Pastor’s Blog

April 22, 2021

The Tri

Better Together.
Being the body of Christ
in our church and community
 
   There are numerous examples and teachings in the New Testament of the fact that
we need each other. We see the imagery in Paul’s description of the “body of Christ.”
All parts are needed, each has a unique role, and each part needs to contribute for the
body’s healthy functioning. We do all this because we are in a real sense “members of
one another.” For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have
the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another (Romans 12:4-5).
 
   The Scriptures provide guidance on how we are to live out being the body of Christ.
I have not counted them, but some who have report there are 100 places in the New Testament with instructions on how to be in community. These are how we are to (and
how not to) relate to one another. Of the 100 approximately 59 are specifically “one
another” commands. The point is that we have a responsibility to one another and when
we take this responsibility seriously, and practice it, we are better together.
 
   Given the disruption from COVID-19, and the fallout that has occurred and will continue,
the elders have been discussing ways that we can care for one another. How can we,
Yorkton Alliance Church, prepare and provide ways to serve one another and our region
in the present and the days ahead? One of the objectives for this year as reported in our annual report is: “Developing and launching a Care Ministry which provides opportunities
to use our gifts, talents, and resources for ministry within the local body as well as in our
wider community.” We received input from those attending the annual meeting.
 
   Our next step is to identify the skills, services and resources within our faith community
that we would be willing to share. This is where we need your help. Here is our “ask.”
Would you please take some time to consider and identify skills, services, and/or resources that you would be willing to make available to others? Here are some examples to prime our thinking:
  • Skills: mechanical, carpentry, computer, homemaking.
  • Services: driving, providing meals, tutoring, visiting, providing childcare.
  • Resources: tools, equipment, space to work, vehicle.
 
   It may be helpful to take 5 to 10 minutes in quiet and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind things you could contribute.
 
   This will get us started. Then we will enter these into a central data base and when a
need becomes known we can connect the person with the need to the person who can
assist in meeting that need. This will be done through a person who will facilitate the
process. This is in process and we will learn as we go.
 
   There are going to be challenging days ahead and we will need one another.
 
   This Sunday Scott Fitzsimmons will be preaching. As we are limited to 30 people, please
be sure and register.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron 
April 15, 2021

The Tri

  Women in Leadership

 
   The conversation continues. Covid-19 has been disruptive on a number of levels. One
of which has been our moving forward in discussing women in leadership. The topic
was brought up at our Annual Meeting in 2020. The Elders felt that we should engage
the topic with the goal of discussing it in community. The first step we took was to read
and discuss various views on the topic. Next, we invited Bernie Van De Walle, our
district superintendent and past professor of church history at Ambrose University, to
make a presentation on Women in Ministry in the Alliance and the opening of the role of
elder to women in the Alliance. He did this for the elders and wives in August 2020.
He repeated the presentation to our church family in November. His presentation
 
   Bernie encouraged us to look at the passages in the New Testament touching on this
topic. We felt this was good advice. We discussed possibilities for moving forward
and determined we would seek a New Testament scholar to walk us through the
various passages. Dr. Paul Spilsbury a Professor of New Testament and Academic Dean
at Regent College was contacted and he graciously agreed to engage with us on this
topic. Paul is familiar with the C&MA as he began his career at Canadian
Theological Seminary in Regina and then at Ambrose University in Calgary. One of his
books that may be of interest is on the Book of Revelation, The Throne, the Lamb
and the Dragon: A Reader’s Guide to the Book of Revelation (InterVarsity, 2002).
 
   Dr. Spilsbury will be making a presentation via Zoom on Sunday, April 25th, 2021 
at 2:00 pm. The purpose at this time is to continue the discussion. Our desire is that
through discussion and discernment we can learn and grow together and in a spirit
of unity come to a decision on this topic for our congregation.
 
   This Sunday we will be hearing from Jennifer. As many of you know she has been
on a long journey of recovering from the car accident in March 2020.
 
   You probably heard of the recent decision from the provincial government to limit
church gathering to 30 people. Given these new restrictions we will work to return
to two services. However, for this Sunday and next Sunday we will have only one
service. Since we are limited to 30 people, please be sure and register because
there may not be space for people to arrive who are not registered.
 
   Thanks for your flexibility and your prayers as we navigate in and through these days.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
April 8, 2021

The Tri

  GLOBAL MINISTRIES GUEST SPEAKER THIS SUNDAY

 

 

 
   For over 125 years, Alliance people have been compelled by the goodness of God
and the command of Jesus given through his Great Commission to “go into all the
earth and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). A.B. Simpson said that The Christian
and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) “aims to reach the most neglected fields, to avoid the
beaten tracks of other laborers, to press on to the regions beyond and instead of
building upon another man’s foundation to preach the Gospel where Christ has
not been named.”  
 
