As September comes with the renewed energy from some rest over the summer, we embark on a new ministry year that promises to move us as a church toward greater spiritual maturity – measured by a deepening love for God, love for His people and serving our community. I hope you are anticipating and praying for God to do something very special among us as a church this year.
September is also a time for me as your pastor to point us towards Jesus and His church in a very intentional way. For 4-6 weeks, I address a topic of the local church and our call to mission. Themes have varied from year to year but I believe it’s important to focus in to what God would have our church be for the coming year. This September I want us to zoom in on what it means to be a worshipping church.
Worship is something that we often take for granted in the local church. We make statements like “the worship was really good there” or “I didn’t like the worship” without really thinking through the implications of such a subjective comment. Worship is much more than “really good” or “not likeable” if we have a firm understanding of what worship is. Worship is hard to define but put simply, “is the priority we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of priorities.” (Delesslyn A. Kennebrew).
So, beginning this Sunday, I will be preaching for sermons in a series entitled, “The Worshipping Church”. Each week we will unpack a various aspect of worship and its implications for the local church as we make it a priority. It is my prayer that these messages will challenge us to reconfirm what we believe about worship and how what we do on a Sunday morning collectively is so important.
What I want to challenge you with this as we lead into Sunday is summed up in one word, “Preparation”. What is critical to these messages is how we prepare for them in advance. Have you ever thought that the week leading up to Sunday is preparing us for what happens when we gather to worship as a church? I came across this quote from Jerry Bridges and it cuts to heart of what it means to be true worshippers of God who prepare.
“The vitality and genuineness of corporate worship is to a large degree dependent upon the vitality of our individual private worship. If we aren’t spending time daily worshiping God, we’re not apt to contribute to the corporate experience of worship. If we aren’t worshiping God during the week, how can we expect to genuinely participate in it on Sunday morning? We may indeed go through the motions and think we have worshiped, but how can we honour and adore One on Sunday whom we have not taken time to praise and give thanks to during the week?
"I Exalt You, O God: Encountering His Greatness in Your Private Worship”, Jerry Bridges
Let me encourage you spend some time preparing for Sunday through Scripture reading, prayer, silence, service, whatever it takes to make sure that when we come together on Sunday we are ready to participate together and focus on our great God! I hope you will come with an expectant heart – ready to celebrate what God is doing and what He will continue to do.
See you the, by God’s grace,
You are dearly loved,
I remember one of the first times I worked my way through the book of Hebrews. I had been hesitant to read Hebrews because I found it hard to understand all the Old Testament references and what they had to do with the message that the author of Hebrews was trying to communicate.
So, I sat down and started chasing all those footnotes and cross references that you find in your Bible (a little aside – this is one of the reasons why I don’t think your primary Bible should be a digital device that doesn’t include these). As I read the Old Testament quotes, suddenly the book came alive as I saw the incredible way the author built the case surrounding the supremacy of Christ and the power of salvation through His death on the cross.
One of my favourite sections – and really it’s the pinnacle of the book in many ways – is in chapter 10 where the author writes, (italics mine)
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:11–14 (ESV)
When I first read those verses, I wondered why it would mention “stands daily” and then “sat down”. Why would the author put these little details in? As I chased down the cross-references and read some other material I was struck with the thought that the reason why the priest could never sit down was because his job was never done. Every day, day after day, sacrifices would have to be made for the people by the priests. It was a never-ending job that required unbelievable dedication and endurance. There was no shortage of work. Sin continued to be committed, sin needed to be atoned for, and a sacrifice was necessary.
Until THE day when everything changed. Jesus changed everything.
Jesus gave His life as the final and ultimate sacrifice for your sins and mine. In one final act, Jesus took the punishment for our sin. The punishment that we are responsible for because we can’t keep God’s perfect law, was taken on Himself. Not multiple sacrifices, but ONE SINGLE SACRIFICE that made atonement for all sin for all time.
Let that sink in a minute as we approach the time of year where we come together as a church to remember that Jesus died and rose again (Good Friday and Easter) so that our sins can be forgiven and we can be made right with God. And then Jesus SAT down.
The priests in the tabernacle had no need of chairs because their work never ended, but Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest, offered himself as a single sacrifice for sins, for all time. After his sacrifice was offered and accepted, he did what no other priest serving in the tabernacle had done before. He pulled up a chair and sat down at the right hand of His Father (1). Your sin and mine has now been covered by the sacrifice that Jesus made. By faith, we accept that gift of grace. It moves me to tears to think that my Saviour did that for us, for His church, for any who would believe.
As we gather this Easter weekend, it is my prayer that the prodigiousness of this grace, that was poured out in the finality of Christ’s sacrifice, would move us all to proclamation and mission - proclaiming the good news to our friends and neighbours and serving people as an expression of love because of what Christ has done for us. Why not invite them to join you on Easter Sunday at Calvary – you never know what they will say until you ask.
And remember…. He sat down…
Pastor Aaron Groat
Recently I was reading the first part of the book of Ephesians, and I was struck by the use of the word ‘in’ - have you noticed it before? I would encourage you to grab your Bible or a Bible app and take a minute to check it out.
