Monday, June 24, 2019

Prayer 20/20

by Diane Cunningham

Over the past months, various teams in our church have been meeting and discussing our vision for the coming year. One of these teams is focusing on prayer.

“When Billy Graham was asked about the most important steps in preparing for an evangelistic outreach, he always answered that there were three things that mattered most: Prayer, prayer and prayer.” —Cliff Barrows

With this in mind, prayer is essential in determining where we are being led in ministry.

A series of prayers have been placed in the bulletins, for some months now, for people to use to guide them in their praying for SPPC. We have reached a point where we would like to have people express some of their own prayers for our church and share them with our fellowship.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be looking for input from members of the congregation through a series of response cards inserted in the bulletin. We are hoping to create community prayers that will emerge from the hearts of all who wish to contribute to this Life bringing, Spirit guided ministry.

We will be looking for topics for prayers that are close to people’s hearts. This will then guide us to create specific prayers that will become part of a collective response.

For your summer reading and growth, we have a table set up with many books about prayer. Please take a look at them. As Bible Study takes a break over the summer, this could be a terrific way to add to your knowledge and increase your awareness of the power of prayer. Talk with your friends, at coffee hour or Friendship Coffee about what you have learned, the books that you have enjoyed and found helpful.

We would welcome any feedback or possible book reviews of the material covered!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Out to Lunch Bunch

As part of the Beyond 20/20 in-reach initiative, we've started an out-to-lunch bunch. The idea is for people to meet up at a local restaurant for lunch on the first Thursday of the month. We chose Smitty's in Sidney for our first date.
Turned out fifteen people thought going out for lunch was a good idea. 
It seemed many of the people who came were regulars at this particular restaurant and well-acquainted with our server. She did a terrific job in keeping everyone's order straight, getting the right bill to the right people, and putting food on the table in good time so we all ate together. Kudos to her and the restaurant.
Next month we will meet at the Spitfire Grill on the airport. Same time, 1:00 pm on the first Thursday of July, which turns out to be July 4. In deference to our American friends, it was proposed we wear red, white and blue.
With all the social events at the church, it might seem odd that we'd organize another social (eating) event during the week. One aspect belonging to a congregation is being part of a community. We are social creatures. We need to hear each other's voices. We need to share laughter. We need to support each other in tough times. Spending time together, strengthens our relationships and our sense of community.
Last Sunday was Pentecost, a date many consider the birth of the Christian church. On that day, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and they began speaking in tongues. Three thousand were added to the church that day. Acts 2: 46-47 makes special mention of the new community meeting daily in the temple and breaking bread together in each other's houses, with a glad heart. 
Come join us on the first Thursday of July. We'll break bread together with a glad heart. The sign-up sheet is in the narthex.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Workers Unite!

by Janet Smith

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: (NIV)
Well now, on Tuesday 4th June, we had 5 ladies come together to Spring clean the church kitchen and after 2 hours of cleaning and scrubbing, the kitchen gleamed and indeed we saw a good return for our labour!
Working together brings fun and fellowship. Age is no barrier either, one of our workers is in her 90s and still she came and worked along side us, (missing from the pictures!)
We read in the scriptures of the many who were blest with a long life and kept working for the Lord.
Here is a short list of them:
Abraham and Sarah, Jacob, Moses and Aaron, David, Job, Elizabeth and Paul just to name a few, there were many, many more and God blessed them.

Remember that God will use you at any age, and any stage. There is no age limit to the way He works in us or through us, His love never grows old and He never stops caring for us.

Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling,
Work ’mid springing flow’rs.
Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is done.

Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the sunny noon;
Fill brightest hours with labor,
Rest comes sure and soon.

Give every flying minute
Something to keep in store;
Work, for the night is coming,

When man works no more

Work, for the night is coming,
Under the sunset skies;
While their bright tints are glowing,
Work, for daylight flies.

Work till the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more;
Work, while the night is dark’ning,
When man’s work is o’er


Monday, June 3, 2019

In the Presbyterian church we don't have a lot of saints days or other holy days to mark the Sundays of our calendar, but June has a goodly share of high Sundays this year.

On June 2 we celebrated our littlest "saint" with a birthday cake. Our denomination holds that all members of the body of Christ, His church, are saints so happy birthday to Saint Abigail and all the other June birthday celebrants.

Our bulletin marked this week as "General Assembly Sunday."  Our representative elder, Roy is attending the annual conference of the whole Presbyterian Church in Canada in Waterloo, Ontario. The assembly meets from June 2 to June 6.  Please keep commissioners in your prayers. They will receive reports from various committees and individuals that will direct our church into the coming years.

Next Sunday, is Pentecost Sunday. Many consider this day the birthdate of the Christian church. It marks the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples and they began speaking in tongues. Three thousand people became Christians on that single day.  We don't celebrate Pentecost with all the fanfare of  Christmas, but next week you can mark the day by wearing red to church. Whatever you wear, a tie, a hat, blue jeans, shorts or a party dress, the Holy Spirit continues to dwell among us and welcomes you into the fellowship of SPPC any time.

The following Sunday, June 16 is Father's day and our annual church picnic.

Sunday, June 23 we'll celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion.

