Monday, January 25, 2021

I Am a Church Member -- Review


Congratulations to Blanche on the occasion of her 96th birthday this week. I hear that Session sang happy birthday to her over Zoom! What a world. Here's a virtual slice of cake. 

The link for this week's livestreamed service:

I Am a Church Member

 by Thomas S. Rainer



These Covid times and the inability to meet in person for church services had me thinking about church membership and its importance in my life.  So when I was in the Christian book store I couldn’t resist looking at this book.  In fact I sat down and read the first chapter while I was in the store!  It felt like the Holy Spirit was saying read this!


When our church membership does not live up to our expectations we begin the blame game.  We blame it on godless politics, secular culture, uncaring ministers, hypocritical fellow Christians, everyone but ourselves.  What the author of this book suggests is that we join churches expecting others to serve us, to feed us, and to care for us, but we have lost the Biblical understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ.


He says we are being hypocrites.  Hard words!  The good news is that Rainer then goes on to give us a road-map so we can be functioning church members of a vibrant congregation.  The reader is given six tasks to fulfil.  Each task is explained, Biblical references are cited and at the end of the chapter, he asks the reader to sign a pledge saying they will commit to their church.  The tasks are as follows:  

  • I will be a functioning Church member;
  • I will be a unifying Church member; 
  • I will not let my Church be about my preferences and desires; 
  • I will pray for my Church leaders; 
  • I will lead my family to be healthy Church members; 
  • I will treasure Church membership as a gift.


The chapter on each task has stories about how necessary it is to address these aspects of membership.   Rainer begins by exploring Corinthians 13, the love chapter and explains that Paul was talking about us and how we should treat our fellow Christians. In the chapter on the church and our family he talks about how we as believers can affect the non believers in our families.  Some of the chapters tell us things about ourselves that are difficult to hear, especially the chapter on our preferences.


This book was a great read.  It is short, easy to read and important to all church members.  It should be required reading for all Christians who want to be part of a vibrant congregation.

Reviewed by Linda Cliff


The text for this book is available on the internet with appropriate study guides.  We are bound to our homes these days and filling our time can be a challenge.  Why not take the Pledge?

The book can be downloaded for free here , or you can read it on-line at the same url. Various scholars and preachers have offered study guides. Here are a few.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Soup Sale


The news you've been waiting for -- Darlene is making soup!

We're all getting tired of "stay at home" so it's nice to have a bright spot coming soon --homemade soup from the SPPC kitchen.

Laugh of the week: My brother was fed up with gloomy weather so he said "Hey, Google. When will we see the sun again?"

Google answer: April 2024!

Soup Sales


Types: Turkey Vegetable


Potato Leek


Size: 12oz. perfect for one or two servings


Cost: $4.50 C.O.D. 

cash or cheques, payable to SPPC


To Order: Call Joan at 250 656-6130


Free delivery on the Peninsula

You don't have to be a member of the congregation to enjoy our soup service. Feel free to call Joan at the number above, or the church office at 250 656-2241 to place an order or ask for more information.

Given the average number of orders (70) per soup on past occasions it is clear our congregation enjoys their homemade comfort food.

Previously the proceeds went to support  the House Upon the Rock Ministry in the Dominican Republic.

With COVID-19 hitting hard close to home, the latest batch of soup is designated to raise funds for the Session Discretionary Fund. These monies can be distributed by Session for unexpected requests from our local community and congregation. 

Place your orders now. The soup pot will be expanded to fulfil the requests.

 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1Corinthians 10:31

The link for this week's livestreamed service is here 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Out with the Old


Last week the decorating committee took down the Christmas tree in the sanctuary and repacked the nativity sets in their boxes. The surviving poinsettias are in the narthex and available for anyone who wants one. 

The outdoor lights came down as well but our "hope" sign is still hanging on the front of the church.  There have been various calls for people to keep their outdoor Christmas lights on well into February as a means to boost people's spirits and lighten the darkness.  That seems like a good cause for a church to embrace, so, as you drive by our empty building for the next few weeks you'll see "hope" gleaming in the dark.

You may remember that we had a pretty heavy snowfall before Christmas. At the time most of us were preoccupied with the power outage. It wasn't until later that we noticed the heavy snow, winds and torrential rain caused havoc with our trees.

A small, deciduous bush uprooted behind the shed, pushing over another shrub quite close to the south wall of the church building. More seriously, a mature fir

tree broke off about sixty feet up and dropped a thirty foot section very close to the gazebo. It also snagged some smaller trees which are now dangerously bowed over the gazebo.

Tore has been working to clean up the mess from the downed trees. These snagged and bowed ones are dangerous and require a professional to take them down.

In a normal year we would be worrying about having to cancel services because of bad weather or ice in the parking lot. Is it good news that, this year, services were cancelled already?

Happy January!


Monday, January 4, 2021

Welcome 2021


Has ever a year been more fervently wished on its way than 2020? Begun with hope and joy, now, all over the world, people can't wait to say good-bye to the misery that was 2020. 

