Monday, December 4, 2023

Christmas is Coming

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

And . . . all at once Advent is here and the rush toward Christmas is upon us. To begin, we decorated the church. Many thanks to Pam and her Friday crew for making the Christmas spirit visible at SPPC. 

Laying out the master plan
worker bees

Preparing a spot
for Hazel's 
knitted nativity.


The finishing touches.

Don't forget the outside.

Then, on the first Sunday of Advent we enjoyed the familiar carols and heard a message of hope. 

Bearing witness to hope, after service we joined Josh and Emily for a baby shower/lunch. We shared in their excitement and happiness. Celebrating love and family in the approach to Christmas felt very right. 

Thank you, Emily and Josh, for sharing these precious moments of your life with the congregation. 

 A baby needs grandparents, too.

Just as this family waits and prepares for a new life, Advent is a season of waiting and preparing. It is easy to get caught in the excitement of presents and baking and trees and concerts and goodness knows how many other distractions coming our way, but take a quiet moment here and there to be still and prepare your heart for the coming of Christ.
The first Sunday of Advent celebrates hope. Let us remember that God sent His Son to bring us hope, even in the darkest times. When the noise of the world is loud and harsh, let us reflect on Hope in the time of Advent.

Monday, November 27, 2023


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

Thanks to Jim for this report.

Today I want to tell you about two fabulous choirs, one that I saw in Cuxhaven, Germany and the other coming right here in Sidney, B.C. on Saturday, December 16, 2023

On Friday, August 11, 2023 I flew from Vancouver, B.C. to Hamburg, Germany, arriving in Hamburg on Saturday evening, German time.

At the airport to meet me was my special German family, (Mark, his wife Riikka and their two children, Eva (11) and Johan (9). Marc's father spent a year living with us as an exchange student from August 1995 to July 1996. I stayed with them in their house in the town of Stadde (near Hamburg) for six days.

On Sunday, August 13 we all went to Cuxhaven to hear a choir concert on a dock there. Cuxhaven is located at the mouth of the Elbe River and the North Sea. What a treat. The choir sang in German and English. As you can see by the pictures, the concert took place on a dock. 

The choir with Johan and Eva, who call me CGD (Canadian Granddad.)

The choir at Cuxhaven pictured below.

Fishing boat arriving on the dock opposite, with the day's catch

Although you weren't with me in Germany, here is a chance to hear another great choir, "The Victoria Police Choir." On Saturday December 16,2023, they will be performing at St. Paul's United Church, 2410 Malaview Ave, Sidney, BC on the corner of 5th. street and Malaview Ave. north of Beacon St., a short drive from the church.

Doors open at 1:30 PM with the concert from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Noel, a member of our congregation, will be singing.
Tickets are $20.00 seniors and $25.00 adults - worth every penny. They can be purchased for cash at Tanners Bookstore, Beacon Ave., Sidney. You can also contact me
@ 416-303-2224. and I will get them for you. I hope to see you there.
Jim Dallimore


 Last week we interrupted our study of Proverbs to discuss the background to the war between Israel and Hamas. Rev. Irwin gave a fascinating talk on the history of the area from Abraham through to 1948. During those thousands of years, the area saw immigration and conquest from many, many empires that invaded the land. Some set up vassal kingdoms, some left the people alone, some expelled the leadership to other areas of whatever empire was in power. Over five thousand years of history, the land of present day Israel was claimed by Egypt, Assyria, the Philistines, Babylon, Greece (Macedonian under Alexander the Great), Rome, the Ottoman Empire, France and Britain. The history of the Holy Land is a story of conquest, subjugation and rebellion, over thousands of years.
The session ran past our usual time, but no one left. In fact, people stayed behind with more questions. There was no easy answer suggested in the discussion, but a more complete understanding of the geography and history of the region can help to clarify current events. 
Thank you to Rev. Irwin for a thorough and understandable lesson in history.
This week, we revert to the study of Proverbs--Living Wisely. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Love and Laughter

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

We are not into Advent yet, but SPPC has had a full calendar of social events in November.

To begin, a Sunshine Lunch was held on the first Monday. This get-together is much appreciated by all who attend. Eating alone day after day is wearisome. Thanks to Joan and her helpers, this lunch brings a little sunshine into the day.


