Exemple

Welcome back to our worship blog! I say “our” worship blog because the intent for this is still to be able to connect and worship communally in the knowledge that together we are listening to the same songs, reading the same words, and putting in work to glorify God in what we are doing during days of isolation and uncertainty. This week, John is preaching on seeing God in our healthcare workers who are putting their own wellbeing at risk for the benefit of our nation and our world. As you worship in this way with the songs and the reading, take some time to reflect on the message and think about what it means to see a perfect God imaged in imperfect people who are doing Christ-like work.

Build My Life – Pat Barrett – https://youtu.be/QZW4_8_zCBE

No One But You – Hillsong Worship – https://youtu.be/rOPqG6FkV1c

By now, you are maybe starting to sense a pattern in our songs and the themes that I attempt to draw attention to. In our opening songs, I like to emphasize the “why” behind our worship. God is our foundation. Without this foundation, we would clearly not be doing church “long-distance,” and our hope for tomorrow would be bleak, but this foundation is so much more crucial than we often discuss. God made the rocks on which the foundations of our houses sit. It is only due to God’s provision that we have jobs, and entertainment, and food in our pantries. As we focus our minds to sing together, even if we are in different physical spaces, let us remember the One who has made all of this possible from the very beginning.

Good Grace – Hillsong United – https://youtu.be/CW3OuAaDyZ8

In the message this week, Pastor John paints the image of a united people, walking together towards one goal; fighting a pandemic alongside one another. As you listen to this song this week, my hope is that you can indeed take courage and that you will be able to remember where our help comes from. There are lyrics in the description, or if you turn on “closed captions,” the lyrics will appear on the screen for you to sing along with.

Jesus Paid It All – Newsboys – https://youtu.be/Hs05AtP2wd8

Death Was Arrested – North Point InsideOut – https://youtu.be/uMsMiluCUUI

Just in case you have lost track in the midst of all the changes, next week is Easter. It is perhaps more appropriate than we originally thought that the Covid pandemic happened during Lent, a season of waiting. As we turn our hearts and our minds towards the great sacrifice of our Saviour, I would like us to all be thinking about Jesus’ early followers. It is something of a long standing tradition throughout Christian history to wait and see what God will do next, and perhaps the most notable is the period of waiting between Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection. Though we do not know what tomorrow will bring, we can have faith that just as God’s plan was good then, His plan is good now.

 

Just a friendly reminder: if you prefer a playlist to the individual YouTube links, our Spotify playlist is also an option. I will be updating the playlist every week and making sure that the songs I have selected for that week will be at the top of the playlist. Thanks and God Bless!

Spotify Playlist – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7EB9xkQQtZJcMRAzV5hrdO?si=OWpqbha-Qxya_UDqDsdjVg

 

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Exemple

With our situation ever evolving, I hope that you all have managed to find rest and peace in Christ this week. As we delve into more psychology this week, I have chosen some songs to focus our attention on God our father and our comforter. Michelle’s message is breaking down more of the psychology and science of our brain and what happens when we are confronted with things that elicit a fear response. So, as you listen to and perhaps sing the following songs, I encourage you to be thinking about who God is and how unchanging he is in the face of fear.

Goodness Of God – Bethel Music – https://youtu.be/IvSuGyJQ6oM

Your Glory / Nothing But The Blood – All Sons and Daughters – https://youtu.be/eQssA0HKYxE

As always, it is important to remember why we worship and who we are worshiping. “Goodness of God” is a statement of truth and a commitment of our aspiration to worship God in all things. In the face of fear, in the darkest valleys, and on the highest mountains, God is good and God is faithful. The second song, a medley of “Your Glory” and “Nothing but the Blood,” reminds us that more than simply being good, when we fail to see the beauty in the things around us we can always see the beauty in God’s sovereignty and glory as well as in Christ’s sacrifice for us. The link to “Your Glory / Nothing but the Blood” doesn’t have any lyrics attached, so while you are welcome to sing along as you learn the words or search for a video with lyrics attached, I encourage you to sit and listen to the words and internalize them as a prayer: “Lord, may I always behold your glory with awe and thankfulness.”

