Monday, July 13, 2020

Keeping in Touch

The link for this week's youtube service is:

Today's blog is snippets of news from our church family.

Up until now SPPC is the only Presbyterian Church on the lower Island that is open for in-person meetings. So, it was only natural that Presbytery met there last week. Our wide open space was so appealing to the minister from the Chinese Presbyterian Church in Victoria, that he asked for help in setting up his own church. As Darlene and Joan had done research with public health and work safe for our opening, they agreed to go and help. Nice they can put their knowledge to work for others.

On Sunday, Gladys looked years younger. What's her secret? She has solved the "home alone" dilemma and adopted a cat!

I was very fortunate to be the chosen "match" for my 10 year old fluffy black girl.  Her given name is Jasmine, I wanted to call her Rosey, but Rosy suits her personality, so it's Rosy Jasmine (first and last names).  She's my shadow!     Meow, Gladys
Darlene has left the city behind and is now enjoying life in a country cottage. There is a fenced backyard for the dog, and room for a garden. The landlord has chickens that lay blue-shelled eggs and a rooster who crows. (The cottage walls are thick enough his boasting doesn't wake Darlene in the morning.)
In the field next door are 13 horses. 

All is a pastoral idyll.   Until . . .

Darlene decided to cut her own lawn. She purchased a small, battery operated mower and set to work with high hopes. The mower ran for ten feet then stopped. After it had rested, she restarted it and cut another ten feet. It stopped. Six hours later she had mowed the lawn, but not bagged the clippings and was headed back to Home Depot to change the mower for a gas-powered model.
A Toro at half-price seemed the perfect solution. Back out to the farm in Joan's car. (Darlene's is too small for a mower in the back.) Wrestled the mower out of the car, checked the oil, filled the gas tank, cleaned the spark plug then yanked on the cord, and yanked and yanked and yanked. Back to Home Depot, with Joan laughing the whole way. 
On to Canadian Tire to buy a Honda. More struggles to get it out of the car in the pouring rain. Ended up on the landlord's porch. Eventually pushed mower to own yard, added gas, oil, checked the spark plug and yanked on the cord. No start. Yank. No start. Finally asked the landlord for assistance. He yanked the cord and the machine started. It did a fine job of cutting the grass. 
Apparently our Darlene is exceptionally short and can't get enough spin on the crankshaft when she pulls the cord to actually start the motor. So now, she stands on the step, pulls the cord with extra leverage, then races around to catch the mower before it takes off without her. 
She reports that the handle, at its lowest setting catches her just under the chin. For some reason, she didn't send me a picture of that. 
Stay tuned for when she buys a trimmer.

When not cutting grass or weed-eating at the church, Tore has been messing around with his boat. Had it out of the water this week to replace the zinc blocks and do a little touch-up painting.


Until we can exchange our news over a cup of coffee on Sunday morning, we'll have to do it this way. If you have something to share, please send it to the office, 
marked "for the blog," and I'll be happy to share it in this space.

Meanwhile, follow Dr. Henry's advice, be calm, be kind, be safe, or listen to the apostle Peter "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."    1 Peter 5:7

Monday, July 6, 2020

Steering Wheel

Here is the link for this week's on-line worship service:
Note: For our in-house worship, as an added precaution, we are leaving the doors open to provide more air circulation. You might like to bring a sweater.

One more casualty to COVID-19 was our annual church picnic. At left is a photo from 2016, when no one imagined what would overtake the world in 2020.
As humans we tend to be proud of our ability to plan and imagine and prepare so that misfortune does not befall us.  Huh! Ever hear the old joke about how to make God laugh? Answer: Tell Him your plans.

I found these notes for a children's story as told by Dr. Kirk years ago. They serve as an excellent reminder of Who is in the driver's seat of our lives.

Steering Wheel or Spare Wheel
How many wheels has a car got? 4,5,6?
You are right if you said six.
Four to carry the car-- and you need to keep them in good order inspected regularly, proper pressure, good alignment, plenty of tread.
One spare tire in case of getting a puncture and it needs to have good pressure too.
One steering wheel --which is the most important one, if not properly handled it can cause an accident.

            Very like life.

Our main wheels are work, business, school, home. Life goes on wheels like this and it needs faithfulness to keep them running.

Our spare wheel is amusements, games, holidays--[church picnics.] We need these too otherwise we can get overworked and, like tires, tempers can wear thin. [Check out statistics on mental health issues, domestic violence, family breakdown while we are mostly denied access to our "spare wheels."]

