Daily Prayer – Feb 28

2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7 for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

Holy God, You are the height of bravery, the pinnacle of power, the completion of love. I pray in this moment to be in touch with You, and to be alive to all true values. Even to me, You have given a spirit of power and love and discipline. May this prayer be yet another moment of disciplined training with You, Master.

I pray today that others will know their spiritual gifts rekindled. Those who were enthusiastic in the past, encourage them again, Holy Spirit. Those who were energetic, help them deal with discouragements now. Those who finished great little projects, show them some new ways to help in the world. So many people I see around me could use some ‘rekindling.’ I ask for it; I want them empowered for Jesus. And all the folks who let their names stand in our Nominating report, bless their work and their teamwork. Amen.

Worship, Feb 27 – African Heritage Celebration

WELCOME to the post for Digby Baptist’s worship of God at the end of February. The Bulletin here has the complete service plan as well as announcements and prayer requests. The manuscript of Pastor Jeff’s sermon is here, but he actually skipped it and did not preach it. Video of Deacon Myra’s African Heritage Presentation is here, with closing songs and scripture and prayers.

PRAYERS of the People: LORD, our Light and our Salvation, we have brought our praises together today. We have brought our offerings, and dedicate them to the glory of Jesus in our Church. We have brought our storytelling and our scripture study.

We bring our hopes and fears. As we behold Your beauty and inquire in Your temple, deal with our fearfulness, our anxieties, our defensive anger and our apathetic dullness. We need both to be sheltered and to be lifted up, safe and secure, by You, glorious One.

We pray because of the troubles of the world. There are enemies pit against enemies and adversaries telling lies about others everywhere. What can we do, O God! Have mercy, we pray. Today we pray for the Ukraine: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. We pray for Russia: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. We pray for those who are praying to You there today; we pray with them.
And that is but one violent corner of the world, Creator.

Send Your Spirit too upon us and those in our local prayers: the people who are ill, those who are isolated, those who are recovering and seeking to be healed, those who have challenging tasks day by day, those who mourn, and those who are making changes in their lives. Bless this Church, as we prepare to select a Pulpit Committee.

Jesus, Brother of all people, we pray joyfully and humbly for our friends of the Acaciaville Baptist Church: we bless them. We bless the African United Baptist Association here in NS. We also bless the JAC Betterment Association and the work they do. Keep us listening, keep us loving, keep us labouring together, in the name of Christ.
To His glory and by His authority we pray today. AMEN.

SERMON: Don’t Hide Your Face from Me: (Jeff skipped this and did not preach it!) Before our service ends, I wish to speak every so briefly about this text we have read, most of Psalm 27. What a great beginning!

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

Fear is, of course, a great tool in our lives. It has its use. We fear what is dangerous so that we keep out of danger. But when too many things are feared too much, we get trapped in fear and lose much of our life. One of the wiser reasons for opposition to masks and social distancing this past two years has been the culture of fear it creates. To live in fear of others in our own neighbourhoods is bad for the human psyche, the human spirit, and even bad for the immune system. And the lack of normal close contact takes its toll upon us, as we well know. Hidden faces hurt us.

Who can I be afraid of with God as my close companion? God, who is for us, not against us! This ancient Psalm speaks for those who face opposition, and must face enemies who are feared. 

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they are breathing out violence.

There are many enemies people find in this life. You may have your own. Coming to the end of African Heritage Month, the personal stories of adversaries and the oppression of people of colour tell the tale. It truly is all about storytelling. How many people have borne false witness against others, out of prejudice and racism? How many times have people faced those who are ‘breathing out violence’ against them?

We who claim – or even just hope – to be Christians, have a calling and are transformed to be like our God, who is a safe place for all. As a Proverb says, the Lord is a Strong Tower – we run to It and are saved. (18:10) Do people know us as those they can run to and be safe?

Psalm 27 prays desperately:
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, do I seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me.

