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Sunday, January 1, 2023

Overcoming Darkness of the World with Light from the Word - 2023

 

Music Prelude: Noel - Chris Tomlin ft. Lauren Daigle Nativity Story video - https://youtu.be/t-dGh5E_AQw 

 https://youtu.be/t-dGh5E_AQw 

Dear BLCF Friends, 

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:
  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church
Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. 

We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. 

  – Pastor Steve

Light over darkness

Responsive Reading #631: (The Incarnate Christ – John 1)    

BLCF: animaties-kerststallen-99411

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Overcoming Darkness of the World with Light from the Word’

© January 2, 2023,  by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on December 27, 2015

BLCF Bulletin December 27, 2015

BLCF: Psalm-119-105-22

Call to Worship: Announcements and Prayer            

Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers   

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental - https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU 

https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU 

Music Special: Ryan Stevenson - Heart and Soul of Christmas (Official Lyric Video) - https://youtu.be/nEzrCN_yEvA   

https://youtu.be/nEzrCN_yEvA 

Music Special: Light of the World - Lauren Daigle (with Lyrics) - https://youtu.be/WR5iwssnTn4 

 https://youtu.be/WR5iwssnTn4 Amy Grant - Thy Word (Lyric Video) - 
https://youtu.be/sKlQpjl_oqY

New Years jumping from 2022 to 2023 actually next year is a leap year

Message by Steve Mickelson: Overcoming Darkness of the World with Light from the Word’ 

Let us pray… 

Welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service, on this, the first Sunday of 2023.God's Blessings for a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year. 

Today is a special Sunday, as it is Communion Sunday, where we will be lighting a candle to honour the birth of Jesus, and of course welcome in the New Year, 2023. 

Our lesson today will focus on light, the spiritual light that the Lord brought to humanity, a little over 2000 years ago, notable on that Day of Pentecost, when through the sacrifice of Jesus to pay the debt for the sins of humanity, believers were able to receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit of God, illuminating each believer with a flame like the glow that came to them, not unlike a might gust of wind. 

That Spirit, a gift of God’s presence continues to be given unto each believer from that day until the present time. For the last month, we observed each of the Sunday Advent Services by lighting four Advent Candles, one on each Sunday, which respectively represent the hope, peace, joy, and love that our Savior’s nativity brings us. 

Due to the severe winter storm that caused the closure of BLCF Church last Sunday, we have chosen today to light the fifth candle, known as the Christ Candle, lit to observe the nativity or birth of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

The 5th Candle: Christ Candle (John 8:12)

At this time of the service, we will light the Christ Candle. Having lit an Advent Candle on each of the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day, a fifth candle is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve or  Christmas Day. 

We light the Fifth Candle, the Christ Candle,  in order to reflect upon the following significant aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ: 

Jesus is our light, the Son of God and a son of man; the King of kings. Jesus is our hope; he died a man and rose from the grave; the highest Priest of priests. Jesus is our peace; he brought us our salvation from the judgment of sin; no more worry, pain or fear. Jesus is our joy; promising us eternal life. He demonstrates God’s love-- pure, holy, undying love. Whoever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life! (John 3:16). 

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15) Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD! (Psalm 4:6b)

Christ Candle

Celebrating the birth of Jesus and rejoicing in His coming to us, we light the Christ candle. Let us read the verse: John 1:5 (ESV):

Walking in the Light

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. Light represents an important symbol in the Scriptures, often represented by flame or a candle, as we light the Christ Candle, let us read John 8:12 (ESV):

   I Am the Light of the World

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Mary Fairchild, writing in Christianity.about.dot com, gives us  a further explanation of what the light, represented today by a lit candle, signifies:

Christianity Symbols Illustrated Glossary: Light in the Bible

Light represents the presence of God. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and to the Israelites in the pillar of flame. The eternal flame of God's presence was to be lit in the Temple in Jerusalem at all times. In fact, in the Jewish Feast of Dedication or "Festival of Lights" we remember the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple after being desecrated under Greco-Syrian captivity. Even though they only had enough sacred oil for one day, God miraculously causes the eternal flame of his presence to burn for eight days, until more purified oil could be processed. Light also represents the direction and guidance of God. Psalm 119:105 says God's Word is a lamp to the feet and a light to our path. 2 Samuel 22 says the Lord is a lamp, turning darkness into light. http://christianity.about.com/od/symbolspictures/ig/Christian-Symbols-Glossary/Light-of-the-World.htm

Continuing with our lesson... 