   C&MA sends people to live on mission as International Workers among the
least-reached people groups overseas. Of the more than 1,100 International Workers
from around the globe, about 220 are Canadians who are supported solely by
Canadian Alliance churches. More than 40 per cent of workers are in countries that
closed their doors to traditional missionaries long ago. Each area of the Four S Regions
(Silk RoadCaribbean SunDesert Sand, and Asian Spice) has a broad range of
both physical and spiritual needs that intertwine in the lives of those who live there.
 
Caribbean Sun – Is the geographic region of Mexico, South America, and Central America. 
Desert Sand – Is the continent of Africa.
Silk Road – is the geographic region of Europe, Russia, Arabian Peninsula, and Central
Asia.
Asian Spice – is the geographic region of East Asia and Southeast Asia.
 
   International Workers live in almost every setting imaginable, from rural communities
to high-energy urban streets, in countries that protect freedom of expression and those
that suppress it. They are respectfully immersed in other cultures living, loving, and doing
life with them. When local people become leaders who will disciple more people to follow
Jesus, our workers step aside and look for other corners of the world where God will
use them again.
 
   Throughout the year, we receive updates from our international workers in the
form of letters, videos, or personal visits. On Sunday we will have an Alliance
International Worker come to speak to our congregation about her work. She ministers
in our Asian Spice region in a restricted country. You are encouraged to come out to hear about her work.
 
Grace & peace,
Ron
April 1, 2021

The Tri

   This Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the pivotal, decisive event on
which the Christian faith rests. The resurrection delivered the decisive victory over the
powers of sin and death. The resurrection dealt, once and for all, with the monumental problem that has plagued humanity since the disobedient acts of Adam and Eve – sin, rebellion against God.
 
   The resurrection of Jesus is monumental, and its significance is magnified in proportion
to my appreciation and increasing understanding of the extreme measures Jesus was
willing to accept and endure on my behalf because of the depth of his love toward me 
even with his full knowledge of my sin and brokenness.
 
   On Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus died to fulfill the mission of adopting us as sons and daughters. This was God’s design before the creation of the
world. Jesus died so that we could be included in relationship with the Father, Son and
Holy Spirit.
 
   Resulting from the resurrection is the birth of the Church, the anointing of the Holy
Spirit, and the launching of the Kingdom in which we get to participate in the process
of God making all things new. All this and more are part of our being blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. All accomplished in the resurrection. Now that is worth celebrating.
 
   I look forward to celebrating Easter with you on Sunday!
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
March 25, 2021

The Tri

Fifth Sunday in Lent – Palm Sunday

   Many Bible publishers provide brief descriptive headings throughout the text of Scripture. They can be helpful in finding stories. The heading for what we know as Palm Sunday is “The Triumphal Entry!” The songs we often sing on this day reflect a celebratory, festive air. What was so triumphal about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on that Sunday?

   From the crowds’ perspective it was an exciting time with high expectations that Jesus
is arriving to establish his throne. Finally liberation from living under the boot of Rome; the restoration of the Nation of Israel just like the prophets predicted. Let the good times roll!
 
   What about from Jesus’ point of view? What is happening in Jesus’ mind as he rides on
a donkey into Jerusalem surrounded by this exuberant crowd? I invite you to use your imagination and enter into the story. Picture Jesus, riding on a donkey, approaching Jerusalem, and consider these two questions: “Why was he willing to go through with what
he knew was ahead of him that week?” and “What sustains Jesus as he faces the abuse, rejection, and pain that is coming?”
 
   I will share some of my thoughts on Sunday. Hope to see you then.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
March 11, 2021
Fourth Sunday in Lent   
 
   This Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent. The gospel reading is John 3:14-21. Verse 16
is one of the most familiar and probably most quoted verses in the Bible. “For God so
loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The next verse is largely unknown. It states, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” If
you are anything like me one thing that comes easily is to be self-condemning; beat
myself up when I sin. What a comforting thing to know that Jesus does not condemn us.
He is very aware of our sin, those things we have done which are wrong and those things
we know we should have done but chose not to do. His mission and ministry are to provide the means and the way for us to experience healing and forgiveness. So, in verses 19-20,
the light that shines on our darkness is not to condemn but to shed light on, to help us
see the futility of our sin and that it leads only to a dead end. Thus, the light is a healing
light and a guiding light.
 
   As we open ourselves to Jesus, the Light of the world, he will gently expose sin in our
lives; not to condemn us but to show us where we are out of alignment with God and his desires for us. We are his beloved sons and daughters! His desire is for us to experience
life at its very best. So, welcome the Light of the world to shine in our hearts.
 