“Do not hide Your face from me.” Why? Because others have hidden their faces from the one praying. Because others have closed their lives off from those they think less, they think poor, they think an enemy. When you or I decide not to ‘hide our face’ but rather, to open our eyes and ears, and give our attention to someone, we are following the steps of Christ. We become friends, allies, brothers and sisters. Respect means believing that the other person, somehow ‘different,’ is valuable and has things to offer the world. Often, it takes us time to get over our biases or fears to discover how wonderful a person truly is.

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.

Do we believe it? Lord help our unbelief!

Across the globe the world powers are making enemies of neighbours again, across the borders of Ukraine and Russia. The invasion began back on Thursday. 

What a terrible time this has been for the making of adversaries and enemies. The news from near and far also adds to this age of anxiety, and builds our fear. We pray and pray, with the simple inspiration of the Psalms and the prayers written through the centuries. I think of the now well-known prayer of a Serbian Orthodox Bishop, Nikolai Velimirovic, a prayer for critics and enemies. It begins:

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have. Friends have bound me to earth; enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world…

Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless and do not curse them.

‘Don’t hide Your face from us, God’ is our prayer. May our actions be the same: not turning our faces away from those who suffer, who are oppressed, who seem different, even who act as my enemies. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

PRAYER after the Sermon: O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world.  . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, Amen. (Richard Rohr)

Daily Prayer, Feb 26

Psalm 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
7 Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers.”

As the Psalmist prayed, long ago, I pray today, but for the people of the Ukraine. With a world of Christians, and others, O God, I pray for the peace of Ukraine. May they prosper again who love you. May peace be within their walls again, someday. May they be secure again. O Lord, this seems so far off, as an invasion has just begun.

Today, loving God, I pray for the people who are already refugees, fleeing for their borders with Poland and Hungary, borders which are open. Hear the prayers of the Ukrainian people, there, and around the world. With them I pray: I pray for the peace of the Ukraine. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Daily Prayer – Feb 25

1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

One and only God, thank You for the Spirit of Truth, Your presence with me. As the Annual Meeting of the Church happens on Saturday, may I do my part to be part of the blessings. Part of the praying, the decisions, the celebration of 2021, the hoping and trusting for 2022. Help me affirm my own commitments to various things I am willing to do – even just the personal promise to join the fellowship in the pews.

May those who are willing to take responsibility be encourage and empowered to serve. May those who are faithful in the background be happy in their work. May those who don’t know what on earth they can do be inspired to try some simple task that helps. Come, Holy Spirit, and shower Your gifts and Your fruit upon the people. Amen.

Daily Prayer – Feb 24

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Jesus, true and only Head of the Church, I thank and praise You today, that I am not alone with You in this world, but am in the local and world-wide fellowship of saints, saved by grace. I have decided to follow Jesus, and some go with me!

I confess, Master, that when I think about it I do have some real disappointments with my fellow Church members. At times I have been discouraged about how we all are doing, and the direction we are headed. How much are You in control, and guiding us, and directing our strategy? Has Your word and Your Spirit kept us from being petty, being overly-cautious, and being self-serving? Give me greater patience and appreciation for my fellow believers, Jesus. And give me willingness to humbly ask for forgiveness for my own failures. In Your name. Amen.

Daily Prayer – Feb 23

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. 

Loving God, teach me true compassion and care, real devotion to the well-being of others, genuine good-will to those around me.

Let there be a
Liking for others,
Listening in my attitude,
Length to the time I’m willing to spend;

Openness to hear different opinions,
Obligations kept by me faithfully,
Obedience to Jesus’ teaching;

Vitality in my relationships,
Virtues in my behaviour,
Variety in the people I befriend;

Eagerness to pay attention,
Easy-going ways in my talk,
Earnestness is my compassion.

Daily Prayer – Feb 22

Deuteronomy 21:8 Absolve, O Lord, your people Israel, whom you redeemed; do not let the guilt of innocent blood remain in the midst of your people Israel.” Then they will be absolved of bloodguilt.

God of sacrifice and of peace, I pray today with praise and gratitude for the gentle moments and safety I enjoy this day. Christ, You have absorbed so much hatred and violence, and I have been forgiven too. Spirit of life, Your protection has come, in answer to many prayers.

