Monday, May 18, 2020

May Notes

 This week's virtual service is available at https://youtu.be/uagxh8qcNaI

 The May long weekend is a bit different this year. No travel, no
Victoria Day parade, no backyard BBQs, no pretty picnics. 
  Even so, we have some milestones to celebrate at SPPC this month.


Brian M. had a 90th birthday! Thanks to Bill and Margaret and
Vivian and Brian, he got a birthday party, under the COVID 19 rules. Lots of social distancing, outside, and limited attendees.
Thanks to Bill for sending along some pictures.  Happy Birthday Brian.





Joan Larsen had a birthday in May. She's living in Calgary now, so no party from SPPC. Still, I came across this old photo of the "Living Flame" circa 2002, having ice cream in our yard. That's Joan centre back. I know she loves ice cream, so I hope she had a bowlful on her birthday.


Other birthdays include Meta and Sylvia and Russ and Diane. There may be others but they've been kept secret.




Linda and Albert celebrate their wedding anniversary on the long weekend, as do Tore and Alice. In fact Tore and Alice celebrate on Diane's birthday.
1988 at Metropolitan United Church

Verse 3 of Psalm 100 is a great scripture for celebrations. It reads 
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
  Actually, do yourself a favour and read the whole psalm. It will lift your heart. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

Old Habits and New Ways

Q. How many church folk does it take to change a light bulb

A: Change? Why would we change? My grandmother donated that light bulb.

All joking aside, churches (and other institutions) are generally slow to make changes but now that COVID-19 has forced the issue, I was curious about how we all adapted.

In singing, a common rule of thumb is, if you have learned a mistake, it takes seven times of singing a phrase correctly, to undo that mistake and make the correct notes a habit.

It has been more than seven weeks now since our Sunday morning worship habit was changed. I asked around to see how people were adapting. Here's a sampling.

Our clerk of session watches service first thing before the household is astir, giving her peace and quiet to enjoy worship.

Edna watches in Ontario.


Tore and I watch at 10:00 am -- with a cup of coffee in hand.

Blanche and Bill watch several times throughout the week, always properly dressed. As their daughter says, no pyjama lounging in this house.

Lois, who cannot get to in-person services any longer, is enjoying the on-line version, watching more than once.

Aarol watches after breakfast, but sometimes still in a bathrobe.

In the Cunningham family, Diane bakes something special and gathers the whole family, including Irwin at about 11:00 am. They eat breakfast (yes, it might be a bit of a bribe). Diane has coffee and one day a cat joined the crew. πŸ’ž Peter is on the couch in the living room and the video is streamed onto the kitchen TV. 






Al and Irene watch at 8:00 am, then they watch a couple of other services too, before heading out for a walk.


Roy and Dorothy sent this, 
We have appreciated the e-services (e for excellent!), and applaud Irwin for the hard work he has put into this endeavour.
We appreciate, too, the part played by readers and soloists, along with Larry.
On Sunday mornings, we check our e-mails, sending off responses to any requests for copies of Irwin’s sermon.
Sometimes, I have forwarded the link to the services on YouTube to ensure that some folks have the service.
Generally, we are up and “on the go”, so we watch the services often around 10:00am, in casual duds, perhaps once in PJ’s!
We do miss chatting to friends at SPPC, and while the casual attire is easy, there is something to be appreciated about being up, dressed, and out the door by 9:30am.
blossom canopy in Butchart Gardens--now open for walks

Our telephone coffee hour has yielded some unexpected results too. A one-on-one with someone on the phone means we have more in-depth conversations. Sometimes at the church we want to greet as many people as possible, so don't have time for a long chat. Using the telephone, I've learned a lot about Barb M. and know that she and Gladys have deepened their friendship with Sunday morning calls.

I've also learned that telephone conversations can take place any day of the week!


One day we will go back to worshipping in our church building. We'll rejoice in the company of fellow-worshippers. We'll give thanks for seeing our friends again. We'll "be" in worship instead of just "watching" worship. But, maybe, we'll have changed -- more than just the light bulbs.




Sunday, May 3, 2020

The Lilies of the Field

This week's virtual service is at https://youtu.be/crDGrggQt-Y

Matthew 13:31-32
 Last week on our youtube service, the minister quoted John 10:10, "that they might have life and have it abundantly." In this very strange spring, life in abundance seems sadly absent. 