   I hope you will be able to join us for Worship and the Word this Sunday. Please register
for either the 10:30 am or 5:00 pm service. The 10:30 service will be live streamed.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
 
March 4, 2021
Third Sunday in Lent   
 
   It was almost a year ago that our lives changed. Since the lockdown imposed by the government in mid-March 2020, we have held only 17 in-person services. What was
thought to be a temporary interruption has turned into a long-term nuisance. We have determined we need to move forward in this restrictive environment and cannot “wait it
out” until restrictions are lifted. Thus, we will press ahead as we are permitted. So, next Sunday 14 March we are returning to in-person services. One at 10:30 am which will be
live streamed and another at 5:00 pm. We will add more services if needed. Please sign
up online or phone the church office to register. We can have up to 30 people per service.
 
   This Sunday at 2:00 pm we will have our annual meeting. You can join in person by
signing up online or phoning the church office on Friday. We can accommodate 30 people
in person. You can also attend through Zoom by connecting through the link below.
 
   At the annual meeting the Elders would like to get your input on a ministry initiative we
have been discussing. It involves establishing a means by which we can actively care for
one another in our church community and beyond. We value your ideas and feedback.
 
   I encourage you to attend the annual meeting in person or via Zoom and please pray for wisdom and discernment as we seek God and join him in ministry in our community. Your participation is desired because we are Better Together!
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
 
ZOOM Instructions for YAC Annual Meeting
 
When: Sunday March 7, 2021 from 2 – 3:30pm 
Who: rjfchurch@gmail.com – organizer
Ron Ferguson is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
 
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 860 1220 3945
 
 
 
 
February 25, 2021
Second Sunday of Lent   
   Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Lent. The Gospel reading was on Jesus’ baptism
and temptation in the wilderness. I focused on God’s words spoken when Jesus came
out of the water, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). In
Psalm 25 we read, “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.” We
looked at these verses in light of Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness. If you
weren’t able to be in church on Sunday you may want to listen to the sermon on our
website.
 
   This Sunday the Gospel lesson is on the transfiguration of Jesus. Here we find God declaring, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him” (Mark 9:8). I believe there is great significance in this pronouncement. It includes the idea of paying attention and obeying,
but I think there is something more going on in God’s declaration. We will explore this as
it relates to “Why should I listen,” and “How do I listen.”
 
   The Scripture readings for this Sunday are: Genesis 17:1-7,15-16; Psalm 22:23-31;
Romans 4:13-25 and Mark 9:2-9.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
February 18, 2021

 First Sunday in Lent

   Last evening, we launched our Community Lenten Reading. You are invited to join us
when your schedule permits. Don’t feel that you can’t take part if you are not able to make
it every day. You are welcome any time you can participate. The details are included below.
 
   This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent. The Scripture readings are Genesis 9:8-17;
Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22; and Mark 1:9-15.
 
   Through Lent we will be following Jesus on his earthly ministry. The gospel reading this Sunday includes the baptism of Jesus and his time in the wilderness. Mark covers a lot of ground in a few verses. Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts are much fuller. Several questions come to mind: 1) what’s up with Jesus needing to be baptized; 2) why was he immediately
led out into the wilderness; and 3) how does Jesus’ being tested connect to our being tested?
 
   As we journey through this Lenten Season, reading and reflecting on the designated Scriptures, we have an opportunity to be intentional about our call to be Christ followers.
This can include a time:
  • of reflection and realignment;
  • to examine what I say are my priorities and what are in fact priorities I my life;
  • to grow in personal freedom, based upon a growing sense of God’s love for us, a clearer vision of who I am, and a deepening desire to be more closely aligned with the heart of Jesus.
 
   May we be open to all that the Lord desires for us as we seek him in this season.
 
   Grace and peace,
   Ron
February 11, 2021
 
    I woke up Wednesday morning at 4:35 am thinking about our annual meeting. The
previous night was our Elder’s meeting in which we were discussing the annual meeting
and in particular how we could live stream it and still be able for members to vote. We are looking into some possibilities. We anticipate that the provincial government will continue
to extend the current restrictions past February 19th.
 
    Here is our thinking at this point. We will have the meeting with 30 people being able to attend in person (that is the government’s number) and live stream. Registration will be necessary for those attending in person, in order to comply with the government mandates. There are two critical votes that will be needed: the election of elders and the adoption of
the budget. The report of the Nominations Committee and the budget are included below.
Our challenge is how to conduct the vote of the members who would be attending online.
 
    A major topic for presentation and discussion is the development of a Care Ministry.
We will share what we are considering and then invite your ideas and suggestions. Our
desire is to be able to serve our church family and wider community by sharing our skills, talents, and resources.
 
    COVID-19 has forced many adaptations since the original mandates were declared in March of 2020. For us at Yorkton Alliance Church this has resulted in some significant changes, particularly for Sundays as well as ministry to children and youth. The Annual
Report will reflect these changes. My report will be longer this year as it will incorporate aspects or other ministries. For example, I will include the worship report and the children
and youth report.
 
Click here here to view a copy of the Financial Report and click here to view a copy of the Budget.
 