Today, Holy One, the inquiry begins into the mass shooting in Nova Scotia, of two years ago. May there be comfort and grace for the family and friends who lost loved ones so violently then, and who now deal with this process. Let there be calm and comfort for all who hear about it in the news, brining back these traumatic stories from rural areas. Bring justice, O God; and make me prayerful with each bit of news or conversation I hear. Amen.

Daily Prayer – Feb 21

Acts 1:24 Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Jesus, my Master, Saviour, Teacher and Friend, Pastor Jeff has announced he is leaving, this summer; the congregation is startled. Lord, this is a big change whenever it happens in every Church. Bless us now, as we keep on working together for three months, as we start to say our long goodbyes, and as we start the seeking process for the next Pastor.

I want to know Your clear guiding hand, Master. I want the people who will become the Search Committee to find a clear and good path of steps to take, and a closeness with You to know Your will. You will speak to others in many ways, as You speak to me. Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening. AMEN.

Worship, Feb 20 – A Division in the Crowd

WELCOME to this worship post for February 20, 2022. Welcome to this format of service from Digby Baptist Church. More information is available in the Bulletin for this date. Video from the service is added each week after the 11 am service.

PRAYERS of the People: Holy, wonderful Spirit of abundant power: to You we turn with our prayers together this morning. O God of hope, banish our despair, disperse our depression, conquer our hopelessness. With trouble on every side, in this world today, we have come into the light of Your blessed presence.

Forgive our forgetfulness, when we thought You were not near or could not handle the troubles we face. Brighten our spirits, and inspire both our prayers and our actions.

We intercede for:
Russia & Ukraine; mudslide in Brazil
Spanish fishing trawler lost off NFLD
Family lost in a fire near Bridgewater, NS
COVID protocol protests – Canada, France
Hong Kong – cases spiking

2 Races and peoples, lo! we stand divided,
And sharing not our griefs, no joy can share;
By wars and tumults Love is mocked, derided,
His conquering cross no kingdom wills to bear:
Thy Kingdom come, O Lord, Thy will be done.

(Lawrence Houseman, 1919)

Spirit of God, close as our own breath, we bless those nearest to us: Lisa Wong, John Banks, Rollie Wier, Louis Francis, Robert Wilkinson Sr., Amelia Doucette… Dwight and Joe and Peter; Marj, Maggie

Inspire and guide us in our Church Annual Meeting on Saturday. God of a hundred names, You call us by name, and bless us: glory and thanks to You, now and always. AMEN.

SERMON: As I prepared my message for today, the rain was pouring down – outdoors it was coming in horizontally; in here it was pouring straight down on the edge of the pews there! In the news I heard of the makeshift jails set up in Ottawa to receive the many expected arrested people from the protests. Then, my second basically homeless man of the week dropped in looking for a handout. Life is messy!

I’d just come out of three days of watching and listening to the lectures and seminars from Acadia about justice and anti-black racism: how to face the challenge and do something; be active; follow Jesus! It was a call to be courageous! It’s been a week of invitations to me to be courageous, to act more bravely.

I find all the bravery difficult. Perhaps none of you are like me, who finds it hard to be sure enough of things to take a stand. To care less about myself so I can care more for others and for the issues. I admire courageous, decisive people, who are clear about what they see and what they think and what should be done. 

So you have not heard me preach on anti-black racism, ever. Or local poverty and homelessness in this rural town. Or clearcutting of NS forests. Or recent protests against all the pandemic policies that some say are a plague. As the crowds were divided about Jesus in Jerusalem, two thousand years ago, so are the crowds divided today, about so many, many things. Important things. Things that matter to Jesus, and to us.

I admire my preacher colleagues like Lennett Anderson, and Rhonda Britton, and Joe Green, who seem always to be taking a stand and speaking out about the troubles of the world, calling for justice and equity and peace. Also, a Div College professor I know, Spencer Boersma, who appears to me clever, courageous, and compassionate. 

Here are a few comments from Dr. Boersma last week, posted on social media: (Facebook, February 17)

Pray for Canada as its democracy is under assault. 

