his descending and his judging….
I rise today
in heaven’s might,
in sun’s brightness,
in moon’s radiance,
in fire’s glory,
in lightning’s quickness,
in wind’s swiftness,
in sea’s depth,
in earth’s stability,
in rock’s fixity.
I rise today
with the power of God to pilot me, with
God’s strength to sustain me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look ahead for me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to protect me, …
God’s shield to defend me,
And God’s host to deliver me,
from the snares of devils,
from evil temptations,
from nature’s failings,
from all who wish to harm me,
far or near, alone and in a crowd.
Around me I gather today all these powers
against every cruel and merciless force
that would attack my body and soul….
In 1889 this poem was adapted into a hymn entitled I Bind Unto Myself Today. There are many versions of this on You Tube, but here is one version that you can use for your meditation and worship today – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH4ToVxtn9A.
March 17, 2020