Many Christians mistakenly believe that the New Covenant, between God and humanity, began with the birth of the Lord in Bethlehem and ended with Christ’s death on the cross at Calvary. 

This somewhat simplified view of our Lord is both inaccurate and incomplete. To begin with, the New Covenant was spoken by our Lord at the Passover Supper, which Christians commonly refer to as the Lord’s Supper or the Last Supper, in which he broke bread and served wine to begin the institution or practice of the Communion between God and humanity. As part of this New Covenant, believers are instructed to regularly observe Communion until the day the Lord returns. 

While it is true that our Savior’s death on the cross was the final blood sacrifice to atone for humanity’s sins, the oversimplified view that the Lord was born to die really misses other aspects of the Savior's impact upon our lives. 

A more complete assessment of the Gospel of Christ could be given, as follows: Jesus is often referred to as, 'The Word made flesh' and  the ‘Light of the world', as we see in Psalm 119:105 (ESV):

BLCF: thyword1

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

This light came from God to shine in a world enveloped in the darkness of sin as described in Isaiah 9:2(ESV):

BLCF: GREAT_DARKNESS_GREAT_LIGHT


2 [a] The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 9:2 Chapter 9:1 in Hebrew

While we have the arrival of the Christ child alluded to by Isaiah, the physical light God provided at the creation, described in Genesis 1:1-3 (ESV) was there at the time of creation:

The Creation of the World

BLCF: Genesis1-1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 

The light we celebrate as Christians is not the physical illumination that comes from the sun, but the Spiritual light from the Word. When we say Word, we are not talking about the Bible, but Jesus, the Word made flesh. It was at his nativity or birth, that Jesus not only arrived as the Word made flesh, we see that the Nativity of Christ brought God to humanity, John 1:1-18 (ESV):

The Word Became Flesh

BLCF: True_Light

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.[d] 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God,[e] who is at the Father's side,[f] he has made him known. 

Footnotes: a. John 1:4 Or was not any thing made. That which has been made was life in him b. John 1:11 Greek to his own things; that is, to his own domain, or to his own people c, John 1:11 People is implied in Greek e. John 1:16 Or grace in place of grace f. John 1:18 Or the only One, who is God; some manuscripts the only Son g. John 1:18 Greek in the bosom of the Father 

While by Jesus’ birth, we see God coming to humanity, we see in the Crucifixion of Christ, we see the Way he brings humanity to God by removing the judgment for sin, John 12:44-50 (ESV):

Jesus Came to Save the World

BLCF: Jesus-the-true-light-of-Christmas

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” 

The Resurrection of Christ demonstrates the Lord’s glory as Jesus brings the promise of eternal life to humanity, 2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV):

Christ's Glory and the Prophetic Word

BLCF: cradle_to_the_Cross

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 1:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

On the Day of Pentecost, Christ sends humanity the Comforter, which is God’s Holy Spirit, so that, as apostles or messengers of Christ’s Gospel, we are empowered by the Spirit to shine the light of Christ throughout the word to the Glory of God, Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV):

Salt and Light

BLCF: light_salt

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:16 Or house. 16Let your light so shine before others that

BLCF: deliver-us-from-evil-final-deliverance

In conclusion, Jesus, the Word, existed as part of the Godhead or Holy Trinity at the time of Creation. Sin brought a loss of Spiritual light upon humanity, causing us to fall into a state of darkness, devoid of the Spirit. Jesus, the Word, came as the Son of God, the Word made flesh, in order to restore the Spiritual light upon humanity, by being a final sacrifice to atone for our sins.

BLCF: from_darkness_to_light

We may celebrate Christ by observing the following: The Nativity of Christ brought God to humanity. The Crucifixion of Christ brings humanity to God. The Resurrection of Christ brings the promise of eternal life to humanity. On the Day of Pentecost, Christ sends humanity the Comforter, which is God’s Holy Spirit. And that the light of Jesus, the Word made flesh, shines to overcome the darkness of the world. A light that shines from all who believe in the Lord, by way of the Holy Spirit. 

