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.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Faith in Action

Normally this blog focuses on events happening at our church, but today I was reminded that church members have lives outside the congregation and engage in good works away from the church building.
One such couple is Brian and Meta Altenkirk. They were features in the Peninsula News Review this week because of their contribution to the craft sale at Water's Edge Village. 

We've had a chance to enjoy their work at various SPPC events. As shown in the photo above, Brian makes lovely wood things on the lathe and Meta creates greeting cards, but the products of their skill and imagination have a purpose beyond making pretty things.

The Altenkirk's have a daughter who suffers from MS. She was diagnosed at 21. She is now 52. Their daughter is fortunate that the disease so far has not been terribly aggressive. 
Since that diagnosis, Brian and Meta have turned to supporting the MS Society. Every penny they take in from the sale of their crafts goes to MS. Even if their daughter is not in dire need, others are. As Meta says there are many aids that people with MS need that are not covered by provincial health care plans. The MS Society tries to fill that gap.

So, well done, Altenkirk's. For 30 years, without fanfare or the prospect of gain,  you have contributed to the well-being of others. We're so glad to have you in our congregation where we may learn by your example.  Luke 10:34

Monday, October 14, 2019

With Gratitude

Rev. Arnie, our guest minister on Thanksgiving Sunday told a story about thanksgiving in New England, when the Pilgrims first arrived in North America. Their first winter was very hard with cold and storms and not enough to eat. Legend has it that some days each person received only five kernels of corn as their ration of food. The next year, after a good harvest. The Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving with five kernels of corn, to remind them of five things they were grateful for. It is the legend of the five kernels of corn.
The minister asked what we would name as our five gratitudes. So, for this blog, I thought I'd share my list.

  • The harvest. If you've read this blog much, you know I glory in the abundance of the garden and the orchard.        

 Give thanks to the God of Creation for all He has done.    

  • The people at SPPC who shared their harvest to decorate our thanksgiving table. Any produce not reclaimed will go to the Food Bank, so we have shared in many ways. 

Give thanks to the Holy Spirit who moves people's hearts to do good things.

  • The people at SPPC who take care of our property, keeping it tidy and inviting for all who come. This week, we had the lines in the parking lot repainted, so the lot is safer and more inviting. 

Give thanks to Jesus for teaching us to be servants.

  • A broken fig tree. It reminded me of the parable of the fig tree. Give thanks to God for His Word, our guide and our creed.
  • Faithful members of the congregation who shared their celebrations within our fellowship. Lois just celebrated her 90th birthday. She couldn't come to SPPC, so SPPC went to her.

 Give thanks to Jesus who turned water into wine so that friends and family might enjoy fellowship.

Five is a rather poor number when it comes to listing our gratitudes. Some time ago the Bible Study class studied Ann Voskamp's devotional "One Thousand Gifts." When I started writing them down, 1000 seemed like an unattainable number, but within the year, I'd reached the goal. Five barely scratches the surface.

Happy Thanksgiving. I challenge you to make a list of five gratitudes, then keep going, until you have a hundred, or five hundred or a thousand. God is so good to us, we'll never reach the end.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Earth is the Lord's

Warnings about climate change and the fate of the planet have been around for many years, but in the past few weeks the debate has reached a new height. 

In the face of so much fear, I looked around and saw a magnificent display of God's grace -- in the beauty and abundance of nature.
At church, the hydrangea have turned a deep red. So lovely, I cut some to use as a bouquet during worship.

At home my apple trees are laden with fruit. These are dwarf trees yet they could feed ten families. (I'll  take a box to the foodbank.)

The fall flowers of dahlia and zinnia blaze brightly in the autumn sun


The maple tree makes my heart lift each time I look out the window.

Even the last roses of summer flaunt their beauty in the dying season.

My soul sings in response to God's creation. 

Yet the streets are full of fear.

Humanity has polluted  God's garden. 

We needn't look to the scientists and the activists for direction. We need only look to God's Word. Genesis 2:15 says that we are to care for creation. Lv. 25: 23-24 reminds us that the earth is the Lord's and we are but aliens and tenants.  Jer. 2:7 "I brought you into a fertile land  . . . you defiled my land." Prov. 12:10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals. 1 Cor. 4: 1-2  This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 

And in the beginning --
Genesis 1:21 "And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

Thanks to Aarol for her heron photo.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Rev. Barbara Young in Memoiriam