2021 holds our hopes for a return to life as we knew it. A life that includes attending church services in person, HUGS, coffee dates, travel, reunions, office parties, regular classes . . . The list goes on and on. So many moments and so many lives stolen in 2020.

And yet, there is some trepidation around the new year. If 2020 taught us anything it's that life is uncertain. In other years we might have made resolutions, travel reservations, and arrangements for celebrations, confident that our plans would come to fruition. In 2021 do we still have that certainty? The pandemic has forced life-altering changes on our society. Will we ever return to our 2019 way of life?

Have we become so conditioned to social avoidance that we'll continue to shun casual acquaintance? What will our congregation look like when we return to the church building? Will our economy recover? Will businesses survive? How many more will die before we achieve herd immunity with the vaccines? 

Do we even want to return to 2019 patterns? Is work-from-home the way of the future? Are virtual connections a better way to conduct business?

When the scientific community announced the development of vaccines the world gave a collective cheer. Life could return to "normal." But we don't know what "normal" will look like in the months ahead.

More than ever, as we bid good riddance to the year of COVID 19, we need faith.

In the dark days heading into WWII George VI famously quoted these lines. "Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!"

Canadian song writer Gene McClellan put the idea into music. 

"Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water,"  first recorded by Ann Murray.

Victor Hugo said: 

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones: when you have laboriously accomplished your daily tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.

A quick review of the Bible reminds us that fear and doubt have been part of the human condition throughout history. Time and again, God reminds His people to put their trust in Him. These are some of the best known and best loved verses. 

"Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Ps. 23:4

"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved".Psalm 55:22 

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6 

I once heard a marvellous sermon about starting school. The preacher explained that his mother had taken him to school, seen him through the door and then left him there. "I thought my mother loved me!" he exclaimed, while the congregation chuckled. His point was that we have all experienced the unknown in our lives. Usually we face it with foreboding and only appreciate it in hindsight. He said new things are like going around a corner. We can't see what's ahead, so turning corners can be scary. He ended his sermon by reminding us that what lies around the corner, is not the frightening unknown. What lies around the corner are the loving arms of Jesus.

"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." Romans 15:13 

The link for this week's live streamed service is

Monday, December 28, 2020

Last of our Christmas Memories


From Linda:   

It is difficult to decide on one memory so I will tell you of one that happened soon after I was married.   My husband and I and our friends, Janice and Denise, planned on spending Christmas with friends who had recently moved to Vancouver.  This couple had been our neighbours when we lived in Edmonton and they had a young daughter and an infant son.Travelling was out of the question for them so we travelled to Vancouver to spend the holidays with them.

Our friend Chris was cooking the dinner and, being busy with her young family, she didn’t like a lot of mess. So to our horror after dinner was over she took all of the leftovers, and put them in a black garbage bag and threw them in the trash.

Like the good guest we were we said nothing, and our hosts went to bed early as they would need to get up early with their children.  After about an hour we decided it was time for the after dinner turkey and stuffing sandwich.  So the four of us snuck out to the trash to get the fixings for our snack.  Of course we woke our hosts who were horrified to find us going through the trash to find turkey fixings.  We all had a good laugh, but were never invited for Christmas dinner again.


From me:

Like others have mentioned, Christmas in our house was full of laughter and music and an abundance of relatives. It is hard to pick just one particular memory from the large picture. Instead, I've found myself remembering a recurring theme -- Christmas Eve. 
After we came home from church, our service was at 7:00 pm, we'd settle around the Christmas tree and savour the peace. That time seemed holy to me. The frenzy of preparation was over, the pandemonium of Christmas morning not yet begun. In a way, this was the true time of Advent, the quiet anticipation of great joy, a moment to kneel at the manger.
Often we had only the tree for light. We might sing a carol or two. Mom would read the Christmas story from Luke in the King James Version. Most of us could recite the words with her, they were so familiar and so precious. 
As my generation grew older and left home, we cherished even more that time on Christmas Eve, when we gathered together as a family again.
Covid 19 robbed us of our usual Christmas celebrations in 2020, but in an odd way, it gave me back that golden time on Christmas Eve. I miss my extended family, but memory is rich with their beloved faces and the telephone is easily within reach. 
As Christmas season draws to a close, may you all know the joy of that moment by the manger.  

Monday, December 21, 2020

More Memories

The link to this week's livestreamed service is

My request for memories of past Christmases went to a number of the congregation. Some answered right away, some took a while, and some are still to come, (I hope.)

Here's a selection of this week's memories.

From Gladys: 

Good morning Alice:  I think this will be the most memorable Christmas for all of us!!!!!!!!!!!!  Let's look back to the good times, and look ahead for more to come.  God willing!    

From Al and Irene:  

Our family loves Christmas! Making memories has always been an important part of our Christmas activities.

One of our fondest memories is when our children were young. Our annual trip to a Forest Reserve where we could cut down a tree, chosen by the children in -35C. weather. After trudging through six feet of snow back to the parking lot, we gathered around a bonfire to roast wieners and marshmallows served with hot chocolate. you can appreciate getting the fire started with wet branches was no easy feat either!

