DH Update 13, Ash Wednesday, February 12, 2023
Wednesday Meditation (Matthew 4:1)
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. We are not quite sure what it means for us to hear that Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. What was the reason for Jesus to be tempted? Jesus was baptised. The voice from heaven proclaiming that Jesus was the beloved Son was heard. Why, then, was it necessary for Jesus to be tempted by the devil? What was the purpose? Should we not assume that Jesus was the Son whom God sent into the world to redeem the world? Was not trying to save oneself from living the life that was to face death on the cross temptation enough? Would not the ultimate temptation be avoiding death?
On this Ash Wednesday, we come to this passage in awe. Jesus was led up by the Spirit. It appears that he willingly followed the Spirit. We are reading it right. The Spirit we count on to guide us in life was the very same Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness so that Jesus would be tempted by the devil. Instead of taking Jesus away from temptations, he was brought into the wilderness to face the devil. As we pray the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “lead us not into temptation,” we face this event in which the Spirit took Jesus to be tempted.
In life, we find ourselves facing all kinds of temptations. In these moments rather than being shielded from temptation, like Jesus, as the body of Christ, we, his community, are often led to face temptations. As was the case for Jesus, the temptation is to be faced when we are most vulnerable. We will discuss in this Lent season the same temptations that Jesus faced are tempting us. In the meantime, on this Ash Wednesday, from this passage, we learn that becoming part of the body of Christ makes us face many challenges, including temptations.
The first thing we face as his community is not the glory of being in Christ, but in the same way the life in Christ begins to unfold, we are led to be tempted by the devil. This is real in a sense that we as his followers continue to face the same set of temptations Jesus faced. The acceptance of us into the body of Christ through baptisms lead us not to the glory land, but to the wilderness led by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil. In our case, unlike Jesus, we succumb to the same set of temptations because we rely on ourselves. Every Sunday with worship we reaffirm our belonging to Christ in order to deny ourselves and follow Christ so that we may not be tempted by very basic human needs.
It is never easy to figure out what God has in store for us. None of us can predict exactly what will happen tomorrow. Yet in faith we do our best to discern what God’s will is for us. The building group has been looking at various options as to what can be done with our facilities. We ask everyone to pray for Alison MacTavish, Brian McKeown, Chuck McCrea, John Boughner and Rob Whitelock. They are working on your behalf to find what God wants us to do with our facilities. We ask you to pray especially for Brian who is not undergoing a new treatment for his health that God will continue to give him strength to overcome the difficulties he is facing each day.
There are many people who have been calling Niagara Falls their home. Some have arrived in our city from the Toronto area. Others have come to our city as our Federal Government tries to help them to settle in Canada. Some of them are finding us and have been attending our worship services. In response, we have been holding various activities to help them become part of our Drummond Hill Family.
On Fridays, we invite these new friends to come and share dinner and time together. As we share food and cooking skills, we will begin to expand this to include more and more of us. As the evenings get longer and our weather warms up, it would be easier for everyone to come together and build this new community. Please stay tuned to announcements and invitations.
Arts in Drummond Hill
Since last week, we have begun a watercolour painting group on Tuesday afternoons. Under Bob Opie’s watchful eyes and enthusiastic encouragement, a few newcomers to Drummond Hill community have been dabbling at watercolour painting and having lots of laughter and fun. We thank Bob for leading this group to enjoy one another.
Learning English at Drummond Hill
Since a few newcomers to Niagara Falls are not able to speak English, we have begun to ask community volunteers to help these newcomers learn English. Currently, there is one person who is coming regularly to practise English. We have other people who want to learn English. If you would like to help these newcomers, please let us know and we will set up a time for you to help them with improving their English speaking skills.
A Path that God reveals
Last year at this time, we discussed what our church might look like. We spoke mainly in terms of how other churches tried to figure out what to do with their properties. Out of that concern, we set up the Building Group that has been exploring what our plan is regarding the facilities.
As Christians, our concern is more about our life in the Holy Spirit as a community of faith that belongs to Jesus Christ in Niagara Falls, witnessing Christ and his good news for many years to come. In the past we did our best to make sure that our church will be here for many years to come, we did all kinds of events inviting people. In a way, as we face the decline, just like so many other churches in our country, we are surprised that we are still here and bearing witness to God’s presence in our world.
With financial difficulties, membership declines and an ageing congregation, so many churches are facing the inevitable closure. Strangely for us, however, God has been showing us a different path than the one we have walked up until now. We are beginning to find out as we let God use us to provide Christ’s loving ministries. Once again, we are learning that God is sending us people from many different parts of the world. This is the most unexpected blessing.
At the same time, we have been able to worship with many different musicians. It is true that we are unable to have a choir at the moment, but God has led us to receive many different musicians. God has been sending us these musicians to help us worship God and celebrate the life that God has given us. This new way of using different music has been an eye opening experience so far.
As we continue to worship with the help of Mr. David Cowan on organ, we have been blessed with John, Catherine and Rebekah on other Sundays. We are also going to add Rob and his group of musicians hopefully once a month and we are in conversation to see how Mike, Joan and Jon could be part of our worship going forward as well.
Certainly we are being led to a different path than we have been on. So far, worship has been the very centre of our faith life as God reveals this path in ways that we have never expected before. Our welcoming and hospitality have been the key to receiving everyone as from Christ in service to build up Drummond Hill.
We thank God and follow Christ by discerning how God is doing the ministry among us.
The first Sunday of March is our anniversary Sunday. It will be a very special worship service. Music during worship will be helped by Rob Whitelock and his new band. It will be as exciting and wonderful as the November special afternoon Sunday. Please bring your neighbours and friends. We will give God thanks and celebrate God’s presence with us for 221 years on this hill.
After Service Birthday Party
Following the service, we will celebrate not only our anniversary, but also those who have birthdays in the month of March. Mike, Joan (hopefully they will be back and join Jon) and Jon who will lead us with singing. Please make sure to come and enjoy both the anniversary service and after party.
Helping the people of Ukraine
We are amazed at all your help. Thank you so much for helping by bringing gently used clothes, kitchen supplies like plates and small appliances, new pillows, blankets and other items for the people of Ukraine. We will continue to collect until Easter.
If you can help, please drop them off at the church. If you prefer giving directly, you can drop them off at St. Peter and St. Paul Ukrainian Church on Sylvia Place, next to Lundy’s Lane Museum on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 4 pm and 6 pm.
<Lent Wednesdays Devotions and Fellowship
Please remember that starting today on Ash Wednesday, February 22, we begin our Lent journey. We will follow Christ from the time of temptation to his death on Good Friday and resurrection on Easter by gathering for devotion and fellowship at 10:30 am. Please mark your calendars. Come and join us for this important spiritual journey with us. Devotion will be about 15 to 20 minutes long followed by refreshment and fellowship.