Monday, July 15, 2024

For Want of a Comma

 The link to this week's live-streamed service is here.




Rev. Irwin's reference to L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables sent me to my "keeper" shelf to browse my collection. I chose Anne of Avonlea for a re-read. To my surprise the story contained a theological lesson. Davy Keith, an orphaned scamp that Anne has charge of, declared that there would be lots of jam in heaven. When questioned, he explained that his catchism declared that "God makes preserves, and redeems us." 

If you've ever considered dropping the commas in your writing, that statement should give you pause. For the grammatically and/or the theologically challenged, the line should read "God makes, preserves, and redeems us."

We don't hear much about catechisms these days, or memory work in general. Perhaps Google makes it too easy to "look it up" without having the words in your heart, although in Deut. 11:18 we are commanded to "lay up these words in your heart."

If you don't have a copy of a catechism in your home or church, there are many examples on the internet. Follow this link for the "The Westminster Shorter Catchism" which is one of the founding documents for the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Question 11 does mention "preserving" so maybe that's where Davy got confused.

People often ask where I get blog ideas. Sometimes it seems like serendipity or, to use a phrase popular in L. M. Montgomery's work, Divine Providence. This week was one of those. I began to write this post on Wednesday but hadn't developed a satisfactory ending for it. Then, on Sunday morning, Rev. Irwin preached on creeds, or statements of faith. If you want to explore the subject further, I recommend listening to the Sunday sermon. The link is at the top of this post. 




When we celebrated our grads at the end of June, Quinn was unable to attend. However, he has sent along his graduation picture for the blog. Congratulations, Quinn. Best of luck in the coming year.



Monday, July 8, 2024

Summer Suns are Glowing

 The link for this week's live streamed service is here.



It may be summer and many church programmes are in hiatus, but we still gather to worship on Sunday mornings at 10:00 am. Visitors are always welcome. During these hot days we are grateful that our new heat pump keeps the sanctuary at a comfortable temperature. Come and refresh your spirit -- and your body.

Since we're speaking of summer, I thought it a good time to publish Dr. Kirk's  analysis of a summer hymn. Although his book was never published, I'm fortunate to have a manuscript copy and happy to share it with you all on this forum.

Summer Suns are Glowing was written by William Walsham How. The recommended scripture reading is Ecclesiastes 11: 1-8.


Imagine a peaceful Sunday afternoon in the country. The sun shines down on quiet fields and gently rolling green hills. A congregation is at worship in a little church. If one were to gaze out through the windows it would be to see cattle grazing at ease in the surrounding pastures. There is a clearness to the light and a peacefulness of soul that evokes praise and thanksgiving to the loving God who has blessed with such an idyllic setting. 

 That, perhaps, is the picture suggested by the opening verse of Bishop How's hymn. We may be surprised that someone who had spent the greater part of his life ministering amid the grime of the East London slums should write these words, but such is the case. Even amid the streets of a great metropolitan area he could still picture the beauty of God's creation. Solomon spoke of God bringing him into 'the banquet house and his banner over me was love' (Song. 2:4) but here that banner of love is 'everywhere unfurled.' It covers the whole world and all its peoples. It is 'broad and deep and glorious as the heaven above.' That is the wonder of God's love. It cannot be measured. It is vast, unbounded, free, streaming to everyone who will accept it.
Human beings are not always prepared to acknowledge the goodness of God. We can be deliberately blind when surrounded with the blessings of life, accepting them as our due and refusing to return thanks to the Giver. We need help to love God more and so the prayer is offered that He will pour His 'pure radiance' upon us that our eyes may be enlightened. Not only do we not thank God for the good things of life but we also blame Him for the bad things that happen. . . . 'Where is God when I need Him?' The fact of the matter is that God is there all the time if we were only aware of it. 'When clouds are drifting dark across our sky' God is there behind the clouds, waiting and wanting to help us if we would turn to Him. God never forces Himself upon us. He waits in the shadows and if we would ask Him to lift the veil that hides Him from us, we would know His presence and we would receive the aid we need.
We are not always certain that God is with us. There are times when He seems to call upon us to live in the world without discerning His presence and we only recognize His nearness as we look back on what has happeneed. The important thing to remember is that He has given His promise to be with us and we should not doubt His willingness to keep that promise. At times God's apparent absence, the fact that He veils His light, may be that our faith may be tested. Struggle with doubt may be part of our Christian growth. Jesus accepted the man who prayed, 'Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." (Mark 9: 24). We long for the light that God's presence sheds 'on our pilgrim way' and we know that 'life is dark without Thee.' If He goes before us, however, there will be sufficient illumination to direct our footsteps and even the darkness of death will be brightened for 'death with Thee is bright." our God is the One of whom the psalmist said, 'darkness is as light with Thee." (Ps. 139:12). And at the last we will come through the bright and the cloudy days to 'the endless day' when the 'Light of light (will) shine o'er us' for all eternity.  