    One more item to note. We are moving to resume in-person services beginning the
14th of March. We will start by offering two services. Again, this is in anticipation of
continued government restrictions. Each service will have a maximum capacity of 30
people and registration in advance will be required. Times and days of the services still
need to be determined.
 
    I greatly appreciate your patience and partnership as we navigate these new and
changing circumstances surrounding COVID-19 which is becoming COVID-20, 21 and hopefully not 22.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
February 4, 2021
 
    In 2016 Jan and I took a 6-week journey (it was a sabbatical) in which we traveled from Keene, New Hampshire to the west coast of Vancouver Island, then south to the Northern California Redwoods, then east to Rocky Mountain National Park and finally back home to New Hampshire. It was a journey of over 14,000 km where we visited family and friends
along the way and camped and hiked in a number of beautiful national parks. It took a fair amount of planning, but it made for a smooth and enjoyable trip.
 
    Prior planning, whether the journey is long or of a shorter duration, provides a path to
follow but also allows for some adjustments and surprises along the way. On Sunday I
will be inviting you on a journey and it is one in which some prior preparation will enhance
the process. It’s a 40-day journey.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
January 28, 2021
The Journey of Following Jesus 
   
    Jan and I are reading a book about a woman’s transformation and healing as she hiked parts of the 2650 mile (4240 km) Pacific Crest Trail. The trail stretches from the Mexican/California border to the Washington/Canadian border.
 
    The book touches me in two ways. One is the stirring to hike in the mountains. I love
hiking in the mountains, particularly the Rocky Mountains with the beauty of the
surroundings and the joy of hiking. A lot of hiking in the mountains is hard work, and
utterly exhausting after a long day. But it is so good!
 
    The other way the book is resonating with me is the transformation that is taking place
in the woman’s life as she hikes. The hike provided an opportunity and space to battle her demons and process her life: the wounds, brokenness, pain, consequences of poor
choices, and just the dumb stuff she has done with the knowledge it was dumb. She chose
to do the hike knowing she needed to do something to change the direction or course she
was traveling. However, she was largely unaware and unprepared for what she would encounter physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
 
    She began the journey with an idea that it would be helpful to her. She was intentional
and followed up on her intent by making a plan. It is not unusual for the journey we imagine not to be lived out the way we envisioned. But the beauty is that though it may be more difficult or challenging than we imagined, it can also be more fulfilling. The journey of
following Jesus tends to unfold in this way. As we journey as followers of Jesus there are times we can give particular attention to our spiritual formation. Lent provides an opportunity for a 40 day “hike.” There are some steps we can take in preparation. I will be talking about them in a couple weeks.
 
    This week we will be hearing from Dion and Machelle Walker. They will be sharing and providing couples with an opportunity to be intentional regarding their relationship.
 
Thanks for staying connected on the journey.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
January 21, 2021
Next Step 
   
    A component which needs to be built into our ministry process of Connect, Grow,
Serve are opportunities to “take a next step” in disciple becoming and disciple making.
Here is an opportunity. The Season of Lent is fast approaching. Lent has been observed
in the Church in various ways from the beginning. Lent is an opportunity to devote 40 days
to giving intentional and purposeful time and attention to what it means to be a follower of Christ. My experience is that when I take this season to heart it makes the celebration of Easter more powerful and meaningful.
 
    A helpful resource Jan and I have used is Reliving the Passion, by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
It is meditations on the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus as recorded in the
Gospel of Mark. I believe the book is out of print but there is a Kindle version available on Amazon. Using a devotional guide can be a meaningful way of reflection during Lent.
There are other resources you can find online that you could use individually, as a couple, family or join with others by Zoom. I encourage you to take a step of exploring Lent in this manner.
 
    As you know Jennifer received a serious concussion in an auto accident with a moose
last March. Currently, she is going through some rehab to try and help. Please be praying
for her. One new development is that Sarah Walker has agreed to help fill the gap by
co-ordinating and facilitating opportunities for our youth, grade 7-12, to Connect. 
 
    I would welcome the opportunity to visit with you online, or in person at the church.
Please email me at rjfchurch@gmail.com or text 306.620.6047 to arrange a time. Hope
to Connect online this Sunday.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
 
January 14, 2021
Grow
 
    At our elders meeting on Tuesday I asked, “Are you reading or pondering anything
that is stretching you, pushing you to look beyond the neat categories that you have constructed, the box in which you have comfortably placed God? Or something that is
helping you go deeper in your relationship or understanding of God?” I would enjoy
hearing your responses to either of these questions.
 
    Our topic this Sunday is Grow. Grow implies movement, process, development,
change, maturing. Some definitions include:
    o  to increase by natural development, as any living organism or part by
assimilation of nutriment; increase in size or substance.
    o  to arise or issue as a natural development from an original happening,
circumstance, or source.
    o  to increase gradually in size, amount; become greater or larger; expand.
 
    There are numerous verses that speak to our growing in our relationships with God,
others, and in self-awareness. For example, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our
Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), “grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2), and “he who
began a good work will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).
 
