COVID-19 Updates

Update #30

Thursday, June 2, 2020

“But David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6b)

There were times that David had to experience: Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivereth him out of them all (Psalm 34:19). Twice he had to flee for king Saul when he was after him to take his life. Twice over David had the opportunity to avenge himself and kill Saul, but he could not and would not stretch forth his hand against the LORD’s anointed.

Oh, when spiritual life was in exercise, as in those moments, David spoke well of the Lord. Then he was encouraged by God’s Word. But those were moments of short duration. David could not hold on to it, and God’s children cannot either. We see, that after these things David became discouraged and said in his heart: I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul.

New depths came in his life when he went to the Philistines. King Achish gave him Ziklag to live in. But when he went with Achish into the battle but was sent back because his servants didn’t trust David, he found Ziklag smitten by the Amalekites, burnt with fire and his loved ones taken by the enemies. That made him greatly distressed. Even his people spoke of stoning him.

When we oversee all those afflictions and disappointments, what would then be the fruit in David’s life? By nature, we would be filled with rebellion and clench our fists. Then he would ask out loud why those things had to happen in his life, even though he was the anointed of the Lord to be king in Israel. But o wonder, we read that David received the opposite fruit.

But David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. Our marginal notes say about this: trusting in the promises that he would become king. That was not the first time that he experienced this. When Saul was after him to kill him, we read that Jonathan went to David and strengthened his hand in God. He comforted David, pointing him to the same promise of the Lord.

No, David did not take those promises himself to apply them to his heart. He did not say with many: The Lord has promised, and what the Lord promises He fulfills, so no worries for me. On the contrary, the LORD Himself bound His promises on David’s heart and again gave him work with the promises at the throne of grace. There was comfort because of His work.

That is why David comforted himself in the ‘LORD his God’. He was comforted that the LORD, the God of the eternal Covenant of grace would never leave nor forsake the works of His own hands. He was encouraged that the Lord would take care of His own people and fulfill His own Word. David was assured that satan could not go further than the Lord would allow him.

Do we see the order in the life of God’s people? First David was discouraged, but thus the Lord encouraged him. As hopeless in himself, he received hope in God and in His unfailing Word, only because of Christ Who would come in the fulness of the time. And we all need to learn that will it be well for time and for eternity. By nature, we can easily assume things without good grounds. But when the Lord works in the heart of a sinner, he has a needy and poor people.

Seeing who we are in ourselves, there is no hope. But what a wonder when the LORD points them to Christ and teaches: ‘our hope is on Jehovah stayed’. Thus, we receive courage in Him: Hope in the Lord, o Nation, for with Him there is grace and plenteous salvation for all who seek His face. Is that not a blessed people? That we may seek the Lord while He may be found. There may be many afflictions in our life, but what an encouragement it is to know that the Lord will deliver him out of them all. Here by moments, but once forever to the eternal honor of His Name.

Rev. W.C. Lamain, All kinds of troubles (3).

Many have come to places where the truth was not preached, that is, there were no churches where they could hear the same doctrine in which they had been brought up, and which had always been held before them. Some saw this very soon, and did all in their power to go to a place where they could attend the pure preaching of the Word of God with their children. There were others for whom the Lord was so good that their place burned up, or that they were laid off, so that they were forced to go to another place, where they could hear the same preaching they had always heard.

Others again made such a good living and had such a good position, and then … to throw away such advantages was, they thought, irresponsible. During the week they could ride 80 or 100 miles to go to church, but on Sundays they could just stay home. They decided to read a sermon. They could have services all by themselves. Very good intentions!

The first Sundays it was all very edifying. The father had his sermons read on Friday or Saturday; the children were out of bed on time; everything was ready, and the service began. In the afternoon he read again, and in the evening another short sermon. Yes, this would work out very well; he would be a good farmer during the week and read a sermon on Sunday. Many hundreds of old writers were sent to Canada from the “States,” so they were eager for those books as for food, but I fear many do not look at them anymore. But at first! They could have church services by themselves. This was ideal!

But … one Saturday evening the boys came home so late. They had been so busy all week, so now Father and Mother with a few smaller children are reading a sermon. Usually the older children take care of the smaller ones, but now they are crying, so they can’t read the application anymore. The bigger boys are lying in bed, but about noon they come downstairs.  Finally, they decide not to read in the mornings anymore.

It will be much better to do it in the afternoon. Then they are much more rested and can listen better, and it will be better in every way. Working hard all week, and then being under such a strain on Sunday, surely the Lord does not make such demands on man.

From the consistory: early announcements.

We are glad that church life starts up again. Taking social distance into account, church meetings under the direct leadership of the consistory may be held again. Therefore, there is an early announcement for the following dates:

  • Wednesday, July 15, 7:30 PM: Baptism evening.
  • Saturday, July 18, 6:30 PM: Evening with Confession students.
  • Wednesday, July 22, 7:30 PM: Male members meeting. Voting will take place.
  • Sunday, August 2, 9:30 AM: Confession Service.

Dates for Baptism in Norwich and Courtland have not been set yet but will be discussed at the Baptism evening. May the Lord graciously remember us and grant us His blessing.

Church services Sunday July 5.

Norwich:

  • 9:30 AM: the letters A – Kl.
  • 7:00 PM: the letters Ko – Van Do.

Courtland:

  • 9:30 AM: the letters A – H.
  • 7:00 PM: the letters J – S.

Past updates

Update #29

Thursday, June 25, 2020

“We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29b)

These words are often quoted, but the question is, if they are always quoted in the right way! Sometimes we hear the question whether we should all go back to church regardless of what the government says, because the Lord has said in Hebrews 10:25 that we may ‘not forsake the assembling of ourselves together’ and ‘we ought to obey God rather than men’!

But when we read these words carefully, we must read them in their context. We see here Peter and the apostles stand before the Jewish council. After the death of Ananias and Sapphira, great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. And when great wonders were done among the people, many men and women were added to the Lord.

That gave such an enmity that the high priest and the Jewish council were filled with indignation, laid their hands upon the apostles, and cast them into prison. But the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison and instructed the disciples to again go to the temple and to preach unto the multitude the one Name given under heaven, whereby we must and can be saved.

When the Jewish council heard that, they again brought the disciples in, but now without violence. Again, they stand before the spiritual leaders of Israel, who were supposed to lead the people in the truth according to salvation. But they were misleaders and deceivers, because they again reminded the disciples that they were strictly forbidden to speak in the name of Christ.

The apostles were even accused of filling Jerusalem with their doctrine, bringing this man’s blood upon us. Beloved, was that true? On the contrary, not God’s children brought Christ’s blood upon them, but they have done that themselves, because they cried out before Pilate: His blood be on us and our children. They said that they would be responsible for the death of Christ.

Oh, the Lord was still patient with these enemies, but soon His blood would be on them and their children. Then the Romans would come and destroy both the city and the temple and kill many of them. What a responsibility for these leaders to forbid the disciples to speak in Christ’s name. In that light we hear the disciples speak: we ought to obey God rather than men.

In Acts 4:19 they were commanded already not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. Then the disciples had answered: whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. They were so filled with the Spirit, that they could not and would not hold their peace.

We have not been forbidden to speak God’s precious Word in these difficult times in which God’s judgments hang so low over the earth. But may our heart also be filled with the name of Christ, just like the disciples? Are there times in your life that you may say: come, hear, all ye that fear the Lord, while I with grateful heart record, what God has done for me (Psalter 175:3).

Has the Lord made room for the blood of Christ? We do not need that blood on us, but in us, applied to our heart. By uncovering and discovering grace we learn to see and bewail our sins, and to be emptied from our works. In that way, we learn to see that they are a poor and afflicted people that may trust in the name of the Lord. They look unto Him to be saved.

That is a people upon whose heart it is bound: we ought to obey God rather than men. Because there is love for Him and His service, and a desire to ask for His ways. By moments they may speak about the Lord’s ways in their life. How sad if we miss that. But how blessed are they who may experience it. They may long for the time that they may be with the Lord forever.

Rev. W.C. Lamain, All kinds of troubles (2).

There are special reasons why I wrote “All Kinds of Troubles” above this piece. In addition to the many labors that rest upon our shoulders in and outside of our own congregation, we are burdened with various questions and difficulties that are time and again laid before us. It is almost impossible to give answers to all questions. Our own life is full of troubles, and we ourselves constantly need advice and instruction, for the older we become, the more we see our foolishness. We never thought to have to learn to know ourselves as the fools of Psalm 75:4. Notice also what Christ called the men of Emmaus in Luke 24:25. But enough of that.

Continually questions come from our own congregation, but also from outside of our denomination. It is not my intention to answer these questions publicly, because they usually concern personal or family matters. The people concerned would not want that, but would appreciate having the matters kept confidential. That is to be understood.

However, for the sake of others, I will be glad to make a few remarks in regard to a certain letter. Perhaps the Lord will make use of it as a warning for others, that they should not deal rashly with the truth, and with our immortal soul, created for eternity. For indeed, it makes a difference how we live, but it is of the greatest importance to know how we shall appear righteous before God. Life here upon earth is but a journey to eternity, and a time of preparation to meet God.

Especially in the first years of our stay in this part of the world, we often made acquaintance with people from the Netherlands who had come here to settle with their families. I have often expressed to them the hope that they had not come here to bury themselves, and to be buried. Anything can happen to a person, and we must be kept from moment to moment by the protecting hand of God, especially when we come in a strange country.

From the consistory.

As you likely heard, there was a power failure in the Norwich area on Sunday morning. That was the reason that church started late, as the generator had to be hooked up and the live stream connection had to be restored. We are glad the services could continue in these serious times. We hope and pray that we may soon come back in church as entire congregation.

Agenda.

Starting this Friday, Mrs. Joke Treur hopes to read the stories again in the Bethany Care Home as she has done in the past. That means they cannot be followed anymore over the live stream. We thank her for faithfully reading the stories over the church phone in the past months in which the Care Home was under lockdown. They were greatly appreciated. May they be blessed unto the heart of old and young and continue to be blessed for the residents of Bethany.

Church services Sunday June 28.

Norwich:

  • 9:30 AM: the letters Ko – Van Do.
  • 7:00 PM: the letters Van Ee – Z.

Courtland:

  • 9:30 AM: the letters J – S.
  • 7:00 PM: the letters T – Z.

Update #28

Thursday, June 18, 2020

“Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.” (Psalm 87:3) (6)

How many glorious things have we considered already about the city of God. The foundation of this city is in the holy mountains; it is God’s eternal good pleasure and electing grace. The gates of Zion through which the citizens enter, is Christ, Who is the Door. The citizens of God’s own city are those that are born again and established in grace by the work of God’s Spirit.

But there is one more thing to be mentioned about this city. As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there; all my springs are in thee. This again points to the spiritual citizens of Zion. Yes, first of all, they learn to mourn about their sins. Because the sins are committed against a good doing and holy God. But the Lord is not a land of outer darkness in their life.

He teaches them also the sincere joy in God through Christ, when He shows them all the work He has done for such sinners as they are. There comes a desire to glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. Because the Lord is so worthy to be praised with reverence deep. Not that they are worthy of it, and not that they are able of it in and of themselves.

Yet, the singers may at moments speak about His work in their life. Then they may experience with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. They may speak good of the Lord. We know, those are moments of short duration. The devil, unbelief and sin are often the cause that joy is taken away. But the Lord upholds them in the strife, in order to grant eternal life.

Then they may enter in and raise an eternal song of thankfulness and praise. John saw something of that already on Patmos. And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. The gates of this city will never be shut anymore. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.

There will not be heard broken sounds anymore as that is on earth, because God’s people can sing the new song to Jehovah for all the wonders He has wrought. But if that sounds already so nicely here, how beautiful will then the sound be in heaven were in no wise shall enter any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination and maketh a lie?

Did we learn that song of Moses and of the Lamb? God’s people will not do a strange work in heaven. O, that we would ask the Lord to teach us that song before it is too late. Without are the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the whoremongers, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. But the singers and players will be found in Zion.

And it will be heard: who shall not fear Thee, o Lord, and glorify Thy name? For thou only art holy; for all the nations shall come and worship before Thee. What a blessed people is that who may enter in and raise that song of thankfulness and praise. But do you know what will be the greatest wonder for them? If it may become true: all mý springs are in thee. Will that be true?

Rev. W.C. Lamain, All kinds of troubles (1).

According to the Word of God in Job 5:7, man is born unto trouble. In the state of rectitude there were no troubles, but through sin we have willfully brought these troubles into the world, and our life is full of them. In Job 14:1 we read, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” Everyone receives his share, for it is true, “There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked.” The Lord teaches us in His Word, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19). In the hour of death God’s people shall be delivered from all troubles. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).  And that is a rest from all unrest.

But as long as God’s people wander here on earth the troubles shall remain. One of our deceased ministers used to say, “Our crosses may be changed in this life, but they are not taken away.” That is experienced. We must reap what we have sown, and that reaping is not easy. Then it is revealed what man really is. Submission gives us rest, but that does not grow on the field of our own heart. By nature there is nothing in us but rebellion, wickedness, and enmity, biting the rod, opposing the ways of God, and more than can be named. We could mention more, but we better not. Why not? I think it would give more offence than edification. The Bible says, “All things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” It is better to mourn over such things than to make them known. Our carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

The renewed portion of this new man does not sin, but through God’s persuasive and conquering grace he may sometimes bow under God and accept and take over the fall of Adam. That new portion wills what God wills, and desires only to follow the Lamb wherever it goes. Sometimes the soul may come with all its troubles to God and under God, and so follow after Him. If that were not so they had long ago fainted under their burdens. The Lord sometimes gives His people a breathing spell and a refreshing so that the way would not be too much for them. Christ once said to His disciples, “Rest a while.” Christ bore the curse of the cross for His people, and His people may partake of the blessing, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71). I would like very much to add a few lines, and write more about these matters, but then this piece would become too long.

Agenda.

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Friday, June 19, 10:30 AM                     :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Monday, June 22, 10:30 AM                 :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Wednesday, June 24, 10:30 AM          :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Church services Sunday June 21.

Norwich:

  • 9:30 AM: the letters Van Ee – Z.
  • 7:00 PM: the letters A – Kl.

Courtland:

  • 9:30 AM: the letters T – Z.
  • 7:00 PM: the letters A – H.

In order to maintain the required social distancing, we are requesting everyone’s cooperation in sitting where the custodian places you. Your understanding is appreciated.

Update #27

Friday, June 12, 2020

“Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.” (Psalm 87:3) (5)

Regarding the citizens of Zion, we heard that they are born in Zion. By nature, we can live in the dwellings of Jacob, which means on the heritage of the Covenant and under God’s Word. But we need to become spiritual citizens of Zion by regeneration and true conversion. Only by God’s Spirit, sinners are born again and brought to Zion from North, East, South and West.

These citizens learn to know themselves as one living outside of Zion due to their own fault. They experience they have no right to ever become citizens of Zion. But the Lord drew them with cords of lovingkindness, cancelled their rest and made them guilty sinners before God. The Lord shows them the only Way to Christ. Through this Gate Christ, He brings them into Zion.

But Psalm 87 says two more things about those citizens. In the first place we read: And the Highest Himself shall establish her. Here we see that we do not establish ourselves by concluding that we are a child of God. No, the Highest, the Lord Himself, shall establish her and take it up for His Zion. Thus, He did in the days of Hezekiah, when He had slain the 185.000 Assyrians.

Thus, all God’s children need to be established. Of themselves, they do not dare to say that they are a child of God. It does not help them either when others establish them and lay hands upon them. But they need that the Lord establishes them by confirming His work in their heart. In Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

The Spirit establishes them when he witness with their spirit that they are a child of God. O there can be such a longing for the Lord to break through in their heart, and to point their grieved souls to Christ. The more we are stripped from our works and tears as a foundation for salvation, the more He makes room for Christ. Blessed Zion that may know Him by first or by renewal!

The second thing we read of Zion is: The LORD shall count when He writeth up the people, that this man was born there. In natural life, citizens are registered in a town and in the country. So, they become citizen. Thus, the Lord counts His people. In the stillness of eternity, He has written their names already in the book of the life of the Lamb. So, they are known in heaven.

When the soul may learn this comforting truth, they may speak about it. Then Philistines may testify how the Lord conquered them. And Tyrians tell how the Lord prevailed in their life. And Ethiopians may explain how that the Lord cleansed them from their sins. And others may testify: My father was an Amorite, and my mother an Hittite. Have we learned this too?

Some struggle with the question: does the Lord know about me? Did He begin with me, or did I begin with Him? But they have no rest until they hear it from Him. Without regeneration, we are on the way to eternal death. It is still the time of grace. New ones are still born in Zion. We can know if that took place. Because in Zion are the singers and players on instruments.

Qustodio and live streaming

Lately we heard that some people have issues with the live streaming. The live stream gives an error as if the sound file type is not known. This error code is caused by the filtering program Qustodio which interferes with the latest Windows Update. Please update Qustodio to the latest version. This should solve the problem. If you have any questions, please reach out for help.

Continuing with newsletters

In the time that we could not come to church, you received a newsletter twice per week to remain in contact with each other. Now that church services may be held again, newsletters will be sent once a week. The plan is to do this for the time being in the middle of the week to provide any updates. The updates for the end of the week will be provided in the regular church bulletin. These will continue to be sent out by email and will be placed on the website.

Saturday morning program

During the last three months of the school year, the consistory has provided each Saturday a program with a meditation and some stories. We promised that this program would continue until the end of the school year. Now that school year 2019-2020 will be closed, this program will be discontinued as well. Tomorrow will be the last time. At the end of the summer holiday we will decide whether we will resume this program or not, depending on the situation.

Albert Van Dam, led and instructed from his youth (8).

On the nineteenth of September, 2005, Albert Van Dam passed away. He died peacefully at the age of 56.

The funeral was led by Rev. Pater. Six hundred people from all over the country came to pay their last respects to Albert.