                                                                                       -- Dr. Cecil Kirk 

The hymn may be found here on hymnary.org  or listen to it here.

 


 

  

Monday, July 1, 2024

The Party Continues

 The link for this week's live-streamed service is 



more diners than singers

The party started in mid-June and it just went on and on. 

Thursday the choir celebrated the end of term with a very short rehearsal (we only needed to polish one anthem) and then a lovely dinner at Zanzibar Cafe. We ate well!



Sunday we celebrated big-time. First off, we honoured our grads -- two from high school, one from university and one with a post-grad degree. Talk about life-long learning. Congratulations to Will and Quinn and Sarah and Rebekah and Diane. We even got a bonus with Pressley also celebrating her graduation from high school. 


It was Blue Bus Sunday too. Thanks so much to Rick Wismer and his dedication to that ministry. Follow this link for background on the blue bus. Rick shared some good news with the congregation. One of the Reserves that had been on his route had dropped out of the ministry several years ago. They have now asked him to return because he made a difference to the kids. Tales like that keep Rick and his helpers "on the road."

working the grills

As though Sunday wasn't full enough, we also recognized the volunteers in our church. Since that is just about everyone, I won't name names. Suffice it to say that our congregation could not exist without volunteers. Everyone -- from Session to choir, from kitchen to grounds, from pastoral visitors to cleaners -- is a volunteer. 

At a time when all organizations struggle to find helpers -- who will organize kids' sporting events, or community suppers, or meals-on-wheels without volunteers -- our congregation is blessed with many willing hands and stalwart hearts. We're a bit short on strong backs but where there's a will . . .

Table setter-uppers

Instead of our usual coffee hour, we kept the party going with a BBQ. The weather cooperated and we enjoyed sunshine, cloud, gentle breezes and balmy temperatures. 


Gifts for the grads and a special hug from daughter to mother


seconds anyone?







Happy Summer to All. 


Monday, June 24, 2024

Party Time

 The link for this week's live-streamed service is here.





As the end of June approaches there is a "school's out" feeling around the church. The choir has stopped wearing gowns on Sunday morning -- it's too hot! Session has held its last regular meeting until September and, on Monday, the Sunshine Lunch group held its last gathering of this term.

From all reports, it was a bang-up lunch with lots of Hawaiian type clothing. I hear the grass skirts were a hit.

Thanks to Joan, I have pictures to share. 
















The Sunshine Lunch is for singles in our fellowship, but another social event, Friendship Coffee on Thursday morning, was open to all. No fancy lunch at that gathering but lots of coffee, baked goodies and lively conversation.  Thanks to our faithful hosts, Brian and Vivien, Al and Irene.

*****

And the good news is that another volunteer gardener turned up at the church on Friday. Welcome to the "work force," David B. and thank you.

*****

Sunday, Rev. Irwin was ministering at Trinity Presbyterian in Victoria. We were grateful to welcome Pastor George to the pulpit again. He is a great friend of the congregation and brings his own brand of wisdom and humour to Sunday mornings. 

The picture at left shows him in summer mode too.






Monday, June 17, 2024

Food Bank

 

The link for this week's live-streamed service is here.

A busy Sunday, which included Father's Day cake and a picture of our newest Daddy. 





Congratulations to all the Dads out there, and a hug to all who are missing their Dad today.

**********


During worship we celebrated the Lord's Supper at SPPC. We came together as a community of believers, broke bread and ate it, as Christ commanded "in remembrance of me." The morsel of bread fed our souls.

How fitting then, that at the same service we looked to our neighbours who are physically hungry. 

Anyone who watches the nightly news or reads a newspaper, or eavesdrops at the coffee shop will know the stories about the  need at food banks in B.C.  The Food Bank B.C. website reports a 57% increase in usage since 2019. One in three users is a child. The number of seniors seeking help has increased 20%. In March of this year 98000 individuals sought help from food banks in B.C. Donations have dropped 30%.