Let us pray…

 BLCF: Psalm-119-105._jpg

Communion Special - Lauren Daigle - "We Will Not Forget" (Lyric Video) - https://youtu.be/izeZa9wx8wA 

https://youtu.be/izeZa9wx8wA
22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing, it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Matt Maher - Glory (Let There Be Peace) ([Official Lyric Video]) - https://youtu.be/QW4c6DcxgGc 

https://youtu.be/QW4c6DcxgGc 

Closing Music Special: In Jesus' Name (God of Possible) - Katy Nichole - Lyric Video - https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y
https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y 

Benediction –  (Numbers 6:24-26):  The Lord bless you and keep you;  the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;  the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.


  amen

Happy New Year 2023 header

 

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Daylight Saving Time Ends This Weekend - Turn Clocks Back 1 Hour

Daylight Saving Time Ends November 6 church

Light In The Darkness: The 34th Crew Member of Copiapo - 2022

Dear BLCF Friends, Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:
  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church
Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. – Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Light In The Darkness: The 34th Crew Member of Copiapo

© October 30, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages  Published at BLCF on July 6, 2014, and October 31, 2010

BLCF: Bulletin July 6, 2014

BLCF_Christ_with_miners

 Service Prelude: Here I Am To Worship | Maranatha! Music (Lyric Video) - https://youtu.be/03G52K9X2hQ

https://youtu.be/03G52K9X2hQ Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer  Tithing & Prayer Requests; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings                                                                   Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental - https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU Today’s Scriptures: Isaiah 7:11, Colossians 1:13, Psalm 139:1-12  Opening Hymn: Send the Light - Live worship from FBC Glencoe - https://youtu.be/TqSN_QZ_VD4 https://youtu.be/TqSN_QZ_VD4

Light of the World - [Lyric Video] Lauren Daigle - https://youtu.be/dCRunZGYBi4

https://youtu.be/dCRunZGYBi4

Lauren Daigle - Rescue (Lyrics) - https://youtu.be/KRCqkgE4p-Y

https://youtu.be/KRCqkgE4p-Y Responsive Reading # 608 (God’s Omniscience – Psalm 139)

BLCF" God'shelping_hand

Colossians 1:13 (ESV)

 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son

BLCF: i-will-hold-your-right-hand-and-i-will-help-you-isaiah-41_13

                                                           

Psalm 139:1-12 (ESV) Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up;     

you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down      and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue,      behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before,      and lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;      it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit?      Or where shall I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there!      If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!   If I take the wings of the morning      and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,   even there your hand shall lead me,      and your right hand shall hold me.    If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,      and the light about me be night,”     even the darkness is not dark to you;      the night is bright as the day,      for darkness is as light with you

BLCF: Joe Castillo - Face of Christ 

Let us pray… Welcome to our Praise and Worship Service for the last Sunday of  October here at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship - BLCF.Church.  Next Sunday falls on the weekend when we set our clocks back an hour to transition time from Daylight Savings Time in order to return to Standard Time. We find that to accommodate Daylight Savings and Standard Time changes it is often necessary to want to mark our calendars in order to live a safer, more comfortable life twice a year. The website, timeanddate.com, indicates that as described by its name, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks forward one hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight. When Germany first set the clocks forward on April 30, 1916, it became the first country in the world to use DST on a national level. However, the town of Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada implemented DST as far back as 1908. https://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst/ Saving Daylight by changing the time is not the only reason we find it beneficial to change our hours of operation, as we have done something similar to accommodate the waves of infection during the COVID-19 Pandemic. If you look at the disclaimers indicating the hours of operation for BLCF Church and its ministries over the past two and a half years, you find a number of changes we had to make during the waves of infection of the COVID-19 Pandemic, including closing our doors and restricting activities from time to time. Politicians may have announced that the Pandemic has ended, but seems that the virus did not get the memo, as we witness the continued weekly count of infections and deaths as reported by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington:

COVID-19 Results Briefing: Canada, October 24, 2022 This document contains summary information on the latest projections from the IHME model on COVID-19 in Canada. The model was run on October 21, 2022, with data through October 18, 2022.