Rev. G. Pater preached from 2 Timothy 4:7&8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love His appearing.” At the grave site Rev. Pater and Rev. J. Karens spoke, and for closing they sang from Psalter 426:4&10:

The Lord preserves the meek most tenderly;              Jerusalem! Within thy courts I’ll praise

Brought night to death, in Him I found salvation.      Jehovah’s Name; and with a spirit lowly

Come, thou my soul, relieved from agitation,             Pay all my vows. O Zion, fair and holy,

Turn to thy rest; the Lord has favored thee.               Come join with me and bless Him all thy days.

Agenda.

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Saturday, June 13, 9:30 AM                   :  Meditation and story for young and old (English)

Sunday, June 14                                         :  English services 9:30 AM and 7:00 PM in both locations

Monday, June 15, 9:00 AM                    :  Closing Chapel RCS (English)

Monday, June 15, 10:30 AM                 :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Update #26

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD, Psalm 84:2a

There were in the life of David times that he could not go to God’s house, when he had to flee for king Saul and later for his own son Absalom. How was David, the man after God’s heart, under these afflictions? Was he grumbling in disagreement? Or was he clenching his fist unto the Lord? No, he was given to fold his hands in prayer and to cry out to the living God for mercy.

Even the sparrows and swallows had their nest near God’s altar. These birds, which did not have a soul for eternity, dwelled in God’s house. But David could not go there to have his soul fed. In his heart there was a longing to go up again with the multitudes! He even fainteth for the courts of the Lord. He hardly could bear it any longer that he was absent from God’s house.

Therefore, David was longing for God’s house. For the tabernacle is the place where the Lord wanted to dwell. From between the cherubim, He wanted to abundantly bless His people and to satisfy her poor with bread (Psalm 132). Because there the sacrifices were brought, which pointed to the great Son of David Who would come in the fulness of the time as the living Bread. He would give His life as a ransom for many and thus obtain a full salvation. And especially in His house, He wants to instruct sinners by His Word and Spirit. There He makes His people poor in spirit and teaches them to cry out to the living God. But He grants an afflicted and poor people who are emptied from themselves, to trust in Him and then he feeds them with the spiritual Bread Christ. What a beauty they see in Him, when He reveals Himself unto their soul.

We have not been able to come to God’s house for three months. That was not an easy time. Have we been grumbling about it and disagreeing with God’s ways? Or was there a people among us who were longing and fainting and therefore cried out to the living God. God of life, o when shall I come again to stand before Thee, in Thy temple to adore Thee? That is a blessed people.

For, blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising Thee. Then the Lord will receive the honour for His benefits bestowed upon us. When we have a godly sorrow in our heart, we long for His mercy. To see Him in His Word as the Way, the Truth and the Life, and to see the only way to salvation in Christ. There is no rest, before they may be partaker of that wonder!

Beloved, the Lord has done great things by enabling us to again come to His house. In the past months we have experienced several times that although the church building was empty, yet it was full because the Lord was in our midst. I hope and pray that the Lord will continue to be in our midst, otherwise we can have a full church, but without the Lord it is still empty. May He give many sighers, longing ones His hallowed courts to see! Do we understand this longing and fainting? When poor and needy sinners may come as unworthy ones to God’s house, then there is food and drink. Thus, they may go from strength to strength until they may appear in Zion before God forever. Then that which is in part, will be perfect and forever. No longing or fainting will be found there, but only a being with Him Whom their soul loveth, forever.

From the consistory – Update – Reopening of Church Services

We are humbled, that the Lord has inclined the hearts of our government leaders to allow the reopening of churches. What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits toward me? Beloved, let us not take these things for granted, but humbly acknowledge Him for His undeserved good-ness. Church services may take place again with attendees up to 30% of the building capacity and on the condition that social distancing is maintained. This means that Norwich can have up to 540 people in church and Courtland up to 90 people. The consistory has made the following arrangements which will enable us to stay within the 30 % capacity requirement.

  1. General information for the Norwich and Courtland locations.
    1. For each church service, part of the congregation will be invited based on the alphabet letter of your last name. This will be clearly announced. Members from both locations (Norwich and Courtland) are requested not to visit the other location, with the exception for coming with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or fiancé. We request this be strictly adhered to as long as the 30% maximum capacity rule stays in place.
    1. There will be no Dutch reading services in the reading room until the 30% capacity rule has been lifted and church services are back to normal.

For Norwich, the invited attendees are as follows:

  • Sunday June 14, 9:30 AM: the letters A – Kl.
  • Sunday June 14, 7:00 PM: the letters Ko – Van D.
  • Sunday June 21, 9:30 AM: the letters Van Ee – Z.
  • Sunday June 21, 7:00 PM: the letters A – Kl are again invited to come. Etc.

For Courtland, the invited attendees are as follows:

  • Sunday June 14, 9:30 AM: the letters A – H.
  • Sunday June 14, 7:00 PM: the letters J – S.
  • Sunday June 21, 9:30 AM: the letters T – Z.
  • Sunday June 21, 7:00 PM: the letters A – H are again invited to come. Etc.
  • Practical guidelines for the Norwich and Courland locations.
    • Entry and exit in Norwich will only be at the three main entrances. The handicap entrance is only available for wheelchair use since social distancing is not possible in that lobby. If you have any special needs, please contact one of the ushers prior to Sunday, or give our custodian, Mr. Chris Stubbe, a call. His cellphone number is: (1) 226 231 4877. In Courtland only the main entrance will be available.
    • Hand sanitizers will be available in the lobby if you wish to use them.
    • Seating for attendees will be in every other bench. Families can sit together. There needs to be six feet distance between families (or couples / individuals) and other people in the same bench. The ushers make sure this will be strictly kept.
    • Everybody will be ushered in to avoid that people sit too close together or sit on non-designated benches. Please wait to be ushered in. This means that many likely cannot sit on ‘their own spot’. This is for this phase only, but we ask you to comply with the ushers. Your understanding is appreciated.
    • At the end of the service you will be ushered out bench by bench so that we can leave the church orderly and maintain the social distancing. You will have an opportunity to provide your collections / donations in the box in the lobby and take the various publications along. After the blessing you are kindly requested to sit down till you receive a sign that you can leave the church. If we all cooperate, this will go very quickly.
    • The government approval states nothing about singing, so we hope to do that.
    • Regular collections will not be held for the time being. Instead, one box will be placed at each entrance, in which you can put your collections and donations. If you want your donation for a specific purpose, please write it on the cheque or envelope, otherwise we will assume that the funds are for the church. There is also the possibility to donate by e-transfer to the known email addresses.
    • There will be no babysit and toddler room until attendee limitations are lifted.
    • If necessary, the washrooms of the church will be available. They will be cleaned and sanitized after each church service to maintain the government regulations.
    • It is left to the discretion of the elderly and those with health issues whether they are comfortable in coming to church or want to stay home for the time being.
    • Please do not come to church if you have any cold or flu symptoms or have been exposed to anyone having COVID-19 within two weeks prior to the church service.
    • Also please keep in mind the practice of avoiding handshakes for now.
    • If you need to cough or sneeze, please do so into a tissue or your sleeve.

3.    Courtland.

  1. Courtland church services will resume this Sunday under the same guidelines.
  2. Starting this Sunday, the Courtland branch will have their own audio live streaming available on the Norwich NRC website with a separate link. Since we can for the time being only come once in the three services to church, we deem it important that the Coutrland branch can also consistently and faithfully listen to their own church services, whether reading services or preaching services.

4.    Baptism and Confession of Faith.

Arrangements for Baptism and Confession of Faith services cannot be made yet. Because of the size of the groups and the current regulations for social gatherings, as well as the fact that the consistory still has to meet with the parents for baptism and the confession of faith group, this will be decided later. As soon as we see the opportunity within the government regulations, arrangements will be made and dates will be set.

5.    Finally.

       Many things must be arranged to maintain government standards and the proper social distancing. But most important is that the Lord will be in our midst. May we all be given to look away from the circumstances and to lift up our eyes unto the hills from whence our help comes. Then it will be true: Forth from Thy courts, Thy sacred dwelling, in jubilant accord, we hear sweet strains of praising swelling, O Israel’s mighty Lord!

Update #25

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

“Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.” (Psalm 87:3) (4)

How glorious are the foundation and the gates of Zion. On the foundation of God’s election, the Lord builds His Church. Through the gate, which is Christ, God’s people enter in. By Word and Spirit the Lord calls His people to make them from spiritually dead alive. Those that were not His people by nature, are made children of God. Sons and daughters are born in Zion.

When that happens, the Lord teaches His people what is free and sovereign grace. Because how do God’s people enter into the gate? in which way do sinners become inhabitants of Zion? The Lord will make mention of them that know Him. So, He teaches them knowledge of God and of self. Those that live in the dwellings of Jacob learn to see that they stand outside.

And that becomes their need. To stand outside and not to know how they can ever be reconciled with God. The question is born in the soul, ‘how stands the case with thee’. As a Saul from Tarsen they fall on their knees, asking: Lord whom art Thou? Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? As one that does not know it anymore, they make supplication to the Lord for mercy.

Oh, whatever they try to enter into Zion based on works or tears, that does not give them their spiritual citizenship of Zion. As rightless in myself I supplicate my Judge for mercy. Have mercy on me according to Thy lovingkindness. There the Lord shows them the gate Christ. Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress was shown the narrow gate when he didn’t know it anymore.

What a wonder to see everything in Christ and nothing in myself anymore. For such a people He becomes so necessary, so precious and so amiable. To know Him and to follow on to know Him is their desire. The choice is born to hate what God hates and to love what He loves. To live according to His commandments in true faith, according to His law and to His glory.

Show me Thy ways, o LORD, teach me Thy paths, lead me in Thy truths, and lead me, for Thou art the God of my salvation. Yes, you can see it in the fruits that they are born in Zion. Others may testify it. And of Zion it shall be said: this and that man was born there. The world will not under-stand it, but they see the change for they cannot go along with the world anymore.

The world wonders what has happened in their life because of the radical change. God’s people will notice it too and be glad about the Lord’s work. But the most important thing for them is not that others see and know it, but that the Lord knows about them. That the Lord shows them a token for good and comforts their soul Be of good comfort, for I am thy salvation.

Are we not strange of this? Is there a people having no rest before we are safe within the gates of Zion; before we have entered in the gate Christ? For outside Him there is no life. That this may make us storm the throne of grace before the gate will be closed forever. But blessed people for whom it became true: Sons and daughters He shall see, born to endless life in Zion.

From the consistory – Update Reopening Church

On Sunday in church we experienced a little opening in prayer when we came to the need of the closed churches, especially in the light of the latest announcement from our premier to extend the State of Emergency in Ontario with another 10 days till June 19. It was different than other times we laid this need before God’s countenance. On Monday, premier Doug Ford unexpectedly announced the implementation of stage 2. This means that the churches may reopen again for 30% of the capacity with maintaining the required social distancing between the families in church. Some regions (like Norfolk-Haldimand region to which Courtland belongs), with a higher Covid-19 number remain under stage 1. However, the churches are exempted from that, which means that also Courtland church may reopen again for 30% of the capacity. The consistory will give further announcements regarding arrangements one of these days in an extra newsletter. The Lord has answered prayers. Then let all accord honor to the Lord (Psalter 432:4).

Albert Van Dam, led and instructed from his youth (7).

The doctor thought that the patient should relax some more. “Tonight there is a soccer game on TV, you ought to watch that,” he advised him. “No doctor, I will not look at that, because that is all vanity.”

He did have a problem while in the hospital with that screen above his bed, the TV. A visitor asked him, “Albert, what do we have here!” pointing to the TV screen. A little ashamed, he would hastily say, “That is not a TV, that is a monitor.”

In the hospital ward Albert saw that the other patients would just begin to eat. Then he would say, “Aren’t you going to pray?” But yeah, they never did that yet, praying, surely not for a few slices of bread. From that moment on Albert would open in prayer, out loud, by which he would remember everyone. No one dared to say anything about it, because all the patients felt that it was real what Albert did.

While in the hospital he became seriously ill with pneumonia. When Rev. Pater visited him and asked him how matters stood with him he said very respectfully, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Rev. Karens, who lived in Kruiningen at that time, visited him several times in the hospital.

The last weeks of his life he spent at home. Rev. C. Sonnevelt visited him and said to him, “You know Albert, I am so jealous of you, because you are so close to home.” When Rev. Pater, on the day he died said to him, “Albert, now you are going to die, right,” to which Albert replied, “No, I shall not die, but live and tell the wonders of the Lord” (Psalter 317:4c). On the nineteenth of September 2005, Albert Van Dam passed away. He died peacefully at the age of 56.

Agenda.

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Wednesday, June 10, 10:30 AM :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Friday, June 12, 10:30 AM            :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Wednesday, June 10, 9:00 AM    :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Thursday, June 11, 9:00 AM         :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Friday, June 12, 9:00 AM               :  PD day. No day opening.

Update #24

Friday, June 5, 2020

“Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.” (Psalm 87:3) (3)

In Psalm 87, we have already considered two glorious things of God’s own city Jerusalem. The first thing is the foundation of the city, which is God’s electing love. The second thing is the gates of Jerusalem, for to be saved, we need to be led through the straight gate onto the narrow way the leadeth to salvation. This gate is Christ, Who said about Himself: I am the Door.

But who are the people that are led through this gate in Zion? Psalm 87 says of them: I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there. That is a great wonder, because we would expect to only read about Israel. And it is true that salvation is of the Jews, but salvation is not only for the Jews.

At Pentecost, the Lord had broken the middle wall of partition. From far and near they had come to Jerusalem. Under the preaching of God’s Word, three thousand were pricked in their hearts. The Lord made them to cry out: men and brethren, what shall we do? From that time on, many gentiles were incorporated into that spiritual Israel, those who from eternity shall be saved!

By nature, they were not God’s people. But by regeneration and true conversation they were born in Zion. And the wonder becomes greater when we see who these enemies are. First, there is Rahab, which is Egypt. These enemies lived south of Israel. Secondly, there is Babylon, the enemy of God and His people that led Israel into exile and lived north of Israel.

Thirdly, there are the Philistines, the archenemies of Israel, who lived west of Israel. And finally, there are Tyre and Ethiopia. These enemies lived east of Israel and were merchants. They wanted to be independent and lived for their wealth. So, Jerusalem was surrounded from all sides by the enemies. At Pentecost they were added by God’s Spirit to His spiritual Zion.

We clearly see that they were no inhabitants of Zion by birth, but by rebirth. Do we see beloved, that born once means to be lost, but born twice means to be saved? Many Jews counted the blood of Christ an unholy thing. Now the Lord adds the fullness of the Gentiles. And for all God’s people it is true what this Psalm testifies three times: this man was born there.

Do we see the importance of regeneration? Christ Himself testified: verily, verily I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Because by nature we are dead in sins and trespasses. But when the Lord calls His people powerfully and irresistibly by His Word and Spirit, then He grants spiritual life unto their soul. That is the one-sided work!

Because this man wás born there. We do not add ourselves by our religion, but God’s people are added by the Lord. He draws gentiles to Zion with cords of love. And its fruit is clear. When the Lord gives spiritual life, we learn to see that we are spiritually dead, and enemies of God and His work. That grieves the soul. Have we ever experienced that? (To be continued).

Albert Van Dam, led and instructed from his youth (6).

In 2005 Albert Van Dam became sick. He had stomach and liver cancer. The first of June he was scheduled for surgery. On the morning before the operation he asked his brother, “Marien, would you read Psalm 26 for me?” After he read the Psalm, he said to him,” Albert, perhaps you will die.”

Albert replied, “No, not yet. First, I may celebrate my birthday, and I may go to the Lord’s Table once more, and that is soon, that will be on the 4th of July.” After the operation someone called him and said, “Albert, this Sunday there is communion, but I guess you are too weak to go to church.” Albert’s reply was, “In God I put my trust, I neither doubt nor fear.” However, his sickness brought Albert into the hospital. One of the nurse’s name was Janneke De Boef, someone from Reformed circles. Albert asked her, “Nurse, would you please sing for me?” Yes, she would do that. And what would you like me to sing?” she asked. Albert replied, “Ps. 228:3”:

A sun and shield forever,

Is God the Lord Most High;

To those who walk uprightly

No good will he deny;

His saints His grace receiving,

Shall soon His glory see;

O Lord of Hosts most blessed

Are they that trust in Thee.

Other nurses said to Janneke De Boef, “You wouldn’t do that for a patient, would you?” “Oh yes,” she said, “for Albert I will do it.” Albert asked every nurse, male or female and the doctors, whether they had a new heart yet. Then he would add to it, “I will ask the Lord for you, and will you promise me that you will also begin to ask for it?”

Shortly after Rev. J. Karens said farewell to the congregation, Candidate G. Pater accepted the call to Opheusden. Also, with this pastor Albert made close ties. One evening in the hospital Albert said to his sister Anneke, “Give me the phone, because I have to call the minister.” During the telephone conversation Albert told the minister that he received the words from John 15:16, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you that ye should go and bring forth fruit …” Early the next morning Rev. Pater came to the hospital. He asked him, “Albert, what makes you think that those words are for you?” Albert replied “The Lord told me in my heart.” “Do you know what these words mean for you?” asked Rev. Pater. “Yes Reverend, I do know that. He has loved me with an everlasting love.”

Agenda.

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Saturday, June 6, 9:30 AM                     :  Meditation and story for young and old (English)

Sunday, June 7                                           :  Services 9:30 AM and 7:00 PM (English)

Monday, June 8, 9:00 AM                      :  Week opening RCS for young and old (English)

Monday, June 8, 10:30 AM                    :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Tuesday, June 9, 9:00 AM                      :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Update #23

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

“Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.” (Psalm 87:3) (2)

Psalm 87 speaks about the glorious things of God’s own city Jerusalem. We considered her foundation. Zion, founded on the mountains, God thy Maker, loves thee well; He has chosen thee, most precious, He delights in thee to dwell. And was this not a precious image of His electing love? By free and sovereign grace, God desires to dwell in His people, the spiritual Zion.