The steering wheel guides the whole business of life. If it is in the wrong hands the car can be badly driven and can take the wrong road. There is only one safe driver with strong hands and a wise head who knows the road of life and that is God.

Some people think of God only as a spare tire - useful in emergencies - baptisms, marriages, deaths, sickness, trouble. They call on Him then but ignore Him at other times.
Life is like a journey. We don’t know what lies ahead so we all need God’s hand on the steering wheel. 
It is that final sentence that prompted me to include this story in today's blog. For all our sophistication, for all our technology, for all our education, we do not know what lies ahead. I hope our future contains church picnics and concerts and friendship coffee and a choir on Sunday morning. But that is only my hope. I do not "know" what the ending of this day will bring, never mind the coming years. 

But one thing we do know, ...the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you,

5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.1 Peter 1-5

Monday, June 29, 2020

Graduation with a Difference

The video link for Sunday's service is: 

Congratulations to Benjamin on his graduation from Stelly's Secondary School.

We've celebrated other graduations at SPPC, usually with a cake after service on Sunday morning. 
Not this time. COVID 19 has truly changed every aspect of our lives. 
Benjamin had to settle for a card from session, delivered in a unique way. 😀

Thankfully, parents, teachers and students have been inspired to make this year's grad ceremonies memorable--even if unusual. 
Ben got to ride in an antique Bentley as part of a graduation drive-by on Friday afternoon. There was a limited gathering of friends to watch a video of classmates receiving their certificates, at a physical distance, and a fancy dinner--held in a tennis court. 

Maybe all those students whose graduation exercises included a walk across the stage at UVic, a formal dinner and an after-grad party are envious of the unique ways the class of 2020 has found to celebrate.
Here he is, all grown up and ready for university. Hard to believe he was once a cute, blond chorister in the Living Flame Choir. If you search back far enough on this blog you can find pictures, but I won't embarrass him by posting them here.
The congregation of SPPC wishes you good luck, Benjamin and sends you into the next phase of life with all our love and prayers and the certainty that God has plans for you. 
"Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6

We hoped to be worshipping in our building last Sunday, but plans changed at the last minute, so yesterday was our first in-person service since March 15. No coffee hour, no handshakes, no hugs, no choir, no gathering in the narthex, but we were able to sit in the pews and hear Rev. Irwin live. There was no hymn-singing, but there was music from Larry and Tore and Janet.
two views of a "distamced" congregation

Even with all the changes, it felt good to be there.

Follow-up on the gowns for the Dominican Republic. 
Not only have the gowns arrived, they are being put to good use!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Jesus Bids Us Shine!

The link for this week's worship service is:

Light is a major theme throughout the Bible. God created light "and it was good." Jesus is the "light of the world." The the nation of Israel was to be "a light to lighten the Gentiles." 
The last three months have felt like a time of darkness for church buildings -- no worship, no meetings, no fellowship. Like a Broadway theatre, we have gone dark. But we have not forgotten about light, literally.

The lighted "hope" sign on the front of the building was originally a symbol of Advent, but, while the nasty virus has descended like a dark cloud on our spirits, it has been reinstalled as a message to cheer our neighbours.

Other, physical lights of SPPC needed attention too. The spotlight on the cross on the north wall of the church has not been working for some time. 
 It was hard to to disassemble, but eventually it ended up in the handyman's basement. All the dirt was wiped off and the wires checked.
 A blackened lightbulb told its own tale. A new sodium bulb was obtained, and voila!--light in the darkness.

The lights in the upper reaches of the sanctuary and the hall have many burned out tubes. Since these lights are inaccessible from a ladder, a closed church building was the perfect time to rent a "genie lift" and restore them as well.

 Getting the screens out proved to be troublesome, but eventually all was completed and we have good light in the sanctuary once again.

Of course, the "boys" couldn't let a perfectly good opportunity for some fun go to waste.  
One of our newest elders with a halo
The preacher from a very high pulpit

It turns out, you'll need all those new lights to find your way around when the building reopens for worship.
In order to get physical distancing and keep parishioners as safe as possible, the interior of the sanctuary has been re-configured. Back wall, pews, pulpit, piano and cross have all been moved. 

