Daily Prayer – Jan 31

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Hospitable Holy Spirit, thank You for welcoming me in the fellowship of prayer, day by day. Thank You for showing me Jesus, whose outstretched arms upon the cross welcome me with gigantic forgiveness. Thank You for the family of the Christian Church, which is a home of hope and purpose here on earth. Now, grow in me, all the more, the spiritual gift of hospitality.

Teach me again – teach all of us – that hospitality is the love of strangers. It is not curiosity about strangers, it is not thinking others are stranger or weirder than me, it is not approaching new people with my own agenda for them. Show me again the love of strangers that is thoughtful care and interest, that includes expecting the new person to have blessings to share, and also is a valuing of those who are different from me. Spirit of Truth, let me show that there are no outsiders with Jesus. Amen.

Worship at Home, Jan 30 – He Told Me Everything

WELCOME to this plan for shared worship at our homes. PSALM 42:1-5

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help 6 and my God.

HYMN # As the Deer – sung and played by Margo Nesbitt

PRAYER: Holy One, for whom our souls long, to You we turn, with all our power, all our hopes, all our habits, all our tools for seeking and finding You. All the Bible words of longing for You speak our language. Thanks and praise for those times when we truly sensed You were close and real and good. Let there be a miracle again today, in our own homes, as the snowstorm wanes. Let there be praise! Let there be holy fellowship! Let there be whatever You know is good for us. Amen.

SCRIPTURE: John 4:1-42 – ready by Jeff White, Margo Nesbitt & Joy Potter

SERMON: He Told Me Everything – preached by Jeff White. Do you know anyone who knows everything? We likely all have known a few people who seemed like real ‘know-it-alls,’ which is more about the attitude they present than their actual expertise. I’m sure I have mentioned to you before a dear colleague of mine who was like this. Sadly, he suddenly dropped dead about ten years ago, but in his life he was a Baptist Minister and an expert in Baptist Church History – certainly in the Maritimes. He was a very friendly guy, and always positive, and always full of information. He had an answer for everything. He volunteered with scouting, did some biology at Keji, was musical, on and on…. He seemed like he knew it all. 

This can be a very annoying trait in a person, right? I’m sure this friend of mine was not liked by everyone, and came across as a real ‘know-it-all.’ The trouble with him was, I think he kind of did know it all! He was very intelligent and astute and knowledgeable. Bless his heart, he did wonderful service for the Lord, is now gone, but not forgotten. He was an unforgettable character!

Here, in our worship, the unforgettable Character at the heart of things is Jesus the Christ. And, of course, we likely believe our Saviour is a Know-it-all of a whole different order. As we started walking through the Gospel of John this month, we look again deeply into who Jesus is, we get to know Him better. 

I’m grateful for Joy and Margo who helped me read most of John chapter four, and pay attention to the story. What stands out for you in this ‘woman at the well’ tale? Ya know, for me, the most amazing moment is when the woman is back in downtown Sychar. She says to her neighbours, “Come and see a man who told me everything I had ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”  Somehow, this is amazing, good news to this gal. She seems hopeful, excited, impressed. Is he, maybe, the Messiah? Or, as the Samaritans likely would have said, is He the Restorer? That was their title for the One they hoped would return, a prophet like Moses of old. Is He the One? she asked. Come, come and meet Him!

Having grown up hearing this John 4 story, I was trained to notice that Jesus seems to have this supernatural way of knowing all about her: that she had five husbands, and now is not married to the man she’s with. This view of her mainly as a sinful woman is not the only view to be taken of her, but in evangelical protestantism it has been the main attitude. So no wonder I see something amazing here. However Jesus presented Himself to her, it was a positive experience

I mean, if some religious fellow came up to you at Tim Hortons, and in chatting, told one on one some of your secret sins and failings, how might you feel? Embarrassed? Horrified? Angry! Frightened? Ashamed and guilty? 