Therefore, Psalm 87 also speaks about the gates of Zion. The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Jacob is the old name of Israel. So, the Lord loves them who are outwardly the people of the Lord. He showed that in the days of Hezekiah when He delivered Jerusalem from Sennacherib. In one night, He destroyed the 185.000 Assyrians.

Yes, the Lord also loves the dwellings of Jacob. That is, He outwardly loves those that live on the heritage of the Covenant, who are born or brought under the truth. Do we see the difference? We can live in the dwelling places of Jacob, and yet not be saved within Zion. We can live under the truth, but without truly knowing the God of truth in Christ Who is the Truth.

Therefore, the Lord speaks here about Jacob’s dwelling places. It says, by nature, we all are still a descendant of Jacob, the deceiver. Living in the dwelling places of Jacob, living under the truth, is a great privilege. But how necessary it is, that we be brought within that gates of Zion! Why is that? Because the Lord loves the gates of Zion above the dwelling places of Jacob.

Within the gates of Zion, the Lord dwells in the temple. There, His word may be heard, and the wonder of free and sovereign grace in Christ may be proclaimed. Did He not testify about Himself I am the Door? How true it is: No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. Have you experienced that? Then we need to be brought within Zions gates. By nature, we are enemies of that way.

We would rather want the freedom in the tents of Jacob. But by discovering light, the Lord shows the danger of living outside God, of perishing by the three headed enemy, satan, world and sin. By a godly sorrow that is born, we learn flee to God to find a hiding place in Zion. Needy and sorrowful to Him they cry and knock on the door of grace, that it might be opened unto them.

They have no rest until the Lord shows them the gate to Zion, in Christ. How amiable become then His tabernacles! For as the high priest went once a year into the most holy place with the blood of a lamb, thus Christ the High Priest sacrificed His blood to a complete atonement for all their guilt. Is that not a blessed people? A desire is born to know Him more and more.

Do we know that? To live in the dwelling places of Jacob, under the truth, is a privilege, but also a great responsibility. That will not save us. Oh, that we then may hasten ourselves for our lives sake. One day His people will be brought in the heavenly Zion forever. From strength to strength Thy children dear go forward, till they all appear in Zion’s court, God’s holy mountain.

Albert Van Dam, led and instructed from his youth (4).

In the months after this took place, Albert searched the whole Form for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper. He read it from front to back and read it again anew. His sins touched him deeper and deeper. Was there no way by which he could escape that punishment?

In February 1994, the administration of the Lord’s Supper again took place. During the minister’s invitation Albert got up and, in his black suit, walked very respectfully to the front and sat down at the table next to Rev. Karens and was able to partake of Holy Supper. To the elder who sat on the other side of him he said, “And that for such a one.” For closing of the table, the minister requested the congregation to sing from The Song of Mary:

To those who fear and trust the Lord,

His mercy stands forever sure;

From age to age His promise lives,

And the performance is secure,

And the performance is secure.

Brother M. Van Dam said, “The whole congregation was moved by it. It seized the whole congregation. In the days after this took place, Rev. P. De Vries, at that time pastor of the Reformed Church in Opheusden, came to pay a visit to the Van Dam family. He said to Albert, “Albert, is it true what I heard, did you partake of the Lord’s Table?” To which Albert nodded his head. “And did you experience something while sitting there?” Albert said, “My heart doeth overflow, a goodly theme is mine, Psalter 124:1.” Ever since that time, Albert attended every  Lord’s Supper when it was administered. He always looked forward to it and knew the date by heart long before. For him they were appointed feast days.

From the consistory.

This past Monday, the Ontario Government announced that they have postponed allowing gatherings with more than five people for now. As we understood, that triggered a lot of feedback to our MPP’s. The latest news from last Friday is that Premier Ford says he is considering regional reopening of Ontario as new testing strategy rolled out. He asked health officials to look at a regional approach for a staged opening. But He cautioned that an ultimate decision will be based on advice from public health officials. We sincerely hope and pray that this approach will be approved and that we will be enabled to come to church again with a larger group. Southwestern Ontario, to which Norwich belongs, has currently 3.3 cases per 100.000 people. Let us ask the Lord that our leaders may receive wisdom and strength to make the right decision.

Agenda.

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Wednesday, June 3, 10:30 AM    :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Friday, June 5, 10:30 AM               :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Wednesday, June 3, 9:00 AM      :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Thursday, June 4, 9:00 AM           :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Friday, June 5, 9:00 AM                 :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Update #22

Friday, May 29, 2020

“Glorious things are spoken of thee, o city of God. Selah.” (Psalm 87:3) (1)

Psalm 87 is called the Pentecost Psalm, and rightly so. The author is not known but the Psalm is written after that the Lord so wonderfully delivered Jerusalem out of the hands of Rabshakeh and had slain 185.000 enemies in one night and thus delivered Hezekiah and Jerusalem. Now the poet may sing about His work. Glorious things are spoken of thee, o city of God.

In fact, it says it even stronger, namely that very glorious things are spoken of that city of God. The first glorious thing the poet speaks about is its foundation. We understand that each city must have a solid and strong foundation to lean upon. Otherwise it will subside and collapse. Now Zion is built on firm foundations. We read : His foundation is in the holy mountains.

David built Jerusalem on mount Zion and the temple on Moriah. Jerusalem was surrounded by other mountains. Thus, God protected her against the enemies. Zion was not the highest moun-tain. In comparison with mountains like the Lebanon and Bashan, Zion was but a little hill. Yet, this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea the Lord will dwell in it for ever.

The Lord has chosen Zion to live among His people. Do we see what the foundation for salvation is? Zion’s foundation is electing love. Jerusalem was founded on God’s sovereign pleasure. And now Zion is in God’s Word a picture of God’s chosen people. The spiritual Jerusalem is also built on the strong mountain of God’s eternal love and His sovereign good pleasure.

From the stillness of eternity, the Triune God has been a step ahead of sin and satan, and has chosen a people to be saved. He has given them to Christ in order to purchase His people with the price of His blood. From all eternity, Christ was chosen and appointed to obtain a full salvation. There lies the secret of salvation. Not as if we are better and more worthy than others.

No, we all lie in the same fall and misery in which we have brought ourselves. But the Lord teaches His people to glory, not in themselves but in God. And there is a people that may see this electing grace as it truly is, namely as an eternal wonder and as a great comfort. By discovering grace, they learn that there is no ground in themselves to be saved, but they are guilty.

In that way, they may also see the only ground for salvation in Christ, the chief Cornerstone, to be led by Him to the Father and to see that it is through Him, through Him alone whose presence goes before us. Satan attacks with this doctrine of election. He tries to make His people despair and to make others careless with the thought we will likely not belong to that people anyways.

But this doctrine is not a wall to run stuck against. It is the door of hope in the wall of sin. That is the reason the Lord gave us His revealed will to read that what is impossible with man, is possible with God. Will He then not be worthy to be sought? Search then the Scriptures, to find that the walls of Zion have a gate to enter into and raise a song of thankfulness and praise.

From the consistory.

Pentecost is the day we commemorate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is my hearty wish and prayer that God’s Spirit will work richly among us, in our hearts and homes. May the prayer as fruit of the work of God’s Spirit be heard much among us: Man and brethren, what shall we do? That is still possible for young and old. Although we cannot yet go to church again, at Pentecost we also remember the labours on our mission field in Bolivia. Then we also willingly provide financial support for that important work that the Lord has commanded. May our gifts be used to the conversion of many. May the Lord remember the mission team and their ministers in Bolivia and grant them to hear glorious things about the Lord’s work in Bolivia.

Albert Van Dam, led and instructed from his youth (3).

It was an afternoon for the elderly, in the NRC of Opheusden. Albert was far from being elderly, but he always attended, because it was in church. That afternoon Rev. C. Smits would conduct a special service in an NRC in the Netherlands. Rev. Karens was also at the gathering with the elderly. Albert said that he would rather go listen to Rev. Smits, but his mother told him to stay with them. Being grieved, Albert said to Rev. Karens, “For once I could hear a good minister and then I am not allowed.” Upon which the minister said, “Bring that boy to Rev. Smits, right now.” He also liked to go to Ede, to listen to Rev. Johannes Van Der Poel. At the close of the service he was always allowed to come in the consistory room, to shake hands with the minister. Besides that, he once said, “Reverend, you are a good preacher, but Rev. Karens is better at it.”

For many years already, Albert had spiritual exercises with the Lord’s Supper. But that would not be for him, that was impossible, and he did not dare to go. Still it did not leave him unconcerned. In 1993, when he was 44 years old, the Lord’s Supper would again be administrated. On Saturday night Albert said to his mother, “Mother, would you take my black suit out of the closet, because I want to attend the Lord’s Table tomorrow.” To which mother Van Dam reacted, “Yes but, my boy, you cannot do that just like that, can you?” Brother Marien, who was asked to come over, asked him, “But Albert, do you have a new heart?” Albert nodded intensely. Brother Marien then asked him, “How do you know that?” To this Albert replied, “The Lord told it me in my heart.” Brother Marien asked again, “Do you know the Lord Jesus?” Albert, very sure of himself, said, “Yes, I know Him.” The Van Dam family did not know what to do, so they asked Rev. Karens to come over. Rev. Karens came and talked with Albert. After prayer, he finally made this agreement with him and said, “Albert, if tomorrow I invite, and the Lord speaks in your heart, then you should come. But if the Lord does not speak in your heart, then you should stay seated.” When Rev. Karens was gone, he quietly said to brother Marien, “Hang my black suit back in the closet, because tomorrow I cannot go yet.” Albert did not attend.

Agenda.

Saturday, May 30, 9:30 AM                   :  Meditation and story for young and old (English)

Sunday, May 31                                         :  Pentecost. Services 9:30 AM and 7:00 PM (English)

Monday, June 1, 9:00 AM                      :  Week opening RCS for young and old (English)

Monday, June 1, 10:30 AM                    :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Tuesday, June 2, 9:00 AM                      :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Update #21

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

“This same Jesus… shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11b)

Christ ascended into heaven. The disciples could only look unto heaven, but they did it steadfastly! What took place in heaven, and how Christ was crowned with honor, was hidden for their natural eye. But their heart was longing for that place where their Savior went to prepare a place for them. Then He will receive them too, that they may be where Christ is.

That is what He had promised prior to His sufferings. That is what the angels confirmed after His ascension. “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him to into heaven.” While the disciples were still looking steadfastly toward heaven, two angels in white apparel came to them to give them further instruction.

They gave the disciples a gentle rebuke. Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? It is as if the angels say: did not Christ instruct you to go to Jerusalem to wait there for the pouring out of the Holy Ghost? But at the same time, this gentle rebuke is also a rich comfort for the disciples. Because the angels did not say that Jesus was taken away, but they said that He was taken up.

From the place at God’s right hand, Christ would send the Spirit of truth to lead them in all  truth. And one day He, that had been taken up into heaven, would in the same manner come again, on the clouds of heaven. Here, ascension is placed in the light of His coming again. Then He will not come in humiliation as with His first coming, but then He will come in exaltation.

On that day, all eyes shall see Him, even those who have pierced Him. Every knee will then bow before Him. The unconverted ones will then be forced to bow, to be cast away into outer darkness as enemies. But how different will it be for God’s people. Can we understand then that there are moments on earth that they are longing and looking steadfastly toward heaven?

When the Lord uncovers His people and shows that nothing on earth can deliver them from their sin, they sigh looking towards heaven: when wilt Thou come to deliver my soul? There is a longing for the coming of Christ in their heart. But there is also a longing for the second coming of Christ, for His coming again: ‘when wilt Thou come to deliver me from all the weary night?

When that day will come, no man knows but the Lord alone. But He comes as a thief in the night, suddenly, unexpectedly. His footsteps are heard in the signs of the time: He comes, He comes to judge the nations. The world continues in their sins. And many in the church sleep, both the wise and foolish ones. And Satan tempts God’s church: where is the day of His coming? 

Yet, the time is at hand. How will it be for you my friends? For the wicked and ungodly it will be terrible. O, that we may hasten ourselves before it is too late. For God’s people it is most desirable and comforting. Here they look unto heaven, but then they will be received into heaven. Their tears will be wiped away and the Triune God will receive the glory. Will that also be your portion?

Albert Van Dam, led and instructed from his youth (3).

Wednesday, the 29th of April 1970 was a solemn day for Albert Van Dam. Rev. J. Karens had accepted the call to the N.R.C. of Opheusden, after declining their call three times. He preached his inaugural sermon on that day in the Reformed church. With the words from Exodus 3:14b he joined himself to Opheusden: “I AM has sent me unto you.” Albert went to the confession of faith class by his pastor. In 1972 he did public confession of faith. The text for that service was from Romans 10:10, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” From that moment on there came a bond between Rev. Karens and Albert Van Dam. It happened that during the sermon the minister asked, “Who is he that fears Jehovah.” Then Albert pointed to himself, and said quietly, “I do.”

Brother Marien Van Dam, who is an elder in Opheusden, said about Albert, “Albert never gave a false impression, he was honest through and through. He could not tell of his conversion, but he loved the Lord and he loved God’s people. When we had visitors, then he could pick out God’s people, as if he had feelers for that.”

Albert Van Dam was blessed with a photographic memory. When his father read Matthew 26, then Albert said, “Oh, Ds. C. Wisse preached about this once.” He knew all the rhymed Psalms by heart. Once, at the table father Van Dam was going to fool him. He started to read: “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David …,” and continued reading with a straight face from 2 Samuel 22. After the last verse Albert said, “That was Psalm 18.” Wrong, said father. But Albert persisted that it was Psalm 18. He was right in a certain way, because in the marginal notes of this particular chapter of Samuel reference is made to Psalm 18.  If the pastor said from the pulpit, “with grateful heart my thanks I bring …,” then Albert would quietly say, Psalter 381:1. And when he heard, “But let the righteous blessed of yore, Joy in their God as ne’er before …,” then Albert would say the next sentence, “Faith’s victory achieving.”

“He immediately made the application upon everything,” says brother Marien Van Dam. “But the comprehension of faith and the catechism questions, he could not manage. Terms like justification and sanctification he did not understand, but what a new heart was, he knew very well, because the Lord Himself had given him this new heart.”

From the consistory.

Yesterday, the Ontario government announced: a recent uptick in positive cases and large group gatherings means Ontario will maintain some COVID-19 restrictions longer than initially planned. The plan to allow groups of more than 5 people to gather, has been put aside temporarily. That is quite a disappointment, but may we be given to bow under the Lord’s will.

Agenda.

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Wednesday, May 27, 10:30 AM  :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Friday, May 29, 10:30 AM           :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Wednesday, May 27, 9:00 AM    :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Thursday, May 28, 9:00 AM        :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Friday, May 29 9:00 AM              :  PD-Day / No school / No day opening.

Update #20

Friday, May 22, 2020

“And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven, as He went up.” (Acts 1:10a)

Christ has ascended on high. The everlasting doors of heaven have been opened and the King of glory entered in to sit at the right hand of God the Father almighty. What an eternal wonder, that the doors of heaven were opened again. Because we have closed them by our deep fall in Adam. And if the Lord would mark our iniquity, then these doors would be closed forever.

But in the fulness of the time, the Father has opened the doors of heaven. Christ left the heavens and entered the world, which lies lost in sin. But on Calvary’s hill Christ finished the work which the Father had given Him to do. There, He had bought His people with the price of His precious blood. Therefore, He arose the third day, and forty days later He ascended on high.

He led captivity captive and brought our flesh and blood in heaven. Now He applies the fruit in the life of His Church. What is this fruit? The disciples were looking steadfastly toward heaven. There was such a longing in their heart to see one more glimpse of their beloved Master. Is that not a strange language to us? Is there such a missing and longing people among us?

By moments they forget everything around them and look steadfastly, continually up to heaven. Because there is their blessed Mediator. And from there cometh their help. They cannot let Him go except He bless them. With David they sing with a confidence complete, toward the Lord my eyes are turning; from the net He’ll pluck my feet; He will not despise my yearning.

Is that not a blessed exercise in their life? Though they do not see Him, yet their heart may believe in Him. And the eye of faith may look unto Him. That is not a matter of course, because by nature we do not have that. Then our eyes look steadfastly down to the world and its lusts. Then we are so of the earth earthy. And when sinners die that way, then it will be lost forever!

But the Lord has opened a way to salvation in Christ. The text says that they looked steadfastly toward heaven. The disciples could not look into heaven. No, a cloud has taken Jesus out of their sight. As in the Old Testament a cloud came to fill the temple, and as a bright cloud came when Christ was on the mount of transfiguration, thus a cloud appeared here too.

The dark clouds of God’s wrath had passed, and with a bright cloud the Father took His Son home. That is why the disciples were gazing up into heaven, like the angels spoke unto them. It is the steadfast looking of a people who have been discovered to their sin and brought to the end with all their works and tears, resulting in them learning to put their steadfast trust in Thee.

Is there still such a people among us? We still live in the time of grace. The Lord is able and willing to teach it. What a blessed people who at moments may look steadfastly unto heaven. But what is learned here by moments, may one day be true forever: With steadfast step they walk, their countenances beaming, with brightness of the light that from Thy face is streaming.

Albert Van Dam, led and instructed from his youth (2).

At that time there were three churches in Opheusden; the Reformed church, the little wooden church at the foot of the dyke of the Gereformeerde Gemeente (here: NRC), and the Gereformeerde Gemeente in Nederland (here: RCNA), situated at the Mayor Lodder street. Albert preferred above all to be in church. It did not matter which one of the three churches. Early on Sunday morning, the doorbell would ring. “Van Dam, are you missing a child?” Missing a child! Missing a child?!, that cannot be, especially not on Sunday morning!

