Monday, August 14, 2017

Sanctuary

This past week has been one of high tension.  Wildfires in the Interior of B.C. have blanketed this part of the province with smoke, a reminder of how quickly life can turn, putting our normally safe homes  in peril.
Media is full of stories about famine, floods, riots and a boat load of refugees being pushed into the sea.
In world affairs, two unpredictable leaders are "playing chicken" with nuclear bombs.
Anyone who isn't stressed, has his head in the sand.

And now it's Sunday.  At SPPC Rev. Irwin has returned from holiday.  Our friends are in the pew.  A man with a cheerful smile pours coffee.  There are cookies on the table.  Here, in the worship of God, I find sanctuary.  The minister preached on hope, using Psalm 13 as his text.

I came home and looked up a previous Bible Study, Praying the Psalms, by Juanita Ryan, and I found a lesson on Psalm 57, a prayer of distress.  At the time of writing, David had fled from King Saul and his 3000 men. In fear for his life, David hid in a cave and called out to God, "Be merciful to me . . . because I come to you for safety."  David goes on to detail the danger that surrounds him.  His enemies have spread a net to capture him, they have dug a pit where he might fall in.  His enemies have teeth like spears and arrows.  This is no pretty poem.  David is desperately afraid.  In his distress, he calls on God, confident that the Lord can and will protect him.  By the end of the Psalm, he says "I have complete confidence in God.  I will sing praises to him.  God's constant love reaches the heavens and His faithfulness touches the skies.

This morning's sermon, on Psalm 13 covered much the same material.  God is constant.  God loves us.  When we cry for help, God hears.   We will know trouble, it may endure for a time, but in the end we belong to God.  He will rescue us, just as he rescued David from the armies of King Saul.

When our world is in crisis, we can turn to God for courage.  We can pray to God for wisdom for our leaders.  We can trust God with our lives.

The Sunday service included "What a Friend we Have in Jesus," which includes the lines "are we weak and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care, . . . take it to the Lord in prayer.. .  In his arms He'll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there."

It's a lovely summer day here.  The sun is shining, there's a cool breeze.  I could have spent my Sunday morning at the beach, on the golf course, out in a sailboat or reading in the garden.  I'm so glad I went to church instead.  "Can we find a Friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share?  Jesus knows our every weakness.  Take it to the Lord in prayer."











Monday, August 7, 2017

First Impressions

They say familiarity breeds contempt, it also breeds a type of blindness.  We become so used to a space or situation that we don't really see it with clarity.  We just see a familiar settinge and are content.  Since our church expects to welcome visitors each week, I thought I'd take a look at our place as though I'd never seen it before.

Entering through the front door, the visitor is met with a set of comfy chairs and a table.  Seems like a nice touch.  

This week there were fresh flowers in the narthex as well.  A sign we living in an area of gardens and gardeners. 

 The bulletin board, while not a work of art, is cheerful.  For the past couple of weeks, members of the congregation have been asked to draw an outline of their hands and add them to the collection.  I'm used to seeing this as a Sunday School project, but adults have entered into the game with enthusiasm.  The outline won't show that some hands are smooth and pale, while others are gnarled and freckled.  Maybe that's a good thing.  We have a display of willing hands, regardless of age or health or circumstances.

There's also a picture of Creative Play.  That's a weekly program held during the summer where children, our own and visitors, are invited to enjoy an activity, led by different members of the congregation.  The program gives parents a safe place for their children during the sermon time, and it gives Sunday School teachers an opportunity to enjoy the whole service uninterrupted.  This bunch looks like they had a good time.




On the opposite bulletin board are sign up sheets, for fellowship, for flowers, for greeters, for readers, for pray-ers and any other need that arises in the congregation.  Here is an opportunity for those hands on the other wall, to do something practical for the congregation.



After the busyness of the narthex, the visitor comes through the double doors of the sanctuary to find a serene room with the usual furnishings of a church -- pews, pulpit, choir loft -- and a bouquet of fresh flowers.
As a member, it is hard for me to see our building with the eyes of a stranger, but I hope the combination of activity and serenity is pleasing and a blessing to all who enter here.