I Will Fear No More – The Afters –https://youtu.be/wMmmbJlWhtk

If you watched this week’s sermon before reading this blog post, you will recognize this song as the one I sang as our response to Michelle’s message. I don’t want to step on Michelle’s toes and speak too much about what fear is and how we can respond to it, but as you sing this song I want to draw special attention to the line in the second verse that says “when the wind and wave are coming, you shelter me.” In the midst of dark and uncertain times, it can be easy to believe that the only way to survive a storm is for God to calm the waves. However, what we see in scripture and what this song is hinting at is the reality that sometimes God’s solution is to shelter us from the waves rather than to make them go away.

No One But You – Hillsong Worship https://youtu.be/rOPqG6FkV1c

Be Thou My Vision – Audrey Assad – https://youtu.be/Optrm7lF16s

In closing, my hope is that over the course of the next week, and the next month, and however long this period lasts, we would be fixing our eyes on God instead of the problems in our midst. In Philippians 4:8, Paul says, “finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” and let us make that our goal this coming week.

One More thing,

This week, I have also compiled a list of songs that we have sung together, or that I have put in this worship blog, and created a Spotify playlist. Maybe you need to be reminded of these truths as you are driving to the grocery store to pick up essentials this week. Or, maybe you would like to be able to let these songs play in the background as you do work from home this week. However you use these songs and listen to music, I hope that this playlist is a helpful tool while you try to draw near to God throughout the week.

Spotify Playlist – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7EB9xkQQtZJcMRAzV5hrdO?si=OWpqbha-Qxya_UDqDsdjVg

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Exemple

Though it is week two of our non-traditional church services, and I miss your faces already, God is still good and so we still worship. As John unpacks what is going on in our world this week, I have put together a list of songs that I hope will encourage you, remind you where we find our strength and our comfort in times of trouble, and focus your eyes on the good in the midst of the bad. While listening to these songs, remember that we do not need to sing side-by-side for God to hear our praise and answer our prayers, whatever the answer may be. As was the case last week, if you would still like to sing a long at home, I have included links to the original artists’ recordings with lyrics attached in the description where possible!

10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman – https://youtu.be/r3K3roEF36k

Goodness Of God – Bethel Music – https://youtu.be/IvSuGyJQ6oM

            The First two songs in our set are what you can think of as our typical opening call to worship. Both of these songs can serve to focus our hearts and minds on the reason we normally meet on Sundays for church, the reason we watch John’s sermon when it is online, and the reason we listen to and sing music: we do all these things as an act of worship. These songs also remind us that it is not just on Sunday mornings that worship occurs, nor is it simply singing songs of praise with the rest of our congregation. Our lives are to be worship and we are called to worship the Lord wholly in the depths of our despair, in our most triumphant and joyous moments, and every time in between.

It Is Well – Bethel Music – https://youtu.be/8Wb_WD1emFQ

For our song of response, “It Is Well” can help to remind us where we are to look to in our times of crisis and trial. This is a modern, recreation of an old him with new lyrics added to the verses and the bridge. One of the lines in the verse says “far be it from me to not believe, even when my eyes can’t see,” and I believe many Christians can identify with that statement right now. Though the situation is bad and it looks as if it will only get worse, we can have faith that God is not just waiting on the other side of this global pandemic, but he is in the crisis with us now.

Highs & Lows – Hillsong Young & Free – https://youtu.be/7ESO6SHEwGk

God Himself Is With Us – https://youtu.be/Vv8xirwTsPY

Our closing songs are starkly contrasting in style but unified in their message. As you listen to these songs, and as you go about the next week – whatever it may look like, I would like to encourage you to remember that our God sits with us in dark places. Psalm 23: 4-6 says

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The valley may be longer than we were expecting, and the shadow may feel darker and colder than we ever expected, but God is still the one who is in control, even in trying times, and God is with is and in us through all of these things.

