Monday, 30 December 2013

Von guten Mächten wunderbar geborgen

Von guten Mächten is a prayer/poem written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer while in prison.  He sends it to his fiancée at the turn of the year 1944/45. Shortly after (April 9th 1945) he will be hung by the Nazi regime.  Bonhoeffer finds his strength in his faith and his support in prayer. “Von guten Mächten” has been widely spread in the German speaking world. The promise of the Lord’s presence in every situation in life, especially in dark and difficult times rarely has been better formulated.  It is an unshakable “I know” that the Lord’s light shines in the night and that every further day is under His protection and presence.

Ivo Tamm sang  the German  Von guten Mächten in our church on Sunday evening, Dec 29, with the English text on the screen (see below).  Various English translations of the poem have been written, including the two provided here. May God bless you as you look back on 2013 and anticipate God's loving forces in 2014.

By loving forces...

By loving forces silently surrounded,
I feel quite soothed, secure, and filled with grace.
So I would like to live these days together,
and go with you into another year.

Refrain:       By loving forces wonderfully sheltered,
                      we’re awaiting fearlessly what there might come.
                      God is with us at dusk and in the morning
                      and most assuredly on every day.

Still matters of the past are pressing our hearts
and evil days are weighing down on us.
Oh Lord, to our souls, so scared and sore,
give rescue, as it's that you made us for.

And when you pass to us the bitter chalice
of suffering, filled to the brim and more,
we take it, full of thanks and trembling not,
from this, your caring and beloved hand.

But if you want to please us, yet, and again
with our shining sun and wondrous world,
let us muse on what is past, and then we shall,
with our lives, in all belong to you.

Warm and bright be our candles' flame today,
since into gloom you brought a gleaming light,
and lead again us, if you will, together!
We know it: you are beaming in the night.

When silence now will snow around us ev'rywhere,
so let us hear the all-embracing sound
of what is not for eyes, but there, endless, wide,
your world, and all your children's soaring hail.

By loving forces wonderfully sheltered,
we’re awaiting fearlessly what there might come.
God is with us at dusk and in the morning
and most assuredly on every day.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A touchable God

"The Word became flesh..." is the miracle of Christmas, that God came to earth as a baby, a baby that could be held, touched.  We worship a touchable God.  He is more than a concept or a philosophy, he is even more than a spiritual being - our God became one of us.  May you experience the presence of God in real and tangible ways this Christmas. We worship together on Christmas Day at 10 a.m.  Join us.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Violet Ruth Harris

On Sunday, Dec 15, we witnessed the baptism of Violet Ruth Harris, baby daughter of Tom & Charlene.  Congratulations!

FISH breakfast

No, not a breakfast of fish--  FISH is our church youth group:  Friends in Service For Him.  They served up breakfast last Saturday.  It was great! Thanks FISH!

Friday, 13 December 2013

More than charity

You've probably seen the you tube video by now, the one where West Jet passengers are surprised to find their gift wishes come true.  That kind of gift giving depicts charity as it was intended - as a joyous surprise that gives just as much happiness to the giver as it does to the receiver.
John the Baptist instructed the people in how they should act in preparation for Jesus' coming (Luke 3).  We too, should prepare the way of the Lord, because Jesus is coming back. May our acts of charity and compassion reflect the joy that comes from sharing God's love to everyone and anyone!  Join us this Sunday, Dec 15 at 10 a.m.

Friday, 6 December 2013


"Holiness is not perfection.  We do not by some act of divine fiat become sinless creatures incapable of all wrong doing.... Even so, holiness is progress in purity and sanctity... We are ever in the process of becoming holy" (Richard Foster). On this second Sunday of advent, we embrace the holiness tradition, as exemplified by Joseph.  Rev. Joel Bootsma preaches the message, this Sunday, Dec 8 at 10 a.m.

Friday, 29 November 2013


One wrong turn is all it takes.  The human race took a wrong turn in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God.  The poison of sin now infects us all.  How did we got lost? Whom can blame? Questions like that consume us.  But really, those things don't matter. What matters, is how we are going to get back to where we belong.

This Sunday evening, Dec 1, 6pm, we look at Q&As 6-8 of the Heidelberg Catechism.  Our worship will be led by CAST - Community Actively Seeking Transformation.  Join us!

Hang on for the ride!

This Sunday will be the first Sunday of Advent.  Christmas is coming!  There is always so much to do in preparation for the day, we hardly have time to think.  In contrast, Mary exemplifies the contemplative stream of Christian devotion.  She "pondered [all these things] in her heart."  Take some time, daily, to enjoy the "gaze of the soul upon the God who loves us" (Streams of Living Water, Foster, 49). Dec 1, 10 a.m.

Friday, 8 November 2013

The next three Sundays...

