Friday, October 24, 2014

Introducing the new (2014) Book of Praise

Introducing Book of Praise 2014! from Book of Praise PPL on Vimeo.

Gentle as feathers; strong as steel

Introduction to this Sunday's morning sermon at Jubilee Church:

This past week has been rather distressing. Canada experienced two acts of terrorism—the first in Quebec with the murder of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent on Monday, and the second here in Ottawa on Wednesday with the murder of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was standing watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Canada’s National War Memorial.

Two soldiers killed by terrorists! The second killer then stormed the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings. After he was, thankfully, brought down, the Sergeant-at-arms, Kevin Vickers, spoke what surely will be recorded as one of the greatest understatements uttered in Canadian history, “I engaged the assailant; he is deceased.”

This past Wednesday was trying for many of you and your loved ones as you spent the day in lock-down behind the security perimeter.

At a time like this we feel somewhat rattled. What do we do? Where do we go for strength? To the Word, loved ones! We go to the Word of God. We go there for comfort and direction.

This does not mean that all our questions will be answered. We are left with many “why” questions. And that is okay. But in the midst of the many “why” questions that continue to swirl around in our minds, the “Who” questions can be answered.

The “Who” questions are questions such as, “Who will take care of us? Who will provide rest for us? Who is our refuge? In Whom can we trust?”

For strength, encouragement, and direction to help us move forward, let us turn to Psalm 91. We will not explore everything there is to be uncovered in this Psalm. Some things we will focus on; others we will pass over and leave for another time. But we will hear the main message, which is that the LORD God is our dwelling place. We find shelter under his wings and behind his shield. We will hear about our LORD who is both as gentle as feathers and as strong as steel.……

Saturday, October 18, 2014

His Right

His Right

Jan Welse moved about his home and blacksmith shop with powerful presence, quick temper, and good humour, but after he had been released from prison, he no longer laughed and his passion was muted. He was pale and walked hunched over. What had happened?
His neighbour was a tormentor. He had complained about Jan’s downspout for years already—“Make sure you keep your water to yourself, Welse!” And about the dog—“If I find your mutt in my garden one more time, I’ll break its back legs” About the garbage can that neighbour children would kick over, etc.
But none of that was fatal. It got serious when Marietje Welse’s little kitten disappeared, and then was found poisoned, hanging by its tail on the doorknob of the back door—found by Marietje herself! The whole family was at the dinner table when the distraught child came carrying the limp little body of the dead kitten.
Jan took it from her arms and blinked a few times.
Then he stood up. His wife, who knew him well, grabbed his arm and cried, “Jan, Jan, don’t do it. Think of the children!”
But he did not even hear her. His face went white and his eyes flashed like fire. He ran to his neighbour’s house and banged on the door. When his neighbour opened the door Jan grabbed him by his shirt, pulled him outside, and, with his sledgehammer fists, punched him in the face, three times, four times, until his hands were red with blood.
Neighbours and police came between them, and the result was that Jan Welse ended up in jail for three weeks.
And now he sat across from me. He had been released a couple of days before. “So Jan, what is on your mind?”
He looked at me shyly with sad and lifeless eyes. “I’m not doing so well, Pastor.”
“Come now, Jan,” said I. “The punishment was understandably miserable, but hey, that is now in the past. And you shouldn’t think that we will think any less of you because of what you did or on account of the sentence…” I was searching for the right words.
“You speak just like the others,” said Jan.
To speak “just like the others” is not a splendid thing.
“What do you mean, Jan?”
And then he told me. “Pastor, everyone is so nice to me. When I came home, flowers and a cake from the family stood on the table. In the evening the board members of my trade association came to congratulate me. Everyone thinks the whole thing was no big deal. The one says, ‘You had every right.’ Someone else says, ‘You just had some bad luck, Jan!’ Or, ‘You should have hit that Judas a few more times!’ And if I then say that I find it all quite awful, they begin to laugh and say, ‘Don’t worry about it, Jan!’ They actually think of me as a hero.”
I asked, “And what do you yourself think, Jan?”
“Well, Pastor, they mean well, of course, and yet they are standing in my way. I can talk about it with you. Look, if the neighbours had not held me back I would have killed him, and then I would be a murderer. And when I think about that, then I don’t want any cake or flowers. Then I only want to confess my guilt before God. I risked everything because of my temper—my wife, my children, my work.”
His voice became urgent and his eyes pierced mine. “I have a right to confess my guilt don’t I, Pastor?”
And then I understood that also the mercies of the pious can be cruel.
“I have a right to that, don’t I, Pastor?”
I nodded and he folded his hands, those huge smith’s hands that could hit so hard and which had been covered with the blood of another man.
“Would you pray with me?”

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“Zijn Recht” in Peper en Zout by M.E. Voila, Kok: Kampen, n.d. Trans., George van Popta
See also Selah and The Little Funeral


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Japanese Genevan Psalms

From Wikipedia:
Masaaki Suzuki (鈴木 雅明 Suzuki Masaaki?, born 29 April 1954) is a Japanese organistharpsichordist and conductor, and the founder and musical director of the Bach Collegium Japan. He also teaches and conducts at Yale University and has conducted orchestras and choruses around the world.
Masaaki Suzuki is a promoter of Japanese Genevan Psalmody. In this Dropbox folder you will find a sampling of his work (these are public domain).

Saturday, August 09, 2014

August 10 @ Jubilee

Tomorrow I will continue both Summer Sermon Series. In the morning I'll be preaching on Psalm 15, about the covenant-keeper who will never be shaken. Theme and Heads: 

FAITHFUL COVENANT-KEEPERS MAY DWELL NEAR TO THE LORD

1. The Question (v. 1)
2. The Answer (vv. 2-5a)
3. The Promise (v. 5b)

In the afternoon we'll be wrapping up our study of chapter 2 of the Canons of Dort with a sermon on Article 9 entitled: The Bridegroom and his Bride. Here's the summary:

Despite the attacks of the devil against Christ and his church, the eternal plan of God will prevail. Christ will, from the beginning of the world until its end, gather in the elect from every language, people, and nation. There will always be a church of believers founded upon the blood of Christ to love, praise, honour, and glorify him, for the Bridegroom must have a bride.

As always, visitors are welcome at Jubilee Church.