But the custodian of the N.R.C. in the Netherlands had seen Albert sneak into church, still in his pajamas. There they found him, in the front bench, with the Bible on his lap, waiting for the sermon. And it always remained that way. The church was his favorite place. He searched all over during the week for a church service or otherwise a wedding service, and if it was not possible in Opheusden, then he would go to Rhenen or to Wageningen. Albert wanted to be there, where they spoke well of the Lord.

Albert’s life was steeped with reverence for what is higher. He spoke in a proper way, never course or with a dialect, and if he heard someone curse, he immediately reprimanded the person. He loved God’s Name too much than for someone to blaspheme that Name.

He would ask anyone who came for a visit, whether they had a new heart already. That happened once to a visitor who never even heard of the Bible. “Madam,” Albert asked, “do you have a new heart?” “No, happily not,” the lady said, shocked. “My heart is still beating very well.” While shaking his head Albert left the room. That lady did not understand a thing about it!

If Albert would meet someone reading a book, he would ask the person, “What are you reading, is it a good book?” If it was not a good book, he would say, “You would be better off to ask the Lord for a new heart.” And if someone was reading a worldly magazine, he would say, “You might as well light the stove with that.”

Albert liked to shop for groceries. Once he stood in the butcher shop with his basket and list. The store was crowded, everybody stood waiting. So, Albert thought to fill the time with something good, and spoke loud and clear: “People, you need to be converted, otherwise it is not going to be well with you.” Nobody said another word. During great silence, the meat orders were wrapped, the bills were paid, they said a friendly goodbye, but it remained very quiet. The message came across very well: “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?”

‘Snipperhoutje’ (Dutch / English), Rev. J. Van der Poel

Agenda.

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Saturday, May 23, 9:30 AM                :  Meditation and story for young and old (English)

Sunday, May 24                                  :  Church services 9:30 AM and 7:00 PM (English)

Monday, May 25, 9:00 AM                 :  Week opening RCS for young and old (English)

Monday, May 25, 10:30 AM               :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Tuesday, May 26, 9:00 AM                 :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Update #19

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

“…I will come again and receive you unto Myself…” (John 14:3)

Christ has comforted His Church with His Father’s house, in which are many mansions. So, their heart should not be troubled, because He leaves them to serve them in His Father’s house. He goes there to prepare a place for His Church in His Father’s house. And from heaven He prepares a place for heaven in their heart. By heart renewing grace He makes room for Himself.

And in that way Christ also brings His people to His Father’s house. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. One day Christ will come back to judge the quick and the dead. When Christ ascended into heaven that was already said by the angel to the disciples who were ‘gazing up into heaven’.

This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. John writes in Revelation 1:7: Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him. Then He comes with His thousands of angels to bring His people home and to cast all the unconverted away into outer darkness.

Christ ascended into heaven, yet He does not leave His church comfortless. Before He ascended, He comforted them with the words: Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. In His Godhead, majesty, grace, and Spirit He would never leave them. And until His coming again, He will apply His work into the hearts of sinners, until the last one has been added.

Christ comes to His people by Word and Spirit, making room for Himself, preparing a place for Himself in their heart. We will not come to Him of ourselves, but He comes to us. He reproves of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He teaches a sinner who has tried everything, to cry unto God for mercy. In that way He comes to them to reveal Himself as the Way, the Life, and the Truth.

And when God’s people die, He comes to bring their soul over the Jordan of death into His glory. I will come again and receive you unto myself. Then they may be forever with their Saviour. Oh, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth. They may rest from their labours. The body will return to dust, but one day body and soul will be reunited to salvation.

Then Christ will come to take His people home so that they may always be with the Lord. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. They may enter in and raise a song of thankfulness and praise. There will be no devil, no sin, and no death anymore, but God will be all in all.

When Christ came the first time, He came as Servant, in humiliation. When He comes the second time, He comes as King, in glory. He will come as a thief in the night. But the footsteps of the coming Christ are heard very loudly May we also notice it? That we then may hasten before it is too late. Blessed people that will then be received into eternal glory! Will that be our portion?

Albert Van Dam, led and instructed from his youth (1).

“Albert van Dam, born June 19, 1949, with so called “club feet,” which were treated.” This is how his father wrote it down in an old notebook. But there were more things wrong with Albert then just clubfeet. He also had Down syndrome. Albert was a mongoloid, as they called it in those days. There was still something else the matter with Albert Van Dam. He was one who was known by God, who was led and guided by God from his youth. He lived his life in simplicity, being quiet, serious, and respectful. His life was attending church. If he could not go to church, he would read the Bible, sermons, or proper literature. This was his food and drink. He needed nothing else.

Father Van Dam made notes from day to day how matters stood with little Albert. Medically speaking it was a hard way. The notebook is full with words of care: plaster cast, band-aids, open wound, both little legs in a plaster cast, heels too short, fever and high temperature, fitted shoes, back for checkups, surgery.

Albert was born in Opheusden, a village along the Rhine River. His parental home was located on the Dalwagen-Way. When Albert was born one of the family members went to tell elder Johannes Verwoerd: “Verwoerd, a child is born by your daughter Anna, but the child is not right, it is an unblessed child”. Upon which Verwoerd said, after a moment of silence: “Then it is a blessed unblessed child”. Grandpa Verwoerd could believe that something good from the Lord lay in that child. There was no provisions for intellectually handicapped children in our own circles, so at the age of 8 years old he went to a special school in Tiel. The school in Tiel was not a Christian school. All day long the radio played. At lunch-time Albert asked for a moment of silence, so he could pray. That was alright, they could be quiet for a minute. But the radio kept playing, so Albert could not pray. And because he could not pray, he could not eat. At the end of the afternoon he went home with his sandwiches still wrapped up. He did not pray, so he did not eat.

In Tiel, Albert learned to read and write. Next, he copied in writing the whole children’s Bible at home – notebooks full. At this special school in Tiel, they also taught them how to sing and play worldly songs. So Albert decided that he had to try to play those songs on the organ at home. Hearing him play, father Van Dam asked him: “Albert, now what are you doing?” “Oh, excuse me, my mistake dad”, Albert would say then, after which he would continue playing Psalm 25.

Consistory update.

The Ontario government will speak this week with church representatives about the possibility and the restrictions to allow the churches to have more attendees during their services. May the Lord incline the hearts of our leaders to allow the churches to open again. We hope and pray they will see the importance of going up to God’s house. We try to keep you informed.

Agenda.

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Wednesday, May 20, 10:30 AM  :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Thursday, May 21, 7.30 PM        :  Ascension Day Church Service (English)

Friday, May 22, 10:30 AM           :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Wednesday, May 20, 9:00 AM    :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Thursday, May 21, 9:00 AM        :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Friday, May 22, 9:00 AM             :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Update #18

Friday, May 15, 2020

“I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2b)

Christ has comforted His grieved disciples regarding His Father’s house: Let not your heart be troubled. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. Now He also teaches His disciples that He serves them in His Father’s house. He will serve them by going the way of deep humiliation: the way from cross to crown, from sufferings to glory.

He will go and die for His people. But He will not stay in death. He will arise and go to heaven. The Father will receive Him into glory and give Him a name above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. There we see Christ’s work in heaven. I go to prepare a place for you. Christ prepares a place for His Church in heaven based on His finished work.

That is such a wonder, because we have closed the door of heaven by our deep fall. That door cannot be opened from our side anymore, but only from the other side. And He has opened the door for His people in the fulness of the time when Christ left that place of glory to fulfill the work which the Father has given Him to do. At His ascension, the doors of heaven are opened again.

The Father received His Son into glory. And at His right hand Christ prepares a place for His people as Intercessor. He pleads for them: Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory. Pointing to His pierced hands and side, He can say: Father, here is the proof that they are Mine! I have bought them with the price of My blood.

He prepares a place in heaven for His church. And He prepares a place in His church for heaven. He makes room for His people in heaven. To that end He makes room for heaven in His people. By word and Spirit, He reproves them of their sin and of God’s justice. Then quickens them, making them troubled and grieved because of their sin against a holy and righteous God.

There it will be the experience: heavy is my tribulation, sore my punishment has been; broken by Thy indignation, I am troubled by my sin. But thus, they may flee unto the throne of grace with their burden of transgression. Humbled low they make confession like the publican: “O God, be merciful to me, the sinner”. He teaches them to unconditionally fall at God’s side.

In that way He opens their eyes for Christ comforting them with His finished work. Let not your heart be troubled. O that wonder, when I am at the end, then He is at the beginning. When I am worked out, then it is time for the Lord to work. When I can see nothing in myself anymore, then I may see everything in Him which is serving to my salvation. That becomes personal.

Christ says: I go to prepare a place for you. Has the Lord already by uncovering grace made room in your heart for Christ? Nobody will receive a place in the Father’s house without Him first making place in the heart for Christ. For He said: No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. Blessed are they who may not deny that. Those He will also bring in the Father’s house.

As clay in the Potter’s hand (5) – out of the life of one of God’s children.

Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand. Our friend, for whom this had become true, had a short and grievous sickbed. And on his sickbed, he still had to cry out: is there for such a wretch still grace? But when we asked him on his deathbed what he rather wanted, the Lord or his wife, then he raised his skinny (emaciated) finger. He didn’t have strength to speak anymore. But the choice of his heart was renewed and became lively again. Thus, he died. And thus, we were given to bury him with these words of Jeremiah 18:6b: Behold, as the clay is in the hand of the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. And that became an unforgettable hour too, for it was an hour in which the Lord gave testimony of His own work in the life of this poor, and yet rich friend!

The question for each of us is whether we are already in the hand of the Potter such a vessel to His honor? Or are we still stranger of it? If we are still stranger of it, then we are in danger of what Isaiah 30:14 says: And He shall break it as the breaking of the potters vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare. The Lord is still able to make from marred vessels, vessels to His honor. Such blessed people may one day bewonder forever: but now, o LORD, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand (Isaiah 64:8).

Thy Word have I hid in my heart.

On the eastern side of Turkey is to be found a small province of Armenia. Sadly, this has been over the centuries influenced by the teachings of Islam and Roman Catholicism so that true believers have found the profession of their faith very costly. Many years ago, something happened in a village, which sadly is still happening in various parts of the Middle East; a whole village was being forcibly compelled to convert to Islam, under threat of death from armed men. Among the terrified villagers was an old woman of one hundred years old. Clutching her Bible to her heart, she refused to deny the Lord Jesus Christ. Angrily, one of the soldiers snatched her beloved treasure from her hands, to tear it to pieces. The old Christian quietly said, ‘you can tear the Bible out of my hands, but you can never tear it out of my heart!’ We should be thankful for the freedom we still have, to read the Bible without fear. But the day may come when we are confronted as this woman was, for her faith. May we seek and be given the same as she showed so openly. (From: Friendly Companion).

Church telephone.

Bell has done a lot of work to fix our church phone. Those who responded to Tuesday’s newsletter request, were unanimously positive about the sound quality. So, the kind request for those who use the call-in church phone, is to again use the regular number as much as possible. If at any time during the service the line doesn’t work or drops, the 914 number can be called.

Agenda.

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Saturday, May 16, 9:30 AM                :  Meditation and story for young and old (English)

Sunday, May 17                                  :  Church services 9:30 AM and 7:00 PM (English)

Monday, May 18, 10:30 AM               :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Tuesday, May 19, 9:00 AM                 :  Week opening RCS for young and old (English)

Update #17

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

“In My Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2a)

The disciples were troubled and grieved because Jesus told them that He would leave them. But they did not know where He would go. God’s people also know about a Godly sorrow in their life. They grieve because of their sin. They grieve because they cannot miss the Lord anymore. But Jesus comforts their soul. He said that He would go to “My father’s house”.

That house is heaven, the place of glory. It is the place where the angels shout for joy and God’s people may glorify God for all the wonders He has wrought. It is the new Jerusalem wherein dwelleth righteousness; that heavenly Canaan where God brings His people home. On earth God’s children dwell in tabernacles. On earth they do not feel at home anymore.

But they are strangers and pilgrims who have no continuing city on earth. Or do we still feel at home on earth? For God’s children home will be the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. That house is durable and stable, and no satan will ever be able to pluck them out of His hands. What a precious name is that: My Father’s house. Therefore, it is also His home.

In the fulness of time Christ had left the house of His Father to suffer and die for His people and thus to obtain a full salvation. That is the reason Jesus comforts His children with the house of His Father, because it will one day also become their eternal home. He is longing to go home to prepare in His Father’s house a place for all His children in the many mansions.

The word ‘mansion’ is literally ‘residence’. God’s children will one day receive that durable place in heaven as well. There will be no tears and sins anymore. One day we must leave the world. Because by our own fault we all are on the way to death, grave and eternity. But where will we go then? Do we know that already? Are we a stranger and pilgrim on the earth?

Often their old nature still feels so much at home on earth. And by moments they may long for the day that it becomes true: for me to live is Christ, but to die is gain, for then it becomes true: so shall we ever be with the Lord. Oh, when they are at home in the body, they are absent from the Lord. But once they will be absent from the body but present with the Lord forever.

There is still room with Him because Christ says: in My father’s house there are many mansions. Oh, we have such little thoughts of the Lord. We so often speak about ‘a few’ that be saved. And sure, in comparison with the many who go lost by their own fault, they are but a few that be saved. But that is not God’s fault, for in the house of His Father there are many mansions.

And God is not a man that He should lie. Christ says: if it were not so, I would have told you. That is the comfort for a grieved sinner. They must often confess I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof. But for such ones Christ makes room in His Father’s house. One day they may enter in and sing a song of thankfulness and praise. Will that also be our portion?

From the parsonage.

In a little more than a week, we may commemorate the ascension of Christ. He came before His Father with pierced hands. They are graven in both the palms of His hands. Is that not a comfort for a sighing people? Outwardly this Ascension Day will be so different from other years. Whereas other provinces are slowly lifting some of the measures and allowing churches to gather again with a limited number of people, that will most likely not be the case in Ontario for a while. But the truth is the same. May the risen Christ, Who ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, send His indispensable blessing from the heavenly sanctuary! That it truly may be experienced by the sighing people that He is the Intercessor for such ones who doe not even dare to count themselves among them. Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24).

As clay in the Potter’s hand (4) – out of the life of one of God’s children.

Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand. That was true in the life of our friend in the Netherlands, I wrote about last time. He did not speak so much about what went on in his heart. He had not learned that in his youth either. And he certainly did not speak about great things. He did not boast in what the Lord taught him. Until it was God’s time.

Then the Lord took him in Zwijndrecht under Rev. E. Venema as an unworthy and broken-hearted one out of his bench and brought him to His table with the words of Jeremiah 18:6b: behold, as the clay in the potter’s hands, so are ye in mine hand, o house of Israel. It was the only time he ever was given to sit at the Lord’s table. But it became for him an unforgettable hour. His mouth was opened, and he was given to speak of the great wonders of the Lord in his life.

And it resonated, it echoed in the heart of many of God’s children. The Lord gave testimony. Could he always hold on to it? O no, his old nature had so often the upper hand. And after partaking the Lord’s Supper, he was often attacked by the prince of darkness that he had done the wrong thing in attending, and had eaten and drunken unworthily, not discerning the Lord’s body. However, the Lord will take care of His own work. And He will come back to it to glorify Himself in it. And that became true as well in the life of our friend. (to be continued).

Church telephone.

Bell has been working diligently on fixing the church telephone. Please let us know whether there were significant improvements or that the sound still was not as it ought to be. That way we can give a proper feedback to Bell in the hope that the church phone troubles are past.

Agenda.

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Wednesday, May 13, 10:30 AM  :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Friday, May 15, 10:30 AM           :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Wednesday, May 13, 9:00 AM    :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Thursday, May 14, 9:00 AM        :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Friday, May 15, 9:00 AM             :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Update #16

Friday, May 8, 2020

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me (John 14:1)

These words are spoke in the upper room where Jesus was gathered with His disciples in the night in which He was betrayed. There, He held the Passover and instituted the Lord’s Supper. There He washed His disciples’ feet, teaching them that they should also exercise the same in life. And after this, there Jesus also held His farewell sermon as we read it in John 14-16.

The first thing He taught in that sermon was: Let not your heart be troubled. In these words it is obvious that the disciples were troubled. What was the reason of that? Jesus had told them that He would be delivered into the hands of enemies and be crucified. He warned them that one of them would betray Him and that all would leave their Master, and flee.

But the disciples were especially troubled because Jesus told them that He would leave them to ascend into heaven. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. These things gave sadness in their heart because the disciples were still spiritually so ignorant in these things.

Peter even asked: Lord, whither goest thou? Because he desired to follow his Master. But that was impossible. Therefore, Christ said: Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. Do we see that the disciples were troubled because of a missing life? And that is not a strange case in the life of God’s children. They all know that.

When the Lord pours His love in their heart in the hour of regeneration, a missing life is born. The breach between God and their soul is seen. How bitter is it for them to experience this: I miss God by my own fault, but I cannot miss Him anymore. A godly sorrow is born in their soul. They weep bitter tears because they have sinned against a good doing and holy God.

Their heart is troubled because they miss God and His communion. And yet, their heart longs to know Him. No, the Lord is not a land of outer darkness. He shows at moment that He knows about them and that there is a way to salvation outside of man, when all that is in me is taken away. Is then their case solved already? No, their troubles become more.

They see that there is a way outside of self, but how can they now receive that Savior for their heart?  To miss God is one thing. To miss Christ is a further leading. There they sigh: give me Jesus else I die. Oh, that I may know Him. What a wonder when He comes to speak to them: let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in Me. There He becomes so precious.

O, the heart can often be troubled after received grace, when they miss the lively communion with God. But the Lord will never leave nor forsake them. If we are strange of this, let then your heart be troubled indeed! Because of the danger of death. Missing and seeking people, let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God. That He may give you also faith in Christ.

As clay in the Potter’s hand (3) – out of the life of one of God’s children.

As clay in the hand of the Potter, that became also true in the life of our friend in the Netherlands. No, he did not say that of himself. He did not just assume or take that himself either. But the Lord Himself had worked and taught that in his life. He was esteemed by few and despised by many. From his very youth he had experienced reproach and afflictions in many areas of life. But whoever despised him, the Lord did not despise him. The Lord sanctified these difficult ways in his life to stop him and to bring him on the narrow way that leadeth to eternal life.