The next three Sundays will see guest pastors at Ancaster Christian Reformed Church.  It feels as though I just started as pastor here, and now I'm going on vacation! It has been a joy to get to know the people of this church and to welcome new people.  God is good!
See you when I get back!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Sin & misery

Hollywood knows all about sin and misery.  While we like to think that most people aren't really so bad, Hollywood and the Bible agree that sin and misery define us. One reviewer has said that the movie Prisoners is one of the most contemplative films of the year. In that movie we confront the sin and misery that lie within the hearts of the even God-fearing, honest people.  This Sunday, at 6pm, we consider the question:  How do I come to know my sin and misery? The message will be from Romans 7 along with Lord's Day 2 of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Six months ago

Six months ago Tim Bosma was murdered.  There is no way to escape the pain and suffering of his tragic death.  Martha's Trouble captured some of that pain in their tribute to Tim's widow:

The problem of evil plagues all people, including (or especially) Christians.  This Sunday's 10 a.m. service will speak into this issue (Habakkuk 1:1-4, 12-17, 2:1-3). We remember Tim's death as we hold tight to God's promises to save us from all suffering. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Taking a risk for God

This Sunday, October 27, 10:00 a.m., we welcome to Ancaster Christian Reformed Church Rev. Moses Chung.  Rev Chung is the Director of Christian Reformed Home Missions.  He will be preaching from Matthew 14:22-33 - Jesus walks on water.  After the worship service you will have opportunity to interact with Rev Chung and hear more about CRHM.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Lots of questions

If someone has something you really want, the logical thing to do is to ask them where they got it.  You will want to know what you have to do or know to get the same thing.  That’s the logical next question of the Heidelberg Catechism (Q&A 2). If others see in us a faith and comfort that looks like something they might want, they will ask us how to get it.  Let's be ready to answer those questions.  Sunday, Oct 20, 6pm.

Why are you sleeping?

A lot of things happen while we are sleeping, things we are oblivious to, things over which we have no control.  In Luke 22:39-46, Jesus has another “why” question for his disciples.  He asks them, “Why are you sleeping?”  His disciples slept while Jesus endured unbearable torment.  Jesus acted on their behalf, even as they slept, and he does the same for us.  Sunday, Oct 10, 10 a.m. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Lauren Joy Klein-Geltink

Last Sunday I had the privilege of baptizing our granddaughter.  Sister Katelyn assisted!  Lauren is born into our family, but also into God's covenant family.  Thanks be to God!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Have a seat in the Thanksgiving Chair

Thanksgiving is a "spectator sport."  But those who participate will never be casual observers.  On Monday (Oct 14) we will hear God's word from I Thessalonians 5:18, "Give thanks in all circumstances..." We will watch the little video, The Thanksgiving Chair, and then we will spend some time saying "thank-you." As you prepare for Thanksgiving Day, add two more things to your list:  watch the video now, and read I Thessalonians 5:12-28.
On Sunday we welcome Rev Paul Vanden Brink to our pulpit.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Liam's baptism

Yesterday we celebrated the baptism of Liam Nicholas Boonstra.  He was a good baby!  Better yet, he is good because he is God's child.  Congratulations to Hilary and Josh and to Jocelyn too!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Good people

There are a lot of "good" people out there - people who are nice to one another, who give to charity, who pick up trash.  But even those good people, upon some serious self examination, know they are not good at all.  There is only one who is good - God himself.  A certain ruler called Jesus, "Good teacher."  And Jesus asked him, "Why do you call me good?" If Jesus is good, and only God is good, that must mean that Jesus is God.  Jesus can make the impossible possible. He can make us into good people - in every sense of the word. Luke 18:18-29. Sunday, Oct 6, 10 a.m.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Of Gods and Men

In the 1990s, Algeria was gripped by a gruesome, protracted civil war between the government — which declared martial law after annulling elections it appeared to have lost — and a ruthless Islamist insurgency.
The country foundered in a state of terror, with beheadings, throat-slashings and large-scale massacres an almost daily feature of life. These grim circumstances provide the setting for Of Gods and Men, a beautiful, somber and rigorously intelligent film.  The movie is closely based on the true story of a group of French Cistercian Trappist monks caught up in the violence.
Sunday evening, 6:00 p.m., join us for the movie, Of Gods and Men.

