Today, the Southern Ontario district of Seventh-day Adventists is having a camp meeting in Simcoe. It’s a time to come together and see old friends and make new ones from all over our southern region. Bronte is open as well and we’re happy you came because we have a great speaker who will be sharing a message today! Richard is one of our Elders, is newly married, and is someone we appreciate having on the leadership team here at the church. I’m sure God has prepared a special blessing for those of you who came, and my prayer is whatever comes your way in life, you choose to remain connected to the vine (John 15).
Last weekend we spoke about Mother’s Day and I pray that each of you took the opportunity to share your gratitude with your mothers this past week. Today we have a special guest speaker with us, Dr. S. Joseph Kidder, who will be speaking to us on the subject of “Experiencing God”. Last night we learned about how we can experience God through the power of prayer, this morning about experiencing God’s grace, and for our main service, Dr. Kidder will be sharing his personal life’s testimony about growing up in Iraq, how he met Jesus Christ and how that changed his life forever. He is a powerful speaker, seminary professor and author! I pray that each of us would be willing to open our hearts to experience God in a new and powerful way this weekend.
Today we’re celebrating Mothers, so whether you’re a mother, grandmother, step-mother, soon-to- be mother, or you play a mother-like role in someone’s life we wish you a happy Mother’s day! We thank God for you and wish to convey our deepest gratitude for all you do. One of my favorite authors, Rudyard Kipling once wrote, “God could not be everywhere, and therefore He made mothers.” God has a special place for you in His heart and He uses you to play a vital role in the well-being of others. We hope you’re blessed by our service today and we encourage everyone to take a moment this weekend to thank your mothers for all they do.
Today we’re having a children’s day. We are very proud of our little ones and have a great children’s program downstairs each week but today we want to give them a chance to share their talents with all of us upstairs. Jesus has a special place in His heart for children, let’s continue to support and pray for them as they learn and grow in Christ.
Each one of us has a story. Our stories are made up of the moments and decisions we’ve made in our lives up until this point. Some decisions we’ve made affected our own lives in small or meaningful ways. Other decisions we’ve made impacted the lives of people around us such as friends, family, or colleagues. There are however a few people who can say their decisions have impacted the whole world. Scientific breakthroughs and advances in technology, music, and works of art have changed our world… and although each of these helped create the stories we all live in as a world community, there is one person’s story that changed everything. His name is Jesus Christ, and He is the Son of God. Today Christians around the world are celebrating the greatest event in the world. A day 2,000 plus years ago when the Son of God came to this planet and gave up us life so that our stories don’t have to end here on earth. Because of His death on the cross and His subsequent resurrection on Sunday morning, we too can experience eternal life that He freely offers. Jesus invites anyone willing to come and “See What a Morning” He has in store for those who accept His sacrifice on their behalf and await His soon return. We’re glad you joined us today, and we hope that you’re encouraged by our Easter program. Perhaps you may hear Jesus speaking to your heart today.”
It’s always exciting when a family has a baby. It’s also exciting for us as a church when we can witness one of those families come forward for a baby dedication service. Today we will be having a special prayer and dedication service for Ryan and Vanessa’s little miracle, Roman James Robbio, who was born exactly 6 months ago today. Many of their family members are here as well and we have an opportunity to celebrate together with them on this very special occasion. Today is also Women’s Ministry Emphasis Day. I want to thank Rocio and her team for working hard in their preparations. They have invited Reema Sukumaran to be the guest speaker and we are excited to welcome her to Bronte today. Let’s celebrate and support the women in our lives not just today, but always. Thank you for choosing to join us here at Bronte today, we pray for a blessing as we worship and fellowship together!”
Today we begin a new quarter and our theme is “Closer to Each Other”. The goal with this series is to explore Biblical concepts of fellowship and communion. This is a very important topic in the life of a church family. As you will notice in our scripture reading, the author of Hebrews first tells us to, “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” Heb 10:23 This is very important but it also explicitly commands us not to “give up meeting together.” Heb 10:25 I believe meeting together at church and small groups during the week is more than just a time we can study about and worship God. It is also a time we can connect with fellow believers and share pieces of our journey with each other, to encourage one another in our Christian journeys. One activity that encourages this time of sharing effectively is having a meal together. That is why the family life team is creating opportunities like the activity we are participating in today to simply encourage that time of sharing and fellowship that is needed in a healthy and vibrant church family. Welcome, and may God bless you as we learn and participate in that fellowship experience this quarter.
Over the past quarter, our sermonic theme has been how we can connect and get closer to God. We looked at topics like prayer and how it’s a real connection with God. Expectations and how we may need to re-evaluate some of our own but that God’s expectation for us is to love each other as He loves us. Trials and how God can use them to help us grow and mature spiritually. And our topic last time was on understanding what God is like by exploring the story of the flood. Today is our final part in this series and the topic is on forgiveness. I chose forgiveness because we are celebrating communion today and I believe what Jesus did in the upper room the night before He was crucified paints for us a beautiful picture of God’s forgiveness. We all stumble at times but today we will learn that no matter how many times we stumble, God pursues us and freely offers a fresh start if we want it. I challenge each of you, including myself, to use this occasion not only to ask for forgiveness but to open your heart to allow the God who pursues to change you. May you realize that although we were learning how to connect with God this quarter, it is God’s greatest desire is to connect and come close to you.”
Today, as part of this year’s vision of Disicpliship for the Seventh-day Adventist Conference in Ontario, they’re holding a ministries convention in Richmond Hill called DiscipleSHIFT. Some of our ministry leaders along with myself are attending the various seminars which are designed to educate and train leaders in different ministries about what discipleship means or looks like in our churches and the 21st century. What do you think of when you hear the word discipleship? Do you think of discipline or following Jesus or something else? When I think of discipleship, of being a follower of Jesus, one common theme always comes to mind. It is found in Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” To me, this is the essence of discipleship. This week during prayer meeting we had a great discussion about what it means to be consumed by Christ and it got me thinking about what we understand when we think of the term disciple. Luke 9 is both a reality check and a litmus test for the Christian and lets us know that perhaps there needs to be a “shift” in our understanding of discipleship. Our speaker today is one of our own members who recently became a father, Ken Urizar. He’s a very gifted Sabbath school teacher and I’m sure his sermon will challenge and inspire us as we discover the topic of “Sonship”
Today is a momentous occasion for our church for two reasons. First, we’ve always loved and supported our Adventurer and Pathfinder programs for our young people but we’ve never had a Master Guide club at our church. Being a Master Guide is the next level of leadership Pathfinders can pursue after they finish their program and is a tremendous honour to achieve. The classes teach our Master Guides to be skilled and Spiritual leaders and as of last fall, we’ve begun a ministry for those interested in this pursuit with Eduardo as the leader. Today the Adventurer, Pathfinder and Master Guide director at the Ontario conference, Pastor Edwin Martin, will be leading out in our first Master Guide induction ever ceremony at Bronte. The second reason today is special is because it’s the International Global Youth Day for our church worldwide. This morning some of our young adults are partnering with young Seventh-day Adventist Christians around the world and will be going out in with Open Door to “be the sermon” in the community to feed those less fortunate. You can follow them by searching the hashtags #GYD19 #bethesermon and #bethesermon2019 in your social media. Thank you for your support of all our youth ministries at Bronte!