COVID-19 has messed up 

  • our Sunday morning worship,
  • Friendship Coffee, 
  • Sunshine Lunch, 
  • Out to Lunch Bunch, 
  • Bible Study, 
  • Rentals, 
  • Choir Practice
  • Presbytery visit in May
to mention only a few of the "lacks" in our life as a congregation.


tiny daisies on the roadside
But, it is still spring. The earth is full of abundance if we look. In a normal year, I'd haunt the Butchart Gardens in spring, drinking in the sight and scent of the many bulbs and flowering trees. Until this week, that pleasure was closed as well. So, I decided to take the narrow focus of "consider the lilies of the field," and searched for evidence of the Creator's abundance in the uncultivated corners of my world. 
And there it was -- life abundant, overflowing, extravagant, wanton. God is not stingy, and while our society is in lockdown, this earth, God's great gift to humanity, is wide open. 

In his book on hymns, Dr. Kirk, late of this congregation, had this to say about "All Things Bright and Beautiful."
dogwood in bloom

Often when we think of God the Creator, we consider the vast galaxies of time and space . . . This hymn brings us back to reality. It employs concrete, not abstract ideas. The point of the hymn is quite clear: God is the maker of everything we see around us - and the things we cannot see as well.
poppy planted by birds in my garden

The flowers in the meadows, the trees in the greenwoods, the meadows where the cattle graze --"the Lord God made them all."
pansy is  not wild, but growing through cement?

And He made the fruit that grows on those trees; and the majestic mountains that beauty and a sense of awe and everlastingness to our world, He made those too. . . we see the unfolding
ornamental grasses
splendour of the springtime and. . . and marvel at the perfection of His handiwork.






So, if we "have eyes to see," there is abundance in our lives, despite the vicious virus.

there will be fruit for birds on this tree

naturalized bluebells
My parents used to visit from Ontario and they couldn't stop exclaiming about the lovely green, green, green of our landscape.





flowers in the meadows


















P.S. I made a mistake when I posted this video a couple of weeks ago and it wouldn't play. I'm trying again, just to give you a chuckle. Hope it works this time. 





Monday, April 27, 2020

Encouragement





In case you missed it, the link for this week's youtube worship service is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZCbAYu1c4o&t=0s

Encouragement

 by Janet Smith

What a year 2020 has turned out to be so far. We started off on a high note with out 2020 celebrations at church and now look at where we are with COVID-19 and the tragedy in Nova Scotia.

Anyhow, God is in control and God knows what is good for us, although for our little minds, we might wonder and ask WHY?
This reminds of a solo I used to sing.
LIVING BY FAITH IS NOT ASKING WHY.
Why do things happen the way they do?
Why so much gray sky instead of blue?
Why are there troubles along my way?
Why aren't there answers each time I pray?
CHORUS
Living by faith is not asking why,
Living by faith is to do or die -
Trusting His word that He cannot deny:
Living by faith is not asking WHY.          
His perfect ways are past finding out,
Still there's no reason His word to doubt;
In spite of struggles and trials and cares,
Vict'ry through Jesus a Christians shares,
CHORUS
Faithful is He tho the path be dim,
I'll walk by faith - leave the sight to Him;
And I'll not question what life may bring,
Give thanks to God in everything.
CHORUS
Words by Al Kuhnle
Not always easy to do, especially at time like this but the world has overcome other troubles worse than this and so we wait.
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.


121 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.


While we wait, the lilacs are in bloom

Monday, April 20, 2020

Birthday Month + COVID-19 Challenge

Today's post has two parts -- the first is social news, the second is a Bible Study challenge from Linda. I hope you enjoy both parts.

April brings a spate of birthdays to the SPPC congregation The picture at the left is from 2018. Don't know what happened in 2019 and we all know there are no parties in 2020.

Linda celebrated by taking a long drive to get a cinnamon bun from her favourite bakery. She also received a piece of cake from her neighbour.
not Linda's cake


The clerk of session received a double present -- a gift card. She got to enjoy it the day it was delivered, and she'll enjoy it again when she collects on her treat.


Darlene got a cake from Joan and then had a social distant dinner with her son.

