Monday, December 9, 2019

Caol Sing 2019

One of our favourite Christmas traditions at SPPC is the community carol sing.
This year the event takes place on Dec. 15 at 2:30 pm.
We'll sing old favourites like "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Away in a Manger," "Silent Night," and many more. Words supplied so no need to bring a carol book--just bring a friend and prepare to get into the Christmas spirit. 
The Jesus is Lord Congregation has been using the SPPC building for worship on Sunday evenings. We're delighted that they've agreed to join us for the Carol Sing and for a pot luck supper afterward.
As the old song goes -- "please to put a penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do,. If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God Bless You."  If you haven't got a dish to contribute to the supper, don't worry about it, we wish you God's blessings anyway. There will be lots of food to go around. If you'd rather just have a cup of tea and a cookie, that's fine too.
We look forward to meeting all our friends and neighbours at the Carol Sing.

9296 E. Saanich Road (at airport roundabout)
Free parking
More information at SPPC 250 656-2241

Monday, December 2, 2019

Advent 1

December and Advent arrived together this year. On Sunday the congregation entered a sanctuary decorated for this most festive time of year. It looked beautiful.
On Saturday, a number of church workers turned up to work the magic that takes a mess and turns it into something lovely. 

Felicity took charge and directed her helpers.
poinsettias in their wrappings declare Christmas season is here

An SPPC favourite, Hazel's knitted nativity.

Barb's antique plant stand creates a perfect display for the flowers

The candle of Hope is lit

December is full of special services. Dec. 8 is Communion and the ordination of new elders.
December 15 is white gift, bake sale, carol-sing and pot luck supper
Dec. 22 Fourth Advent, the candle of joy. Service at the Hospital
Dec. 24 Christmas Eve service at 7:00 pm -- carols, candlelight, lessons
Dec. 25 -- 10:30am  Birthday Party for Jesus  --All Welcome

Monday, November 25, 2019

Report on Bible Study

This week marks the end of our current Bible Study, A Brief Survey of the Bible. There has been lots of positive feedback. The group enjoyed the presentations by John Walton, with his deep love of the Old Testament. We've been inspired by the enthusiasm of New Testament professor, Mark Strauss. 
And we've read! Chapters and chapters and chapters of both testaments. For some it has been the first time they've looked at certain passages, for others it has been a review of old favourites. For all of us it has been a journey of discovery.

We began this study by default, since Rev. Irwin was on sick leave in the fall and many of us Bible Study regulars wanted to continue to meet together. Fortunately, our minister has recovered and has been able to sit in on the last few sessions. Having him available to answer questions as they arise has added tremendously to our experience.
We're coming into December now, so there will be no more Wednesday Bible Study until after Christmas.

On January 15, we will meet at the usual time to discuss a book "If
You Want to Walk on Water you have to get out of the boat."  Linda recommended this book and wrote a blog on it earlier in the year. She will lead the discussion group. Anyone who wants a copy of the book to read can get it by contacting the SPPC office at 250 656-2241

After that -- who knows? The "Brief Survey" raised lots of topics which could be explored in the new year.  Stay tuned for updates.

P.S. Reading through the Bible once is only the beginning. Go back and read again the beautiful parts as a balm to your soul. Re-read the hard parts to enlarge your understanding. Look again at the commandments to encourage you in faithful living. It is a Good Book.
The DVD of "A Brief Survey" will be in our church library

Monday, November 18, 2019

Amidst all the Remembrance Day observances last week, I realized one of the hymns of my youth was missing, "O Valiant Hearts." It does not appear in our Book of Praise,. In fact, lists it as appearing in less than 25 hymnals between the 1920's and the 1990's.
The poem was written in 1917, by John Arkwright, and later set to music. It was an attempt to bring meaning to the millions of deaths brought on by WWI -- the war to end all wars.
It is easy to see how grieving nations would embrace the words of this hymn, which links the sacrifice of so many young lives to the sacrifice of Christ. 
The hymn was was sung at the bur­i­al ser­vice of the Un­known War­ri­or in West­min­ster Ab­bey, Lon­don, No­vem­ber 11, 1920, 
Sadly, the Great War, did not end all wars. Perhaps that is one reason later hymnarys did not include this hymn. However, it was a standard at the cenotaph when I was young and a quick search on-line shows it is still very much a part of Remembrance Day in Britain.
It may not suit our times, but the heartfelt sorrow and grief of so many nations, is worth remembering.

1. O valiant hearts who to your glory came
Through dust of conflict and through battle flame;
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
Your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

2. Proudly you gathered, rank on rank, to war
As who had heard God’s message from afar;
All you had hoped for, all you had, you gave,
To save mankind—yourselves you scorned to save.

3. Splendid you passed, the great surrender made;
Into the light that nevermore shall fade;
Deep your contentment in that blest abode,
Who wait the last clear trumpet call of God.

4. Long years ago, as earth lay dark and still,
Rose a loud cry upon a lonely hill,
While in the frailty of our human clay,
Christ, our Redeemer, passed the self same way.

5. Still stands His cross from that dread hour to this,
Like some bright star above the dark abyss;
Still, through the veil, the Victor’s pitying eyes
Look down to bless our lesser Calvaries.