At a local level, we support the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank.  They report that demand is increasing month over month. The SPLF serves 1500 - 1800 people per month, about 500 households. Last Wednesday was their busiest day ever recorded with 57 households being served. 


Most of their clients are working people, some with more than one job. More and more seniors are showing up at the door, especially after the death of a spouse, and the loss of that pension income.

The Food Bank partners with local grocery stores to recover fresh produce and dairy products that are still usable. As garden season picks up, they will welcome donations of fresh vegetables and fruit, but please call ahead to be sure there is capacity for storage. 


If you check those collection boxes in the narthex, you will find that our congregation gives to the Food Bank every week.  Our bookkeeper reports that in the last 12 months, we have collected nearly $2500.00 for the food bank. 

In addition, we collect food items every week. We don't need a bribe! But, just for fun, twice a year we put on a drive to increase our givings. A donation earns a ticket in a draw for a hanging basket. At Christmas, Margaret S. won. On Sunday the generous winner was Karen R., a friend of the congregation who helps out in the kitchen on occasion. 

She received this lovely hanging basket. 



Congratulations, Karen, and well done everyone who filled the collection boxes with food and cash. 

Sadly, the need, as noted above, does not end with our draw. Now that school is out, there is an even greater demand for snack food. Those  kids are now cleaning out the fridge at home -- juice boxes, granola bars, peanut butter sandwiches-- all are in greater demand than ever. 

When you do your shopping, please remember to add an item or two for the food bank.

We Give Thee but Thine Own,










Monday, June 10, 2024

Friends and Family

 The link to this week's live-streamed service is here.





This weekend was busy for me. I had family visiting. Since they live four provinces away, such get-togethers are special moments. My visitors included a couple of children and I want to thank Anna and our Sunday School crew for making them welcome. We are so fortunate to have teachers willing to give extra effort for little visitors. As Stuart McLean used to say on the Vinyl Cafe, "we may not be big, but we're small." 

Our extra effort for the Sidney Food Bank continues until next Sunday (Father's Day and Communion.) All donations can be dropped off at the church. Bins are in the narthex. The Food Bank has asked particularly for school snack food this time around. When you drop off your items, please enter your name in the draw for a hanging basket, pictured above. Names will be announced next Sunday.

Bible Study resumes on Wednesday at 10:00am and 7:00 pm. All welcome, even if it's your first time. Our lesson is on on Psalm 3. We discuss that most basic of all prayers, "help me!" 

On Sunday morning Rev. Irwin preached on Psalm 69, another cry of despair from the Psalmist. If you have questions about the sermon, Wednesday Bible Study is a good time to ask them. 

Summer is fast approaching and with it a busy "end of term" time at SPPC. Save June 30 on your calendar as a special time to honour our volunteers, the Blue Bus ministry, and our graduates. There may be cake. 

Brother, sister parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild,
Father, unto Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.




Monday, June 3, 2024

Welcome to June

 

The link for this week's live-streamed service is here.






It has been a busy weekend at SPPC. Saturday evening we were all entertained with a lovely dinner, prepared and served by Barb and her crew.  The event was a fund-raiser for the
 new heat pump, and an excuse to "break bread togther." Our congregation savours any opportunity for fellowship. Throw in a good meal and the tables fill quickly. 

Barb with her crew in the kitchen

The meal started with a caesar salad. Main course was chicken and, finally, lots of desserts. Many accepted seconds!










Smiling faces and full tummies tell the tale.

Oh yes, the dinner raised over $1000.00 for the new heat pump.


*********

Sunday morning was a very special worship service. Abigail is turning twelve. As is the practice at SPPC, in honour of her milestone birthday,  she was presented with a study Bible, along with prayers and good wishes for her continued growth in the love of God. 






I had a close up view of the procedings. Abigail blushed, but held her composure throughout the ceremony. Not sure if there weren't a few tears in the pews. We have watched Abigail grow from a baby at her baptism until now.

Abigail at her baptism



At her birth, she was more or less the congregation's baby. Now she takes her place as an active member of our fellowship. Congratulations, Abigail, happy birthday. May God bless you richly and may your life be enriched with faith in Christ, our Saviour.