    Our growing spiritually does not just happen, it is not accomplished by simply taking
a spiritual growth pill or hooking ourselves up to a spiritual exercise machine while we
binge watch a Netflix series.
 
    In our ministry process Grow the intent is to provide opportunities and structures to
help us on our journeys of disciple becoming and disciple making. We will need to
develop ways that this can be done in-person and on-line.
 
    As you likely heard, the provincial government has extended the restrictions on
gatherings for two more weeks. May the peace of the Lord be with you!
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
 
January 7, 2021
Connect
 
   Our world was changing prior to Covid-19. Change has accelerated as a result of
Covid-19 and there will be more changes. The consensus is there will no going back
to the “good old days”.  Even when Covid is behind us a number of the shifts that have taken place will not be undone. We will live in the world and understand the world differently than we did in January 2020.
 
    Consider the ways your life has changed, the ways you have adapted, the things
you have had to learn because of the virus? Who would have imagined on-line
shopping at Superstore? Visiting with family and friends over Zoom. Zoom was off
most people’s radar 12 months ago. Now it is used regularly by us old fogies.
 
    Given our new reality a fundamental question is “How are we going to adapt to change?” In particular how will we move forward in our ministry and mission as the
people of Yorkton Alliance Church. Just to be clear, Jesus’s disciple becoming, and disciple making mission has not changed since he gave it 2,000 years ago. He was
clear. So, how do we move forward in 2021 and beyond in a world that has shifted.
This will be our focus for the next three weeks as we revisit and review our ministry process: Connect, Grow, Serve.
 
    Including this in our first gathering of the new year provides an opportunity to reflect
on our journeys and verbalize our declaration of intent to persevere in our pursuit of
God. There is power in making declarations of desire, of intent or commitment, of
setting a goal.
 
   In the midst of change may you experience the peace of God which can calm and comfort troubled hearts.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
 
December 31, 2020
Christ Follower
 
    Some of you were wondering who the pianist was in our Christmas Eve Service.
His name is Cody Obst, a friend of Laurel Teichroeb. He was looking for a quality piano
on which to practice and Laurel connected him with us. It is a pleasure to hear him
practice while at work in my office. Here is a link to his website www.codyobst.com.
 
    Looking ahead to Sunday. As part of the service, we will have an opportunity to renew
and affirm our desire to be Christ followers. Some faith communities do this annually. In particular, the Methodists. In 1775, John Wesley introduced a covenant service as an important part of spiritual life in the Methodist Societies.
 
    This service was done annually by Methodists for self-examination, reflection, and dedication, wholly giving up themselves and renewing their covenant with God.
Repentance through confession and commitment was a key focus of the service,
demanding humility from those willing to submit themselves to being Christ followers.
Here is a link that provides a short introduction to the Methodist Covenant Service https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpPH5JNGqqE.
 
    Including this in our first gathering of the new year provides an opportunity to reflect
on our journeys and verbalize our declaration of intent to persevere in our pursuit of God. There is power in making declarations of desire, of intent or commitment, of setting a goal.
It is not magic. But stating it sets a course, it orients us in a direction, it stirs something
within us.
 
    Since this is something that may be new for many, I have provided a copy of the service. This way you can become familiar with it and be better prepared to participate if you so choose. You can access it by following this link. I believe this can be a meaningful
experience for us.
 
    Thanks for being part of Yorkton Alliance Church. Here is a Celtic blessing as we head
into 2021.
I lay my head to rest,
and in doing so,
lay at your feet
the faces I have seen,
the voices I have heard,
the words I have spoken,
the hands I have shaken,
the service I have given,
the joys I have shared,
the sorrows revealed,
I lay them at your feet,
and in doing so
lay my head to rest.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
 
December 23, 2020
   Merry Christmas from Pastor Ron and Jan
 
    It is with thankfulness and gratitude that Jan and I are part of Yorkton Alliance
Church family. In March 2021 it will be four years. I remember well our arrival with temperatures of -30 degrees. It was cold outside, but we received a warm welcome.
We have been and continue to be encouraged by your ongoing support in a variety
of ways.
 
    In our 40 years of marriage, we have celebrated Christmas in many different places.
Some of those have been large gatherings of family, others with just a few family
members, and other times absent from family. So, in this year of Covid-19 it will be
without family and even without the opportunity to visit with friends. We realize for
many of you this will be your first Christmas isolated from family.
 
    Jan and my prayer for you is to be filled with great joy as you celebrate God’s gift of Emmanuel and that you will experience His power, love and presence in greater depths
in the coming New Year.
   
    We are truly blessed to be in Yorkton, and we consider it a gift from God. We look
forward to ministry and mission together in the year ahead.
 