Daily reported cases in the last week increased to 3,000 per day on average compared to 2,900 the week before. • Daily hospital census in the last week (through October 18) increased to 6,800 per day on average compared to 6,700 the week before. • Reported deaths due to COVID-19 in the last week increased to 39 per day on average compared to 33 the week before. • Total deaths due to COVID-19 in the last week increased to 62 per day on average compared to 53 the week before. This makes COVID-19 the number three cause of death in Canada this week. Estimated total daily deaths due to COVID-19 in the past week were 1.6 times larger than the reported number of deaths.  https://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/covid_briefs/101_briefing_Canada.pdf But that is not the subject of today’s lesson. The event which is the topic of today’s lesson had in some regards, engaged more worldwide public interest than the current state of infections and deaths due to COVID-19, as it had dominated the media around the world for over two months. It was just twelve years ago this month, on October 13, 2010; that 33 Chilean Miners were rescued from their underground mine, where they were trapped on August 7, 2010, some 69 days previous. Wikepedia.org indicates that twice as many people observed the rescue operation than the moon landing: After winching the last trapped miner to the surface, the mine rescue paramedics, the best available drawn from multiple national agencies and military services, all still underground, held up a sign for the TV cameras reading "Misión cumplida Chile" (English: ""Mission accomplished Chile"), which was seen by a TV/Web audience estimated at more than 1 billion viewers around the world watching the rescue live.                                                                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Copiap%C3%B3_mining_accident

BLCF: Miner_Miracle

The lesson I would like to share with you this morning has several elements that are important to the Christian walk: trusting God in times of danger and adversity; faith in the Scriptures when tempted by Satan; and why God allows believers to be placed in harm’s way in order to convict others in faith. It is interesting that as with Job in the Old Testament, God allowed Jesus to be tempted by Satan, an account recorded in Luke 4:1-13: BLCF: the_temptation_of_Jesus

Luke 4:1-13(ESV): The Temptation of Jesus

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'" And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'"  And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, "'He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,' and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. We studied this verse on a previous Sunday when we spoke of temptation, where I highlighted several aspects of the story of Jesus' temptation and compared it to what we may face today. You may recall that Jesus, having been baptized by John, known as John the Baptist, received the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit to a place in the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. When you think about it, this is not quite the path or journey you would expect from one who has just received the Holy Spirit. When Satan tempted Jesus, he appealed to three things: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. First, he challenged Jesus, after a 40-day fast, to use his powers to make food and satisfy His needs of the flesh. Then he challenged Jesus to look at the world from a high place and offered Him dominion over all He saw. Finally, he tempted Jesus to throw Himself down from a tower, saying that surely, as God's son, He would be saved - an appeal to pride. We find to each challenge, not only did Jesus resist Satan, but in fact, Jesus rebuked the devil with the Holy Scripture. Interestingly enough, we read in Luke 4:13 that the devil departed from tempting Jesus until an opportune time, indicating that Satan would return again when he had the opportunity. We see that even the Son of God may be subject to temptation and testing by Satan. Just like Jesus, we may defeat the devil by way of a determined faith and the appropriate use of Scripture. We must trust that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

