Sunday, 21 May 2017

Sunday Notes

Double posting today: you should all feel special! I wanted to have a post just about the sermon (because it made me very happy), but there is more to say about Sunday.

I taught my Sunday School class about the 5 Solas of the Reformation, thereby tying the regular lessons and the Reformation classes together. By the end of the class, my chalkboard (because I'm very old-school and prefer a chalkboard) was covered with the 5 Solas and several other words that I put up as they did their worksheets because none of them can spell. It was a good class, and we learned and laughed a lot.

After church, one of the families came over for what we decided was Sunday dinner (I'm not sure what meal you eat at 3:00 on a Sunday afternoon). We started with carrot sticks and strawberries, and then the Swiss Chalet delivery showed up. It was so very good! Later we all walked down to the pond and then hung out at the playground for a while. The mom and I talked while the dad and the kids played. I think the nicest part, for me, was how relaxed and comfortable they felt at my house: the were able to kick back, rest, take a short nap, and none of us had to worry about being "on" the whole time. That's what I've wanted for my home: for it to be a comfortable place where people can feel at home and just relax for a while.

It's been a nice day. I'm a little sleepy (fresh air and sunshine will do that!), and feeling pretty relaxed and happy.

For your listening entertainment:

Today's Sermon

I have always had the feeling that singleness was viewed (both in and out of the church) as less than marriage, and that I was somehow lacking as a single person, and that the married people were feeling sorry for me. If I ever said that I liked being single, many people looked amused or sympathetic or something. They would reassure me that there was someone out there for me, and that I needed to trust God more.  Either there was something wrong with me for being happy with singleness, or I was in denial, or I just hadn't found the right guy. It has been a challenge sometimes being in a very family-oriented church, with children everywhere, and the expectation that everyone would grow up and get married. Sometimes I felt like I was getting God's second-best (or at least that this is how people viewed my life).

In all my years at church, I have listened to several sermons about marriage. I know how to be a godly wife; I even know how to be a godly husband. Last week, I listened to a sermon about physical intimacy in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-6). That was....interesting. I have been waiting for years to hear a sermon about people like me: single and happy, and not even looking for marriage.

Today Pastor James got up to 1 Corinthians 7:7-9:

"Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (NASB).

Yes: Today I finally got my sermon. When I discovered what we wold be hearing today, I was both excited and anxious. I have been waiting a long time for this sermon, and especially since Pastor James started preaching through 1 Corinthians. I knew this sermon was coming, and I was not sure that it could live up to my built up expectations. So it was with some mix of expectation, excitement, and trepidation that I opened my Bible and notebook and waited for him to start.

I am very, very happy to say that Pastor James met and exceeded my expectations. You can listen to the sermon here. I couldn't keep up with my note-taking in parts because I wanted to write down everything he said, and I wanted to make sure everyone else was listening too. And I may have cried a bit when I realized that I might finally be able to tell people that I'm happy being single and they'll accept what I say as okay and biblical, and that there's nothing wrong with me. I'm not less of a person or of a Christian, and God is not holding out on me. Singleness is a gift, and given so that I can serve the church more fully.

And there's a more to come: 1 Corinthians 7 will later include verses about why singleness is good, and about the advantages of staying single in being able to focus on God and serving Him.

Today I am very, very thankful for a pastor who preaches expository, verse-by-verse through a book sermons, and that he decided to preach through 1 Corinthians.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Church Notes

Today we were learning about Thomas Cranmer in Sunday School. Last time I taught about him (5 years ago), I explained my reasons (you can find that post here), so I won't do that again. Cranmer was a complicated man who failed many times, but always God was gracious and forgiving when Cranmer repented.

We did get sidetracked by British history today (last week, too), as we discussed Henry VIII and his many wives. We talked about how each marriage ended for each wife (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived), and which ones he actually liked (number 3 was his favourite, and he stayed friends with number 4 even after the divorce). In the end, the children learned 2 things for sure: don't marry Henry VIII, and don't help the king get a divorce! I'm fairly certain that they learned about Cranmer and God's mercy as well!

I also gave the students their homework today. They have 2 weeks to research a famous person (they're all missionaries this time) and then report back to us about the person's life. I choose the people, write them on slips of paper, and have each child draw a slip from the pile. They seem to enjoy the homework, although that could be because they know there will be a reward for doing it (usually a roll of LifeSavers®). I like it because they learn more than I have time to teach them (both from their own research and by listening to the other students present their findings), and it gives me a break from teaching.

Friday, 12 May 2017

First Lines

I'm sitting in my apartment with a gang of Sunday School boys who are alternating between eating everything in sight and watching Rogue One (except the boy who is alternating between reading Charlie Brown and watching Rogue One).

Since I've already finished eating, and have already watched Rogue One, I think it's time for another installment of "first lines of books I am reading/recently read".