    MAY YOU EXPERIENCE THE PEACE OF CHRIST
THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON
AND THROUGHOUT THE NEW YEAR
 
Grace and peace,
Ron & Jan
On Christmas Eve, we will be broadcasting a service of Lessons and Carols. You
will be able to light your own candles, turn down the lights and watch the service.
The service will be available on Youtube at 4:00pm on Thursday, December 24th.
 
December 17, 2020
   4th Sunday of Advent
 
    As you likely heard, the Provincial Government has extended and increased some
of the restrictions for gatherings until the middle of January, 2021. Therefore, we will
continue to meet online for another four Sundays. This is certainly an inconvenience.
Likely an even bigger frustration for many is what to do about family gatherings over
the holidays. This may be the first time you will not be able to gather with your extended
family or with multiple families. I have heard a variety of responses as to compliance,
non-compliance, or “creative” compliance to the regulations. The decision for Jan and
me was easy, since we can’t cross the border. However, that is not the case for many
who have family closer to home.
 
    We are certainly inconvenienced as a result of Covid-19 but let’s not lose heart or perspective. In that regard I make two recommendations. First, take some time to
process your feelings, the disappointments you are experiencing. A question I have
used is, “God, why am I feeling so…” (fill in the sentence with what you are feeling)
and then sit in quiet and listen to what the Spirit may say. It is good to write it down.
Second, I suggest three books to read that can give perspective: The Hiding Place, 
Corrie ten Bloom; The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank; and The Girl in the Green
Sweater: A Life in Holocaust’s Shadow, Krystyna Chiger. There are movies made
from these books, but the books are far better.
 
    The Scripture reading for Sunday is Luke 1:26-38. In reading the passage there
are three questions that came to my mind which I am working on for Sunday. I invite
you to read the passage and reflect on these questions:
    1)    What does this passage reveal about God,
    2)    What does this passage reveal about Mary,
    3)    What does this passage reveal about Jesus.
 
    I hope you will be able to join us online this Sunday.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
December 10, 2020
   3rd Sunday of Advent
 
    A number of years ago when we were living in Edmonton, I took Jan to the Jubilee Auditorium to hear The Messiah performed by the Richard Eaton Singers and the
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The Messiah was not my cup of tea but I knew Jan
would really enjoy the concert. Just as I was hoping things were wrapping up they had
an intermission and then there was another whole round! I found out later that we didn’t
even hear all of the 52 songs as most performances leave out a few!
 
    Something happened over the next 30 plus years because now I very much enjoy
listening to The Messiah and am moved when the choir sings the final song “Worthy is
the Lamb” and then the “Amen”.  
 
    So what made the difference going from indifference to great appreciation of The Messiah? The simple answer is that I took the time to read through the words and saw
how brilliantly Handel wove the story of Jesus from Isaiah’s prophecy of salvation, to His coming, His redemption, Passion, Death and Resurrection, the beginnings of Gospel preaching, God’s ultimate victory, the promise of eternal life, the Day of Judgment, the
final conquest of sin, and the acclamation of the Messiah. It concludes with “Worthy is
the Lamb to receive power blessing and honour” and the seven fold “Amen.” Listening
to the story being sung it is fitting for such an ending—declaring over and over “Amen”
“So be it.”
 
    It was not until I took the time to reflect on the words and the flow of the story that I
gained a deep appreciation for the power of The Messiah. Advent is a time to reflect
on the significance of what Jesus has done, is doing in our lives and the world, and
what He promises to do when He returns. May the magnitude of God’s love become
more amazing, rich, deep, awesome, heart-felt as we reflect on the lengths Jesus
went to in order to come to earth to show us the Father’s love.
 
    This is the third Sunday of Advent and the theme is Joy. The texts for this Sunday
are Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; and Luke 3:7-18. 
 
Grace & peace,
Ron
December 3, 2020
   2nd Sunday of Advent
 
This Sunday is the second Sunday of Advent. Due to an adjustment in the schedule we needed to move the last sermon in our series in Ephesians to the first Sunday of Advent.
So, we will do a little catch-up. Advent is often overlooked. We tend to rush straight into Christmas beginning on Black Friday. In doing this we leap over what I believe is a
significant time in the church year. Here is why.
 
    In Advent we recognize that all is not what it was designed to be, we see brokenness,
we experience brokenness, we are restless and feel dis-ease within us. In the midst of all
this there is a promise of One who will return to renew, restore, redeem, to put things right.
It is that hope, however faint at times, and that God, however distant He sometimes seems, which sustains us on our journey.
 
    It is in these times that we are very aware of our need for a Redeemer, One who comforts and heals the brokenness in our lives. It is an ongoing process, and this process continues until He returns. As we experience his healing presence and anticipate his return, we can be encouraged by the prophet’s message, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
 
The spirit of Advent is expressed well in the parable of the bridesmaids who are anxiously awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom (Matt 25:1-13). There is profound joy at the Bridegroom’s expected coming. And yet a warning of the need for preparation echoes
through the parable. But even then, the prayer of Advent is still:
Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel!
 
