Monday, October 16, 2017

Many Gifts

This weekend we were blessed at SPPC with many gifts, but one spirit.

On Saturday night fifty to sixty people gathered for a late Thanksgiving feast.  Felicity and her friends prepared a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, mashed potatoes, yam casserole, dressing, gravy, green vegetable medley, and cranberry salad.  Followed by pumpkin tars with whipped cream, or apple crumble.  The dinner was sponsored by the Parking Lot Club and was a treat for us all.  More importantly it was an opportunity for members of the congregation to meet and mingle with families whose children come to the Parking Lot Club on Thursday afternoons.  SPPC likes to practice fellowship around a common meal, and in doing so we follow the practice of the early church.  A wonderful way to welcome others into our fellowship.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, a similar number of people had the pleasure of hearing the McKenna String Quintet in concert.  This remarkable family of five, talented siblings has been in Victoria for the past few weeks, studying with various teachers, including the LaFayette String Quartet.  During that time, they have attended Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church, much to our delight.
Their concert opened with Mozart's String Quintet in D Major, K.593.  
This was followed by a vocal duet, Al Shlosh D'varim arr. Allen Naplan and performed by Minja and Marja McKenna.  The piece is based on Jewish morality laws, translated to mean: "The world is sustained by three things: by truth, by justice, and by peace."  The number was a surprising and lovely addition to the concert.

Following intermission the quintet, slightly rearranged, played Vaughn Williams' lush and romantic "Phantasy Quintet."  I overheard someone remark that it sounded Irish, perhaps that's why the family chose it.  Their father's background is Irish.

We then had another vocal piece, this time with all five of the performers singing. Esto les Digo by Kinley Lange is based on Matthew 18:20  "Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I also in the midst of them."  

The concert concluded with Boccherini's "String Quintet in C Major," Op. 42 No.2, a lively and engaging finish to the afternoon.
Except it wasn't really the end, the quintet treated us to an encore, a vocal arrangement of "Loch Lomond."

We had a truly remarkable weekend at the church, because so many were willing to share their gifts in the Spirit of Christ.  Thank you to everyone.  To the McKenna's we wish you well as you return home to Calgary, and on your musical journey.  
To everyone who helped, set-up, cooked, took-down, offered the hand of friendship and prayed for the success of both endeavours, thank you.  God bless us, everyone.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Thanksgiving Sunday

Happy Thanksgiving!  
Canadian thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays.  What joy to celebrate the harvest, to bring in the sheaves, to see the granaries full and the preserve shelves sagging under the weight of summer's goodness.

This year, my harvest wasn't that good. And I've heard the same story from others.  A cold, wet spring knocked the blossoms off the fruit trees.  The rain kept the bees away.  Then hot, dry weather and smoky skies stunted the growth of many vegetables, particularly zucchini, in August.  Can you imagine a gardener asking for zucchini?  Usually we're trying desperately to give them away!
But even with a poor year, the table at the church is filled with the fruits of the earth.

Still, the disappointment with my own crops made me think about other times and other places.  In our world, we don't fear famine.  We can always buy what we need, even if we can't grow it.  But the people of Israel knew famine, it's what sent them into Egypt, and slavery. 
 People in parts of Africa and Asia are starving today, sometimes because of warfare, sometimes because of failed crops.
 On this thanksgiving weekend, when most of us sit down to too much food, let us be grateful for the feast before us and remember those in need.  
A gift to PWS&D reflects our love for God's people everywhere.  Closer to home, there's a box in the narthex for the food bank.

Thanks to all who brought offerings for the table at church, including Heritage Acres. Enjoy the feast and family and friends.  Rejoice in the goodness of God's world.  "Come Ye Thankful People Come!"

Monday, October 2, 2017

McKenna String Quintet

What a busy Sunday we just had.  World Wide Communion, a visiting string quintet and the installation of Rev. Noel Kinnon as our minister emeritus, and the beginning of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  Talk about a high Sunday.

Let's start with the McKenna's a quintet of siblings, visiting our church, who graced the service with their music during the prelude, offertory and postlude.  Such a wealth of talent in one family.  We thank them for their participation.  If you missed them on Sunday, you can hear them in concert on October 15, at the church.  More details to follow.

A minister emeritus in the Presbyterian Church in Canada has no special duties, no special powers and no remuneration.  The title is simply an acknowledgement of affection and esteem from the congregation to the retired minister.  There was no shortage of affection or esteem in Sunday morning's service.  Noel is a great friend to Saanich Peninsula
Presbyterian Church, often filling the pulpit when Rev. Irwin is called away.  Judging by the number of guests in the pews, Rev. Kinnon is also a friend to a great many people, not of our congregation.  Praise God!
Although it was specifically stated that he had no new responsibilities as our minister emeritus, Noel was very much part of the ministry team, taking the children's story and officiating at Holy Communion.