The word 'in' is just a small word but it is amazing how it reminds us and reassures us.
In Ephesians 2, Paul reminds the believers that in their trespasses they were dead. Separated from Christ, without hope and without God. Remember, he says, because you were inside a life of sin you were outside of a relationship with the Heavenly Father.
But Paul also uses the word in to reassure us. Paul says to the Ephesians, “But now in Christ Jesus we who once were far off have been brought near” (Ephesians 2:13). As believers we are in Christ Jesus, and being in Christ is a pretty amazing place to be! Look at what Ephesians 1 says about being in Christ:
In him, we were chosen
In love, we were predestined for adoption
In him, we have redemption through his blood
In him, we have forgiveness of our sins
In him, we are lavished with grace
In him, we can know the mystery of God’s will
In him, we have an inheritance
In him, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit
In him, the Holy Spirit is our guarantee of inheritance, to the praise of God’s glory
In our sin we were cut off and shut out, lost forever. But now in Christ we can enjoy a loving and right relationship with God the Father.
I’m so thankful for the small word in. Are you?
Director of Administration, Communications & Frontline Ministry
Maintaining relationships can be a challenge, even with phone calls, "snail mail", email, and social media. In fact, social media - that thing that was designed to bring us together - sometimes works against us and leaves us as disconnected as ever.
Recently Facebook (and soon Instagram) changed their algorithms to suppress posts from pages, such as our Calvary Burlington Facebook page, in favour of boosting posts from individuals and groups. Their reasoning is that a public page is something that you follow, whereas friendships and groups are something with which you engage.
When their algorithms changed, we instantly saw a plunge in the number of people who saw and engaged with our posts on Facebook. This was disheartening because our staff try to post a balance of information that is useful to those in the church family, and that which is encouraging or invitational for the community as a whole.
With this change in algorithm, we could have responded in two ways:
First, we could pay Facebook to boost or promote each post on our page. That seemed like a terrible way to steward our finances, plus it looks a little tacky to have each of our posts say, “Sponsored”!
Our second – and best – option was to create a Facebook group. What's the difference? Well, a Facebook page is open for anyone to follow, and a Facebook group is closed and is based more on a sense of community and shared interests.
What does this mean for you? On our Facebook page you’ll see content posted by “Calvary Burlington” related to information and encouragement, stuff that you can share with your friends and colleagues to let them know what is going on with Calvary Burlington and how your faith has impacted you. And in our Facebook group you will see prayer requests, photos of the church experience, and comments related to the faith journey posted by both Calvary Burlington and the church family. In fact, within the group it is the church family itself that creates the content!
So, if you attend Calvary, we hope you will follow and contribute to both. If you are not yet part of Calvary's group page, send us a request to join - it would be great to see you there!
It is not our intention to overwhelm you with information, but we honestly believe that this group is a tool that we all can use to continue creating community and to build one another up in the faith. If you don't yet attend Calvary, stop by on a Sunday. You'll find people just like yourself - people who don't have it all figured out but who are trying to understand more what it means to follow Jesus.
See you online!
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CalvaryBurl/
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/calvaryburl/
The new Calvary App is here, and we think you'll love it!
First we have to mention that when you install the App, please allow notifications. We won't inundate you with texts, but there are things you will want to know about (program updates, inclement weather). After you download the App open it and allow notifications. Then navigate to the side menu (top lefthand side of the screen) click Settings, and then Notifications. There you can select which groups can notify you. Definitely click General, and then add any other relevant groups.
Here are just a few of the features of the new App:
The Home screen features an entire section devoted to Sunday morning. You'll find the online Bulletin and the digital Connection Card, as well as our new Sermon Notes section. There you can fill in your notes and then email them to yourself so that you can look them over during the week.
The Events tab gives you our calendar at a glance. Within each event you can add it to your calendar (use the calendar icon on the top righthand side of the screen), or send the event via text or email. Pro tip: use this feature to invite someone to a games night, or to remind family members about upcoming programs.
The Media tab allows access to the latest sermons and notes. Pro tip: Download the sermon to your phone so that you can listen on the go, and save on your data charges! You'll find the Downloads in the Menu (three little lines in the top lefthand side of the screen). Also cool is that the media player is also available online through the desktop experience - click here to see it.
The Bible tab gives you both a full Bible and a reading plan - no other Bible App needed! Pro tip: The App will read Scripture out loud, and iOS users can airplay it to an Apple TV for an even bigger sound experience.
One of the main reasons we love the App is that it isn't cookie-cutter. It has been fully developed and is customized for our church family. You'll notice that at the time of launch we have an entire section devoted to #TheGreatestBook - our national initiative to get back into God's Word, including a 14-day devotional. At other times of the year we will have tabs for Christmas at Calvary, Easter, Summer Camp and more.
This is just a taste of what you'll find in the App; download it today and check it out for yourself.
Each week we post about a range of things from the Christian life, faith and more.
In these posts we hope you'll catch a glimpse of ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God.