‘The woman at the well’ does not feel these things does she? Not much, I’d say. However Jesus said all this to her, she became totally impressed. It came across as ‘good news.’ She went home and told everyone. He told me everything I had ever done! Jesus was a ‘Know-it-all’ who was compassionate and built her up, somehow.

Let’s walk through the whole story and consider it. I see seven scenes in what we read today. First, the woman meets Jesus, and they speak of water: water from the well, and living water. The Rabbi uses His usual rhetorical methods and uses a practical element to speak of human spirituality. The great Teacher uses whatever is at hand for His teaching. Jesus knows every method of teaching and guidance that will work for you. 

Second scene: The talk about the woman’s partners: five former husbands and her latest man. It has been pointed out to me that the emphasis upon this woman as a terrible sinner is not the only thing to home in on. She may well have been a victim of others, trapped in a cycle of relationships that was not the normal approved patter of life. Apparently, in centuries of Bible interpretation, she has often been remembered mainly as a witness of Jesus, not as a forgiven terrible sinner. And we will get to her testimony in a moment. 

I think there are many direct and indirect ways our Master will tell us all about ourselves. Have you ever sensed that God knows everything about you? The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful? And have you then felt it was all good news, from the Spirit? Just like whatever we hear from our family doctor, or specialist. So called good news or bad news is all news that helps us: helps us do whatever we need to do next, be it live, suffer, heal or die!

Third scene: I guess she was not totally impressed at first by Jesus’ knowledge of her male partners: she immediately seems to change the subject. To the subject of being a prophet and of worship – Samaritan worship and Jewish worship: never the twain shall meet!

 This people group called Samaritans were really a branch off of the Hebrew vine of the distant past. They believed the true place of worship was at Mount Gerizim, not Mount Zion in Jerusalem. They took only the Torah, the first five books as holy Bible, not the prophets and writings that the Jews also had in their canon of scripture. For a long time they were enemies of the Jews. In fact, their temple on Mount Gerizim had been destroyed by the Jews in 128 BCE, cementing their animosity. As John reminds the reader here, Jews and Samaritans did not share things – they wouldn’t eat together and show the usual Middle Eastern hospitality. 

Anyway, Jesus is breaking some cultural rules here in this meeting, and breaks their religions down too. Neither holy mountain will be, in the future somehow, the true place of worship. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (J 4:24) Maybe one of my favorite scripture verses, since I have always been so interested in Christian worship. 

There is a lot to deal with here in what Jesus says – and He is offering this incredible teaching to this Samaritan woman, despite what those from the outside might say about her. Even though He knows everything she has ever done, Jesus tells her some mind-blowing secrets. 

One of the things about the Spirit of Jesus knowing everything about any person: He knows the beautiful blessing and purpose of each person. So we had better not think any person we meet has nothing to offer the world. Everyone does. And so do you! As a Balinese dancer once said, “There is someone out there who needs you. Live your life so that person can find you.”

Fourth scene: the disciples come back after shopping in downtown Sychar. They seem alarmed that Jesus is having this talk with a woman, not to mention she is one of these Samaritans. But they don’t say anything about it. 

My one thought about this moment is to remember I am a disciple. And I must admit when I am not happy with Jesus. There, I said it. Maybe this means that sometimes I am unhappy with Jesus in the form of His people today, His Body, His Church. Sometimes I don’t like what I read in the Bible, His Word. Sometimes I am angry with how my prayers to Him turn out, unanswered. You and I are going to be like those disciples of old, and not get it, not approve, not be totally confident. That will be OK. I like Paul’s word about Christ in his second letter to Timothy: (2:13) if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

Fifth scene: switch to the woman, who left her water jar at the well, and rushed back into her town. She tells everyone about this Jew she met. She impresses them, and a bunch of townsfolk head out to the well to meet the Man.