From a physical perspective, "church," when we meet again in person, will be a different experience, but Jesus still bids us shine. 
Since the middle of March, our weekly video services, personal devotionals and even this blog, have encouraged us to keep the light of Jesus alive in our own hearts and to share it with our neighbours. Since we must shine from a safe distance, let us keep our lights extra bright.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for the beautiful flowers.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Gowns for the DR

   The link for this week's worship service is

    As we edge toward a cautious re-opening of the church building for worship, we are finding ways to use the space in service to God. 
      Diane took advantage of the big tables and empty rooms to cut out protective gowns for the clinic in the Dominican Republic. They cannot reopen the clinic -- desperately needed by the local population -- without gowns for the staff. 
       The cost of a single-use gown is nearly ten dollars, so with four people in the clinic, the cost runs up very quickly. By comparison, a car costs around $1000.00. So ten gowns equals one car. There had to be a better way.
        Enter Diane and her sewing machine.

12 gowns, 3 for each staff member

Meanwhile, session met in the hall where there was room for six foot distancing between members. 

There were some tired voices at the end of a long meeting from all that calling across the room, but work was accomplished.
When the meeting ended, elders modelled the gowns Diane had made for the medical clinic supported by SPPC through the House Upon the Rock ministry.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Red for Pentecost

Abigail glowing in red

The link for Sunday's worship service is 

Thank you to everyone who sent in a photo of themselves wearing red for Pentecost. In this time of keeping apart, it's great to have this "togetherness."

Some went for red socks too.

Note what's playing on the screen in the corner. 

Family affair.

Thanks, Janet for sharing your pictures and your family.

That shirt!

The shirts didn't make it to the DR but they're great for Pentecost.
Need to perfect that selfie technique, ladies. One's too high and one's too low! Guess that makes them just right.

My good neighbour

The pictures are fun, but why red for Pentecost?

According to a study from Western Oregon University on symbolism in Christianity, "Red Signifies action, fire, charity, spiritual awakening. It also glorifies the sun and the joy of life and love. In Christian symbolism, it denotes the Holy Spirit." 
Not Pentecost Sunday, but all that red denotes "joy of life" as friends celebrate Barb C.'s 103rd birthday in a socially distant manner.

In this very strange spring I feel as though I've missed the burgeoning of new life associated with the season. At a time when we expect to embrace the world we've been withdrawing, hunkering down, refusing hospitality to guests.
be kind, be calm, be safe over a red heart

Apparently I'm not the only one who feels life is topsy-turvey. The CBC has launched its Hello Spring Initiative so that Canadians can experience spring in nature from the safety of their own homes.

I'm grateful for the clips on CBC and I'm enjoying watching spring from my own backyard. Pentecost and red shirts remind us that the Holy Spirit is present in all seasons of life. It is not shut down by a virus, or persecution, or closed buildings. Those tongues of fire burn and leap through joy and hope, through hardship and adversity. Thanks be to God that we have our advocate, comforter, counsellor, helper and friend to see us through these troubled times.     

Monday, June 1, 2020

Isolation Soup Sale

The link for this week's video service is 
                                                                       When the country went into lockdown, the mission team from SPPC was on the brink of heading down to the Dominican Republic. They were taking supplies and money to build a new house for a woman who had left an abusive relationship. 
Then COVID-19 struck and the trip was cancelled.

The good news is that we could still send money and the house is currently under construction.
The bad news is, we sent the money so now must replenish our coffers for the time when the team is allowed to travel.
The good news is, the congregation loves homemade soup and cottage pie.

Last week Darlene, Diane and Rebekah used got busy in the kitchen. The used--

  • 18 pounds of ground beef
  • 30 pounds of potatoes
  • 2 pounds of butter
  • 12 pounds of carrots
to produce 
  • 69 cartons of carrot soup
  • 74 cottage pies
  • 56 cartons of chicken soup
Word went out and 26 orders were placed from the congregation.

Joan took a list, then provided curbside pickup.B
Barb offered delivery service to those who couldn't come to the church.
Rev. Irwin got to conduct some parking lot visits, 
and our special mission fund got some new funds.  

Everyone needs chocolate brownies. 
We're all learning to adapt to new ways, but, one way or another, the work and mission of the church carries on. 
Well done everyone!
A friendly supervisor
Ed. note:  Thanks to Diane for sharing her pictures and thinking of the blog!
   Speaking of pictures, I only have three of congregants wearing Pentecostal red. Please send in your photos for next week's post. or