"The word community is used for a variety of purposes to denote groups of people who have something in common."

"Some years ago we planted a tree on the west side of our house expecting it to grow and eventually shade us from the afternoon sun."

"That amiable youth, Jimmy Thesiger, came racing down the big staircase at Chimneys two steps at a time."

"Mr. Mayherne adjusted his pince-nez and cleared his throat with a little dry-as-dust cough that was wholly typical of him."

"Before plunging into the first passage of the Bible, it might be helpful if I tel you where we are going in this series."

"A biblical understanding of idolatry dramatically changed my own life and exposed how far I had drifted from the gospel."

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Sunday Notes

Once a month (twice this month), I teach my students about men of the Reformation. Today we learned about Ridley and Latimer, two English reformers during the time of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, and Queen Mary (we also learned a bit of British history). Ridley and Latimer were eventually burned at the stake. We ended up having a discussion about being burned at the stake vs. being strangled vs. being beheaded. The final decision was that being beheaded would be best as it would hurt the least, and if you were burned at the stake, it was best to have gunpowder tied around your neck (so it would explode and kill you quickly) or to breathe deeply and die of smoke inhalation. Yeah....I taught my students how to be martyred.

Pastor James preached on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, about glorifying God in our bodies. It was a great sermon, and very powerful. There are some things he said that I'm going to have to ponder on for a while to make sure I understand, and to see how they affect my life. Mostly, I'm thinking about how if we are all members of Christ's body, then any sin I commit will affect the whole body. I was reading True Community by Jerry Bridges this week, and he says much the same thing: that we're all part of the body, so what hurts one part will hurt the rest.

We were there after for a long time as the people I ride with were locking up, and a couple of the elders had a meeting (making it even longer than normal). I was going to do some research in the library about a passage I'm studying, but ended up talking with one of the other ladies for a long time. We're at about the same stage in life, are both finding the change of life really rough going. We were able to commiserate with each other and encourage each other to glorify God in our tough times. I have just recently been getting to know this sister in Christ, and I count her as one of the really good things that God has brought into my life this year.

It was a really, really good Sunday.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Sunday Stuff

Today was a very, very busy Sunday!

Sunday school went well, and I think they understand the concept of the fruit of the Spirit. I emphasized that you can't break the fruit into separate fruits, but need all of them, and that they all work together. Then we had a special snack of Kinder® Surprise® eggs, and we were thankful for post-Easter chocolate sales! Near the beginning of class we had a wonderful interruption: a family who had moved away 9 months ago has moved back and this was their first Sunday back in Sunday school. They were a bit late, but we were too happy to mind!

The service was really good (I've included one of the hymns below). Pastor Mike preached on Ephesians 3:20-21. You can listen to it here. I found the reminder that we have working in us the same power that raised Christ from the dead, and gave us life as well to be a perfectly timed blessing for me today (Mike said it way better than that, so you should just go and listen to him). We ended with communion, which is always a serious and yet joyous time.

After the service we had our last-Sunday-of-the-month soup-and-sandwich lunch. I was ordered to join a group of teenage girls (by one of the girls), so I did. I like spending time with them, so I was quite willing to obey!

Next, we had baptisms: 10 people were baptized today. It was really, really good to hear their testimonies and how God has worked in so many lives in so many different ways. Some of "my" kids were baptized today; one of them I've known since he was a baby (he's around 13 now). I love watching them grow up and grow in their faith.

Finally, we had an elder appreciation time. It was just a short bit, with one of the men talking for all of us to our elders and their wives, letting them know that we love them. I think he did a good job, talking to each on specifically about why we love him (and his family). There were flowers and notes and gifts, and I think not a few tears. It was good.

And now I'm at home, washing baptismal robes, and wondering if I should head out for a walk before it starts to rain (it seems to be clouding over). I think I'll head out when I put the next lot in the dryer.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Sunday Notes

Today we started on the fruit of the Spirit in Sunday School. We talked about abiding in the vine to bear fruit, and how good trees bear good fruit, and bad trees bear bad fruit. We read from Matthew, about how you will know people (and particularly in that case, false teachers) by their fruit.

Then I used an example of an orchard. If it's late summer, early fall, and you're in an orchard and you're not sure what type of trees they are, how can you find out?
The answer I was given: By their leaves.
Trust me: even this boy doesn't know the leaves of the trees well enough to tell one type of tree from another.
My response: Where in the Bible does it say "You will know them by their leaves?????"

Oh, well; maybe next week they'll get it!

After the service, I was talking with another lady about our various menopausal symptoms. Yeah, I'm at that stage of adulthood now. I'm glad that I'm not going through it alone though; it's nice to have someone else sympathize with the hot flashes followed by chills!

Here's a hymn for you. Have a great week!