Early Christian theologian, Ephraem the Syrian (306-373), summarized the scene beautifully:  Jesus came to the fountain as a hunter… He threw a grain before one pigeon that he might catch the whole flock… 

At the beginning of the conversation he did not make himself known to her, but at first she caught sight of a thirsty man, then a Jew, then a Rabbi, afterwards a prophet, last of all the Messiah. She tried to get the better of the thirsty man, she showed dislike of the Jew, she heckled the Rabbi, she was swept off her feet by the prophet, and she adored the Christ.

Scene Six: back to those disciples and Jesus, at Joseph’s well. You noticed this was an old watering hole? Had been Jacob’s, famous Jacob we read all about in Genesis, with his 12 sons who became the 12 Tribes. 

Also, in Biblical stories, a lot can happen at a well! More than a couple times men get hooked up with their future wives at such a well, including Jacob, Isaac, and even Moses. No wonder the disciples are alarmed when their friend and Rabbi is having a one-on-one chat with a strange woman there! 

But the conversation of Master & disciples is triggered by food. ‘Have something to eat,’ they tell Jesus, after the woman leaves. He takes the teachable moment and gives a mini-sermon about spiritual food. And harvesting. These men, we notice, went into unfriendly territory to get some bread, but did not seem to be on mission. Unlike the local woman, who told the town about Jesus, and was at that very moment leading them out to meet Him!

Usually, your best mission field, and mine, is our own people. For me, that is religious people (hence, I am preaching to you, the converted!), but also to nature lovers, and hikers, and so forth. You, you have your own audience, your own people. You are the best witness among them.

Seventh and final scene: the townspeople meet Jesus, and He ends up staying there a couple days with them. ‘Many Samaritans from the city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” (J 4:39) & more believed; they saw for themselves. 

We Baptist Christians stand deep in the stream of Evangelicalism. Maybe I feel this more than you folks of the pews, but I do feel the push to spread ‘the word’ and ‘get people saved.’ Here again, I am reminded that it is the work of the Spirit of God to reveal things to people, and to save them. It is not my work to save people. This is Jesus’ wonderful work. When someone sees for themselves the things of God, that makes all the difference. 

You and I, like that unnamed Samaritan woman, let’s spend time with Christ, and do our part just to say to others, ‘Hey, I want you to meet this Guy. He really impresses me. He knows everything about me. And still welcomed me!’

PRAYER after the Sermon:  Source of living water, thank You for pouring out again for all people, and offering life. Bread of the world, as You have fed us today, so help us keep on feeding our minds and hearts and bodies with good nourishment. Encourage us to reject the junk food that will spoil our attitudes and our inner hope. In Your holy name. AMEN.

CELEBRATION of Ministry: For upcoming events and items for prayer read the Bulletin. You may make offerings to Digby Baptist by mailing them; dropping them off in the box in the hallway or the box outside the Hall door; or e-transfer (using trainfan43@gmail.com).

PRAYERS of the People: With our alphabet we pray, O God:
Alleluia! We praise and worship You all the more.
Bless us, beginning our week together, as we pray our requests.
Care for those who are ill, mourning, depressed, or troubled.
Defend those who are weak, who are mistreated, who are poor.
End the threats of war and violence in our world; this is a big prayer!
Forgive the many problems we have caused, even the hidden ones.
Give us hope in the face of our goof-ups and also our serious guilt.
Help us deal with all the hold-ups this pandemic has caused.
Inspire us to keep on being Your Church, an incarnation of the Spirit.
Jesus, be the centre of our joy and our joint activities.
Keep us on a path that is in Your Kingdom.
Love must abound: be the source and the giver of compassion in us.
Mourning, we miss Mike, and pray for dear Maggie in this sad loss.
Nearby there are others in our prayers, in hospitals, care homes, etc.
Overseas our prayers can reach, because of You. Bless the Ukraine.
Peace over there is our prayer, where conflict is threatening.
Quickly give help to those who face hunger, drought, flood or storm.
Rescue those who are without hope in their spirits: Redeemer, save.
Somehow, we don’t know how, You can reach those who need faith.
Truckers are troubled, Master. Bless everyone to understand & trust.
Unmet needs are still rampant in places like Afghanistan: help, Lord!
Violence in homes and families is very common, even here. Help!
Where are wonderful things, Jesus? Wherever You are. Thank You.
X-ray vision is Yours, so help us examine life to see Good News.
You’re still at work, Yahweh: yesterday & tomorrow in Your hands!
Zero are the things we need when we rest in You. You’re our A to Z!
AMEN.