Reverend Barbara was born in Windsor, Ontario on August 10, 1938. Growing up in a family with three sisters, Barbara’s childhood years were spent in Southern Ontario. She trained for the teaching profession in London, Ontario, and took a position as an elementary teacher in the public school  system. She married a young teacher, Doug Young, and after their first child, Heather, was born, Barbara became a stay at home Mum for a few years. Barbara then took a position in a local private school and she taught there for many years, and was much loved by students and colleagues alike.
In her early forties, Barbara felt the call to train for the ministry and entered Knox College, Toronto where she gained her M.Div. degree. After ordination, Barbara served as minister in Knox Presbyterian Church, Bayfield, Ontario and in St. Andrew’s PC Ailsa Craig, Ontario.
Meanwhile,  Barbara’s daughter, Heather had moved west to British Columbia and Barbara wished to be near Heather and her young family. The vacancy at Saanich Peninsula PC was an opportunity to be nearer to Heather, and Reverend Barbara answered the call to SPPC where she served from August 1998 to September 2005.
During her ministry at SPPC, Barbara and Doug faced a long and difficult struggle with her husband’s cancer which became terminal.
In September 2005, Barbara retired from ministry, a misnomer of significant proportion! Always active and enthusiastic, Barbara was heavily engaged by the churches of the Presbytery in pulpit supply. Her friendly manner, positive and hopeful sermons, delivered with a sense of humour, enabled her to engage with congregations as a welcomed visiting preacher. Her passion for preaching the gospel was evident. In the “Children’s Time,” her experience and skill as an elementary teacher was clear to all as she told the stories of Jesus.
In 2012, Barbara was married to Chuck McCaffree and she and her new husband enjoyed an active life travelling and spending time in the sunshine of warmer climes. On her return from Arizona each Spring, Barbara was immediately available for pulpit supply, much to the delight of her colleagues in ministry and the congregations she visited, including some community church congregations on the Gulf islands.
Again this summer, we had the pleasure of welcoming Barbara to the pulpit of SPPC, and there was a noticeable  gathering of old friends, both at the service and for the after service coffee hour, where many lingered to chat.
On August 25th, Barbara was scheduled to preach at one of her favourite churches, Trinity, Victoria, but had to cancel at the last minute, as she was experiencing some discomfort. At the urging of her husband, Barbara went to hospital. Later that day at Royal Jubilee Hospital, Barbara passed away. Her passing was a terrible shock to her family and to all the congregations she had served so well.
The service of Celebration of Life for Reverend Barbara was held at Saanich Peninsula PC, with Reverend Irwin Cunningham and the Moderator of Presbytery, Rev. Reid Chudley, officiating. Reid was in the  unique position to share that Rev. Barbara had officiated at his ordination, some fifteen years earlier. The congregations of many friends and colleagues in ministry joined to celebrate the life and service of Barbara Young. The service of celebration had the joyful and uplifting hymns that reflected the spirit of Barbara’s ministry.
Barbara's life of service to the churches of this Presbytery will no doubt, be remembered with gratitude. She will be remembered by all who knew her as a good and faithful servant, serving her Lord faithfully "all the day long."

submitted by Roy Napier.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Bible Study with a Twist

Bible Study begins this week, but it will be a little different from our usual sessions. With Rev. Irwin on leave, the students are in charge of the classroom. This is not an opportunity to throw spit-balls. Rather, it is an invitation to take part in the study as part-owner, sort of like a Bible study cooperative.

We'll use a video-based approach starting with "The Lives of the Apostles Paul and Peter." The film is hosted by Rick Steeves.
Rick Steeves! I never knew he did Bible based programs, is the usual reaction when I mention this. However, rest assured, he has -- and very well, too. Follow the link above to see a brief preview.
If you want to get a headstart, read chapters 13, 14 and 15 in the Book of Acts. 
Don't worry if you haven't had time to do the reading. Come anyway.

Many of us have been in Rev. Irwin's Bible study class for years. At the end of each session he inevitably reminds us that Biblical knowledge is not to be hoarded, it is meant to be shared.  
This is an opportunity to share in a very safe environment. 
Whether you're a theological scholar or someone exploring the Bible for the first time, please join us. You are very welcome. 
There will be coffee.
Wed. at 9:30 am at Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church, 9296 E. Saanich Rd. N. Saanich. For more information call the church office at 250 656-2241.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Hot Dog Lunch

The weather reports kept us all guessing for days, but in the end, the clouds broke up for just long enough. We had our hot dog lunch outdoors and no one got wet.

Our chefs were particularly grateful for no rain, as they were stuck outside regardless.

It was a fun way to kick off the new term at church. Most of us are beyond school age, but the school calendar is so ingrained in our culture, Sept. feels like a time for beginnings. 

Thanks to all who helped, all who organized, all who came, and all who stuck around afterward to clean up. What a great congregation.

The young and the young at heart

Lots of food!

Just a reminder, Sunday School is now in session, choir practice has recommenced and on Sept. 25 Bible Study will start. We're more than just hot dogs!