Our first Christmas on the Island left quite an impression as well. We moved on December 17, 2012 to a nearly empty house. Our kids and grandkids all came home a week later. We had no furniture except for a card table and four chairs. Somehow we managed to put up a tree and we all sat around on the floor playing games, eating and listening to Christmas music. This lasted for a week! It was quite hilarious but a wonderful family time which none of us will ever forget!

Slide shows of our many Christmases past have become a much anticipated and appreciated part of our more recent celebrations. We all look forward to resuming these after Covid19.

From Kay:

  One year, shortly after we'd moved our here, we decided to surprise the family and show up at Syl's sister's place in Toronto. We arrived just in time for dinner on Christmas Day. Boy, were they surprised to see us! There was plenty of food -- it was Christmas after all -- and we tucked in at the table. I remember the candied yams were the best I'd ever tasted. Laughter, food, family -- a great Christmas memory. 

Noel had more anecdotes to relate about Christmas at SPPC:

Just before Christmas at SPPC circa 1993 he was dealing with a horde of children in the Sunday School, ready to put on the Christmas pageant. At that time the roles of Joseph and Mary were played by adults and the children did everything else. Also, in those days, Noel did double duty in the pulpit and the choir. The dual roles kept him hopping. So, when the man (a pilot) playing Joseph got a call to work just before show time Noel was in a panic thinking he'd have to preach, sing AND get into costume. To his great relief he has an ace for a son-in-law. Yvon stepped into the breach and played the role of Joseph, leaving Noel with only two other responsibilities.

Also at SPPC, during the practice for yet another Christmas pageant all the little angels were lined up and recited the line "and the angel said onto them," when a little voice piped up with "I need to go to the bathroom."  --A memorable announcement! 

Thanks to everyone for sharing their Christmas memories. I've got some more coming next week. Meanwhile here's a photo of one of my Christmases in Ontario. 


Monday, December 14, 2020

Christmas Past


The year 2020 will be remembered as the year Christmas was cancelled! 

So, I've asked members of the congregation to share their best memory from Christmases past. 

Kay says all her Christmas memories are wonderful. This year will be memorable because of what it is not. Meanwhile, she is very happy with her living arrangements. The facility has created ways for residents to dine together, exercise and socialize in a safe way.

Janet S. writes: 

One of my favourite Christmas memories was 50 years ago. 

I was a house mother at a Dr. Barnardo's Home in Canterbury and so I didn't generally get to spend Christmas at my home, I was with the children.
However, in 1970 I had just had my tonsils out and I was at my home following the surgery. 
It snowed that Christmas and I had big plans for Boxing day. 
Peter was scheduled to come down from his home in Ilford, Essex to Folkestone, Kent where I lived, (about 80 miles apart) as that was the day we were to get engaged!
I remember standing there, looking out of the window, waiting, waiting, waiting and hoping he would make it safely. I thought he'd never come because of the snow, (no cell phones in those days) but the wait was worth it! He did finally arrive 2 hours late, along with his brother, I'm not sure if David came for moral support or to help him in case of problems on the road. However, Peter finally arrived safely and in one piece and we became officially engaged and were married in March. We left England in August and came to live in Sidney on Resthaven Drive, the rest is history.
It was definitely a day of hope, peace, joy and love for me. 
That wait was so worth it, as is the wait now to  celebrate Christ's birth and ultimately for His return.

Noel related a few anecdotes from his years in ministry. The first was while he was still a student at Knox college in 1978. One of his professors invited a group of students to his home during the Christmas season. When they got there they discovered a room decorated for the season, the lights dimmed, and large cushions scattered on the floor. The students sat on the cushions in the twilit room and shared their thoughts on Knox College, belief, the role of religion, as well as some personal stories about their lives. At the end of the evening, their professor administered communion. Was it the setting, the shared talk or the intimacy of the situation? Whatever the reason, that evening has stayed as a highlight in Noel's memory.

The second story comes from his time at his first charge in Medicine Hat in the mid-1980's. Christmas Eve the church was packed, all but the front row. At a minute before the service started six of his friends came racing in and had to sit right in front of him, although their usual pew was at the very back. He noticed they were giggling and whispering, "Did anybody lift the scissors?" These were special friends of his, four Scots and two Irish, and their odd behaviour puzzled him until the drove home after the service. There, strung across the front of the manse, illuminated by large flood lights that had the neighbours gawking, was a large banner reading, "Happy 50th Birthday, Noel." The friends had to wait until he'd gone to church before putting up their banner. Hence their late arrival at the service and their glee at the surprise they knew awaited him.

Later in his ministry, Noel's daughter and family had moved to Victoria but, as a minister, he could not join them for Christmas celebrations. Instead, in January he and Edna came to Victoria for a second Christmas with family, complete with gifts, carols, a tree and candles. The grandchildren thought it was perfect!

Stay tuned, next week I'll have more of Noel's memories to share.

My cat, self-isolating