And, since Joan is key to this ministry, it is only fitting that she received birthday cake and balloons in honour of her own day

Then, for no particular reason, the Fellowship Committee decided to hold a Beetle Drive on Thursday morning. For the uninitiated a Beetle Drive is a silly game where the roll of a dice determines how you draw a beetle. In our case we needed a 6 to draw the body, a 5 to draw the head and 36 sixes to get in all the legs. I threw endless threes when I needed a six, then once I was ready to add the legs I threw endless sixes. Go figure.
In the end, Bin Sie was the grand winner. Tore got a prize for neatest and Eileen had loser written on her sheet. You can see all the lopsided beetles in the narthex. Whatever the dice said, we laughed a lot and cheered when Bin Sie finally put an end to our frustration.

winner                 neatest                       loser 

Last Sunday we shared laughter but not so much fun as we said good-bye to one of our longtime members. Kay is leaving the Saanich Peninsula and going back to her prairie roots. She said she's looking forward to a breath of fresh air. 

So, it wasn't a celebration of Kay's leaving but of her long association and many friendships at SPPC. Of course, we had cake.

a token of affection

Then it was Sunday again and we must have more cake. This time, we celebrated Ann's 90th birthday. To make the day extra special, Ann read the scriptures during the morning worship, before cutting her cake.

Now, if you managed to miss all the goodies from the past couple of weeks, you have another chance this Thursday, when Friendship Coffee meets at 10:00 am. Come and bring a friend, or make a friend, or meet a friend. The coffee's hot, the goodies  plentiful and there will be laughter.

Monday, November 13, 2023

For Such a Time

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

Every year on Remembrance Day we stand in solemn silence and vow "to remember them." We read the names of those who fell in past wars. We grieve for the families left behind, for the potential left unfulfilled. We look at history and promise ourselves never to let that happen again.

Yet, this year, 2023, the ceremony feels different. Wars are raging around the world and two of them, one in Europe, one in the Middle East, feel especially close to us. As a land of immigrants many of our fellow citizens have direct ties with these troubled parts of the world. The wars feel personal and present. They are not tales in a movie or a history book. They are real and they are now and they are horrific.

As we "remember them," how do we face the news with its unending reel of carnage and sorrow and death? 

Can we recite "lest we forget" while bombs and blood and hate explode in our world? It would seem we have forgotten. Forgotten that our forebears went to war to secure peace for their children and succeeding generations.

How do we make our "Act of Remembrance" meaningful in the face of today's headlines?

A couple of week's ago, our choir sang an anthem, "For Such a Time as This."  The title comes from the Book of Esther, but the poetry is ageless, and offers guidance for our time.

For such a time as this, we are called to service,
For such a time as this, we care called to grace,
For such a time as this, we are called to worship,
This is the day that God has made,
And at such a time, we are called to praise.

For such a time as this, we are called to purpose
For such a time as this, we are called to care,
For such a time as this we are called to worship.

For everything there is a season 
And a time when God's purpose is fulfilled.
May heaven always find us faithful
Always find us grateful
When God's call to service is revealed.

For such a time as this we are called to mission
For such a time as this we are called to work.
This is the day that God has made,
And at such a time, we are called to praise.
                                   by Joseph Martin

Service, mission, work, praise, grace, gratitude -- these qualities we can cultivate and practice, even in the face of war. Our "Remembrance" is made meaningful by the lives we live after November 11. We honour those who sacrificed for us, by holding high the values of grace and gratitude. We laud our fallen by offering our service to others, by working to build peace in the world.

For Esther, "such a time" was when her people were threatened with extermination. For us, "such a time" is now. Upheavals in world order, disquieting cultural change, stress in our financial lives, are top of mind. Problems that seem overwhelming, beyond our abilities to solve. Yet, we are called to care, to praise, to worship, -- we can do those things. 

Sunday's Presbyterian Devotional was titled "Small Things," and reminded us that God cares about the small things, like sparrows. Every day, we can all do small things to further the Kingdom of God on earth, and to honour those who gave up their todays to give us  better tomorrows.

Monday, November 6, 2023

A Sea Adventure

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

At Whiffen Spit
This week, I am delighted to welcome a new contributor to our blog. Jim and Lorna have been worshipping with us for the past few years and are a very welcome addition to our fellowship. Jim has graciously agreed to share some of his adventures on this blog.

On Saturday October 28, I found out that the Canadian Naval Reserve base, HMCS Malahat was having an open house.

HMCS Malahat is a Royal Canadian Navy Reserve Division located in Victoria, British Columbia on Huron St., near Fishermans Wharf. Dubbed a stone frigate, HMCS Malahat is a land-based naval training establishment for part-time sailors as well as a local recruitment centre for the Canadian Naval Reserve. 

 I arrived at 11:30 am and walked around exhibits that were on display ( firearms) and met some of the people who are part of the Naval Reserve including Lt. Andrew Hewlett, the Chamlain, who is a Lutheran minister. He is familiar with our church.