    I would encourage you to read and meditate on the Advent scriptures for this Sunday.
The texts are: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
November 26, 2020
Ephesians 6:10–20
   
    As you have likely heard the provincial government has announced new guidelines for churches. These begin tomorrow and go to 17 December 2020. As a result, we will NOT
be having in-person services for the next three Sundays. The Sunday services will be available online at 9:00 am each Sunday.
 
    Here is the rationale for going online only for the next three Sundays. The government
has restricted the attendance for churches to a maximum of 30 people. Currently we are averaging about 50 people per Sunday. Of that number between 40 – 45% do not register
in advance. This was not a problem since we were able to have a maximum attendance
of 75. However, with the new restrictions we would have to turn people away, not allowing them to enter the building. That would be very unfortunate and undesirable. So, we will be online only for three weeks. Thanks for your grace as we navigate these uncertain days.
 
    If you missed Bernie’s presentation on Sunday, it is available on YouTube. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM8kLj9Dw_s.
 
    This Sunday we will be wrapping up our series in Ephesians. Scott Fitzsimmons will be guiding us through Ephesians 6:10–20, putting on the armor of God.
 
    The road ahead has curves and twists, but the destination is known, and the way is
secure. Thanks again for being part of Yorkton Alliance Church.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
November 19, 2020
Devisive Culture
    
There is so much dividing people these days! Front and centre is Covid-19 with all the
loud disagreeing around ancillary issues including its origin, actual health threat, vaccines, mask wearing, restrictions of all kinds, circuit breakers, social and economic responsibility
of the government and what steps are needed to control its spread. People have taken up sides and seem committed to making their point of view known. There is ranting on
Facebook, name calling, talking past or over those holding opposing views, and reducing complexitiesto sound bites and slogans.
 
    When was the last time you listened to or were engaged in an actual conversation on a controversial topic? That is when two or more people who hold divergent views discuss
those ideas in an environment where one person speaks while the others listen, ask
clarifying questions in order to make sure they understand the speaker’s position and then share their views. A civil, constructive exchange of ideas.
 
    I believe one of the Accuser’s most effect weapons is to get people to take sides, defend their position at all costs and in whatever means necessary, and continually talk past the other. What would it look like if grace actually broke out and civility broke in? What if we
took a step toward following the advice credited to Philo of Alexandria, “Be kind, for
everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” What if we lived in a way that we saw
Christ in everyone?
 
    What is one step you could take to be a channel for grace to break out in your sphere of relationships?
 
    Looking forward to Sunday. Our District Superintendent will be preaching in the morning and making a presentation in the afternoon on the history of women in the C&MA and the General Assembly’s opening space for women to be elders. We are working to live stream
the presentation.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
November 12, 2020
Ephesians 5:15-6:9
   
    When moving to a new country there are “differences” that are encountered. For
example, moving from the United States I noticed an extra “u” in words like neighbor
and honor; the punctuating of spoken sentences with “eh”; the use of both knife and
fork in eating; or wearing something called a toque; and at least in Saskatchewan,
drivers stopping to allow pedestrians to cross at crosswalks. Being flexible I have
been able to adapt.
 
    The apostle Paul writes about life changes that goes deeper than mere cultural
differences. He describes a different way of knowing, understanding, and living for
those who are Christ followers. This new way of life draws on the wisdom and life of
Christ as opposed to living apart from and in opposition to Christ. This transition and transformation is challenging as it requires much more than adjustments in spelling or
eating habits.
 
    This Sunday we will consider how our new life in Christ looks as it relates to various relationships: wife and husband, children and parents, and employee and employers.
This new way for relationships is in sharp contrast to the cultural norms practiced in
their “old way” of living. The passage is Ephesians 5:15-6:9.
 
    Thanks for staying connected either in person or by live stream. As we are
experiencing increases in Covid-19 cases I encourage you to be diligent in our mask
wearing guidelines.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
November 5, 2020
Ephesians 4:25 – 5:14
   
    How are you doing? We are entering the ninth month of Covid-19 with all its ebbs
and flows and there is no end in sight. The economy is teetering, the political unrest is mounting. There is a whole lot of shaking going on and it spills over into relationships
and family life. So, how are you doing? Are you weary, fearful, troubled, sad, empty,
anxious, or generally at a loss? We are experiencing some life storms, and these are battering our lives.
 
    Although the present storms, many linked to Covid-19, may be unique they are not surprising. Storms in life: difficulties, challenges, sufferings, and hardships are to be expected. They are the training ground for faith development. Jesus shared a way for
us to experience stability in life’s storms. It’s at the end of the Sermon on the Mount
(Matthew 7:24-27). The passage implies that life storms will be our reality. Stability
comes from building our lives on Jesus.
 