Second guessing

Jesus says to his followers, "Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?" (Luke 12:57).  He's reminding us that the judgement is coming and that really, we know what to do.  But then our doubts crowd-out common sense.  Are God's promises for real?  Will he forgive me?  Don't second guess God's promises.  Instead grab hold of them and live in the hope and security of future where we will live forever in the presence of a loving God. Sunday, Sept 29, 10 a.m.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Edit Profile

It’s a good idea now and then to have a look at your profile.  Not necessarily your FB profile, but the profile that people see when you leave this sanctuary.  Does it need to be edited? If you call Jesus LORD, it’s going to show.  Call Jesus LORD, and do what he says.  In the power of our risen Lord.  Luke 6:46-49; Sunday, Sept 22, 10 a.m.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Understanding the times

What is this world coming too?  Just read the papers and you discover that life is complicated.  What we need is people who understand the times.  David recognized that, and God blessed his army with "men of Issachar, who understood the times and new what Israel should do" (I Chronicles 12:32).  God has gifted his church with "men and women of Issachar."  These are the people who lead and teach. They are our volunteers and our seasoned members.  Through them, God will help us to understand the times in which we live, even when we are crushed by the sorrow of sudden death.  This Sunday we commission our teachers and leaders, while we also gather around a family who mourns the loss of their 21 year old son.  September 15, 10 a.m.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Taking it outdoors...

This Sunday, September 8, we invite you to take your lawn chairs and join us for an outdoor worship service to be held on the grounds of the Mount Mary Retreat Centre in Ancaster.  We welcome special musical guests, "At Once," and I will be preaching on that incredible statement that Jesus makes:  Ask and you will receive (Matt 7:7-12). 10 a.m.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Sunday away

This Sunday, September 1, I will be in Cambridge where I have the privilege of baptizing the youngest of our 9 grandchildren.  Pastor Everett Vanderhorst will be preaching here in Ancaster.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Moving in day

This week many students will be moving into their dorms at college and university. In Exodus 40: 34-38 we read about another moving-in day. Moses has finished his building project-- the tabernacle.  He places everything in the right spot and carefully arranges all the accessories.  And then it's time to move in:  the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  God is ready to transform our tabernacles, that is, our lives, into something amazing; God is ready to move in. This is the final message of our summer series, spent with the Israelites in the wilderness. Aug 25, 10 am.

Monday, 19 August 2013

A weekend of big moments!

Congratulations to Malinda (Exel) and Greg Zettler.

Ryan and Nick make public profession of their faith in Jesus.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Stay away from the bull

A harmless calf, or a dangerous bull?  When the Israelites fashioned for themselves a golden calf, they were creating a god based upon their own specifications.  We do the same thing when we allow other things/people/events dictate how we live our lives - we find ourselves bowing to all manner of "little tin gods" (Don Henley).  Take some good advice:  stay away from the bull. Following the wrong god will be fatal.  Sunday, Aug 18, 10 a.m. - our summer series in the wilderness continues.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Beautiful day for a picnic

The "North of 60" gang got together for a picnic last week.  Weather was perfect, setting was beautiful, good food and good friends.  Thanks to all who worked to make it happen, and thanks to God for all his gifts to us!  (You can see the rest of the pics in the slideshow located in the sidebar.)

Friday, 9 August 2013

Good Wood

Bitterness is about so much more than our sense of taste.  There’s something dangerous about bitterness.  It too easily becomes a chronic condition.  Our bitterness needs sweetening, and that happens when our grumbling is met by God’s grace, through a piece of “Good Wood.”  Our 40 years in the wilderness continues next week, as we look at Exodus 15:22-27.  Aug 11, 2013, 10 a.m.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Short Memories

For 10 days in May we were caught in the grip of the tragedy that had struck the family of Tim and Sharlene Bosma.  On May 6 Tim went missing after accompanying two people on a test drive of the truck he was selling. On May 15 Dellen Millard was charged with his murder.         Three months have passed since those days of desperate prayer, the media blitz that surrounded the family, and the exhaustive investigation of every lead and angle.  People have short memories – there’s always another tragedy to cover, another scandal to report.
  While the investigation of Tim’s murder continues, the hard work now happens beyond the public eye.  The same is true for Sharlene and the rest of Tim’s family. During those first weeks, their grief was never a private matter.  Many watched and prayed, they wrote notes and sent gifts. But their lives have gone on much as they did before May 6.  We have short memories. 
For Sharlene, and for Tim’s parents and sisters, the memories do not fade. Instead they become sharper.    The pain does not ease; it becomes more intense. Along with the grief come the big questions:  Where was God? Why did he not answer our prayers? Was this part of God’s “plan?” He could have prevented this – why didn’t he?
  There are no satisfactory answers to these questions.  We can cite chapter and verse about how God works for the good of those who love him, and how he will never leave us nor forsake us.  As their pastor, I wish I could satisfy the ache in the hearts of those who loved Tim most dearly. 
  All I know is that we live in a broken world where the effects of sin still wreak havoc in our lives.  Until Christ returns, we will stubbornly hang onto our faith in a God who has triumphed over death. 

  Sharlene will always remember her husband, and the new charity, Tim’s Tribute, ( )will keep his memory alive long after the court case has been concluded, long after the media moves on to other stories. We can live as hopeful people because, while people may forget, our God has a long memory.  No, he will never leave us nor forsake us.    