The Lord taught him that way to walk in the footsteps of Christ, of Whom we read that He was despised and not esteemed either but rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Our friend was not a man with high thoughts of himself. On the contrary, he had little thoughts of himself. He was nothing in himself. Quietly and in humility he lived his life, together with his wife. They had no children, but we may firmly believe, that the spiritual childhood was given under that roof. His life testified of the tender fear of God. It is true, the sad history of his life had formed him, also his character… He was not always the easiest to deal with.

But he was made honest before God and men and received a tender life. When he sometimes said too much against his neighbor, he first bowed his knees asking the Lord for forgiveness, and then he went on his way to his neighbor to ask the same. He desired to take the lowest place, if it could be the smallest vessel unto the honor of the Lord. That is godliness, when we are nothing and He is everything! That undeserved mercy is evident in the fruits. (to be continued).

From the parsonage.

It was impressive to hear the funeral service from Rev. B. van der Heiden. It is so true what his brother, Rev. A.B. van der Heiden spoke about: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). What a comfort is it if that may be true, also in our life. We can be so busy with the question how we will come through this life. But should we not all be busy with the question how we will one day leave this life? Because there is but one happy people. That is the people that may know and fear the Lord. Has that already become true in your life?

Church telephone.

Most families in the congregation are listening in on Sunday through the live streaming, which works very well, according to what we hear. The regular church telephone line still gives some trouble. Bell has acknowledged that the problem is on their end, and are working on fixing it. We have seen them work several days now to fix it. If the regular church telephone (519-863-3563) does not work, feel free to use the other line with number: 519-914-1851.

Agenda.

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Saturday, May 9, 9:30 AM                 :  Meditation and story for young and old (English)

Sunday, May 10                                  :  Church services 9:30 AM and 7:00 PM (English)

Monday, May 11, 9:00 AM                 :  Week opening RCS for young and old (English)

Monday, May 11, 10:30 AM               :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Tuesday, May 12, 9:00 AM                 :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Update #15

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light (3).

How sad is our natural state. It’s called the spiritual sleep of death. By nature, we are unaware of the danger of eternal death. But when the Lord calls a sinner powerfully and irresistibly, He wakes them up from that spiritual sleep of death and grants spiritual life unto their soul. The infallible proofs of life will then be revealed. The text says: and Christ shall give thee light.

We see clearly that the Lord speaks with two words. He demands ‘awake’, ‘arise’, and promises in that way the light of Christ. The Lord fulfills His promise when we are discovered at our sins and stripped from all possibility to keep the law. Then I must loose life in myself and confess that I deserve eternal death. In that way the promise of light in Christ becomes precious.

The eyes are opened for Christ as the Sun of righteousness. He gives light over His own work. He shows that His light shines upon us, not only then, but already from the beginning. Oh, what a precious image is that. For who can without light? Put a flower in a basement without light and it will die in a short time. But when you put a flower in the sunlight, it will bloom.

The same is true in spiritual life. When the Lord translates a sinner from the darkness into His marvelous light, then it becomes true: and Christ shall give thee light. Can that be different? For Christ is the Light of the Word. And whosoever follows Him, shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. He is that Light to enlighten the gentiles, as Isaiah spoke of Him.

To enlighten lost sinners, Christ experienced willingly and voluntarily the three hours of outer darkness. The Father hid His face from Him. How dark it became for Him. But thus, He obtained light and therefore now applies that light by His Word and Spirit. He enlightens their darkened understanding to show who God is, who they are in their sins, but also who Christ is.

My darkness and spiritual ignorance is seen and bewailed, but also taken away by Christ so that I may understand the Scriptures. How precious when He is revealed, like unto the Eunuch. No, the Sun of righteousness is not immediately at its highest point, as is not the case with the sun in natural life either. We need time and again uncovering light and comforting light.

But how different the frames in spiritual life can be, all God’s children learn something of that light of the Sun of righteousness, because He is no land of outer darkness to them. He reveals to His children the measure that is pleasing unto Him. At this side of the grave there is often darkness, due to our own fault. Here it needs to be heard time and again: ‘awake’, ‘arise’.

If we miss that light and if that doesn’t change, we will once open our eyes in outer darkness. Blessed are those who learn to know their darkness and Christ’s light. With stedfast step they walk, their countenances beaming with brightness of the light that from Thy face is streaming. For them it will never be dark again, but forever light in the Sun of righteousness Christ.

As clay in the Potter’s hand (2) – out of the life of one of God’s children.

A potter chose his clay carefully from the deepest layers of the earth. And to become fitting clay to be placed on the wheels, it first had to be trodden, to purify it from all what didn’t belong in the clay. Then the clay was mixed with the finest dust of shattered potsherds. Only after that, the clay was laid on the wheels to be formed into a proper vessel as the potter determined. Thus, the Lord does in the life of His children. As the great Potter, He has power over the clay to make from the same lump, either a vessel unto honor or unto dishonor, or as Paul says in Romans 9, to make the one a vessel of wrath and the other a vessel of mercy. In the depth of our lost state, He has from eternity looked up children of Adam in His electing love. In the way of uncovering grace they are trodden and purified. What a blessing to be laid on the wheels of God’s grace and to be formed as vessels to God’s honor. And to receive in this way, knowledge of the only Mediator Christ, Who was trodden as clay on Golgotha. Thus it will become true in their life: Afflictions on the good must fall, but God will bring them safe thro’ all; from harmful stroke He will defend, and sure and full deliv’rance send (Psalter 91:3). That became also true in the life of a friend in the Netherlands, whom I had to think about. (to be continued).

Members of Parliament

In this note we want to give you a friendly reminder to contact your member of parliament, as recommended by our Synodical Committee and consistory. The Consistory urges members to contact our Members of Parliament to encourage our leaders to acknowledge God in this pandemic and request the residents of Canada to make this a matter of prayer.  Encourage them to support that churches be allowed to meet in the near future based on building capacity (25% etc.) so social distancing can still be maintained. May the Lord grant wisdom to our leaders. Federal MP for Oxford County is Mr. Dave McKenzie (dave.mackenzie.c1a@parl.gc.ca) and provincial MPP is Mr. Ernie Hardeman (ernie.hardemanco@pc.ola.org)

Rev. B. van der Heiden

On Friday May 1, Rev. B. van der Heiden, passed away at the age of 74 years old. In his farewell-letter he wrote earlier this year that not servants, but only children of the Lord will be heirs of eternal life. When his strength decreased the Lord comforted him with that knowledge to be a child by sovereign grace. After an illness of 5 months the Lord translated him into the place where no one will say anymore ‘I am sick’. May the Lord remember the mourning family in His mercy. Those who want to listen along to the funeral service can do so on Thursday morning at 7.30 AM (our time) https://www.gergemalblasserdam.nl/kerkdienst-luisteren.

Agenda:

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Wednesday, May 6, 10:30 AM    :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Friday, May 8, 10:30 AM               :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Wednesday, May 6, 9:00 AM       :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Thursday, May 7, 9:00 AM            :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Friday, May 8, 9:00 AM                  :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Update #14

Friday, May 1, 2020

Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light (2).

Our natural state is compared with the sleep of death. We are unaware of the great danger we are in. We can dream of heaven and eternal life, but thus we deceive ourselves, because we are impotently dead and even worse: actively dead in sins and trespasses. Is there then no hope for salvation anymore? Not in ourselves, because there is not one that seeketh after the Lord.

But what is impossible with man, is possible with God. We read: wherefore He saith. It is not man that speaks, but the Lord! Salvation is a one-side work of God. He quickens a sinner by Word and Spirit. He calls them powerfully and irresistibly: Awake and arise from the dead. As Christ woke up Lazarus from natural death, thus He wakes up His people from spiritual death.

The Lord calls all of us outwardly, and sincerely to repentance. And according to this outward calling we will be judged. Outwardly we hear it time and again: Awake and arise. But when God’s Spirit applies that call, then He raises the sinner from spiritual death and wakes him up from spiritual sleep. And what happens then, is as a person who suddenly wakes up from sleep.

Like the prodigal son we become aware of the great danger we are in. Our eyes are opened for the deception and sinfulness of our life outside God. Then it is realized there is no solid ground for salvation in outward religion. We realize that we cannot miss a God for our heart and a Saviour for our soul anymore. What a godly sorrow is born when we realize that we lie dead in our sins.

But thus, the cry is born: grant life unto my soul. Bitter tears of lamentation are cried because of our guilt before a holy and good doing God. A bitter hatred against sin is born. When the Word of God prevailed in Ephesus, they even burnt their wicked books (Acts 19) as clear fruit. Thus, they prove that the heart is renewed, but they also learn to live in newness of life.

Others can see the fruit. Is that also the case in our life? Yet, backsliding had come into the congregation of Ephesus. Worldliness and religion without experiencing the fear of God had taken over. God’s people were not awake in prayer. There was no tenderness of life. With the foolish virgins, God’s people had fallen asleep. And when they sleep, it can seem they are dead.

It is not without reason that sleep is sometimes called the twin sister of death. Because such a person is alive, but not aware of the dangerous situation he is in. Yes, with the bride they may learn: I sleep but my heart waketh. What a privilege when the Lord calls them again to instruct them: Awake thou that sleepeth, and arise from the dead. We see that clearly in Peter’s life.

When he didn’t realize the danger he was in, he denied his Master. But the Lord woke him up when the cock crew. And the fruit was: he went out and wept bitterly. Do we realize that we need this spiritual awakening time and again? How blessed are they that have heard the voice of the Son of God: Awake and arise. They also learn to know the fruit (to be continued)

Liberation – freedom.

In this coming week it will be exactly 75 years ago that the Netherlands was liberated. Our old friends will still remember that. After five years of tyranny, Holland became free again. Freedom is a great privilege. But “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Only then, we are truly free. How indispensable therefore is the work of God’s Spirit.

It is so necessary, because worldwide freedom has been misused in enmity against God and His healthy commandments? We have left the Lord who gave us freedom again and used outward freedom to bind ourselves to living ourselves out of sin. Millions of people died due to WW2. But only in the first 3 months of this year, already 10.67 million people died due to abortion.

Tolerance towards those who have the truth has become increasingly more intolerant. What is good in the light of God’s Word is condemned, and what is evil in the sight of the Lord, is talked good and even legalized. Is it a wonder that the Lord has come unto us with His judgments? Is it a wonder that the hand of the Lord is stretched out still? Oh, that we may return unto the Lord with a true confession of guilt. His hands are also still stretched out, waiting to be merciful to lost sinners. May that be the portion of our (world) leaders, but also of each and every one of us. For without that heart renewing grace, we still live under the stretched out hand in God’s anger.

As clay in the Potter’s hand (1) – out of the life of one of God’s children.

We live in a time that many people die, not only from illness or due to age, but also from COVID-19. We are each moment in danger. It is true: we are but clay. How necessary is it that we may become as clay in the hand of the great Potter so that we may become a vessel unto honour (Rom. 9:21). The image of the potter is used in different places of God’s Word. Both the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah speak about it several times. We read in Jeremiah 18:6: O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter, saith the LORD? Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah received instruction in the house of the potter. He saw how the vessels were made of clay on the wheels. However, the one vessel was marred in the hand of the potter. Then he made from that same lump of clay another vessel, that was right in the eyes of the potter. In this picture lies so much instruction, not only for Israel, but also for all God’s people in all times and places. (to be continued)

Saturday morning meditation and story.

Until last week, the Saturday meditation and story for young and old took place at 2:00 PM. Now that spring is around the corner and some might start working in the garden, the request was to change this to the morning. So, please note that from now on, the story will be at 9:30 AM.

Agenda:

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Saturday, May 2, 9:30 AM                 :  Meditation and story for young and old (English)

Sunday, May  3                                   :  Church services 9:30 AM and 7:00 PM (English)

Monday, May 4, 9:00 AM                   :  Week opening RCS for young and old (English)

Monday, May 4, 10:30 AM                 :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Tuesday, May 5, 9:00 AM                   :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Update #13

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light (1).

Paul wrote these words in Ephesians 5:14 unto the backsliding congregation of Ephesus. They had left their first love and allowed the Nicolaitanes in the congregation who seduced them to idolatry and adultery. It turned out that many of them were only outward members of the congregation without heart renewing grace. But also among God’s true children in Ephesus, there were those who were influenced by these heretics that taught a false doctrine and life.

Therefore the Ephesians needed to be awakened from the spiritual sleep of death. Paul explains what we need to be woken up from. He speaks about those that sleep and those that are dead. It is about those that spiritually asleep and who are spiritually dead. We understand these are not two different types of people, but those two things always go together. By nature, we all sleep the sleep of spiritual death. And when we are sleeping, we are unaware of any danger.

O, in natural life, sleep can be a great blessing. For those that are sick, sleep is a medicine. But sleep can also be a great danger. When Jonah was sleeping in the ship, he did not even notice the danger of the storm they were in. And that is our image. We all have spiritually fallen asleep in our deep fall in Adam. Although the Lord comes with many callings in nature and in His Word, we do not realize that we are in great danger of opening our eyes in eternal death.

And when we sleep, we sometimes dream. But dreams are deceptive. Spiritually it is the same. Christ said to Laodicea: because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked. We can dream about mercy and grace, and that it will be okay with us based upon our baptism and confession, but how many wake up and open their eyes in outer darkness.

Thus by nature, we miss the right understanding of our life. What is the cause? Paul says: arise from the dead. So, the cause is our spiritual state of death. We have not only fallen asleep in our fall, but we have fallen into a threefold death. We are impotent dead, and even worse, we are actively dead in sins and trespasses. Our heart doesn’t beat in love for God. There is no spiritual breath in prayer. There is no knowledge of God, nor of self, nor of Christ.

Therefore we need to seek the Lord in the days of our youth, for that is the best time to seek Him. The older we become, the colder we will be, and the less sensitive for God’s Word. And who can escape the dismal grave with all its ruinous power? And are we then prepared to die? How sad if we one day will die, without God for our heart, or a Saviour for our soul

The Lord still calls us seriously and well-meaningly to repentance. He still works that the dead may hear the voice of the Son of God, so that dead sinners may receive spiritual life. Therefore, ask for heart renewing grace. May the Lord teach us to awake from the sleep and to arise from the dead, that Christ shall give us light. About that we will continue the next time.

An eye for each other.

Many in the congregation have already received a call from one of our office bearers, asking how things are going in daily life, whether you are able to listen along on Sunday, and if there are any particular things you want to share. Others will receive that call hopefully this week. So far, we received an overwhelmingly positive response, which is very humbling. The opportunity to listen along through live streaming and the newsletters which are sent out twice a week are much appreciated by the members. A number of comments were made regarding the regular Bell phone-in line (sometimes soft, staticky or drops). We are continuing to investigate this problem; otherwise, we will have to look into other reliable options for the future.

Thank you so much!

We also hear that there is concern shown for each other. People go to the care home, to wave before the windows and communicate with the elderly. We even hear about children making pictures for the elderly people, thinking about them in their social isolation. And they don’t forget the minister and his family. It’s humbling to notice love and unity in the congregation. It’s fitting to say a big ‘thank you’ for that. We encourage one another to continue reaching out to each other in the coming months. Most likely, it will be quite a while before we all can go back to church. Most importantly, are we found on our knees to beg the Lord that it would please Him to be merciful to us and bring us back in His house again? May he remember us all.

Masks (4)

So far, the Jansen family raised $2,000 CAD by selling masks, all for our RCS school. If anyone still wants masks, they can contact Mr. and Mrs. Harry Jansen directly by phone: 519-863-5728. We’d like to thank them for their hard work and generosity towards our school.

Trinitarian Bible Society.

The TBS recognizes that these may be challenging times. On their website, you can find colouring pictures. Young people ages 4 – 13 who submit two attractively coloured pages will be mailed one of their colouring books or puzzle books, as well as a bookmark. Those 10-years old and above may prefer to receive the article: The Bible and the Protestant Reformation. Pictures must be coloured with either pencil crayons or colouring felts. Please make sure that the child’s first and last name, birth date, and mailing address are printed on the reverse of the coloured picture. There are also quizzes, articles and other things available. This is the link to the website: https://www.tbsbibles.org/members/group_content_view.asp?group=228095&id=866027.

Agenda:

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Wednesday, April 29, 10:30 AM :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Friday, May 1, 10:30 AM               :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Wednesday, April 29, 9:00 AM    :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Thursday, April 30, 9:00 AM         :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Friday, May 1, 9:00 AM                  :  No school.

Update #12

Friday, April 24, 2020 at 5 PM

Beloved congregation,

When the Lord Jesus came to visit His disciples after His resurrection, we read so touchingly in Luke 24:36: Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them: Peace be unto you. In these few words we see so clearly a twofold lesson for each of us. The first lesson is that when the Lord works in our life and comes to visit His children, He stands in the midst.

Even our children know what that means! When the Lord Jesus stood in the midst of His disciples, then it means He did not stand in the uttermost corner of the room, nor somewhere at the side. On the contrary, He stood in the midst of them. He stood in the middle. Do we see the lesson? He receives the most important place. He receives the central place in our life.

What a wonder this unexpected meeting was for the disciples, since they were gathered behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. These children of God had in that moment more fear for men than fear of the Lord. Faith was not in exercise, their hope was gone, but on the bottom of their heart there was still the true love for the Lord and for Christ Whom they missed.

But when He appears in the life of such a “worked-out” sinner, He stands in the middle. He receives the most central place in their life and works the desire: that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death! Or like John the Baptist testified in John 3:30: He must increase, but I must decrease.

The second lesson Christ gave His disciples was that He spoke ‘peace be unto you’. And we know what ‘peace’ means. Peace is not just the absence of war, but peace is a full harmony between God and our soul. O beloved congregation, how is that possible, peace for an enemy? Peace for one who declared war on God in Paradise! Rebels do not deserve true peace.