HYMN # 568 Take My Life and Let It Be – sung and played by Margo Nesbitt

BENEDICTION:  Psalm 42:11b

Hope in God; for you shall again praise Him, our help and our God. Amen.

Daily Prayer – Jan 29

Romans 12:18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Abba, I worship You as my Life-giver, and my creative Spark. Perfect Parent of all, on this stormy day Your vision is of a wider world – a winder universe, in fact. Give me eyes to see the big picture – in the physical world and in the personal, human realm. Thank You for Your lovingkindness. We pray that it be poured out upon the Ukraine and Russia, and the other nations embroiled in a threatening conflict right now.

This day I pray locally for the Culloden Baptist Church, who meets over on the Fundy shore. Bless that little congregation in their beautiful place with true peace and shalom – a power for good in this world. You have them deployed among us: use them to the glory of Jesus, bringing good things of Your Kingdom into our area. May they even bless Digby Baptist, as we bless them. Amen.

Daily Prayer – Jan 28

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Alpha and Omega, Son of the Lord our Saviour, Giver of the Spirit of Life: I turn to You today. I look for life when death is near. I pray for rescue when people face disaster. I seek protection when there are dangers and threats. Today I pray for Mike Beveridge; it seems he is coming to the edge of life and death. May he know the beautiful door is open to him, when his time comes – and may we all know this too. May his soul be strengthened for the transition. May Maggie and other loved ones be inspired by Your peace in the midst of grief and goodbye and gratitude and grand eternal hopes.

And there are many others, Jesus, who are approaching the end of this earthly life. Even right around here. Bless them. Lord, as Billy Graham used to say, ‘the death rate is still very high: one hundred percent!’ So help me also be ready, very ready, for the end. In You, I trust it to be a new beginning. Amen.

Daily Prayer – Jan 27

Joshua 6:20 …As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it. 21 Then they devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys.

Supreme God, my heart bows to You and I worship today. How I love the stories and promises of Your power; but how I don’t want violence either. The fall of Jericho, thousands of years ago, was accomplished by marching with trumpets: such a great event! But then everyone and every beast was slaughtered by Your victorious people. Your ancient, holy word is so hard, Master. What I am to do with this? What violence do You truly want? What peace is Your path for us all?

Today, this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I pause to remember. I remember a time, in living memory, when millions of Jews, and other people, were slaughtered. I remember, Lord, that there are some who deny the extent of this whole disaster, and many who are anti-Semitic today. Jesus, Your own religion was Judaism: You I obey, You I serve, in Your name I pray, for the sake of my Jewish sisters and brothers today. Amen.

Daily Prayer – Jan 26

Psalm 107:2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
those he redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the sout

Lord who speaks, God of the Word, Spirit of communication: today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. May it indeed be a day of honesty and support around mental health. May I find ways to be a compassionate listener, and an honest sharer. May mental illness be touched with healing by true fellowship among people. May I be a piece of the human puzzle, fit in to gently support all those around me and make life more beautiful again.

It is also Australia Day, Creator. I thank You for that huge land, the multitude of people who live there, and the flora and fauna that fill the landscape with life. Known for so many unique things, may Australia grow in the knowledge and love of You, Lord Jesus Christ, and glorify You all the more. Amen.