As I said before the convoy arrived in Ottawa, the protest’s demands were [nonsensical.] The border trucker mandates are issued from both sides, Canada and the US, so for Canada to lift them would do nothing. 

As I said before, again, the real reason for the convoy is to make Trudeau look bad.

The protests are the equivalent of someone sitting on another person, then crying violence for when they punch the person off. They goaded him and he fell for it.

So, for a group of people to blockade the capital because they disagree with what a democratic [government] is doing is tremendously troubling. Let’s be clear: blockading the capital is not a peaceful demonstration. It is coercive. 

End of quotations. He wrote more than this.

I know enough about nonviolent communication to agree with Spencer that a ‘peaceful demonstration’ can actually be ‘violent’ in a deeper sense. Certain flags being waved are violent, in and of themselves. I know my own attitudes about these things going on – the pandemic, the responses of health and governments – but I’m not standing out on the street corner, or my pulpit, to proclaim them.

When there is a division in the crowd, how does a meek and mild person like me or you, respond? I’m not asking ‘What would Jesus do,’ but really, ‘What would Jesus have us do? You do? Me do?’ Can Christians cope with conflict?

This is the hope I have: The grand hope that Jesus is the Living Water, springing up without fail, and even flowing up within and out of me. And you. As a kid, at Middleton Baptist Church I learned to sing

I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me
makes the lame to walk and the blind to see
opens prison doors, sets the captives free,
I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me!
Spring up, O well, within my soul;
spring up, O well, and make me whole;
spring up, O well, and give to me
that life abundantly!

‘Out of his [heart] shall flow rivers of living water’ Jesus said, harkening back to His scriptures. A steady river of water was trickling into the Parsonage basement on Thursday, in one corner, and getting pumped out at the opposite corner by the sump pump. What kind of flow from the Spirit of Jesus, through our spirits, is happening? That flow of grace and truth and life is a way of describing the source for our wisdom and courage. Then, we decide and act as body members of the Body of Christ today, be it about healthcare, government, race relations, or forestry. 

In his Thursday evening lecture from Acadia, Rev. Dr. Lennett Anderson gave seven action steps, the seventh being: Let’s get in good trouble and make some noise!  Amen! Yet his first step was: Assume a posture of humility. 

What we are reading about is Jesus in the midst of a lot of controversy. His fellow Jews and the various groups and sects are all in a kerfuffle about Him. He has gained a wide following, and a lot of strong opposition. What did we hear from John 7? [Some] in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? …scripture said… Bethlehem.” 

In this chapter of the story, we have all these players: Pharisees, the Chief Priests, the Temple Police, Jesus’ own brothers, the twelve disciples must be near, plus various other groups of Jews, often just called ‘the Jews’ in English. It’s a religious festival for them all, in their holy city. Jesus creates a stir; the people take sides. 

As I said, many of you may be like me, and you don’t create a stir very often. In fact, we avoid trouble. Right? But I have had my moments – as a public speaker every week before a crowd, it is bound to happen. 

For instance, I remember so well this certain sermon I preached. I said a few things about Creation, such as these:

As a child I was an artist, a biologist, an astronomer, and a paleontologist… So things in Sunday School like the poster that made fun of evolution I could not fully accept. How old is this rock of ages, the Earth? Six thousand[yrs]? Four and a half billion years? 

When someone believes in the evolution of life, and the geological time scale, and a 13.75 billion year old universe: seek to know and understand that person’s world- view, and how amazing this universe story is; then you will both be sharing in an incredible awe…. (Apr 22, 2012)

That sermon got me in some real hot water with a few people in the congregation. One of the retired pastors really took me to task for my heresy. And a couple deacons truly thought it was not helpful, especially Derek, who thought I was confusing some people in the pews. 

That was ten years ago this spring, on Earth Day. 

I usually keep my head down, stay under the radar. You too? Some of you. 😉 But we follow – we name ourselves after – Christ, who was no shrinking violet. Jesus stirred up so much controversy that, well, we know the story of His betrayal, arrest, interrogation, torture, and execution. 