We deserve that the Lord would cast us away in outer darkness for ever. But o eternal wonder, true peace is now possible through Christ, the Prince of Peace. Christ, Who obtained peace in the way that He was nailed on the cross. And He applies it by making room for Himself. Rebels who had dared to show proud contempt to God Most High, are converted unto Him.

God’s Spirit opens the blind eyes to show our enmity against God and our neighbor. He reproves rebels of sin, righteousness and judgment. And whatever they try to come from under that, it will not help them. No, the Lord strips them from everything outside of Christ to bring them as a helpless sinner before Him. In that way He will grant them that true peace with God.

May we experience it? Like the disciples didn’t count on Christ to come anymore, so a sinner becomes one who is standing outside. But He always comes in the way of our impossibility, in the way of the wonder. Then He takes the centre place in our heart, but then also in our life. When we miss Him, we miss everything. Blessed are they who cannot miss Him anymore. They will not miss Him either! Here in the beginning, but once for ever when the weary night is past.

Addition for our young people.

Last time we encouraged our young people to contact their catechism teacher if they have any questions or concerns. The Monday evening catechism group wasn’t mentioned, but of course they are very welcome to contact Elder R. Fallowfield (rfallowfield@nrcnorwich.ca)!

Denominational update.

Tuesday, Rev. C. Vogelaar informed us that his wife was brought to the hospital. For quite some time she was unresponsive. She is home again, but is very weak and confused. May the Lord remember them in His mercy, and may we remember them in prayer. Many have died from the complications of the coronavirus. As mentioned, this clearly is a judgment and a serious calling. At the same time we hear that the Lord uses this virus to deliver some of His children from themselves and sin, and to take them Home. Yet, they leave a big empty place behind, in their families and in the deonomination. May the Lord comfort the mourning families.

Advice from one of our own doctors regarding the COVID-19 virus (4)

  • Addendum to a previous point: Hand washing remains the best option, but if using hand sanitizers, try to obtain those which are alcohol-based, greater than 60% by volume.
  • Finally, there has been a much uncertainty surrounding this virus from the beginning. Conflicting information on key details (like: infection rates, death rates, transmission rates) has led to much disagreement about how best to deal with this situation, even amongst experts in the field. In the midst of this, the shrill voices at the fringes of the conversation can be hard to ignore. Some seek to spread panic and fear, while others claim this is all a politically motivated hoax (ignoring the tragedies of Italy, Spain, and New York). Time will tell which approaches were and are most appropriate. Ongoing research efforts should shed light on how best to move forward. In the meantime, reasonable and balanced personal responsibility remains the only logical strategy. Try to evaluate information sources critically, and be distrustful of extreme and sensationalist views. If you have any specific questions, your local pharmacy and/or Health Canada websites should be able to provide current and up-to-date information.

Masks (3)

A friendly reminder that washable and reusable masks can be obtained tomorrow (Saturday) morning from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM in the garage of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Jansen, 26 Dufferin Street in Norwich. Voluntary proceeds are 100% for the Rehoboth Christian School.

Agenda:

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Saturday, April 25, 2:00 PM        :  Meditation and story for young and old (English)

Sunday, April 26                          :  Church services 9:30 AM and 7:00 PM (English)

Monday, April 27, 9:00 AM         :  Week opening RCS for young and old (English)

Monday, April 27, 10:30 AM       :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Tuesday, April 28, 9:00 AM         :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Update #11

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 at 4 PM

Beloved congregation,

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:19).

The last time, we saw how comfortless all those are who live themselves out in sin and say: dead is dead; let us therefore eat, and drink and be merry, because tomorrow we die. But if that be true, then the preaching is vain, then their faith is vain; then we are still in our sins; then even the ones that died in the Lord are perished. Yea, then we would be most miserable.

Paul testified in 1 Corinthians 15:11-19 that that would be with right a comfortless message. But with God’s people it is different. They are not comfortless, but uncomforted. Because the Lord makes room for the only comfort in life and death. When He, based on Christ’s finished work, makes from spiritual dead alive, then we learn to know ourselves as the guilty sinner before God. Because we have sinned against all His commandments and kept none of them.

He reproves of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. We must learn that our works, our tears and even the fruits of grace cannot bring us to salvation. No, we must experience that we cannot keep our life in our own hand anymore but must learn to seek and find it outside of ourselves, in Christ. Do you understand that they are uncomforted with their guilt before God? They are uncomforted when the three-headed enemy attacks them with: dead is dead.


Comforted. However, for those people, the message of the resurrection of Christ is a message of consolation. Therefore, Paul in this text may say: “if…”  He wants to say: but that is not the case! There is a message of comfort for a guilty people in themselves! Paul had learned that experientially in his own life. The two men of Emmaus have learned that when Christ appeared unto them who were inconsolable, and He comforted them with His resurrection message.

The disciples have testified of that when the men of Emmaus came back to them: the Lord is risen indeed and hath appeared unto Simon. A dead Jesus does not give them comfort, but the living Surety, Who cried out on Golgotha ‘it is finished’ and Whom the Father raised from the dead. Therefore God’s people don’t only know about comfort in this life, until the grave, but they also receive by moments comfort beyond death and grave, into eternal life.

I will never forget what our late elder Heerschap said on his deathbed when he was attacked: go away devil, because you have lost the battle anyways. The Lord broke through and he was given to sing: I love the Lord, the Fount of life and grace. When death drew nigh, the Lord dried his tears, and our brother was given to wait for the time that the weary night was past.

There lies the comfort of Easter. That is the only comfort in life and death. McCheyne sang of it: “For while from life’s fever my God sets me free, Jehovah Tsidkenu, my death song shall be.” O dear friends, has there been made room for that wonder already in your life? Only then it will become Easter; here in the beginning, and once, who knows how soon, forever

Call from consistory members.

As you probably have noticed, the consistory is currently calling all families in the congregation, just to reach out in these difficult times, asking about how things are going in personal of family life, about listening along through church telephone or live stream, about children in school etc. Please don’t hesitate to speak to them if you have any suggestions or concerns. We hope that we also in these pastoral conversations may hear that God’s Word is blessed. The Lord is not bound to time or place. May the Lord remember each and every one of us in mercy.

Dear young people,

During these serious times, we are sure you may have questions and concerns. Therefore, feel free to send us any questions or comments you may have. Confession of Faith students may contact Rev. Hakvoort (revehakvoort@nrcnorwich.ca); the catechism students of Elder Van Brugge may contact him  (clerk@nrcnorwich.ca); the students of Elder E. Korevaar may contact him (ekorevaar@nrcnorwich.ca), and those at school may contact elder Den Dekker (kdendekker@nrcnorwich.ca). Do you see that all temporal things really do not have much (if any) value, but that we need the Lord for our portion? That only is a blessed people! We hope that you take time to search the scriptures that can make us wise unto salvation, and that you try to lay their needs before the Lord in prayer. May the Lord remember you in mercy.

Bethany Care Home

Recently the Norwich NRC has opened the possibility for donations by e-transfer by donation at church@nrcnorwich.ca or benevolent@nrcnorwich.ca. We understood that this works very well, and we’d like to thank everyone for their generosity. The Bethany Care Home of Norwich has now opened the same possibility. Anyone wishing to make an e-transfer for Bethany Care Home can do so at: etransfer@bchnorwich.ca. May the labours be richly blessed. The current time is not easy for our elderly friends in care homes, retirement homes and those alone at home. May the Lord remember them all in mercy and show them His nearness and dearness.

Agenda:

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Wednesday, April 22, 10:30 AM :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

Friday, April 24, 10:30 AM          :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Wednesday, April 22, 9:00 AM   :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Thursday, April 23, 9:00 AM       :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Friday, April 24, 9:00 AM            :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Early notice – Masks (2)

The masks that Mr. and Mrs. Harry Jansen offered for a voluntary donation for RCS, have sold very well! They are working on another batch of masks for which we want to thank them. They plan to have another sale (donation still for RCS) this Saturday from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM. Those who do not have one yet can still obtain one. We do not know how long the current situation will last. But all things are known unto the Lord. God Jehovah reigns, His are all domains.

Update #10

Friday, April 17, 2020 at 3 PM

Beloved congregation,

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Comfortless. That can rightly be testified about the world. Many comfort themselves with the expression: dead is dead. Thus they silence their conscience. But Rev. Hellenbroek clearly said about such ones: This is more a wish than believing. For their innate knowledge tells them: dead is not dead. No, with death it only starts. Then it will become never ending eternity.

In Jesus’ days the Sadducees refused to believe in the resurrection of the dead. Also in Corinth, Paul met them who said ‘that there is no resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:12). You might ask: but what was going on in the congregation of Corinth? Well, some heretics had come into the congregation. They spoke about a separation between body and soul.

Those false teachers taught the heresy: when you are born again, you have already experienced the resurrection of the dead. Therefore, when you are made from spiritually dead alive, then the body is not important anymore. You can do with your body whatever you want. The body must die and be buried anyways. Let us then eat, drink and be happy, for tomorrow we die.  And honestly, are there not still many people in our day and age who think the same way?

No, you do not only find them in the world. But you find them especially in the church, and then in particular under the truth. Those people make a practical separation between the body and the soul. They say: in the end it is all about the soul, because soul saved is all saved. But in the meantime they live themselves out in seizing the day and enjoying life, ‘because tomorrow we might die anyway”. Is that not a comfortless doctrine. Do we see that?

Uncomforted. Therefore Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 15:11-19 time and again about ‘if… then’. He writes: If there would really be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen either; then our preaching is vain; then our faith in the risen Christ is vain as well. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then God’s servants are found false witnesses of God. Because if the dead rise not, then Christ is not raised; then ye are yet in your sins; then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. And if that be true, then we are most miserable.

But beloved, would that heresy not be a comfortless message? Because if that be true, then God’s people would only have a comfort for in this life, but not for after this life. Then they would only have a comfort until the grave, but not for in the grave and past death and grave. Then God’s people would be ashamed in their hope and disappointed in their expectation.

And that would make with right comfortless, because then it would all be done when they die. Yet, God’s people are partakers of true comfort in life and death. The Lord makes room in their life for the only comfort in life and death. And the foundation of that comfort lies not in man, but in the work of God in the risen Christ, applied by His Spirit (to be continued).

From the congregation.

The Ontario Government has extended the Declaration of Emergency for another 28 days, until May 12. The necessary emergency measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect public health have been sustained for that same period. That means that for this period there will be no regular church services but we will have to continue having church with a few people. We hope and pray that after this period our government will be able to lift these measures somewhat. But the Lord knows best. That we all may be given to bow under His judgments.

Our Government Representatives:

The Synodical Committee for Correspondence with the Canadian Government sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau (attached). The Committee and Consistory urge  members of our deno-mination to contact our Member of Parliament with a similar message. Federal MP for Oxford County is Mr. Dave McKenzie (dave.mackenzie.c1a@parl.gc.ca), and provincial MPP is Mr. Ernie Hardeman (ernie.hardemanco@pc.ola.org). May the Lord grant wisdom to our leaders and may they be given to encourage us to return to the Lord and His Commandments.

Masks

Mr. and Mrs. Harry Jansen, 26 Dufferin St. in Norwich, have made 200 washable and reusable masks. Tomorrow (Saturday) they can be picked up in their garage from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM for a voluntarily donation which will be 100% for the RCS. You can help yourself. In order to guarantee the mandatory social distance, their garage will be open and a box for the donations will be placed in the garage. If others are in the garage at the moment you arrive, please wait till they are done. We want to wholeheartedly thank them for their generosity.

Advice from one of our own doctors regarding the COVID-19 virus (3)

Agenda:

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Saturday, April 18, 2:00 PM        :  Meditation and story for young and old (English)

Sunday, April 19                          :  Church services 9:30 AM and 7:00 PM (English)

Monday, April 20, 9:00 AM         :  Week opening RCS for young and old (English)

Monday, April 20, 10:30 AM       :  Story and singing for young and old (Dutch)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Tuesday, April 15, 9:00 AM         :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Netherlands Reformed Congregations of Canada

Synodical Committee for Correspondence with the Canadian Government

Dear Prime Minister,

On behalf of our church denomination, the Netherlands Reformed Congregations of Canada, we would like to reach out to you to acknowledge and thank you for your work as our country’s leader, and also to take a moment to encourage you in these serious times in which we are currently living.

It can be well agreed on that with the outbreak of Covid-19 in our country, most Canadians have never faced such a crisis as this. We read and hear of other countries that have found themselves in very tragic circumstances, with thousands of people becoming infected and many of them losing their lives. Truly, we feel that there is an Almighty God who knows and sees all things. There is a reason for why everything takes place in this world; nothing happens by chance.

Prime Minister, you have been given a very heavy task at this time. Leading our large country with all its occupants looking to you for direction must be quite overwhelming. We truly realize this and wish you much strength and courage in this difficult time.

As members of our congregations, we try to do what we can to help, realizing that outwardly there is only so much we can do. To that end, we try to help our communities by supporting local food banks, sending letters, and reaching out to lonely or elderly friends in the communities and neighbourhoods that we live in. There are also many of our members employed throughout the country in the way of medical staff, law enforcement and other front-line positions.

There is one thing that we all can do, and that is to pray. We pray for all those who have contracted this virus – that the Lord would have mercy on them and heal and comfort them. We pray for those who care for our sick during this great time of need. May God grant wisdom and strength for all our medical teams from day to day. We also pray for you, our Prime Minister. We pray that God will help and direct you in making the right decisions during this difficult time, along with your cabinet. May God be mindful of you as well as your family.

Prime Minister, we have one request today; that you would publicly address all Canadian citizens, calling us to join together for a dedicated day of prayer to the Almighty God who reigns over the whole world. Let us all join each other in prayer that God would have mercy on our country and on our loved ones. Let us pray for His healing hand on all those affected by the coronavirus pandemic and also that our country may be healed from it’s many social sins, and be turned back to God and His precious Word.

We read in God’s Word in 1 Samuel 2:30, “For them that honour me I will honour.” Our wish and prayer for you is that you may personally be given to experience that the Lord God is near to you.

Please receive our kind regards, yours sincerely,

Rev. P. Van Ruitenburg, Chilliwack

Elder R. Fallowfield, Norwich

Elder J. Fluit, Lethbridge

Elder N. Stam, Chilliwack

Update #9

Tuesday, April 14, 2020 at 6 PM

Beloved congregation,

The Lord is risen indeed and hath appeared unto Simon. What a precious testimony was that out of the mouth of the disciples who were sitting behind the closed doors for fear of the Jews. They themselves have received the precious fruit of the resurrection of Christ. Has the Lord also appeared unto us in the days of Good Friday and Easter by His Word and Spirit?

One of the touching examples of the exalted Christ appearing unto His Church as fruit of Easter is the apostle John. That happened when John was on the isle Patmos. He was banished for the Word of God and the testimony of Christ. But what men thought for evil, the Lord worked together for good. The exalted Christ appeared unto John on the day of the Lord.

John saw him, walking between the seven golden candlesticks. That is the picture of the Church militant. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. Because who can see God and live? But o wonder, he didn’t fall dead at His feet but as dead. Sure, he was worthy of it, and we all are worthy of that by nature. John experienced like Jacob: how dreadfull is this place.

But when that may be learned, we may fall with John as an unworthy sinner upon our knees in the dust of humiliation. In that way the Lord comforts such grieved ones. And He laid His right hand upon me. Such people are under the special protection and care of Him Who was dead but is alive for evermore. For the right hand is image of God’s honor and power.

He applies His finished work in the heart of all who cannot keep their life in their own hands anymore. He applies the blessed fruit of Easter. Saying unto me: Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore. It is clear, that those who fear, have no reason to fear. Because Christ is the first and the last.

He Who began His good work, will never leave nor forsake the works of His own hands. What a rich comfort for a mourning people. Should we then not all be busy with our never dying soul? Because one day we will all meet the Living Christ. When we do not learn to fall as dead before Him at this side of the grave, then we will fall dead at the other side of the grave.

But then it will be too late, for those will be sent into outer darkness. But all those who learn to bow before Him as a poor, needy sinner, will not be sent away empty. On the contrary, With grief to gladness turned, with sorrow changed to joy, thy praises I have learned, and songs my lips employ. So shall my tongue thro life adore, and praise Thy Name forevermore.

May the Lord teach us all that He is the Living Surety. Why do we then, by nature and after received grace, seek the Living among the dead? Why do we seek the things that are below and not the things which are above? Why do we set our affections on the things of time and sense instead on the things above? But what a gladness to see that Christ is risen indeed!

Congregational update.

Today we had to bring the body of Mrs. Joyce Wallet to the grave. It is quite something for her husband, that he – due to the government regulations for residents in care homes – could not even be present at the service or the internment. We wholeheartedly wish that he and his family may experience what they wrote on the death announcement and what we spoke about in church: Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10a). At the graveside we spoke about Psalm 46: 1: God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.

Advice from one of our own doctors regarding the COVID-19 virus (2)

  • Face coverings may reduce the risk of both contracting and/or spreading the virus when going out in public. The hassle and discomfort of taking this simple step is a small price to pay to potentially save lives. The widespread use of masks and coverings in countries such as South Korea is being credited by some with helping to blunt the spread of the coronavirus in these areas. Surgical masks or home-made face coverings are recommended at this point. N95 masks, while the most effective option, should ideally be used by health care workers on the front line. When applying, adjusting, or removing a mask, make sure hands are cleaned, or you may defeat the purpose entirely.
  • When going out, wear gloves or disinfect hands frequently. Hand sanitizers or soap appear to be effective in killing/removing viral contamination. Do not touch your face without first washing your hands. The virus may persist for days on many surfaces:
  • Paper/Tissue: <3hrs               
    • Wood/Cloth: <2days
    • Glass/Banknotes: <4days
    • Stainless Steel/Plastic: 4-7days
    • Mask Exterior: >7days

Agenda:

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Wednesday April 15, 10:30 AM  :  Story and organ playing for young and old (Dutch)

Wednesday April 15, 7:30 PM     :  Prayer service, Rev. E. Hakvoort (English)

Friday, April 17, 10:30 AM          :  Story and organ playing for young and old (Dutch)

Saturday, April 18, 2:00 PM        :  Meditation and story for young and old (English)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Wednesday, April 15, 9:00 AM   :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Thursday, April 16, 9:00 AM       :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Friday, April 17, 9:00 AM            :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English)

Finally.