Week of Prayer – Jan 25

“They left for their own country by another road” (Mt 2:12)
Beyond the familiar routes of separation to God’s new paths

God of the good path: be my guide today, I pray. There are people I know from whom I pray also – show them the way too, I ask. And in the world around, I pray for the Ukraine and the rising tensions and threat of battle. For the people of Ukraine I pray: may they not be threatened by the powers that be, and be given peace as must as possible. This I plead, Guiding Spirit.

Gracious God, when we only know one way and we think we must return to it, and when we think that all roads are blocked, and we fall into despair, we always find you there. You are the God of renewed promises. We find you creating a new path before us, one that we did not expect. We thank you because you exceed our expectations. We thank you for your wisdom that surpasses our understanding. We thank you because your creative paths open up unforeseen possibilities. If we search our maps and find no route, nonetheless we always find you, who lead us by a yet more excellent way. We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, that you will always lead us back to you. Amen.

Worship at Home, Jan 23 – Born After Having Grown Old?

WELCOME to worship online for Digby Baptist Church, in this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. And at the heart of our scripture text for the day are the famous words of Jesus about being ‘born again’ or ‘born from above.’ Read along, listen, watch, and worship God to the best of your ability, wherever you are at this moment.

Psalm 139:
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

HYMN: There Is a Green Hill Far Away – Men’s Choir 2021

Daily Prayer from the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Compassionate God, you gave the blind the insight to recognise you as their Saviour, enable us to repent. In your mercy, remove the scales from our eyes and lead us to worship you as our God and Redeemer. In the midst of our sorrow and despite the depth of our sins, give us the capacity to love you with all our hearts. May we journey together guided by your light, with one heart and one mind, as were the very first disciples. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon us, so that together we glorify you in the Spirit’s fellowship, and witness to all those around us. Amen.

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 139:13-18

STORY: Chapter 4, read by Alison Vassallo

SCRIPTURE: John 3:1-21 read by Myra Edwards

Personal Testimony by Myra E.

SERMON: Born After Having Grown Old? – Jeff White I’m very grateful for Deacon Myra’s ‘testimony’ she shared today. I had never actually talked with her about her life story and her spiritual experiences much, until this past week. Hers is an ordinary life story, and a unique one too. With the seeds planted in her childhood I think the Master reached in and blessed her and transformed her when she was an adult. And now, thirty years on, Jesus continues to bless her.

‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,’ it is said. This is not true. Well, maybe it is about dogs, but it is not true of humans. Jamie Winship is an author, teacher, and trainer, all about humans finding their true identity. He strongly suggests that it is never too late. Never too late to follow your dreams, to discover more of who you truly are. Winship claims that if you think, say, I wish when I was 21 I had done this… that statement has no truth to it at all. To learn a new skill, to create something great, to become a different person, is possible. You are not too old! He says: I had to learn that I am too old to do something. I didn’t find that out on my own, society taught me that. So you unlearn some wrong things about yourself. 

Can there be a rebirth in you when you have grown up, or grown old? Yes, there can be. I’m so glad so many of you know this. One of the amazing examples among us was Geraldine Wambolt. There she was, in her eighties, and moved into Tideview Terrace. What’s next, a person might ask. Not much, many people suppose. Not true. Gerry became an artist! Yes, some of you saw her artwork. She started drawing, and the images were incredible. Her children had never known her to be an artist. But there it was, inside her. And she did it! In her eighties. In a nursing home. 

So, I heard that ‘born again’ question of Nicodemus to Jesus in a new way this past week. “How can anyone be born after having grown old?” Here is this man, a religious expert and leader in Jerusalem. He’s a Pharisee, and he is a member of the Sanhedrin, a ruling council for the Jewish people. And Jesus says some profound things to him. There is a chance for more in the life of Nicodemus, and others, some kind of spiritual rebirth. 