Rev. Irwin had his birthday over the Easter weekend, so he probably spent it putting together the Sunday service on youtube. The video effects get more sophisticated each week. If you didn't see the service for April 20, here is the link. http://bit.ly/sppcworship

Bill, the tenor, turned 90. We'll definitely need a cake for that when worshipping in person resumes.

Other celebrants include Stewart and Leona and Harold and Marion. I'm sure I've missed some, but if you have a birthday in April, give yourself a cheer and enjoy a piece of cake.



nature bringing us joy amidst the crisis



Covid-19 Challenge


Easter celebrations had passed.   Lent devotionals were finished.  What’s next?  This was my dilemma.  I knew I wanted to spend more time in Gods word and in prayer but was finding it difficult to get motivated.  So when in doubt I prayed. 

As promised, my prayer was answered and I found a great new Read through the Bible Plan which I want to recommend.  The plan is available as an app that can be downloaded on to your mobile device. 

The first reason I am enjoying it is that it is set up in easy to read amounts for each day, and the days are not numbered so if I miss a day I’m not always thinking I should catch up, which interferes with my time in Gods word.  The plan starts with Genesis and after each daily reading it gives a Psalm to meditate and pray on.  Hence, once the plan is finished, you will have prayed through the Psalms at least twice.
cherry tree in bloom

 To help the reader to get the maximum benefit from the readings there are videos on the themes of the Bible and each book which helps you to better understand what is being read.   The readings use the ESV translation which is   new to me.  I goggled this translation and learned that “it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the Original”.  I am finding that this difference from what I usually read is opening up new questions and thoughts during my daily reading. 

The app is simple to use.  As you read each day it records what you have read and the next reading is highlighted with the word “next” and off you go.  For example my reading for today starts with a Video on The Covenants, Genesis 16-18, and then Psalm 5.  I actually find that some days I keep reading as I’m into the story and want to see what comes next.

I love to travel and I feel like this app will make it easy to continue with my devotions where ever I may be.  Please consider down loading this app.  I feel you will find your goal to read through the bible will be easily accomplished using this amazing resource.

At present, we all have more time which may feel like a burden.  Here is the challenge take 15- 20 minutes each day and do something good for your soul.   

The app is available on the App store for free.  It is call Read Scripture by Crazy Love Ministries.   Have a look.
For Apple devices, the link is here.
For all others, use this link Covid-19 Challenge Easter celebrations had passed. Lent devotionals were finished. What’s next? This was my dilemma. I knew I wanted to spend more time in Gods word and in prayer but was finding it difficult to get motivated. So when in doubt I prayed. As promised, my prayer was answered and I found a great new Read through the Bible Plan which I want to recommend. The plan is available as an app that can be downloaded on to your mobile device. The first reason I am enjoying it is that it is set up in easy to read amounts for each day, and the days are not numbered so if I miss a day I’m not always thinking I should catch up, which interferes with my time in Gods word. The plan starts with Genesis and after each daily reading it gives a Psalm to meditate and pray on. Hence, once the plan is finished, you will have prayed through the Psalms at least twice. To help the reader to get the maximum benefit from the readings there are videos on the themes of the Bible and each book which helps you to better understand what is being read. The readings use the ESV translation which is new to me. I goggled this translation and learned that “it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the Original”. I am finding that this difference from what I usually read is opening up new questions and thoughts during my daily reading. The app is simple to use. As you read each day it records what you have read and the next reading is highlighted with the word “next” and off you go. For example my reading for today starts with a Video on The Covenants, Genesis 16-18, and then Psalm 5. I actually find that some days I keep reading as I’m into the story and want to see what comes next. I love to travel and I feel like this app will make it easy to continue with my devotions where ever I may be. Please consider down loading this app. I feel you will find your goal to read through the bible will be easily accomplished using this amazing resource. At present, we all have more time which may feel like a burden. Here is the challenge take 15- 20 minutes each day and do something good for your soul. The app is available on the App store for free. It is call Read Scripture by Crazy Love Ministries. Have a look. 
Use this link if you have an Apple device.   https://apps.apple.com/us/app/id1067865974

For all other devices, the program can be downloaded from Google here. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.youmeforever.readscripture&hl=en_CA




Linda Cliff

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter 2020

Sunrise Service 2018
The very first post on this blog was of the Easter sunrise service in Cy Hampson park, 2010.
Each year since, I've posted the pictures from our sunrise service.