Tomorrow evening we hope to have a Prayer Service with regards to the need of our days. The Lord speaks so loudly in His judgments. But His judgments start with the house of God. Yet, He does not do with us according to our sins and iniquities. We are still in the time of grace. O, that we personally may become the guilty one for all what happens. Then our government is not the guilty one, nor those that live themselves out in sin; but then I become the guilty one. In that way there is hope in the risen Saviour Who comforts the soul: Peace be unto you.

Update #8

Friday, April 10, 2020 at 3 PM

Beloved congregation,

Many people speak in our troublesome days about all those that suffer from COVID-19 and the ones that die from it. And this is certainly very sad. There are many suffering from the corona virus. There are people who die from it, and the numbers are staggering. We even don’t know how long it will take. But I fear that, with talking about the many people suffering and the ones who die from it, the sufferings and death of Christ came in the background.

But it is the suffering and death of Christ that must be in the foreground, because today is Good Friday. Did you ever consider this name: Good Friday? The Friday before the Passover, Christ willingly and voluntarily died and thus atoned all the sins of His people. Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit; and having said thus, He gave up the ghost. Dear friends, that is warranted to be called Good Friday, yea that is the Best Friday for God’s people.

The disciples had fled away in fear for the Jews. The women stood afar off beholding all things. There was no room yet in their life for His priestly office. They could only think this to be the worst Friday in their life. But we trusted that it had been He Which should have redeemed Israel. But after Christ arose from the dead and had appeared unto them, then He opened their eyes and enlightened their mind. Then it became necessary and precious for them.

What a lesson they received: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? There it became truly Easter for them. It went for them from Good Friday to Easter. That is how the Lord works in the life of His people to turn their grief into gladness and to teach them: Who has removed my sorrow and girded me with praise. And now, no longer silent, my heart Thy praise will sing; O Lord, my God, forever, My thanks to Thee I bring.

Dear friends, has that become true in our life? Do we know about the grief because of our sins? Did we ever stand outside as an unworthy one? It is necessary to learn what it is to be stripped from our works and tears: needy and sorrowful to Thee I cry; let Thy salvation set my soul on high; then I will sing and praise Thy holy Name, My thankful song Thy mercy shall proclaim. So the eyes will be opened for Christ and His finished work. Thus it becomes Easter.

May the Lord remember us all together in these days. Especially the old, sick, afficted, and the lonely ones. We think about those that work in hospitals, care facilities, paramedics, and all first responders who extra feel the burden of the time we live in. We also commend our mission team to your thoughts and prayer, as they are also experiencing these difficulties.

Congregational update

Early this morning, Mrs. Joyce Wallet passed away due to a heart attack, at the age of 85 years. May the Lord remember her husband, children, grand/ great grandchildren and all relatives in His mercy and sanctify this calling unto the heart. Funeral details will be in the Sunday bulletin.

To consider

In Italy a 93 year old man recovered from COVID-19. When he was released from hospital, the doctor came to him and told him what his stay in hospital, especially being on the respirator, did cost them. The old man started to cry when he heard the amount. The doctor wanted to comfort him and told him that he didn’t need to cry about that. Then the old man said: I don’t weep because of the price for being on the respirator. That money I could easily pay. But I cry because the Lord gave me already 93 years the breath in my lungs. You told me that one day on the respirator costs 2,500 Euro. How much do I then owe the Lord for all the days and years I have lived? When the old man dried his tears, the doctor started to cry. Who would not weep and bow before the Lord in the dust? Then there is expectation. Micha 6:3: O My people, what have I done unto thee? And wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against Me!

Advice from one of our own doctors regarding the COVID-19 virus (1)

  1. Physical distancing is critical. Minimize contact with others as much as possible, even if symptoms are absent. It remains unclear what percentage of cases are asymptomatic, and what percentage of these asymptomatic cases are infectious, but we know it is high. You may feel perfectly healthy and be actively infected and unknowingly spreading the virus to your friends and family members. In fact, you may be most infectious in the period prior to developing symptoms! Children are not immune, but are simply less likely to show symptoms, and can also contribute unknowingly to spread of disease.
  2. When going out into public spaces is necessary (eg. grocery store) visit stores during quiet hours, ideally early in the day before large numbers of people have already passed through. A recent Medical report (NEJM) suggests that the virus in microdroplets floating in the air, can be present for up to 3 hours, particularly if ventilation is poor.

Agenda

You can listen by via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Saturday, April 11, 2 PM          :  Mediation and English story for young and old

Sunday, April 12                       :  English services at 9.30 and 7 PM: Rev. E. Hakvoort

Monday, April 13, 10.30 AM    :  Dutch story and organ playing for young and old

Tuesday, April 14, 9 AM           :  Week opening with meditation: Rev. E. Hakvoort

Tuesday, April 14, 10.30 AM    :  Funeral service for Mrs. Joyce Wallet

From the deacons

A few deacons hope to meet on Tuesday, April 14 DV, from 7:30 to 9:00 PM in the consistory room. Please take this opportunity to contact them during this time at 519-863-2740 if you need any assistance or if you know of those who may need assistance at this difficult time.

Finally

As far as I know there are no COVID-19 cases (yet) in the congregation. We are not better or worthier. We all need to be spared. Rev. A. Verschuure was able to return home from hospital. The Lord be acknowledged for that. We wish one another a blessed Good Friday and Easter. That we may experience: The Lord is risen indeed and hath appeared unto Simon.

Update #7

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 6 PM

Beloved congregation,

What made the one murderer on the cross to differ from the other? They were both the same. They were the same in their deep fall in Adam, just like you and me. They were both the same in bearing the sad consequences of their sin. Both were caught in causing a rebellion and committing a murder. Both were sentenced to death. Both were hanging beside the only Mediator and Saviour, the one on His left side, and the other on His right side.

However, the Lord made a difference where there is no difference by nature. The one criminal continued mocking the Lord Jesus and he died that way. What an awakening has that been for that man when he opened his eyes in eternal pain. And then to consider that there was no way back; no second chance, but forever be in the place of eternal woe. But, O eternal wonder, then the other criminal. The Lord opened this man’s eyes with heart renewing grace.

You might ask: how can we know that the Lord worked in my life? We see that so clearly in this one murderer. When the Lord stopped him, he learned what all His people learn. He received knowledge of God: dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? His eyes were opened that he had to give an account of his deeds, not only for his earthly judge, but for a righteous God. And if the Lord should mark all his iniquities, he could not stand.

He also received knowledge of himself: And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds. When his eyes were opened, he learned to own his sin and to agree with God’s just judgment. He hung there because he deserved this punishment of his sin. Rightfully he would die and have to open his eyes in eternal condemnation. But o wonder, there the Lord opened his eyes to know Him, that hung in the middle and gave him knowledge of Christ.

But this man hath done nothing amiss. Initially he had mocked the Saviour as well.  But now the scales fell from his eyes. Christ suffered innocently. That made this man such an unworthy sinner before the Lord. He became a beggar before the throne of grace, asking for a crumb of grace: Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. Do we hear it? He didn’t ask to come in heaven. He was unworthy of that. He didn’t ask to receive it right now.

Oh, if the Lord might remember him, but once, when He would enter into His kingdom. That was all he begged for. But such beggars receive above their expectations. He asked for a crumb, he received the entire Bread! Verily, I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. Not later, but today… Not only will I remember thee, but I will bring thee where I will be as well.

My beloved friend, have we learned the same in our life? True knowledge of God, of self and of Christ (in this order!) is so indispensable will it be well for time and eternity. This man stood outside of everything, but the Lord gave Him Good Friday and Easter on the same day. Soon he would open his eyes in the place where His Name may be glorified for His work.

We live in troublesome days. But if we may at least hear a little of that sigh of a poor, needy and undone beggar at the throne of grace. What a blessing it would be if we would notice more a people begging for mercy. Soon it can be eternity for each of us. Today we can be healthy, tomorrow it can be different. And how shall it then be my beloved fellow traveller on the way to never-ending eternity? May we then meet a God Who was not strange in our life?

The father-in-law of Rev. H. Hofman (Kalamazoo) passed away yesterday (Monday, April 6) at the age of 89 year after a short sickbed. It initially seemed to be pneumonia, but it turned out to be the COVID-19 virus. Our brother wrote: only a week ago he was totally healthy, as far as we can know that. He was admitted to the hospital in Dordrecht (NL) last week with the typical symptoms. We are not able to attend the funeral, which makes it extra difficult.

May the Lord remember and strengthen them in this loss and remember the mourning family. That they may experience that it is Israel’s God Who strengthens them, especially when the distance is felt. We see that the Corona Virus doesn’t pass by parsonages and families of office bearers. We are all torn from the same cloth and not better or worthier than others. May we then remember one another in prayer, asking the Lord for mercy and strength.

Some among us are weak. Mr. Pete den Dekker is still in hospital with pneumonia, but his strength is increasing a little. Mrs. Joyce Wallet is in a very weak condition in Bethany Care Home after a heart attack. May we remember them in our prayers, but above all may the Lord remember them in mercy. The Psalmist sings about death drawing nigh, but knowing that this God is our salvation. Oh, how necessary that we all may learn that on good grounds.

We received a few questions regarding the online donations (e-transfer), and how that exactly works. This has to be setup in your online banking, so it only works if you have online banking. In case you want help with that, a family member or a deacon can assist with that.

– Money for all Church purposes    :    church@nrcnorwich.ca

– Money for the Benevolent Fund  :    benevolent@nrcnorwich.ca

– Money for all RCS purposes         :    etransfer@rcsnorwich.com

In case there are 2 collections on one Sunday for the church (i.e.: church and emeritus fund), please fill out the memo line on the e-transfer so that we know the purpose of the donation.

Agenda:

You can listen via the church telephone or live stream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

  • Wednesday, April 8, 10:30 AM: Dutch story and organ playing for young and old.
  • Friday, April 10, 10:30 AM: Dutch story and organ playing for young and old.
  • Wednesday, April 15, 7:30 PM: Prayer Service, Rev. E. Hakvoort (early announcement)

You can listen by dialing 866-794-5480 or on the RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

  • Wednesday, April 8, 9 AM: Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English).
  • Thursday, April 9, 9 AM: Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story (English).
  • Friday, April 10, 9 AM: No day opening (statutory holiday).

Update #6

Friday, April 3, 2020 at 6:30 PM

Beloved congregation,

This coming Sunday will be the last Passion Sunday. Once more we may commemorate the suf-ferings of the only Mediator and Savior, before we on Good Friday may consider His death. How incomprehensible is the Love of the Father, Who gave His only begotten Son to be crucified and to bear the sins of His people! How incomprehensible is the love of the Son, Who offered Himself to be nailed on the cross: If therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way.

And how indispensable it is that we may learn and know experientially, that we are included in that finished work of Christ. When He said it is finished, He obtained a full salvation. He is a complete Savior for an undone and helpless sinner in Himself. Have we seen ourselves that way in the light of God’s holiness and justice? Have we, like the disciples and the women who stood afar off, also learned what it is to be worked out with our works and our tears?

In that way the Lord shows the precious fruit of the suffering Savior. His blood is shed unto a complete atonement for all the sins of His Church. He strips from all works and tears as ground for salvation, and thus reveals Christ, so that He becomes altogether lovely. Dear friends, we can be full of the needs of our times (and they are many!), but have we already learned our personal need and misery, and been filled with the fruit of Christ’s mediatorial work?

Then difficult times for the body and for natural life can be a blessed time for the soul and spiritual life, even when death draws nigh. Last week a child of God died. At the end of his life, two children were allowed to visit him in hospital. He asked them: do you see my feet changing color? That means I may soon go Home. A few minutes later he asked them: do you see my hands changing color? Then he said: now I may go Home. And he was no more.

We all are confronted somehow with the consequences of the New Coronavirus. May the Lord also be mindful of our neighbours and our whole community. Quite a few people, however, are doubly lonely in these days. There are many (elderly) people (Bethany / Trillium / at home) who cannot receive (many) family visits. You might say: let the consistory give them a call! We try to do that too. But it would also be good that we as congregation would remember them not only in prayer, but also by giving them a phone call or sending them a card.

We think about our friends with special needs from the Shelter who would appreciate that too:

  • John Scherpenzeel, Parkview Meadows, Gardenview Long Term Care, 72 Townsend Centre Drive, Townsend, ON, N0A 1S0
  • Loretta van Beek, 20 Main St E., Box 257, Norwich, ON, N0J 1P0
  • Carolyn den Dekker, 27 Main St W, PO box 1103, Norwich, ON, N0J1P0
  • Jessica Boeder, 6 Oneida Drive, Brantford, ON, N3S 7X8
  • Barry van Ommeren, 524408 Curry Rd, RR1, Beachville, ON, N0J 1A0
  • Leona deBlieck, 473 Main St, RR1, Otterville, ON, N0J 1R0
  • Maria Versteeg, 344658 Quaker Rd, RR3, Norwich, On, N0J1P0

Rev. A. Verschuure, from Capelle and den IJssel is doing a bit better. He is no longer on the ICU but is now in the regular ward of the hospital. He is still very weak. His wife and children are now without fever. It could have been so different. The Lord has kept and spared, despite all rumours. It is again an urge to be extremely careful with what we hear through the grapevine. May the Lord remember them all in His mercy and grant them full recovery.

The bank has set up the online donations. Beside the regular method (cheque or put money in an envelope) you can now also use the e-transfer option, using the following email addresses:

– Money for all Church purposes    :    church@nrcnorwich.ca

– Money for the Benevolent Fund  :    benevolent@nrcnorwich.ca

– Money for all RCS purposes         :    etransfer@rcsnorwich.com

In case there are 2 collections on one Sunday for the church (i.e.: church and emeritus fund), please fill out the memo line on the e-transfer so that we know the purpose of the donation.

Agenda:

To be listened at by dialing church telephone or on the livestream: https://nrcnorwich.ca/live/

Saturday April 4, 2 PM             :  Meditation and story for young and old.

Sunday April 5                          :  Church service at 9.30 AM and 7 PM, Rev. Hakvoort

Monday April 6, 9 AM               :  Week opening / meditation by Rev. Hakvoort for young and old

Monday April 6, 10.30 AM       :  Dutch story and organ playing for young and old

Wednesday April 15, 7.30 PM  :  Prayer Service, Rev. E. Hakvoort (early announcement)

To be listened at by dialing 866-794-5480 or on RCS website: https://rcsnorwich.ca/recording/

Tuesday April 7, 9 AM              :  Day opening by RCS teacher with Bible story.

Update Bethany Care Home.

Mr. Brad Joosse, the director of care from the Bethany Care Home wants to bring the following to our attention:  The doctors of Oxford County have released a statement to the community which can be found at the Southwest Public Health website: https://www.swpublichealth.ca/sites/default/files/joint_statement_by_oxford_family_physicians_and_nps-2.pdf

The hospital website gives options for self screening: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/#q0 as well as how to arrange an appointment. Phone number: 1-855-905-6148. Website: https://www.wgh.on.ca/display/COM/Woodstock+Hospital+Opens+Assessment+Centre

Bethany staff who work in two locations, choose one, so there are no longer people who work in other facilities coming to work at Bethany. Volunteers have been reduced again to minimize the amount of outside traffic coming in. Mail is no longer being delivered to the residents since contaminated mail can be a vector of transmission of this deadly coronavirus.

We continue to encourage visits through the windows at the resident suites. Family can call the residents on the phone in their room and have a face to face conversation and still maintain the mandatory social distance. There are many care homes in Ontario, that have residents which are infected with COVID-19 and the results are catastrophic.  May we pray that the measures may be blessed by the Lord and our residents, staff and volunteers may be spared.

Update #5

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at 6 PM

Beloved congregation,

This past Sunday, we could only be with five people in church. On Saturday evening, the Ontario government issued an emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act ‘to prohibit organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people, effective immediately’. That meant we could no longer come with fifty people to God’s house. Congregation, it was an empty church which we saw before us past Sunday.

However, as we mentioned, the church building can be empty, but when there are two or three gathered in His Name, He wants to be in their midst. That is applicable for God’s house but also for our homes where we as congregation were given to listen along. And, when He is present, then we can have an empty church building. Yet, then it is also full. And the Lord has shown to be the faithful God, Who does not leave nor forsake the works of His own hand.

As you know, a new sound system has been installed in church last week. Saturday during the children’s program we heard from your feedback that the sound was a bit quiet. That was adjusted and especially on Sunday during the evening service it seemed a lot better on the live stream. We encourage you to send in feedback so that the necessary changes can be made before Sunday. We are glad to hear that the new sound system works well.

Rev. A. Verschuure, from Capelle and den IJssel is back in the hospital. Initially it went better with him and he could go home. The night after, however, he was brought back to the hospital. Currently, he is in the ICU of the Erasmus University Hospital in Rotterdam. He receives oxygen but is no longer intubated. This is not easy for him, nor for his family. May the Lord remember him and his loved ones in these trying ways and be near and dear unto them.

There are no updates yet on the possibility to send payments by e-transfer (online donations). Everything is backed up, also in the banks. We have to wait till the bank tells us that everything is set up. So, please bear with us, we will keep the congregation informed. In the meantime, we are thankful to see the warm support that is shown and given, also in the form of regular donations. May the Lord remember the congregation and each of us individually.

The number of affected people by the coronavirus in North America and Europe is still increa-sing, but in China that has gone down already. We think of Nettie who lives and works there. She has been in quarantine for thirty days, but she is now allowed out of her apartment and off campus. She writes that online teaching keeps her busier than regular teaching. We know Who reigns, and this gives calmness and peace, she writes. Let us also remember her.