And that brings me to World Wide Communion Sunday.  The McKenna's are not only gifted string players, they sing -- beautifully.  The piece they chose this morning was in Spanish.  Fitting for a day when Christians around the world celebrate communion.  Sometimes we feel small and alone in the hurly-burly of our culture, but Sunday we were part of "a great cloud of witnesses."

Finally, Sunday marked 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  On Oct. 31, 1517 Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg Castle church, beginning a movement that would reshape the western world.  Rev. Irwin's sermon "Sola Gratia -- By Grace Alone," was based in one of the tenets of Luther's reformation.  We are saved by grace alone, by God's gift, not by our deservedness.

Ironically, the Bible Study groups have just begun the study of the Letter of James, a book Luther described as "straw."  James emphasises "works" to illuminate and act out our faith.  Some see this book as a contradiction to Luther's Sola Gratia.  Come along on Wednesdays at 9:30 am or 7:00 pm to see where the study takes us.

As I said at the beginning of this post, quite a Sunday.  Hallelujah!

Monday, September 25, 2017

New Parking Lot Season

September is the time for going back to school and getting back into the fall routine. Part of that re-start is the Parking Lot Club.  Ball hockey is our major focus, although food seems to run a close second.  

The first event was this past week and we had a nice turn out with some familiar faces and a few new ones.
The fun continues Thursdays at 4:30 pm until 6:00 pm for the rest of the fall term.
As noted, hockey is our primary focus, but when numbers warrant we have crafts, badminton, or a walk in the woods.  The club is sponsored by the church and welcomes youth ages 6 - 12 from the community.
We had a beautiful day on Thursday, not to hot, not too cold and no rain.  But, if the weather doesn't co-operate, we still play hockey -- indoors.  It gets very loud but that's just part of the game.

Don't wait for an invitation, all are welcome.  Bring your friends.

Monday, September 18, 2017


Last week's sermon was based on Genesis 1:1-10, Creation.  Rev. Irwin spoke mostly about the great and large things of God's imagination, light and dark, the heavens and the earth, the seas and the dry land. "And God saw that it was good."
During the glorious days of this week, I noted the smaller details of creation.  Not only are they good, they are most wonderfully made.

Monday, September 11, 2017

commissioning Sunday School teachers
     I attended a writers' workshop this weekend.  We had a speaker who made insider jokes and we all laughed.  We tossed around terms like GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict), black moment, hero's journey and Amazon algorithms.  These are all English words, understandable to anyone, but the phrases hold extra layers of meaning for writers of commercial fiction in 2017.

     Similarly, on Thursday night SPPC choir went back into session. Conversation centred on time signatures, staff lines, rests, repeat signs and rallentando.  Again, words that make sense to the layman, but have a wealth of meaning for a musician that others may miss.

     In our culture we use many terms that are based in Scripture -- cross to bear, Eden, David and Goliath, into the lion's den, -- to name a few.  Some children's games use Biblical titles, Jacob and Rachel or Jacob's Ladder, for example.  Yet, for many in our modern world, these terms have lost their power.  Goliath just means "giant."  They have never heard the whole story of the shepherd boy who said "The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37  The youth who answered Goliath's boast with trust in God. "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands." 1 Samuel 17: 45-46

  For the Christian, we insiders, these terms are layered with meaning, they remind us of the God we worship, the God who cares for us, who provides for even the lilies of the field.

    On Sunday morning we commissioned our Sunday School teachers.  These faithful servants of the Lord will teach our children and youth to be "insiders" to the language of scripture, to learn the many layers of meaning in a simple story, and to love and trust the Lord, Jesus Christ.  
     The congregation offers its support to our teachers and our gratitude for their willingness to undertake this vital ministry.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Growing Old

     There was a birthday celebration at church last Sunday.  Betty turned ninety.  She had visiting family in church with her and a cake on the table.  And a lovely cake it was!

Isn't it odd that we celebrate birthdays as children and teens, and as seniors, but in the middle-years we are loathe to admit our age? Why are we ashamed of the advance of time after age thirty but embrace it with joy when we are truly old?  Perhaps we've learned wisdom?  That is purported to be a benefit of old age, although I once saw a sign that read "wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone."  

The Bible has some encouraging advice on growing older.  In Ps. 92:12-15, declares that those who walk with God will still bear fruit in old age.  Job 12:12 asserts that "old men have wisdom."  Proverbs  16:31 assures us that "grey hair is a glorious crown."

God designed us to live fully and in His company at all stages of our lives and then, when the earthly body is worn out, to be with Him in glory.  Is. 46:4, 2 Timothy 4: 7-8

Happy birthday, Betty.  May your light continue to shine.  And to all those in the middle years, remember that grey hair is the splendour of the old. Proverbs 20:29