Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sunday Notes

Today was good. It's always a bit strange to switch to "summer church" since we leave over a hour later (for most of the year, Sunday School starts at 9:30 and the service at 10:45; for the summer, we keep the service time by don't have Sunday School). It makes for a longer pre-service morning. I wonder if anyone showed up at 9:30 for Sunday School this morning?

The service was good. We're still in 1 Corinthians 7, but we're switching things up for a while starting next week. Pastor Mike will take over, and he's going through Ephesians. He's going to be preaching for 8 weeks, and then the new missionary we plan to support will be here for a Sunday. It will be late August/early September before we get back to (and finish) chapter 7. I've been loving it, of course, because it's about marriage without glorifying it, and about the benefits to singleness. It's about so much more, as well: about being content where God has put you; about being Christ-focused instead of world-focused; about looking at all of what Scripture says about a topic instead of just what you like.

We just started talking about planning for Sunday School, because it's been a whole week since we finished! It seems like the work never stops, but the truth is that I'll do some stuff this month (mostly wrapping things up and talking to people about teaching in the fall), and then let it go for most of July. Then in August, I'll start ramping things up again for our start in September.

And now it's just a quiet afternoon.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Sunday Notes

Today was the last day of Sunday School, and now we're on our summer break. I gave the kids their final exam. The rules are that they must answer all questions correctly, and they can't ask anyone over 15 for help. Then, after explaining that, we did most of it together and I wrote the answers on the board for them. It was fun. We wrapped up with a nice snack of worms in dirt (in honor of Martin Luther and the Diet of Wourms) and now we're done. I love my class, but I'm also looking forward to a break.

Today will also be the last Bible Study, and last Wednesday was the last counseling class. Things are winding down for summer, and I'm already planning for fall!

The sermon was really good today, and just what I needed. I'm going to have to listen to it again this week (maybe more than once).

This is why I like expository preaching over topical sermons (although I don't mind the occasional topical sermon): eventually, James (or Mike) will preach on exactly the passage I need that day (frequently, actually, because all of Scripture is useful and because God is good and uses my pastors for our growth and His glory). If they didn't preach through books, I think a lot of topics would be missed. This way, eventually they will preach on everything (although it will take years to get through the Bible!).

Here is a hymn for today:

Monday, 5 June 2017

Sunday Notes

Yes, yes, I know it's Monday. Yesterday sort of got away from me. I meant to write in the afternoon, but got distracted by things. Then I had a family from the church over for dinner and to spend the evening. It was a lot of fun, and I totally forgot after that I hadn't written anything.

Yesterday ended my Reformation lessons. We talked about John Calvin. At the end, he was ill and had to be carried to church to preach. The students wondered how he could preach if he couldn't stand, and I pointed out that he could sit to preach; standing wasn't a law or anything. It's just easier to preach if you're standing because then you're higher than the congregation (and you can be seen and heard better).

This led to a discussion about how our pastors could sit to preach. The seat would have to be very high, and they would need stairs to reach it. Or, one student said, the chair could be lowered from the ceiling, with the pastor on it. I'm not sure what the pastors would think about that!

There's only one more Sunday School left before we break for summer. I have mixed feelings: I love teaching and there's so much left to teach them. At the same time, I'm ready for a break.

This hymn was new to me this week, Enjoy!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Sunday Notes

Today is a very good day, because my Mum came to visit. She and her best friend are doing a road trip, and they spent the afternoon/evening with me. They've headed back to the hotel now, with plans to join me for breakfast before I have to head to work and they have to start back east.

My Sunday School class did their homework presentations today. Each student had the name of a missionary to research and then present some basic facts: the name of the person, date of birth, date of death, why the person was famous, and at least one interesting fact. They're not always good at "interesting" facts, or even relevant facts. Some of them managed to talk about missionaries without ever mentioning where they went or what they did, instead choosing to focus on "he died of heart trouble" or "he had 2 wives".

The associate pastor had to fill in today because the main pastor (who was going to preach) was not well. Pastor Mike preached on the good Samaritan and the question the lawyer asked: "What must I do to inherit eternal live?" It was a really good sermon, and he showed us that it is impossible to earn salvation, since we would have to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and our neighbours as ourselves, habitually, constantly, continually, on-going, all the time. None of us do that, so none of us can earn salvation. The good news, of course, is that we don't have to because God has already done all the work for us.

It's been a very good Sunday.

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.