The photos for 2020 are different, but it is still Easter Sunday and the sun did rise. 


Every year we have had a visit from a little bird. It sits in this tree.

I waited and waited, but the tree remained without its songster. Maybe it was waiting for the congregation to start singing. Still, I heard lots of birdsong and this fellow showed up on a different tree. 
As well as the singing of birds, I heard the gentle plash of waves lapping the shore.
It was a beautiful morning. Considering all the years we've stood in the rain, this lovely morning when we could not gather in person seemed ironic.

When I came home, we ate pancakes for breakfast then went to virtual church. Thank you, Rev. Irwin, for all your work in keeping us connected and at a distance. https://youtu.be/80G6UWxSrSw


Christ is Risen
He is risen indeed
Hallelujah 

Monday, April 6, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5:18

If you had been able to attend church yesterday, you might have seen these announcements in the bulletin.

Celebrations: 

  • We have a new grandbaby in the congregation. Congratulations to Aarol and Ken
  • As seen on Chek News -- Lloyd and Lee have just celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary. Instead of a candlelit dinner, they cleaned behind the fridge. πŸ˜•Hey, it's memorable!

Announcements:

  • The church building is closed but the prayer chain is still operating. If you have requests for prayers email them to prayerchain@saanichpeninsulapc.org 
  • Food bank pick up from the church has been suspended, but your donations are desperately needed. You can drop them off at the Sidney Foodbank, 1586 5th St. Sidney, from 8:00 -2:00 pm. Monday through Friday.
  • "Virtual church" has no offering time, but if you want to send your envelope to SPPC, our address is 9296 E. Saanich Rd., N. Saanich, B.C. V8L 1H8

If you are reading this you have access to the internet and all the resources available there. Not all in our congregation have that facility. Give a thought to those people and find a way to connect. 

Last week I received a hand-written card in the mail. What a treat. Amid all the junk mail, bills, magazines and notices was a letter addressed in cursive, bearing a stamp and delivered to me out of the blue. It cheered me up three times -- when I collected it from the mailbox, when I opened and read it, and every day this week when I glance at the pretty picture gracing the mantelpiece. 



One of my friends commented recently that she felt like there three Fridays in the past week. I guess that's better than three Mondays, but it still underlines what happens when we lose our routine. The days run together, we lose order in our days, we sleep too much, we lack focus. We get bored and cranky.

As an antidote, I've tried to adhere to a semblance of my "old" life by keeping to a virtual routine.

Wednesday is Bible Study. I pick my favourite morning time and tune in to one of the many Bible study programs available on line. I've mentioned the Nooma series before. Here is the link again.
I know one of our members who has found an interactive Bible study on Wednesday evenings.

Thursday morning is Friendship coffee -- get out your knitting, ladies. Call a friend, put the phone on speaker, chat and click those needles for an hour or so.

Thursday evening is choir practice. Even if you are not in the choir at SPPC, why not spend this time with music. If you already play an instrument, use this time to practice. If you don't have an instrument, use the time to listen to your favourite recordings.
If you like to sing, here is a sing-along hymn site. There are many such offerings on the internet. You could even find an all Elvis channel if you tried. πŸ˜€
This is why my latest knitting is a mess.

One Friday a month, the worship committee meets. This might be a good time to plan your personal devotions for the coming week. Again, the internet has endless helps. http://presbycan.ca/2020-04-04/needs/ is a daily devotional sent out by the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Some of you may already have it delivered to your inbox. The Bible Project has many resources from text messages to podcasts. Maybe one is right for you.



Sunday morning, at 10:00 am, using the link Rev. Irwin sent the night before,  I go to "church."  I do get dressed but I admit I skip the high heels.  This week's video is here, in case you missed it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR07Q6th7zM&feature=youtu.be 

At 11:00 am, I have "coffee hour" with my own cup of java and the telephone. I catch up with a few of the people I would normally see on Sunday mornings. I know others are doing the same, fostering those relationships. 
I chatted with Barb this morning and we wondered, when we all get back to "normal," will "normal" be different? If there is an upside to all this, I'd suggest that we'll value our friends more than ever, and, I hope, we'll be more compassionate with those who struggle for whatever reason. I don't have a crystal ball, but I do have hope.

Luke 1:37