Hannah’s Message

Jesus served children as much as he did adults. And he taught us to do the same thing. Frankly, children have been among my greatest concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. Are we taking care of the little ones as much as we should? Are we listening to them? Are we talking with them about their fears? Are we helping them understand the world in crisis through the eyes of faith? Do we encourage them to process their feelings by talking about the world from their perspective? Most importantly, are we teaching them God’s Word for tough times? 

As a pastor of an amazing congregation in the heart of Mississauga with lots of little ones running around the campus, I’m deeply thankful for the work of our children’s ministry associate, Miss Heidi. She’s amazing for lots of reasons including being creative, passionate, and competent in teaching children. But the thing I love about her work most is that she has Jesus’ heart and perspective for children.  She knows that serving the children is accomplishing the mission of Jesus to “make disciples of all nations.” She’s a disciple making leader of children. 

She’s an example to all the adults in our church family in how to serve children in the mission of Jesus. She talks to them as fellow believers in Jesus. She listens to them as respected fellow citizens of the kingdom of God. She honors them by praying for them and by designing ministry that she has discerned is what they need during any given season in their lives. She’s very much a shepherd of children. 

Thanks, Miss Heidi for serving our children spiritually, faithfully, and wisely. And special thanks to all of our children for teaching us how to endure a hard time with a smile and messages of hope. They’ve experienced as much disruption as us adults, and yet they have proven resilient, faithful, and spiritually strong. Truthfully, oftentimes they get it more than we do. 

Children like Hannah who spoke one of the clearest messages of hope and faith during the last four months. Early in the pandemic, she wrote messages of hope and peace on her driveway, sidewalk, and lamp post for all of her neighbors to see (and feel!). I’ve thought about that message several times. In typical childlike fashion, she captured the simple truth that guides our faith. Hope in God and love one another. Specifically, she wrote, “Trust in God” and “I love you.” Notice it isn’t just “have faith” or “believe” but “trust in God.” And it isn’t just “love one another” it’s “I love you.” 

This is the message of the New Testament. It’s “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).  You say you have faith in God. Prove it by loving others the way Jesus does. But the kind of love that the Bible prescribes is only attainable through faith. For Christians, faith is the root and love is the fruit. Faith is the “pivotal” virtue BUT “true Christian love creates a sympathizing and merciful spirit and disposes a person to be public-spirited.” (David Clyde Jones)

Children understand it. Why can’t we? Trust in God and “I love you.”

Stay cool (in every way) church family. It’s hot out there.
Pastor Deric

Happy Canada Day 2020 (more or less!)

July 1st is one of my favourite holidays.  It’s CANADA Day!  Of all the privileges we get to celebrate as Canadians, being a FREE people is surely one of our greatest. Just read the opening paragraph of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be justified in a free and democratic society.  Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.”

Subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law, you are free to live by the standards of your own conscience. You are free to practise your religion (or not, as many do).  You are free to think, believe and express your own values. You are free to peaceful assembly and free to associate with whomever you want. 

Here’s how I think you can celebrate your freedoms in the best possible way:   

A lot less
ragging on Canada. Stop poking this great country in the eye.  Go ahead and make it better but have some respect for the freedoms that are granted here.

A lot more love for our neighbour.  This country is your country and it’s my country.  It’s ours

Let’s respect each other.  We share the same streets, neighbourhoods, cities, villages, provinces and nation, so let’s show the world how to get along in sharing the same planet.   

A lot less division.  True love for one’s neighbour doesn’t label others by any standard other than the respect and value owed to every human being.  

A lot more unity.  The Charter is helpful in keeping unity because it establishes the common law and values we agree to impose on ourselves. 

A lot less gawking at the USA.  When someone you love and on whom you depend is going through a rough season, it’s unnatural and unholy to stab them in the back.  “Love covers a multitude of transgressions.”  It’s horribly distasteful when one nation postures itself as morally superior to another. 

A lot more hard work in cleaning up our own back yard.  One of the surest signs that you are in denial is to talk endlessly about someone else’s problems.  It’s called “deflecting” and it’s not healthy.  I vote for working hard at cleaning up our own messes. 

A lot less bullying and manipulation.  The right and freedom of conscience, belief, opinion and expression is a cornerstone tenet of the Charter.  You aren’t free if you are afraid to express another side of an argument that doesn’t follow mainstream chatter.  Nor are you free if you are labelled a “hater” because you raise an opposing view.  I would never have believed that Canada would become a land of bullying and manipulation to this degree.  From mayors to ministers we bully through silence, shouting or sarcasm.   

A lot more humility.  The Bible says that “pride goes before destruction” for a reason.  I think it’s commendable to realize how blessed you are to live in this great nation, but I think it’s more endearing to be humble about your blessings. 

A lot more praying, hoping and trusting in God to keep our land.  Without a doubt, the best gift Canada bestowed upon me was access to the knowledge of God upon which our country is founded (according to the Charter).  For many years now I have stood with my church on Canada Day weekend to sing the national anthem.  We are unique (even rare according to Wikipedia) in that when we sing, we include the third stanza which reads: 

Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion within thy loving care;
Help us to find, O God, in thee
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the better Day,
We ever stand on guard.

So, on this great day of celebrating our freedom, say a prayer or two that our Lord, Ruler Supreme, would hold our Dominion in His loving care!

Just two things to remember before I go church family:   

No promise of freedom is complete without the one that Jesus offered His message of hope!  “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).  Unless and until you are set free from the bondage of your sin, you are never really free.  He is the true liberator of the souls of mankind.  ALL mankind, from every “tribe and tongue and nation.”

Happy FREEDOM Day church family,
Pastor Deric