There can be more, at any age and stage of life. A person can have a rebirth, at any moment. We hear this same message from Jesus at other times, such as this one: the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, & said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mtt 18:1-4)

There is a change, at any age, to be like a child: humble and growing and learning and developing. This is entry into the heavenly kingdom in our days on earth

I have mentioned before the interview I had, years ago, with Rev. Dr. Freeman Fenerty, a great pastor and church planter of the mid Twentieth Century in the Maritimes. He had this great way of describing a couple ways people are converted to Christ – the sudden way, and the gradual way. His own experience was like mine: slow and steady, like the opening of a blossom to the sunshine.

In the culture of our Christianity, of course, to be born from above or born again is usually thought of as a once and for all beginning, a ‘getting saved’ that is a moment in our time. Yet I have found that many people have more than one breakthrough in their life story. Even those who have walked with God in the past might have another conversion happen to them in the future. 

Can anyone be born after having grown old? Yes. Just thinking of folks I’ve been privileged to baptize, I remember Carl, in Parrsboro, who must have been about 75. Or Polly, in Windsor, who was around 79 when she came to the fellowship of our Baptist Church, and was baptized. Or Fred, who must have also been in his 70s. He and his wife had served in other Churches before ours, but when they came to us, it was a time of renewal in their spirits, and they were both baptized (again). 

Of course, baptism is not for every moment of growth and development in our lives. So much can happen, by the grace of God. A new emotional step, a healing, a change of work, a new family relationship… so much can happen. 

Jesus gave Nicodemus much to think about, as we heard in the verses Myra read today. “The wind [spirit] blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit [wind].”(Mtt 3:8)

Birth or rebirth or renewal or another conversion – whatever we call this – happens in many a way for many a person. The transformation of a person is possible at so many moments in life. 

As was sung in ‘Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas,’
Like the flower that has blossomed
in dry and barren sand,
we are born and born again most gracefully

Let me tell you a born again again story. Brian Zahnd is a church Pastor in Missouri, and author of many books. He is sixty some years old, and is the founding pastor of his non-denominational Church, begun in 1981. I have never read any of Zahnd’s stuff, but I happened to view a recent sermon of his last week. (‘Vintage Christianity’ Jan 16, 2022) He preached from the John 2 story of Jesus turning water into wine, and told his own, personal born again again story, as he called it.

Zahnd spoke of how the Lord saved him at two dangerous moments in his life: when he was 15 years old, and then again almost twenty years ago, when he was 45. 

So, at 45 he had, by then, been the founding pastor of his church for twenty years. But his spirituality had dried up. He says at 45 the danger was that I would no longer venture risk, no longer walk down any roads; at 45 I was in danger of my life being withered. (At both times Jesus saved me! At 15 and 45.) The wine of life had begun to run out. The party was over. 

I wasn’t having a crisis about Jesus. It was just the party itself was starting to feel kind of lame. I wasn’t doubting Jesus, but the Christianity I knew wasn’t worthy of the beauty of Christ. I didn’t know what to do about it, if there was anything I could do about it.

I know I would not have left the party. I would have doggedly drudged on. (What a sad way to end a story.)

Pastor Zahnd then says, 18 years ago, I did not know what was happening next. Someone must have been praying for me. “He has no wine.” Someone must have been paying attention, and noticed. “He has no wine.” Who was it, I don’t know.

Right around this time, 18 years ago, a voice within me started to say, “whatever He says to you, do it.” And I did.

I prayed, even though I didn’t really know how to pray. (Remember, he’s been the founding pastor of his Church for twenty years by then.) I fasted. And I read. And I read. And I read. And I read. I filled 6 water pots of stone up to the brim. His bookshelves were the water pots of stone that Brian filled to the brim and that Jesus turned to wine.

Brian emphasizes that he is telling his story, in which Jesus is the hero. No two miracles happen the same way. He was told to read books. Other people are told to do other things. The first book he was ‘told’ to read happened to be a book very important to me, The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard. Brian Zahnd concludes: The books that I read did not work a miracle in my life. No more than filling six water jars to the brim with water. Jesus took all those books I read and turned them into the wine of vintage Christianity. Christ saved me a second time.