Here is our inspiration: Jesus.
Here is our courage: Jesus!
Here is our correction: Jesus.
Here is our reconciliation: Jesus.
Here is our unity: Jesus.
Here is our guide: Jesus.
Here is our judge: Jesus.
Here is our truth: Jesus.
Here is our life, our living water: JESUS.

This Man, who was at the centre of a controversy about who He was, and what He meant by each thing He said, this Man was the answer to all the problems, all the division, all the enmity. The crowd was divided during that festival about Jesus. In the end, so many have to make a decision about this Messiah: trust and figure out how to follow, or not. The problems of life Jesus speaks to, the potential of life Jesus points to: shall we trust? Choose Him? Side with Christ? These pews are for those who have decided to follow Jesus, and for those who are wondering.

So I see Christ as the best way God reaches me. I am both led to put my confidence in Jesus, and to be confident in other decisions in my day to day life. I have this all-wise Shepherd. I see His image before me every Sunday, a rather unrealistic white European in stained glass. Jesus is far more real that that, to me. He’s not just some spiritual expert, here to comfort me and get me to the next life. This Living Water is what I need to face every choice and challenge. 

I’ve always been impressed with the way Dallas Willard made the point that Jesus, for each of us, is an expert, an expert in whatever we need at any moment. At a faculty retreat for a Christian College Willard once asked the professors what they thought Jesus would say to them if He were speaking at the retreat. Willard suggested He would ask them a simple question: Why don’t you respect me in your various fields of study and expertise? Why don’t you recognize me as a master of research and knowledge in your fields? They were experts in subjects like algebra, economics, business administration, French literature… Many of the profs thought, ‘are you serious?’ 

In our culture, no Christian thinks of Jesus as well informed, brilliant or smart. Willard warns: Far too often he is regarded as hardly conscious. He is taken as a mere icon, a wraithlike semblance of a man living on the margins of the “real life” where you and I must dwell. He is perhaps fit for the role of sacrificial lamb or alienated social critic, but little more. (2006, The Great Omission, pp. 18-19) 

When Dallas Willard would say ‘Jesus is the most intelligent man who ever lived,’ some Christians would actually say ‘that doesn’t make sense.’  

Yet it does make sense; the most sense of anything. We have God available to us, in ways we can know and understand. Let anyone who is thirsty come to Jesus. Let anyone who believes in Him drink deeply of His Spirit. Christ is here to help us navigate the pandemic. To make life decisions when a major change comes along. To start a new project together when we don’t even know how. To show some courage when there’s a battle to be waged.

So, I did this last week; I said ‘Yes.’ An acquaintance from hiking reached out to me, about protecting forests in NS. She said she recently attended a meeting when an idea was presented to form “dream teams” of folks all over the province to nominate areas to be protected.

She said, The idea is we could go out… and find areas with high conservation values, or endangered species of anything (plants, animals, etc.) or we may already know of areas we’d like to protect, older growth etc.  If we could team up perhaps with biologists or knowledgeable folks who know the woods or have lived there for decades to help that would be great. I guess I am one of the ‘knowledgeable folks’ who could help. 

So, I said, ‘Yes.’ I realized, it is time for me to take a stand. I know Jesus wants me to make a difference here for all creation, the environment. Christ will have to lead me in this opportunity to join a local ‘dream team.’ 

What team are you joining this year? And are you taking Jesus with you?

Let there be overflowing life for all of us. Sharing this fresh water of the Spirit, we shall move forward, & stand up for good, for right, for love, for justice, for peace, for life. 

Jesus will still divide crowds of people, yes.

Yet we can be very sure about Him.


Pastor’s Letter of Resignation:

Daily Prayer – Feb 19

Mark 5:21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea.

The day is calm and beautiful, Creator, I rejoice it in and in You. Here by the sea I see boats all the time heading out and coming in. May each crew member be blessed and be safe. Each passenger have a good journey on the Fundy Rose.

Way down the Annapolis Basin is the Granville Ferry Church: I bless that little congregation! May they, viewing Annapolis and area across the water, be inspired every week by You, Jesus, leader of the fishers of men and women. I thank You for catching me! Amen.