7. O risen Lord, O Shepherd of our dead,
Whose cross has bought them and whose staff has led,
In glorious hope their proud and sorrowing land
Commits her children to Thy gracious hand.

John Arkwright, 1917  

(Tune: The Supreme Sacrifice) - composed by Charles Harris

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Time for Remembrance

This Remembrance Day Sunday our wreath was laid by Harold Taylor, a veteran of the Korean War, serving with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. 
Harold was doing his National Service in England when he was eighteen. He was supposed to go to Hong Kong. However, because the first English soldier killed in Korea was only eighteen, there was a protest in England, particularly from the mothers. As a result, the military decided that young men would not be deployed to foreign service until they'd passed their nineteenth birthday. So, Harold stayed training in England for another year. When he turned nineteen, he got his orders for Korea. 
He served in the "police action" there for eighteen months. Back home in England, after he finished his National Service, he found the country in turmoil because of a miners strike. He and Hazel decided to emigrate and Canada offered a hopeful future.  
Examining the Bible Harold received while in Japan, before deploying to Korea

Although Harold was in Korea as part of the British military, Canadians served in that conflict as well. Korea is often referred to as Canada's forgotten war.
When Canada agreed to join a US led military action in Korea, the country was weary of war. The Second World War had ended only five years previously. Even though most citizens agreed with the need to stop communist aggression, they did not feel an emotional or personal connection to Korea, even though 500 Canadians were killed in the conflict.
British casualties were 1,078 killed in action, 2,674 wounded and 1,060 missing or taken prisoner.  
South Korea, however, did not forget the service and sacrifice of people like Harold.  The Republic of Korea holds Canada, and other allied countries in high regard for fighting to save them from falling victim to one of the world's most merciless regimes.

Korean  War Monument to Canadian Fallen (Ottawa)

Monday, November 4, 2019

Book Review -- Linda Cliff

If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat

By John Ortberg

This book was the winner of the 2002 Christianity Today Book award! - And is well worth the read.   The author invites the reader to consider the potential that awaits outside your comfort zone.  Ortberg takes the reader step by step through Peter’s walking on water experience helping the reader to develop the necessary skills to do the same. 
In the preface of the book Ortberg states that he believes there is some aspect of our lives in which God is calling us to walk with and to him, and that when we say yes to his calling it sets in motion a dynamic that is beyond mere human power.  Fortunately there are some essential skills we can learn before we try “water walking”, this is a book that will help you get out of the boat. 

The book begins with a discussion of water walking, the people who risk getting out of the boat and the boat potatoes, the people who stay in the boat.  Ortberg tells the reader there are consequences with each decision but God’s promises about water walking are worth the first step.  
He uses scripture from Matthew to look at each part of the water walking skill.  After having the courage to take the risk the walker needs the wisdom to discern the call. Each chapter focuses on learning a part of this new skill.   Once we have discerned the call, there is the actual walking on the water.  This is when we, like Peter, may see the wind and cry out in fear.  Then there is the sinking which is stopped by focusing on Jesus.  We also have to learn how to manage failure and decide “How big is our God?” How big is Christ in our lives? 

Ortberg leads us through this new skill by focusing on each part of the water walking. He uses Bible references to illustrates how others have taken the risk of getting out of the boat.  He is like any good coach; he explains what is needed and then gives us things to practice so we build both the skill and our confidence.  The book is filled with humorous antidotes that make you want to read more and help to keep the reader engaged when you are doing the hard work of learning a new skill.

I highly recommend this book.  The chapter on fear was one of my favorites and one I reread.  Also the chapter on focusing on Jesus has practical ideas on how to make Jesus the focus in each day. 

If you would like to be part of a group who will do a short study on this book, copies are available at the Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian church.  The group will meet in January 2020 and we would like to welcome you.  Watch this Blog for updates.

Linda Cliff

Monday, October 28, 2019

A Brief survey

During this session, the Wednesday morning Bible Study is following a video series entitled A Brief Survey of the Bible -- Discovering the Big Picture of God's Story from Genesis to Revelation.
That is a very long title for something that is supposed to be "brief," but the Bible is a very long story!
In previous studies we've focussed on one book, or one epistle, or one theme and explored that subject in depth. I've learned so much from those studies. They really help with this one. 
The current study takes a different approach and covers the whole of scripture, in a very brief overview. 
Each lesson covers several chapters of scripture. I'm glad I've had the shorter, deeper studies, otherwise I wouldn't have the language and the background for this survey.  The instructor assumes you know the stories of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, and Lot, and Abraham and Sarah, and Jacob and Esau, and the Tower of Babel, and Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, and Joshua and the walls of Jericho and Gideon and . . .  You get the idea. 
Without knowing all those stories, it would be like trying to study Shakespeare without knowing the English language.
Surprisingly, to me, the lessons are not about the people in the stories. The Bible is viewed as God's story and all the characters, even the great King David, are mere bit players. 
It's a fascinating study. If you'd like to join in, it's not too late. Don't be scared off by the amount of reading -- we don't mark your homework. Everyone does what he/she can and we all learn from each other.
If you'd like to see a sample of the instructors teaching, you can find John Walton (Old Testament) here, and Mark Strauss (New Testament) here.These are not clips from our study, but they will give you a sense of what the video is like. 
Wednesday's at 9:30 am, Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church, 9296 E. Saanich Rd. Free parking. The coffee's on.