BLCF: creation-of-33

Romans 8:38-39 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.     The 33 miners were rescued in the middle of the month of October, just a couple of weeks before the eve of Dia de Los Muertos or des Los Difuntos in Hispanic countries, known as Dia de Finados in those that speak Portuguese. In English, we translate both as Day of the Dead. Because this day happens to occur on the calendar shortly after Halloween or All Hallows Eve, many mistakenly believe the two are similar or related, while the two have little in common. The Day of the Dead is a time of celebration, where partying and eating are common. In Spain, there are festivals and parades and, at the end of the day, people gather in cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox Christian churches observe the day as All Souls’ Day, though the Eastern Orthodox celebrate it on a Saturday because of Jesus’ resting in the tomb on a Saturday. In Lebanon, Israel, and Syria, the observance is called Yom el Maouta. Unlike its Hollywood portrayal, the Day of the Dead is a day to commemorate departed loved ones, and pray for the day of the Rapture when all believers will be reunited. By all expert calculations, in Chile’s northern Atacama desert, near the town Copiapo, the Day of the Dead should have been a day of mourning for 33 miners trapped 700 meters, 2300 feet below the surface, about 5 kilometers or 3 miles from the entrance of the San Jose, an old gold and copper mine. For two massive cave-in, had seemed to seal the fate of any survivor. All that could be done was to pray for the 33 lost souls. Chile is a mineral-rich country, approximately the size of the U.S. state of California in North America, Chile stretches along the western portion of the South American continent, bordered by mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. And like California, Chile is located on an active earthquake belt. Unlike Chile’s larger, newer mines, the San Jose Mine where the miners were trapped was very old having been opened in 1889, and lacking many of the safety features of more modern mines, such as an alternate entrance that could allow a means of escape for those surviving a cave-in. Since the year 2,000, about 34 miners die each year in Chilean mines. In the past 12 years, 8 miners had lost their lives at the San Jose mine. Chile is the world’s leading copper supplier. Because of the demands for copper by emerging industrialized nations such as China, such mines as the San Jose were kept open and offered an appealing livelihood in an otherwise sluggish world economy. Several of the miners trapped in San Jose had migrated from other regions after losing jobs in a worldwide recession. In spite of the risks, San Jose offered the miners the means to put food on the table and a better life. That is until that fateful day in August when the miner’s world literally collapsed. On the surface, news of the disaster and the fact that the miners were 700 meters below the surface seem to indicate that the fate of any survivors was sealed, as a ventilation shaft viewed as the only means of rescue had collapsed in a second cave-in. No rescue from such a depth had ever been contemplated, let alone attempted. It seemed that the 2010 Day of the Dead observances would include a visit to the San Jose tomb of the lost 33 miners. This is where the tale took a turn. In their moment of profound loss and in spite of any real hope of rescue, the families of the 33 miners, showed uncommon strength of purpose; demanded that the Chilean government recover the bodies of their lost loved ones. This is where the next surprise occurred, as the government bowed to the families’ demands and began drilling pilot holes to locate the miners’ bodies. Over the next 17 days, seven 700-meter-deep holes were drilled without any success. On the eighth attempt, according to one report, the drill bit was deflected by some hard rock strata and then penetrated into a cavity deep beneath the earth. "It was 75% engineering and 25% a miracle," said topographer Macarena Valdes. Ms. Valdes was speaking of her own role in the rescue, as she augmented science with a touch of gut instinct to help guide rescuers' probe drills into the rock, in hopes of finding survivors, in the days after the miners' disappearance. Her method paid off after more than two weeks, when searchers sent one of their narrow probe drills down through the rock, punched it into the chamber where the men had taken refuge, and, from more than 2,000 feet above, and felt someone tap back. Even more astonishing was the note attached to the retracted drill bit to which a piece of paper was attached with the message:

"Estamos bien en el refugio los 33" (English: "We are well in the shelter, the 33 [of us]").

BLCF: message los 33

It was a miracle beyond belief that all of the 33 missing miners were alive, but would anyone dare to hope for a rescue? No miners were ever rescued from 700 meters. Trapped miners had been rescued from a cave in Pennsylvania, but they were only one-tenth the depths of the 33 in San Jose. For 17 days the miners have survived on meager rations of two spoonfuls of tuna and half a glass of milk every 48 hours. While still trapped in the mine, there emerged several stories of faith in God and how He sustained the entombed 33. In a letter to his brother, miner Jorge Galeguillos says he believes a white butterfly saved his life the day the mine caved. Mining consultant Miguel Fortt is not given to flights of fancy. He says white butterflies flutter around purple flowers that blossom in the desert early in the morning, but they rarely fly deep into a mineshaft. He says the two miners slowed down to observe the butterfly and that saved them from driving into rock falls triggered by the first cave-in. Fortt says: "People who are religious would call this a miracle. From a scientific perspective, the butterfly may have flown into the mine on air currents. You can draw your own conclusions but that butterfly saved lives," Galeguillos' brother, who is also a miner, can't explain how a butterfly flew more than 500 meters deep into the mine. But like most of the miners there, he believes the butterfly was protecting his older brother's life. The butterfly was a sign from God.

BLCF: aop3111.pmd

Isaiah 7:11

"Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights." It is interesting that the butterfly is often used to represent the resurrected Christ freed from the chrysalis tomb.

BLCF: hebrews13_7

2 Corinthians 5:17

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."  Above the miners, a rescue plan was formed, though chances of a successful rescue of the miners alive were calculated at a meager 2%. I would speculate that no politician in North America would even consider embarking upon planning any action that had a 98% chance of failure. I give kudos to the president of Chile for the bold and compassionate action of initiating a rescue plan. Three separate rescue holes were drilled, using technologies from Germany and the U.S.A.  NASA scientists were consulted and a rescue capsule was designed by engineers of the Chilean Navy. The world watched, prayed, and waited as the drama of the trapped 33 unfolded. And more stories of God’s presence. Miners acknowledge that they survived thanks to a 34th member of the crew.