    Paul’s letter to followers of Jesus provides some very practical ways we can build
our lives on Jesus. As I ponder this letter four themes are emerging that help me to
see the dynamics of building our lives on Jesus; or another way of expressing it is the process of our spiritual formation. This Sunday the passage is Ephesians 4:25 – 5:14.
I will be sharing the four themes. Here is a summary idea I see from the letter. Drawing
on Christ, our life-giving and empowering source, as we walk in our broken way, is the
path to our being transformed into the likeness of Christ and experiencing life as he
designed and desires for us.
 
    There is strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
 
October 29th
Ephesians 4:17-24
   
    I do not have one particular way of preparing a sermon. As I sat with the text for this
week a variety of thoughts and questions came to mind. This was the starting point for
me. I invite you to read the passage, Ephesians 4:17-24, and then wait in silence and
see what comes to your mind. Here are some things that came to me as I pondered this week’s passage in light of all that we have covered in the previous chapters:
    ·        What would happen or change in my life if I actually believed what God says
about me is really true and I acted in a way that affirmed that truth?
    ·        That the truth is not that I am a wretch, but that I am a loved and redeemed child
of God who has blessed me in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
    ·        The degree to which I embrace the truth of my identity in Christ is the degree to
which I am alive and free.
    ·        Living into God’s design and desire is a process of transformation, an integration
of revealed truth becoming lived truth!
    ·        The challenge is our internal struggle to break free from the Accuser’s lies and attempts to keep our focus on living from the reference point of the futility of our minds
instead of on the truth that is defined in Christ.
    ·        The Accuser takes what is not true, what is not reality, and tries to convince us
it is in fact true!
    ·        It is the voice in our heads that says: you are not good enough, smart enough,
worthy enough, good looking enough…, God could not possibly be that good (see how
he let you down–again).
    ·        Sin is missing the mark of our design, which is to be whole people in and through Christ.
    ·        I am walking in the futility of my mind when I am looking in the wrong places for
my identity, significance, meaning, purpose, worth, security, value, and love.
    ·        We have it all (Ephesians 1) in Christ. Agree with Jesus. Christ in you is the hope
of glory! Let it out, live it out.
 
    Random thoughts. What came to your mind?
 
    It is encouraging to see those who are able to attend in person. I also appreciate those
who watch on-line.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron
October 22nd
Ephesians 4:1-16
   
    At our last annual meeting a request was made to the Elders to consider the role of women in church leadership. In particular women as Elders. This was in response to The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) at a General Assembly voting to open eldership to women. This
was to be a matter for individual congregations to discern. The Elders have been discussing
this topic for a number of months. As part of the process we have read and discussed various theological views. Some of the resources are listed below. More recently we invited our District Superintendent, Bernie Van De Walle, to present on the history of women in the C&MA and the General Assembly’s opening space to invite women to be Elders. The presentation was informational and did not support or recommended a position for or against women as Elders. The discussion by the Elders, wives and Bernie was open and productive.
 
    The Elders would like to open the conversation to the congregation. Thus, we have invited Bernie to make a presentation to the congregation on Sunday, November 22nd. Bernie will be sharing his testimony during the morning service and then making the presentation at 1:30 pm. There will be a time for questions and discussion. The purpose of this meeting is informational. Our desire is to discuss, explore, and discern this topic together.
 
    This Sunday we will continue in our series in Ephesians. Madison is finishing her 10-week summer work program and will be preaching on Ephesians 4:1-16.
 
Grace and peace.
Ron
 
List of resources:
October 15, 2020
Ephesians 3
   
    We live in a dualistic world. You can slice it in a variety of ways: us vs. them, haves vs.
have nots, insider vs. outsider. It is lived out in our daily experiences. We separate
ourselves by our political affiliations, religious attachments, etc. and it shows up in many workplaces, pitting management against labour. What is implied, and often explicit, in a dualistic world is that your group, side, or team is correct and the other group, side, or
team is to some degree wrong, or misguided, or worse. Unfortunately, the poster child
for this is the presidential race south of the border. It is difficult to unite two groups
once sides are taken and opposing positions established.
 
    Paul in his letter, intended for churches in Asia Minor, is speaking primarily to
outsiders, or better, to those who were once outsiders. The Jews were the insiders, God’s chosen people. The Gentiles were the outsiders and they knew it and felt it. Now Paul is
saying that there is no longer any division or separation of insiders and outsiders.
 
    The two have been united into one. This is no easy feat. How can it be possible?
Consider all that would be necessary to accomplish such a task. Have you ever been an “insider” or an “outsider”? As such think about what it would take, not only to bring the
two together but to actually be reconciled with the side to which you were once in
opposition?
 
    The text for Sunday is Ephesians chapter 3. I encourage you to review chapter 2 as it provides context for the mystery Paul reveals in chapter 3.
 
    Don’t forget that you need to register for Sunday. You can call the office, email, or
register on-line. Thanks for your willingness to abide by the provincial government’s guidelines.
 
Grace and peace,
Ron