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Exemple

Originally Published in the Calgary Herald on March 20, 2020

There once was a world that had lost its way. Everyone was moving so fast that they forgot to look around. People didn’t notice each other. Some were blinded by consumerism. Others distracted by pleasure. Some idolized work and worried about the next thing. Others sought power, position and wealth. And everyone, it seemed, shared a common problem — all that should in life matter didn’t matter enough. People failed to notice the fragility of their existence. But then, a wakeup call came… via the smallest of messengers; a tiny coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.

And now we’re awake. And all that we’ve ever taken for granted — our economy, education system, healthcare system, community services, freedom to travel, jobs, investments and lives — is at risk.

Two weeks ago, when I could still afford to be philosophical about the virus, I made a list of all the things COVID19 made thankful for; an immune system that works, readily available food, dependable global supply chains, universal healthcare, work, and healthy lungs that breathe.

Now things are more urgent. Many of our unseen structural supports are shaking. Will our healthcare system be overrun? Can basic services be maintained? Is our social fabric strong enough to handle this? Will I contract the disease?

These are questions we thought we’d never ask. Plagues are for the history books.

Yet here we are; shocked at how quickly life can change.

As a faith leader, I’m starting to notice how the fear and anxiety that COVID19 is evoking is waking all of us up to some profound truths about what it means to be human.

When Alberta’s Chief Medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw strongly suggested, “You don’t need a test to do the right thing!” (re: social distancing, good hygiene and staying home with symptoms) it was as though she was calling out a deeper humanity in me. I don’t need to know if I’m infected to do what’s best for others. I can make good choices simply because it’s the right thing to do. Doing to others as I would have them do to me is always the best way to act.

A few days later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau challenged all Canadians saying, “The strength of our country is our capacity to come together and care for each other, especially in times of need. So, call your friends. Check in with your family. Think of your community. Buy only what you need at the store. But if you’re heading out to grab groceries, ask your neighbour if you can get them anything. And if you know someone who is working on the frontlines, send them a thank you. See how they’re holding up.”

As I listened to our Prime Minister speak, I heard echoes of a Judeo-Christian faith that has always called people to lean into community, love their neighbours as they love themselves, lay down their life for them, honour their fathers, mothers and elders, and care for the sick, widows and orphans. These golden rules have been around for millennia and are central to most world religions — central to what it means to be human!

This virus, it seems, is waking us up to a few universal truths.

Truths that helped previous generations through viral outbreaks. Early Christians started hospitals in Europe in response to plagues — they wanted to create hygienic places for the sick.

Many of the faithful chose to love others to the point of risking their own lives (even as frontline healthcare workers are doing today).

I have been waiting for the results of my COVID19 test for the last five days. My symptoms have been mild, so I’m not too worried. At first, I hoped for a negative result (who wouldn’t?) but now I’m wondering if a positive result might free me to help others more fearlessly (once I fully recover).

Social researcher Lyman Stone writes this about theologian Martin Luther; “In 1527, when the bubonic plague hit Wittenberg, Martin Luther refused calls to flee the city and protect himself. Rather, he stayed and ministered to the sick. The refusal to flee cost his daughter Elizabeth her life. But it produced a tract, “Whether Christians Should Flee the Plague,” where Luther provides a clear articulation of the Christian epidemic response: We die at our posts. Christian doctors cannot abandon their hospitals, Christian governors cannot flee their districts, Christian pastors cannot abandon their congregations. The plague does not dissolve our duties: it turns them to crosses, on which we must be prepared to die.”

What Luther says of Christians is true for all doctors, governors, pastors and people everywhere.

In his tract Luther writes, “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above.”

Luther’s example is a challenge to us all. To be fully human is to live your life for the sake of others. You become more yourself when you help others become more themselves. To love in selfless ways is to image God. This is what you are made for.

This virus is waking us up to this truth. By bringing us to our knees, COVID19 is forcing us to face the fleetingness of life. It’s reminding us that we need each other. It’s calling us to look beyond ourselves, to join the human race, to notice others, to care, and to realize that even small things can change the world (for good or bad).