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 Mario Sepulveda, the second miner rescued said: "I was with God, and I was with the devil," he said through a translator. "But God won, I held onto God's hand, the best hand, and at no point in time … did I doubt that God wouldn't get me out of there." It was Sepulveda’s faith in God that assured him of his rescue. Satan used temptation and was defeated. And who other than the Son of God could understand and support those who are tested by temptation by Satan.

BLCF" Hebrews2_18

Hebrews 2:18

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  Miner Ricardo Villaroel describes the incident as a moment of faith renewal:  “I never use to pray. Here I learned to pray. I got closer to God.”

BLCF: Romans_8_38

Romans 8:38-39

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.                             Nineteen-year-old miner Jimmy Sanchez wrote in a letter sent up prior to his rescue:  “There are actually 34 of us because God has never left us down there.”

isaiah_41_v_10j

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. It was reported that while trapped underground, three of the miners and one of the miner’s wives accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

BLCF: Isaiah_41_13

Isaiah 41:13

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Fear not, I am the one who helps you." Finally, the main drill punched through and one by one the 33 were brought out to safety. Faith is also a major theme of national rhetoric. At the beginning of the rescue Chilean President Sebastian Pinera stated, “When the first miner emerges safe and sound, I hope all the bells of all the churches of Chile ring out forcefully, with joy and hope. Faith has moved mountains.”The first action of several, as they emerged, immediately gave thanks to God for being delivered from the shadow of death.

BLCF: Col1_13-14

Colossians 1:13

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. There are a number of similarities between the plight of the 33 Chilean miners and Jesus’ temptation described in Luke 4. Both involved a confrontation between God and the devil while taking place in an isolated desert place. Both are examples of courage and faith in the face of adversity, where the devil tempted and was defeated. Finally, both teach Christian believers valuable lessons in the power of faith and trust in God and His Holy Word. The Chilean story shows how God may allow the devil to tempt believers and how faith can defeat temptation. Without trust and faith, all of the miners would have perished. One can only ponder many aspects of this story that indicate God was the 34th Crew Member in the mine. What if those drilling who sought the miners had given up after only seven attempts? What if on the eighth try, the bit wasn’t deflected by a stone, which is how it reached the miners? What if President Pinera had decided not to attempt a rescue with 2% odds? What if the miners had given up after the cave-in and not rationed food in the darkness and allowed death and Satin to have their way? We know from Christ’s example, that as Christian believers, we will be tempted by Satan and that God will battle the devil on our behalf. I believe that the story of the faith and courage of the trapped miners is meant to show us all that the devil will tempt us and faith and trust in God will deliver us.

BLCF:Jesus-is-Light-Pic

BLCF: Chilean 33

Miner Mario Gomez's wife, Lilianett Gomez, said her emotions had changed dramatically. She said, though, that people here had shown that they have the strength to weather the crisis, and now the whole world knows it: "God put these 33 miners together," she said. "It must have been for something, perhaps to send a message to the world." Perhaps God’s message that Lilianett Gomez alluded to can be found in the Scriptures, particularly in Hebrews 13:5 (NIV): "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

BLCF: Chilean_mine_disaster

Let Us Pray…

Closing Music Special: Phil Wickham - Living Hope (Lyrics) - https://youtu.be/9f2FXxDVO6w

https://youtu.be/9f2FXxDVO6w  Benediction (Psalm 51:11-12): Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.   

    

BLCF: jesus_escobedo

BLCF: kNOw Jesus kNOw Peace animated

Friday, October 14, 2022

With the Lord: James Lawrence Mathew McMillan

James Lawrence Mathew McMillan

James Lawrence Mathew McMillan passed peacefully, with his family by his side, on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, at the age of 89. Beloved husband of Gillian. He is dearly missed by his children and their families, Ruth and her daughter Sunshine, Philip (Veronica) and their daughter Janelle, Luke (Diane), and their sons Hudson, Logan, and Magnus. Friends may call at the Turner & Porter Yorke Chapel, 2357 Bloor St. W., at Windermere, east of the Jane Subway, on Friday, October 14, 2022, from 2 p.m., followed by a Funeral Service in the Chapel at 3 p.m. Online condolences may be made through www.turnerporter.ca

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