As I said at the top of this post, June has more red letter Sundays than most of the other months of the year. I guess we're gearing up for summer holidays.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Sunday's theme was missionaries.  When I was a kid, I believed the only way to be a missionary was to go to Africa. I had a schoolmate who did just that, spending thirty years working in Kenya. In my little one room country school house it seemed as though she'd stepped off the edge of the world. 
Modern day missionaries usually have access to modern technology so even those who go to undeveloped parts of the world, can be in almost instant contact with their supporters in Canada. But even in those circumstances, being a foreign missionary requires dedication and sacrifice. At SPPC we support many mission causes but we have a particular affinity for the House Upon the Rock in the Dominican Republic. 

In the past we have sent two teams of workers there. We receive regular reports on the mission and on the people who work and live there. It seems fitting then, on missionary Sunday, that a fund-raiser for special missions was on the schedule. Diane and Darlene and Joan and Irene have been baking and roasting and pureeing for several weeks.
The fruits of their labours were available for pick-up after service. Many of our congregants live alone so single serving goodies like soup and cottage pie and date squares are greatly appreciated. In this case, serving a foreign mission field and helping close to home coincide.
Speaking of close to home, on Sunday afternoon our congregation conducted a worship service at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. Contrary to my childhood view of missionaries, we can just go down the road to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and bring comfort and joy. For folk living within the confines of the hospital, no matter how excellent those conditions, a visit from outsiders brings a breath of fresh air. Some of the people at the service are members of our own congregation whose health has necessitated a change of residence. For those folks especially, a worship service among their old friends is a source of comfort.

It seems like coincidence that all these activities happened on the same Sunday, but perhaps God was working through the various ministries at SPPC to show us how every small act of caring can work toward His glory. 1 Peter 4:10

Monday, May 20, 2019

Pray on Your Fingers

As a church we talk a lot about prayer. In sermons, in Bible Study, in Sunday School, during coffee hour and just in general conversation. One question that repeats itself is "how to we pray?" Is there a formula for how to talk to God?

The acronym ACTS is often used as an example of the types of prayers Christians use. A for adoration or praise of the Almighty. C for confession. T for thanksgiving and S for supplication or intercession. It's a handy device and a pattern that we see echoed in our order of service.

I've come across another pattern for prayer that some might find useful, particularly when teaching children to pray. This one involves praying on your fingers. Here's how it works.

The thumb is nearest your heart, so pray first for those closest to you like parents, siblings and friends. Don't forget to pray for yourself. Tell God what you need.

The second finger is used to point. Pray for those who point you toward the way you should go; teachers, mentors, ministers and all who inspire your faith.

The third finger, the tallest, suggests we pray for leaders, both within our faith community and without. Pray for elders, for members of parliament, for Queen Elizabeth and the Prime Minister. We might even pray for celebrities whose position of influence could make them terrific ambassadors for Christ.

The fourth finger is the weakest. Pray for the sick and abused, the imprisoned and the helpless.

The fifth finger, the baby, is the smallest. Pray for those often forgotten in our busy whirl -- the lonely, the bereaved, those using food banks and the homeless.

Pray often. At Bible Study this week we watched the movie, "Shadowlands," a biographical account of a time in the life of C.S. Lewis, author ot the Narnia stories among others. At the beginning of the movie Lewis talked about suffering and God in a rather clinical manner. Later, when he knew suffering first hand, he was asked about prayer. He replied,
“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me.”
If you want to enrich your prayer life, try praying on your fingers. 

― C.S. Lewis

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mother's Day

   When I was a child, we wore a flower in our lapel on Mother's Day, a coloured boutonniere for a living mother and a white one for a mother who had passed away. I don't know where that tradition came from nor why it seems to have vanished, but it's a nice memory for me.
      The photo at the top of this post is of an Edith Cavell lilac bush. My mom was named for that WWI heroine, so having the lilac bush in my garden is a sweet remembrance for me. 

       Mother's Day, as it is celebrated in North America, was begun by Anna Jarvis in 1908. She held a memorial for her mother  in W. Virginia. Commercial companies embraced the celebration as a sales opportunity. According to some sources Mother's Day ranks second behind Christmas as the most lucrative occasion in the merchant's calendar. 
        It is easy to write off Mother's Day as a Hallmark marketing ploy. And yet . . . Christian churches mark the day, calling it Family Sunday, in many denominations.How do we reconcile a commercial event with a worship service?
     The Bible is laced with verses about mothers. 
 Proverbs devotes the entire 31st chapter to extolling the virtues of a good wife and mother "whose price is beyond rubies." Here are some others:
  • “Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.” – Proverbs 23:22-25
  • “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12
  • “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” – Isaiah 66:13
  • “And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.” – Luke 2:51
  • “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4
  • “Then the mother of the child said, ‘As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So he arose and followed her.” – 2 Kings 4:30
  •  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Eph.6:1-3
  •  I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5 ESV
  • He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord Psalm 113:9
     For most children, "mother" represents security, comfort, nurture, forgiveness, knowledge and an abundant fount of love. Perhaps it is because mother-love can be a foretaste of the love of God for His children that the writers of both the Old and New Testaments singled out mothers for special appreciation.
   The sunday bouquets will fade and the last of the special feast appear on the table as leftovers, but "Mom" is steadfast. May we count our many blessings, as the year rolls on.