The truth is, one day, we will all die. COVID19 is forcing us to ask how we will choose to live.

While our future is still very unknown (it’s always been) know that you are not alone. You are part of a community, a country and a world full of supports.

Thank God we live in a time where science can see what it sees, and history can recall what it knows, and the internet can connect all that it connects, and neighbours can watch out for each other in all kinds of practical ways, and government and healthcare workers can help lead and heal, and families can love how they love, and faith communities can serve how they serve.

And you can help where you can.

 

 

 

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Exemple

Although at such a time as this we find ourselves in a place of being unable to gather together to worship corporately, together as one body of Christ, it is important to remember that we are still fully capable of worshiping. While our service may have been cancelled, music is still an important expression of our praise. Though we may not be worshiping through song together, we can still use songs of praise to focus our hearts and minds on things above, as well as on the good things that God has made. The following is a list of the songs we would have sang in person this Sunday, but I would like to encourage you to listen to them anyways and acknowledge the truth in the words. If you would still like to sing a long at home, I have included links to the original artists’ recordings with lyrics attached in the description where possible!

Look To The Son – Hillsong Worship

&

Come As You Are – David Crowder

These First two songs are intended to focus our minds and our hearts on God and how he has invited us to come into communion with him. In “Look To The Son,” we sing about who Christ is and why we come to worship him, and in “Come As You Are” the words speak to the truth that no matter where we are, physically or in our spiritual walk with Christ, we are invited to come and meet with God. As you listen to, and perhaps sing, these two songs you can consider the why behind our meetings – why we meet, why we are able to meet, and why we sing our praises to the God most high. Below are the links to these two songs and there are lyrics for both of them posted in the video descriptions.

Look to the Son: https://youtu.be/4gBTK1Ra3G8

Come as You Are:https://youtu.be/r2zhf2mqEMI

Saturn – Sleeping At Last

“Saturn” is a beautiful song written by Ryan O’Neal. As you will hear, the piece begins with an instrumental that is reflective of the majesty and breadth of the cosmos, which is followed by lyrics that O’Neal says are “perhaps written from Galileo’s children(s) perspective” (Sleeping At Last [website], 2016). Similar to what we did last week, this song is not a typical Christian praise song. However, the beauty of God’s creation and the beauty of life, death, and resurrection are so present in the words and in the musicality of what Ryan O’Neal has created that we can worship and honor God simply by naming God’s presence in this work of art. Again, the lyrics for this song are in the video description if you are so inclined as to sing along!

Saturn: https://youtu.be/dzNvk80XY9s

Be Enthroned – Bethel Worship

&

Death Was Arrested – North Point InsideOut

Our closing songs for this week remind us of the greatness of the God we are worshiping. “Be Enthroned” speaks of us singing praises alongside all of creation, and “Death Was Arrested” points us back to Christ’s victory on the cross. As we look forward to our Easter season, I encourage you to take these truths with you in your daily lives. Truly, we worship a great God – the one who creates supernova’s and the God who conquered the grave to reconcile us to himself.

Be Enthroned: https://youtu.be/xA4zOAtPeJ0

Death was Arrested : https://youtu.be/uMsMiluCUUI

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COVID-19 UPDATE

COVID-19 UPDATE:

Dear Congregation,

Please be advised that the CCRC leadership team has decided to cancel the Church Service for this Sunday March 15th.

 

The decision to cancel this service is being done out of an abundance of caution given the Global Pandemic related to COVID-19.  The decision to cancel this week’s service was not taken lightly.  But our decision is based on our mutual care for those most vulnerable to COVID-19, which includes our Seniors and those with compromised immune systems.

 

We recognize that some of you may be feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the Pandemic.  Coming to church may have been a way to relieve that anxiety.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, and want to chat, please reach out to an Elder and we will do our best to arrange a visit or phone call.

If you have other questions or concerns, please contact the church office at; admin@mardaloopccrc.org

 

No decision has been made about the March 22, 2020 service. Leadership will review the situation, review Government direction and any other information that’s required in the week ahead.