Monday, 29 July 2013

Indoctrination or responsible parenting?

Last week over 100 children attended Ancaster Christian Reformed Church’s Vacation Bible School.  Unquestionably, many of the parents of these children were simply happy to have their kids entertained for a week.  But they also knew that this was “bible school,” and that while at ACRC, these children would be taught bible stories and they would hear about Jesus.
    I have met parents who insist that they are going to let their children decide for themselves whether or not they will believe in God and that Jesus is the way to him.  They intend to let their children choose from the smorgasbord of religions that are available to them. 
It’s a noble thought.  
   There’s a disconnect here.  If we as parents and teachers really believe in an all-powerful God, one who created this world (however he did it) and if we really believe that through Jesus we are reconciled to this God – I mean, really believe this, then there is no option.  We believe this to be the truth.  And if this is the truth, it is non-negotiable and non-qualified.  What is true is not merely “the truth according to [insert name].”  Truth is absolute. 
     That kind of conviction implores us to share the truth of what we believe with those we love the most – including our children.  They eventually will embrace the truth or reject it (also a function of the Holy Spirit, but that’s for a future discussion!). 

     Vacation Bible School was a lot of fun.  The children had a great time – and they were also introduced to God and to his Son Jesus.  No apologies!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Go shoeless

This Sunday we wrap up our Vacation Bible School week by looking at one of the stories that our students heard at VBS – Moses and the burning bush. God saw and he heard the misery of his people, so he “came down to rescue them” (Exodus 3:8). He came down!  He was there!  God is with us too, and that makes this place holy.  So take off your shoes (or whatever it is you do to remind yourself "that some -  august Presence [is] very, very near." --From Wind in the Willows).

Friday, 19 July 2013

Lost in a maze

French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul said that “the first great fact which emerges from our civilization is that today everything has become ‘means’. There is no longer an ‘end’; we do not know whither we are going.”  We seem to be wandering about in a maze, much like the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. We find purpose and direction only when we discover that it is God who saves us (Exodus 14:30). Knowing Jesus is the difference between wandering in confusion and a life of meaning and purpose. Sunday, July 21, 10 a.m. 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Cold Pizza

Some things are better experienced than explained.  There is scientific data which analyzes why cold pizza tastes so good. But it's better just to eat it.  Paul sets out his systematic theology in his letter to the Romans.  But ultimately, what he wants to see is "zeal."  "Never be lacking in zeal" (Romans 12:11).  We are invited to get excited about what God has done for us in Jesus. July 14, 10 a.m.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

First Aid

This summer has started out as a hot one.  Some have already been grumbling, and we can soon expect the gardeners and farmers to be complaining about a lack of rain.  What better time to consider those 40 years that the Israelites spent wandering in the hot desert?  We’ll spend some time in the wilderness this summer, where we will discover that God’s plan of deliverance is always front and centre. We catch up with the Israelites at Camp Ethan (Exodus 13:17 – 14:14) as we are reminded that “God will surely come to your aid” (13:19). 
We need that reminder when life throws some difficult times our way. God is your first aid, and he will be your last.  July 7, 10 am - join us!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

A bleeding heart

We only need a quick glance at our lives and the lives of those around us to discover that there are a lot of hurting people in the world.  The skeptics (and us believers too) wonder if God really exists, and if he does exist, does he care.  Our God is not the distant, aloof, indifferent God whom some fear but many ignore.  God's heart breaks when he sees his dearly loved people being crushed under the weight of their pain and punishment - his heart bleeds. And that is why he sent Jesus.  This Sunday we discover God's bleeding heart in an Old Testament account, in I Chronicles 21.  Join us!  June 30, 10 a.m.

Monday, 24 June 2013


On Sunday, June 23, 2013, I was installed as Pastor of Ancaster CRC.  I had heard the charge when I was ordained in Lucknow 5 1/2 years ago, but perhaps I was too nervous at the time to listen to the words that were spoken.  Yesterday I heard them, and I was left with the impression that I am to be all things, to all people, at all the time.  There was a fleeting moment when I considered changing my mind!  But I answered the questions in the affirmative, with the conviction that I will be wearing this role in obedience to God and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The role of pastor is in a state of flux.  In the past it was viewed with respect and reverence, even a sense of awe perhaps.  Today the pastor is unsure if she is motivational speaker, psychological counselor or team builder.  He wonders if he is to be the CEO, everyone's best friend, or resident theologian.  We want our pastors to be approachable and authentic, yet we want them to retain some of the mystery of the office.

When I wondered aloud whom it was that I should be in my new church, a wise friend quipped - "Be yourself - they're going to figure it out eventually anyway!"  And so, I will be myself, a woman called to be Pastor (and all that this entails), humbly, yet boldly, honoured  to accept the task of preaching Christ crucified.