Jesus has saved the best wine till now!  I’ve never been more excited to be a Christian than now in my life. The party is not over at all. Jesus can bring you in the second half of your life the best wine you’ve had in your life.

So do not fret if your get-up-and-go got up and went. If you think you missed the boat, and you’ll always be what you are right now. There can be a new day for you. And a page to a new chapter open up for that person you are praying for. And blessed rebirth of a whole congregation, when needed.

This morning I have talked about many real examples of ‘rebirth.’ Myra shared with us directly her own ‘born again’ experience. Then I talked about Jamie Winship who tells us it is never too late in life. Geraldine Wambolt who became an artist in her eighties. Nicodemus who has so much to learn from Jesus. Jesus who spoke of becoming like children in order to live in God’s good realm. Rev. Dr. Freeman Fenerty whose conversion was like a flower gently opening. Several seniors – Carl, Polly and Fred – who were baptized  as seniors with spiritual breakthroughs. Pastor Brian Zahnd who was born again again at age 45, through prayer and reading a thousand books. Jesus saved the best for the latter stages of many people’s lives.

Can a person be born after having grown old? YES. I have seen it many times. And as a pastor of a Church filled with retired people, I believe in it. I would not be here if I didn’t. We are in the work here of ‘people development,’ as author Reggie McNeal would say. Or, as our ‘younger’ Bible Study group suggests by our very name, we are The Transformers. That wonderful chapter, Romans 12, says: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Perhaps this God is bringing you to a moment of renewal – or into a process. I would be happy to help you with this. Others in the fellowship could also be your encouragers and companions on the journey. Maybe they already are. This is the work of Jesus, what He is all about here and now. Be born after having grown up! (Hey, it might even happen to me this year.)

PRAYER after the Sermon: Behold, God, are You about to do a new thing? Can we see it now? And what are we to do? This time of thinking and meditating and feeling we dedicate again to You. May we be transformed for the good, and become people making a real difference in our world, with Jesus. Amen.

PRAYERS of the People – offered by Dick Parry

BENEDICTION: Romans 12:9-10 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
And grace, mercy and peace be yours from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

Week of Prayer – Jan 22

“Ahead of them went the star that they had seen at its rising” (Mt 2:9)
Guided by the one Lord

O Faithful Guide, I give thanks today for the help I have gotten to show me the way. I am grateful for the ways I have learned to find true guidance from You, in prayer and thought, in the written Word, in the things happening around me each day, and from the experience and teachings of history. I pray today for Your good, strong guidance in the lives of others. This weekend, may Your will and Your way be made know to the folks of the Clementsvale Baptist Church: bless them on their path of faith.

O Lord God our Father, you sent the star to lead the Magi to your only begotten Son. Increase our hope in you and let us know at all times that you are walking with us, watching over your people. Teach us to follow the guidance of your Holy Spirit, however strange the path may seem, so that we may be led to our unity in Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Open our eyes to your Spirit, and encourage us in our faith, so that we may confess that Jesus is Lord, and worship and rejoice in him as the Magi did in Bethlehem. We ask you these blessings in the name of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Week of Prayer – Jan 21

“And you, Bethlehem … are by no means least” (Mt 2:6)
Though small and suffering, we lack nothing

Jesus, our One Master, I have heard from time to time about how many thousands of Christian denominations there are. I hear in the news about cruelty and abuse done by churches and leaders all over the world. I read of the decline of Christianity in Canada every year. What is going on, Jesus? Where can I see the wonderful work You are doing to reconcile the world to Yourself? Sometimes, Master, I am discouraged.

Good Shepherd, the fragmentation of the little flock grieves your Holy Spirit. Forgive our weak efforts and slowness in the pursuit of your will. Give us wise shepherds after your own heart who recognise the sin of division, and who will lead the churches with righteousness and holiness, to unity in you. We ask you, Lord, to hear our prayer. Amen.