We’re sorry for the inconvenience this may cause. There will be two elders at Church on Sunday to greet people who did not get this message.

In lieu of this Sunday’s service, Pastor John will be recording a short service which will be posted on the church website this Sunday morning.

We will also be reaching out to some members directly who don’t have email.  If you’re concerned someone didn’t receive this, please feel free to connect with that person directly as well.

Please be reminded that in the face of anxiety and concern, God is with us.

 

In Christ,

CCRC Leadership Team

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Top 7 Things The Coronavirus Has Made Me Thankful For

7. An Immune System that Works – Two days ago I was standing in the pain-killer aisle of my local food store staring at an empty shelf where the ibuprofen used to be. Beside me was a woman who appeared quite anxious. After a bit of COVID 19 small talk I told her that her body’s immune system fights up to 50,000 pathogenic battles ever hour (without her ever knowing it). After a short pause, she smiled and thanked me for the perspective.

6. Always Available Food – Continuing my shop I noticed how busy the store was for a Monday morning. People were stockpiling (full-disclosure, I was too — for two-weeks-worth of supplies as recommended by the Federal Minister of Health). For the first time in my life I thought about the vulnerability of my food supply. While so many people on our planet face daily food scarcity, I never have. Putting the morality of having whatever I want, whenever I want, from anywhere in the world, aside, I felt pretty grateful for this unnamed daily abundance.

5. Global Supply Chains – Environmental impacts and ethical sourcing concerns aside, this virus has also reminded me of how well global supply chains work. When everything is operating as it should, and shelves are full, nobody ever notices all that goes on behind the scenes. Yet, when a few Chinese cities shut down the rest of the world is profoundly impacted. Which made me think that one upside of a globalized economy is the fact that we need each other. This viral scare has affirmed humanity’s interdependence.

4. How Consumerism is Exposed – Watching everyone stock up on the basics was also grounding for me. People aren’t scrambling to buy TVs, phones or shoes. The potential impacts of this virus remind us of what really matters — good health, food and safe shelter. As I worry (just a bit) about my octogenarian parents (a demographic that is particularly vulnerable to the virus) I am reminded of how important my relationships are. Who really needs that next car or vacation when we’ve got each other?

3. Seeing the Connection between Consumerism and Environmental Degradation – See NASA photos of China’s air quality levels (with and without the pollution generated by Hubei province manufacturing) below;

2. Universal (free) Healthcare – When I ponder a worst-case COVID 19 scenario (God help us) I am reminded of the fact that I live in Canada (where health care is a human right). Never have I received medical treatment and wondered if I would be able to afford it. As a Canadian who is sometimes tempted to complain about wait times I am again reminded of the very good thing I get to wait for.

1. Lungs that Breathe – As I learn about how COVID 19 can lead to respiratory failure I am again reminded of the gift of breath. For my entire life my lungs have faithfully oxygenated my blood and exhaled carbon dioxide. With every breath I am reminded that “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:14, NIV

So I am going to be thankful as I face this epidemic… and prudent… and prayerful (for those who’ve lost loved one’s and are struggling to catch their next breath).

*Coronavirus image -https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MERS_Coronavirus_Particle_(14702606627).jpg

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Sunday, February 2, 2020.  What a great day it was to start a new church!    “Just as soil nourished the ground, God has created the soil of community to nourish us so that we can grow and encourage each other.”  ( Pastor John) . Here are some pictures of the service!

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Daniel Lee

MEET DANIEL LEE AND MICHELLE GRITTER

Two years ago. Dan and John met for the first time at Ambrose. The music that day was very well done. So much so, that after the service John went up to the young worship/music leader and jokingly said, ‘I’m going to be starting a new church and would like you to sign a contract to be our worship leader’.  John says, “At first, he thought I was serious, and then he laughed and thanked me for the encouragement.”