 I then went on a ride on their pontoon boat. We went out into Victoria harbour but then the boat broke down. The crew were able to get it to a dock where we were able to get off. We were taken back to the base by a Naval vehicle. So disappointed.

This boat is 1 of 2. The other boat is out of service. So much for being ready to assist the regular navy, coast guard etc. 

The personnel who are at the base are competent in their area of expertise but deserve to have boats that work, to do their job.

I enjoyed going there and learning about the Naval Reserve.

Council Chambers in Liverpool, England

Jim Dallimore

Ed. Note:  Having grown up in Portsmouth, UK, headquarters of the Royal Navy, Jim as a deep affection for all things naval.

Given this tale of a rescue at sea, I thought you might enjoy this hymn. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

Love is a Warm Sock

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

Sunday was Reformation Sunday, the day we commemorate Martin Luther's posting of the 95 Theses. The day that sowed the seeds of the Protestant Reformation, eventually leading to the formation of the Presbyterian church.  Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox are among the better known Reformed preachers. Many a Presbyterian church is called "Knox" because he founded the Presbyterian  Church in Scotland. The Presbyterian Church in Canada, and hence, Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church, is a descendent of that movement. 

There have been many theological arguments over the centuries about the role of the Pope, infant baptism, the sacraments, predestination, Christmas, to name a few. But one thing all denominations can agree on is "Love Thy Neighbour." On Sunday we showed that love with baskets full of warm socks for those who face a cold winter without adequate shelter.

We've been doing the "Cozy Toes" ministry at SPPC for over twenty years, now. In the early days we concentrated on socks and toiletries. The idea was to take a pair of warm socks, stuff the toes with things like toothpaste, soap and shampoo, and present it as an offering.

Over time, the program has morphed into a more general call for warm clothes. Although we still focus on socks, sweaters, blankets, coats and mitts are also welcome. 

Our donations are passed on to the Mustard Seed Street Church in Victoria. On Sunday a representative from there, Janice James, attended service and accepted the donated goods and offered a brief summary of the work they do. 

Winter has come early to Victoria this year, so those in need of warm clothing and dry feet need them now. After all the rain, puddles abound. Most of us are used to wearing rain boots, so puddles don't matter, or having a drawerful of socks if we need to change out of wet ones. For those who don't have those luxuries, the Mustard Seed Street Church, and its "hospitality" shelf are essential. 

The Street Church takes its name from Jesus' parable of the mustard seed. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

If we counted up all the socks that have been donated from our congregation they would likely number in the thousands, yet each one is like the tiny mustard seed, growing and spreading and providing sustenance for many. Sadly, the need for warm, dry clothing continues to grow. Thank you to all the people of SPPC who added warm socks to the Sunday offering. Thank you to the Mustard Seed Street Church for taking our gifts and using them well.  

Dedication of Cozy Toes gifts

Monday, October 23, 2023

Work and Play

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

"Bow down low, and bend your head,/Bow down low and bend your head/ For I've come to sweep this house,/ For to sweep the Lord's House clean." 

                              old Shaker Song

On Friday morning a bunch of volunteers arrived at the church for our annual deep cleaning bee. The refrigerator was  leaned out, cupboards emptied and washed, and the kitchen floor and mats received a thorough scouring.

The tables and cupboard in the Ross Lounge were scoured, as were the Venetian blinds from Irwin's office.

Tall people poked into the upper corners of the building to remove dust and cobwebs.

The carpets were shampooed and spots on chairs treated.

Al even brought his super-duper machine and washed the outside windows. 

Many thanks to the many hands that made the work lighter and to the cheery characters who made the chores seem like play. Woe betide any spider who spins a web before Sunday.


                                The Magic of of Autumn

                               It’s a glorious day with the sun overhead

                   And maples off yonder in Cardinal red,

                  And elms spilling gold on the floor of the world,

            And the sumachs ablaze, and the picture’s unfurled.

                                                                    Author Unknown

Sunday was just such a glorious day. So our Autumn Lunch was appropriately named. For no particular reason apart from a desire to serve Barb and her friend, Shirley, prepared and served lunch to the congregation after morning worship. 

Well-filled plates

Good friends

Good Conversation

The sermon title was "Messy."

It referenced various Jewish leaders including King David, but I thought it might apply to the kitchen too. 

You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs and you can't make lunch for forty people without dirtying a few dishes. Happily, there were plenty of volunteers to clean up afterward, restoring the kitchen to the spotless condition the Friday cleaning bee created.

The weather channel predicts dropping temperatures and even snow in some areas next week, but Sunday was a glorious day. Praise God.