The first Free Presbyterian service in Canada was held forty-five years ago, on July 4, 1976. The people met in an old rented church building on Cosburn Avenue in East York. (See photo on the historical chart in the church hall).
That first meeting was held amid great opposition. The ecumenical church leaders leaned heavily on the local politicians to prevent the FPC from getting a foothold in Canada.
Hence, there was quite a bit of trepidation when we arrived for that first service. How many would be there? Would there be a public protest against us? We need not have worried, for the Lord was there to help.
The church, which seated about 80, was well filled, the congregation being made up of about 20 original members and those who came because of the media furore. There was also a fair number of press people hoping to get something to add to their biased reports. They were hoping to hear some sort of diatribe against the pope or ecumenical movement. But they were to be disappointed.
In those days, the Toronto Star carried three full pages of church ads. (Now there are none). I announced I was going to speak on “Our Message for Metro.” It was not what the media hoped, but a message on “Behold the Lamb of God” [John 1:29], which text is still visible on the church pulpit wall. It was our message forty-five years ago, and it is still the same message today. The pulpit text was made by our first elder, Frank Hinbest.
SEE THAT YE FALL NOT OUT BY THE WAY
For Joseph’s brothers, it must have been a traumatic time of mixed feelings. [Genesis 45:24]. Joseph had been most kind and forgiving, but the old wound had been opened, and their remorse would fuel the fires of blame. Joseph realized this and made a special request that they not dwell on the past and try and to place blame on each other. The fact was that they had all been forgiven. If only we could enjoy this glorious fact more in our own experience. Too often, we waste our time and energies blaming others or ourselves when God has forgiven us and them. Don’t look back; let’s press forward on our journey home in the strength of Christian harmony. [Brian Russell].
WATCH THE CONDUCTOR!
A few years ago, my wife and I visited Washington D.C., the seat of the United States government. We went to the Capitol and, standing before the impressive edifice; we took in the beautiful view looking towards the White House and the Washington Memorial.
The quiet was disturbed when about sixty young people trooped up to the famous building. They were carrying what appeared to be musical instrument cases. One by one, they opened the cases, assembled their instruments and began to tune them.
Over here, a girl was practicing scales on a xylophone, over there a boy blowing a trumpet. A set of drums was being put through its paces, and a girl was walking back and forward playing scales on her flute.
With all sixty instruments going and each warming up in its own way, it was like bedlam. When all sixty of them played different scales, at different speeds and volume, a most inharmonious, cacophonous result was produced. It was awful to listen to.
Then, a man appeared in the crowd – the conductor. Suddenly there was silence. All eyes were upon him as he raised his baton. On the downbeat, the whole orchestra began to play in beautiful harmony. What a difference it made when they followed the conductor’s lead. Harmony ensued.
I thought of the world and each individual doing his own thing, and “that which is right in his own eyes” [Judges 21:25]. The result? Disaster and discord. Oh, that men and women would get their eyes on the Great Conductor, the Lord Jesus Christ. He brings a sweet, saving, spiritual harmony when our eyes are upon Him and following His lead.