On the second page of this pastoral newsletter you can find an update which is provided by Mr. Brad Joosse, director of our Bethany Care Home. The Lord willing, at the end of the week we hope to again send you a letter. May the Lord remember our elderly, sick, afflicted, and lonely ones, but also the first responders, and those that work in the health care system.

Update Bethany Care Home.

Bethany Care Home has had many changes in the past weeks that we have shared with our residents and their families. There have been many questions posed to the Bethany Staff and Care Home Committee in relation to what we are doing at Bethany to support a safe environment and keep this extremely contagious and deadly virus out.

  • The staff and volunteers have also had their roles or duties changed or suspended to minimize flow of people in and out of our facility. Some of these measures have been mandated by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (“RHRA”) and others we have made in the best interest of the residents of Bethany.
  • An Emergency Response Committee was set up by the Bethany Care Home Committee two weeks ago to provide the Director of Care with the support he needs. This committee has been meeting every other day, to discuss developments, actions, measures etc. and to provide guidance as needed. This Committee is made up of two members from the Bethany Care Home Committee, the Director of Care and 2 of the RPN staff at Bethany.

What has the Emergency Response Committee done so far:

  1. Provide support to the Director in handling this dynamic situation. As a result of our discussion, a very strong message went out to staff and volunteers to MANDATE social distancing, to self monitor and do NOT come in to work when a person has flu-like symptoms. The RPNs are stressing to the other staff the importance of social distancing and that they cannot go visit or have visitors, etc. This all to protect our residents.
  2. Staff members that currently work at Bethany and another care facility, have been asked to decide who they will work for in the event a choice has to be made between the two facilities. The hospitals nor RHRA have decided yet to disallow employees to work at more than one care facility. When that recommendation comes through, we will immediately enact the contingencies that are in place.
  3. The training of 2 new employees has been accelerated so they are ready to help in case staff are off due to illness, quarantine, or other reasons. We encourage those interested in a position for RPN, PSW, or kitchen staff to contact the Director to arrange an interview.
  4. The Emergency Committee has also contacted people within the community who are qualified to work in the Care Home and have compiled a list of staff that can be called up if needed. The work has to continue. We cannot shut Bethany down.
  5. All staff/volunteers have received very strict instructions on sanitation and self monitoring.
  6. The Director has been working from Home where reasonably possible and has identified a second in command if needed.
  7. Bethany has ample supply at this time and has been informed by their suppliers that we should be able to maintain adequate levels of stock at this time.

May we all pray that the Lord will spare the elderly in this pandemic and provide the staff and volunteers health and ability to care for the residents at Bethany.

Please let me know if there are any other resources or assistance I can provide. 

Update #4

Friday, March 27, 2020 at 6 PM

Beloved congregation,

Again, we stand before the Sunday. We still live in the time of Passion. That may not be forgotten or come in the background in all the needs. In these weeks, we commemorate the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus Chris for His people. The form for the administration of the Lord’s Supper says so beautifully that He was innocently condemned to death, that we might be acquitted at the judgment-seat of God, that He might fix thereon the handwriting of our sins.

This past Sunday, we would have administered the Lord’s Supper in Norwich and this coming Sunday DV, it would have been administered in Courtland. The Lord is also sending us a message that the Lord’s Supper cannot be administered among us. However, it is a comfort to know that the Lord is not dependent on the sacraments. Without a doubt, He still wants to strengthen the weak and feeble faith of His children by the administration of the sacraments.

But the Lord is not dependent on the sacraments to strengthen the faith of His children. The common way He does that is by His precious Word. Used as a means in the hand of His Spirit, He converts sinners and edifies His people by it. What a wonder that we still may have God’s Word among us. And although the number of people in church is currently limited, we are still allowed and privileged to hear God’s Word, also by live streaming or church telephone.

May the Lord remember us in mercy when we may hear about the sufferings of Christ and in the evening what our Heidelberg Catechism has to say unto us, based on God’s Word, namely that Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father. It’s true, God, Jehovah reigns, His are all domains! Nothing happens by chance, but all things come by His Fatherly hand. Do we believe that? May that by moments also be a comfort for us to experience in our life?

This past week a new sound system has been installed in the Norwich church. Tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, DV, we hope to again have a program in the afternoon for young and old at 2:00 PM. We received many positive responses about that in the past week and have decided to proceed with that. In the coming weeks, the school also hopes to open every morning with a day opening and a Bible story. More details will be given in the school newsletter.

The consistory received a number of questions regarding the collections. It has been asked if we would open the possibility to send payments by online donations (e-transfers). The deacons are actively working on it with the bank. We hope it will all be set up and ready by next week, but for now, you can still put money or a cheque in an envelope and bring it to an office bearer. As soon as the e-transfer is set up by the bank, we will inform you in the next newsletter.

Congregation, with these requests, we may see the continuing support of the congregation and the desire to share the burden together. May the Lord bind us together in love. We are blessed with a strong supporting community, which is humbling to see. Behold, how pleasant and how good that we, one Lord confessing, together dwell in brotherhood, our unity expressing.

From this place, we want to thank all those who work in the frontline, especially those who work in the health care system. Those who work in the hospital, in Bethany Care Home, Trillium Retirement Home, our paramedics, nurses, PSW’s, volunteers and all others who are involved in the health care. We realize that they have a beautiful job in caring for others. But especially in these days, there are also many dangers involved. We wish them all the Lord’s indispensable help and blessing in caring in love. That your and our eyes may be unto the Lord.

We read in Psalm 69:13: But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Thy mercy hear me, in the truth of Thy salvation. We wholeheartedly wish that this prayer be found in their heart. May we also remember in prayer our other first responders, firefighters and police officers, with all their needs. That they may in these stressful times be strengthened by the Lord and His Word. Who knows if they may be used for this one or that one to testify that the Lord is in control of everything, although many don’t seem to acknowledge that, but continue fighting the COVID-19 virus in their own strength.

In the Netherlands there are quite a few people affected by the coronavirus. It does not pass by the churches either. Even one of our ministers, Rev. A. Verschuure from Capelle aan den IJssel, was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and COVID-19. The Lord has spared his life and currently he does not need oxygen anymore. May the Lord remember him and his family, of whom some also are affected by COVID-19. There have also been other members and office bearers who have been affected and some have even passed away from this pandemic.

We also want to mention our mission team in Bolivia. This week I spoke with Rev. E. Maljaars as well as with Steve van Brugge in Tarija. They mentioned that Bolivia is in lockdown too. Going by car is not allowed, only in case of an emergency. Disobeying results in fines or arrest. In countries like Bolivia, they don’t have the infrastructure to even remotely deal with an illness like COVID-19. For example: they only have 12 respirators in Santa Cruz, a city of 3 million people. We can’t imagine what that means. May the Lord remember and spare our mission team.

On Monday DV, the students of our RCS school will be put to work again. ‘School starts again’ although it will be in the way of online education. Many people use these digital means for living sin out. We are now forced to utilize the means for the congregation to listen along during church services, and for the students to receive education. We hope that these means may be blessed. Dear children and students, may we ask you all to also in this way use the gifts and talents which the Lord has given you? Children try to do your best with your homework!

In the last newsletter, we provided some symptoms which could indicate if one is affected with COVID-19. We mentioned that the Woodstock hospital will have an assessment trailer. This trailer is now open 7 days a week from 10 AM till 8 PM. We sincerely hope that nobody from among us will need it, but if you need it, don’t hesitate to have yourself checked out. Finally, may we continue to care for each other in many ways. There are many ones doubly lonely now, especially the elderly and sick ones who can’t have visitors right now. A phone call, letter or postcard can do so much good in these times and is very much appreciated.

Update #3

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 7 PM

Beloved congregation,

Although it was all so different, this past Sunday we were again given to be under God’s precious Word. I hope you all have listened with your family and felt the unity with the congregation. It hit me hard to see all the empty benches. So many souls that could not come up to God’s house. It was however, a comfort to know that the Lord is not bound to time or place.

We considered in the morning service ‘God’s hand stretched out by reason of sin’ (1 Chron. 21:16), and saw a serious sin and a heavy punishment. In the evening service we heard ‘God’s hand taken back by reason of mercy’ (1 Chron. 21:27), and saw that this happens in the way of a humble confession of our guilt, and in the way of a precious sacrifice for our guilt.

How precious is the way of escape. The burnt offerings and peace offerings which David brought pointed to the perfect sacrifice which Christ brought. He is that perfect Lamb Who with one sacrifice ‘has perfected for ever them that are sanctified’ (Hebrews 10:14). Thus He obtained a ‘peace with God which passeth all understanding’. David has experienced that.

We wholeheartedly wish and pray that the Lord will bring us in that place before Him. That we do not bite in the stick like a dog, but may bow under God. Then there may also be honey on the rod. It’s still bitter what all happens, but then it may at moments also be bitter-sweet. Congregation, know that we will also try to lay one another before the throne of grace.

We expect that the measures will not be over soon. In Holland they will now last till June 1 DV. It’s likely that this will be the same here. The impact of the coronavirus and all that is involved, is huge. Business, families and individuals are hit hard. Although we cannot visit each other in these times, a call, or a message to a relative or friend can still do so much good.

Currently, there are NO coronavirus cases in the congregation. There are rumors that some have the virus, but so far all those rumors were not true. Please, do not spread rumors. Yet, we urge one another to keep ALL the measures the government has taken, such as social distancing, keep a safe distance from each other, wash hands with water and soap frequently.

Don’t think and act like it will not hurt us. That would be foolish. Some have traveled (abroad). We MUST self-quarantine for 14 days after we return. By not doing that, will put ourselves and others in danger and that is sin against the sixth commandment. Let us not reason superficially: it likely won’t hurt me and if it will hurt me; it will only be fatal in 3% of the cases.

I read a simple example: if you would be given 100 little candies and you would be told that 3% of them are deadly, would you then still eat three of them and think that you won’t eat one of the three deadly ones? Let us then all be wise. But above all, may we be given to think about our poor soul, travelling to a never ending eternity. May the Lord remember us all, personally, as families, as congregation, denomination but also our entire nation in His mercy.

There are many questions in our community about the coronavirus (COVID-19), such as: what are the symptoms, and when do we need to be checked out in the hospital? And in which cases do we call 911 for an ambulance? Mr. Brad Joosse who works in the Woodstock Hospital and is the director of our Bethany Care Home, and Mr. Garrett Otten, who is a paramedic, gave us the following recommendations to be placed in this newsletter, and we thank them for it.

Health recommendations

  • Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue. Dispose of tissue immediately and wash your hands as recommended
  • Keep surfaces clean and disinfected
  • Stay home when you are sick or have a cold
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Practice social distancing
  • It’s very important to keep our elderly away from the rest of our community
  • All these things will reduce the spread of the coronavirus

Symptoms of COVID-19

Children and young adults may not experience any symptoms. Many of the patients who do have the coronavirus, experience mild symptoms of the COVID-19, which are:

  • A dry cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

If you notice these symptoms, you should immediately self-isolate along with everyone in the house. You also need to stay home, and not go anywhere. You need to arrange for someone to bring the necessary items like groceries. For non-urgent inquiries or concerns about COVID-19 symptoms, please contact your family doctor or Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.

Emergency warnings of COVID-19

Severe symptoms (emergency warnings) of the COVID-19 are:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

When those severe symptoms are present, you need to be checked out by the hospital. Woodstock Hospital has a trailer on site for COVID assessments that will not open until permits / approvals are acquired. It will inform you when this assessment trailer is open. If you think that you need to go to the hospital and are showing advanced symptoms of the coronavirus, like described above, please do not hesitate to call 911. They are prepared for these situations and have many new procedures in place to protect their paramedics and patients. We hope these recommendations may help us understand the coronavirus and its symptoms. May we all be kept and spared, but above all be given to seek the Lord while He is to be found.

Please monitor this page for further updates.

Update #2

Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 6 PM

Beloved congregation,

As promised, we hereby provide you with another update after our consistory meeting last night. The consistory wants to show their love and empathy for all businesses, farms, families and individuals who are and will be affected by the consequences of the coronavirus. In case there is anything we can do for you, feel free to contact any consistory member.

The consistory wants to give some general recommendations which are in full agreement with the steps our government has taken. Let each of us take these steps very seriously and implement the protocols the government has prescribed in order to try our utmost to prevent that the coronavirus will also be spread widely among our ‘small Dutch community’.

This first recommendation is that all those who have been travelling abroad must self-quarantine for 14 days after they return. You may not go to work or any public place. We request all employers and employees to strictly abide by this advice given by medical professionals. In this period, you can contact the consistory if you need any help.

It is a matter of course that we wash our hands frequently with soap and water. Although many people have tried to gather as much hand sanitizer as possible, we are ensured that washing our hands thoroughly with soap and water has the same effect as hand sanitizer. We also should make sure we keep a safe distance from each other and not shake hands. The consistory will not do that either with the exception of the elder and the minister before the pulpit.

Let us strictly limit visiting the elderly and others who are more vulnerable to diseases. The world around us is watching us with ‘binoculars’ to see if our Dutch community is acting according to the government regulations. Let us all watch that the Name of the Lord will not be blasphemed for our sake, but that we give an example. We have already been told that the community around us really appreciated us taking the government regulations seriously.

Church life

The consistory has taken the following decisions effective until at least the end of March:

  • House visitations and all other church activities are postponed.
  • The church library is closed.
  • Bethany Care Home closings are cancelled.
  • Funerals and weddings can continue. If required, they will be private meetings with the direct family only.
  • The Lord’s Supper which was planned for this month will not be held.
  • Baptism will not be administered as long as the government regulations are in force.
  • The meeting of the consistory with our confession students for this Saturday evening (March 21) is postponed until a later date.
  • The confession service which was planned for Sunday April 5 will be postponed.
  • There will be no collections held during the church services. Those who feel inclined to give to the church, benevolent fund and other church-related purposes may write a cheque or put the money in an envelope and bring that to any consistory member. This is appreciated since our expenses continue and will likely increase in the time to come when many of us will feel the consequences of the coronavirus.

For all these decisions is applicable that the consistory will closely watch the developments and act accordingly from month to month within the guidelines and regulations of our government.

Church services

At present, we can not come together with more than 50 people. Modified church services will begin this Sunday at the usual times of 9:30 AM and 7 PM. Services will only be held in the Norwich church. The Courtland church is closed. In each service the minister hopes to preach, and part of the consistory will be present with their families. The congregation can follow the services live (see below). Additionally, the consistory has removed the password requirement from the website so that all sermons are freely accessible. The consistory trusts that we will keep the Sunday like always, and that we with our families will all listen to the church services like we also do when we are in church.

Listening to church services

The consistory has opened three ways for the congregation to listen to the church services:

  1. Like many other congregations in the Netherlands and North America, the consistory has for these circumstances opened live streaming through our website: www.nrcnorwich.ca/live.
  2. The regular phone-in line (200 listeners) can be used. The number is: 519-863-3563.
  3. If you only have a landline and the regular church phone lines are full or drop, you can call 519-914-1851. This provides an extra 100 lines. Since this number is quite costly to use, the kind request is to only use it when the above two are no option for you.

Story for the children

The live streaming service is ready to use. To ensure it works smoothly, one of our elementary teachers will tell a story for the children on Saturday afternoon at 2 PM. This will be available through the live stream and the church telephone. This allows us to adjust settings before Sunday, if necessary. As far as we are aware, the sound is crisp and clear. Please let us know if your experience is different.

May the Lord remember us as congregation, denomination and nation in these trying times. For Sunday we wish you all His indispensable blessing when you may listen along. Let us remember each other in prayer. May the Lord of all grace be near and dear unto us and show, when we may all listen along, that He knows about our circumstances and congregation.

Update #1

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Beloved congregation,

For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who shall disannul it? And His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? With these words the prophet Isaiah spoke about the judgments of the Lord that came upon nations that had turned away from the Lord and His commandments. Should we not all bow under these judgments and lay the hand upon the mouth?

The Lord speaks so loudly to us. From Sunday to Sunday we may have come up under His Word to hear what is serving to our peace. We took it so often for granted or come out of custom. Now He has spoken so loudly in His actions. We often think that we can manage all things and stay on top of all things, but the Lord sends a virus and everything comes to a stop.

The world economy crashed. Schools are closed. Borders are closes. Everything changed rapidly in a few days and weeks. Who still dares to say that there is no God and that He doesn’t rule everything in His providence? That we all may be given to bow before the Lord and to come under Him in His judgements, owning the guilt and agreeing with His just judgments.

Only then there will be hope for lost sinners. The President of the USA had announced a National Day of Prayer for past Sunday. May the Prime Minister of Canada together with the government also receive wisdom in these trying days. Difficult decisions must be made. Do not think they make them lightly, but they seek the wellbeing for our entire nation.

Let us lay our government before the throne of grace that it may nationwide be seen that the judgments of the Lord are upon the world, so that we all together as guilty ones may flee unto the throne of grace, like the publican: O God, be merciful to me the sinner. For a broken heart and a contrite spirit are not despised by the Lord. That way He grants His mercy.

We all might have our own thoughts about what is all going on. But we urge one another to Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake (Romans 13:1, 4 and 5).

Since the government has ruled that the maximum number of people in gatherings is now 50, we cannot continue to come together with smaller groups on Sunday as initially purposed. Tonight the consistory hopes to meet and come up with a solution. We are working on a system that the entire congregation will be able to listen in to church services on Sunday.

Congregation, please pray also for your consistory that we may receive wisdom to make the right decisions in these trying times. Many things have to be decided. May we all be like Aarons and Hurs, standing round about each other in prayer. We thank all members who came up with suggestions to make things work. It’s truly much appreciated. Tomorrow DV, we hope to come with a new update and with some specific decisions we have taken. In the meantime, we will also provide you with updates through the church website: www.nrcnorwich.ca