Little did John know how prophetic that joke would be.  What’s even more amazing is how God works.  John emailed Dan on a faint hope.  Dan’s first thought evidently was quick ‘no’. But he didn’t. And then through a whole series of providential affirmations on his side — along with a few good conversations with John— he said, ‘yes’!

A student at Ambrose University, Dan is studying behavioural sciences to better understand and see God in and through his relationships and interactions with others. Dan plays guitar and bass and has studied under local guitarist and music producer, Cory Bitner. Daniel is passionate about music, people, and worshiping the Lord not only in song, but through every aspect of our daily lives.

Michelle Gritter

As Dan’s story was playing out, God was also inviting Michelle Gritter to play a crucial part.

One of the big challenges for John in taking on a .75 FTE position was filling the .25 preaching gap in a way that maintains a continuous sense of voice and vision. Meet Michelle Gritter – who just happens to have planted a church herself, and is a very strong leader and communicator, and totally ‘gets’ the God-everywhere vision!

Michelle is a trained family therapist who now practices in Calgary. She’s an adjunct professor at Providence Seminary in the Master of Psychology program and helps teach practicum courses for student therapists. She teaches about marriage and family, child and adolescent psychology, the psychology of aging, and a course on the integration of theology and psychology.

John spoke to Michelle about her talks and how she could turn them into sermons, saying “If all good family systems truth is God’s good family systems truth then this could be a very cool way to take the God-everywhere vision to the next level.”

The more they spoke about the idea the more real it became for both of them. What better way to help a group of disparate people coalesce around a new communal vision?

We are excited and looking forward to worshipping with Dan and Michelle in the months and years to come.  God is Good Indeed!

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I have a lot of favourite Christmas hymns and songs. They change frequently depending on my mood, but I have one or two ultimate favourites.  This year it’s “Be Born in Me” by Nicole Nordeman. I’ve noticed that a lot of my favourites have Mary at the centre.  Upon reading a recent devotion, I felt challenged to look deeper into why I am drawn to these songs, so I went back to where it all started , Mary’s Song or The Magnificat ( Luke 1: 46-55).

Timothy Keller referred to Mary as the first Christian, not in the sense of the first person saved or the first believer, but in that she was the first person whose life was CHANGED by message of Christmas.  “My soul magnifies the Lord”, Mary sings, revealing the very core of her being.  When I think of the soul, I think of something far greater and deeper than the warm fuzzy feeling I get when I sing, ‘O come all ye faithful’ or even “Joy to the World”.  Mary’s response to the news of her pregnancy reveals a transformation of epic proportion.

Mary sings God’s praises throughout the Magnificat.  He is holy and merciful.  He is powerful, mighty and he will come to bring peace, restoration and wholeness to his people.    She sings of his covenant with Abraham.  His promise.   Mary’s song reveals a heart that understands a need to live with God in faith personally and corporately.  She begins by singing about what God has done for me and then shifts to what God will do for Israel.  Like Mary, we must respond in faith personally.  We must also join ourselves to His people.  What God has done for Mary; He will do for all His people.

As 2020 approaches and I reflect on the year past.  God is a God of history. He is timeless.  God never forgets. God always remembers. I realize I cannot go back. Mary could only look forward and take the next right step in faith.

We were created to fulfill a different agenda.  God’s agenda.  Mary’s song reminds me that everything matters.  God is not only concerned for my spiritual salvation, but He is also at work in the comprehensive restoration of the world. God’s agenda is aimed at striking every last vestige of humanity’s sin.  Mary’s song reveals the church’s mission to share in God’s mission and play a part in restoring all life.  We can never go back to the way we were.

Mary sings ‘let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1: 38).  Mary’s yes to God reminds me of my response.  The words of Nicole Nordeman’s song echo, “I am not brave, I’ll never be… I am willing, I am yours”.   A heart that’s changed.   She sings “I’ll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end.  Every moment in the middle, make my heart Your Bethlehem.”   My goal for the coming year is to continually conform my life to the pattern of Mary and her song of kingdom justice.  Every moment of every day, my prayer is ‘be born in me’.

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