Monday, June 24, 2019

Prayer 20/20

by Diane Cunningham

Over the past months, various teams in our church have been meeting and discussing our vision for the coming year. One of these teams is focusing on prayer.

“When Billy Graham was asked about the most important steps in preparing for an evangelistic outreach, he always answered that there were three things that mattered most: Prayer, prayer and prayer.” —Cliff Barrows

With this in mind, prayer is essential in determining where we are being led in ministry.

A series of prayers have been placed in the bulletins, for some months now, for people to use to guide them in their praying for SPPC. We have reached a point where we would like to have people express some of their own prayers for our church and share them with our fellowship.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be looking for input from members of the congregation through a series of response cards inserted in the bulletin. We are hoping to create community prayers that will emerge from the hearts of all who wish to contribute to this Life bringing, Spirit guided ministry.

We will be looking for topics for prayers that are close to people’s hearts. This will then guide us to create specific prayers that will become part of a collective response.

For your summer reading and growth, we have a table set up with many books about prayer. Please take a look at them. As Bible Study takes a break over the summer, this could be a terrific way to add to your knowledge and increase your awareness of the power of prayer. Talk with your friends, at coffee hour or Friendship Coffee about what you have learned, the books that you have enjoyed and found helpful.

We would welcome any feedback or possible book reviews of the material covered!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Out to Lunch Bunch

As part of the Beyond 20/20 in-reach initiative, we've started an out-to-lunch bunch. The idea is for people to meet up at a local restaurant for lunch on the first Thursday of the month. We chose Smitty's in Sidney for our first date.
Turned out fifteen people thought going out for lunch was a good idea. 
It seemed many of the people who came were regulars at this particular restaurant and well-acquainted with our server. She did a terrific job in keeping everyone's order straight, getting the right bill to the right people, and putting food on the table in good time so we all ate together. Kudos to her and the restaurant.
Next month we will meet at the Spitfire Grill on the airport. Same time, 1:00 pm on the first Thursday of July, which turns out to be July 4. In deference to our American friends, it was proposed we wear red, white and blue.
With all the social events at the church, it might seem odd that we'd organize another social (eating) event during the week. One aspect belonging to a congregation is being part of a community. We are social creatures. We need to hear each other's voices. We need to share laughter. We need to support each other in tough times. Spending time together, strengthens our relationships and our sense of community.
Last Sunday was Pentecost, a date many consider the birth of the Christian church. On that day, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and they began speaking in tongues. Three thousand were added to the church that day. Acts 2: 46-47 makes special mention of the new community meeting daily in the temple and breaking bread together in each other's houses, with a glad heart. 
Come join us on the first Thursday of July. We'll break bread together with a glad heart. The sign-up sheet is in the narthex.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Workers Unite!

by Janet Smith

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: (NIV)
Well now, on Tuesday 4th June, we had 5 ladies come together to Spring clean the church kitchen and after 2 hours of cleaning and scrubbing, the kitchen gleamed and indeed we saw a good return for our labour!
Working together brings fun and fellowship. Age is no barrier either, one of our workers is in her 90s and still she came and worked along side us, (missing from the pictures!)
We read in the scriptures of the many who were blest with a long life and kept working for the Lord.
Here is a short list of them:
Abraham and Sarah, Jacob, Moses and Aaron, David, Job, Elizabeth and Paul just to name a few, there were many, many more and God blessed them.

Remember that God will use you at any age, and any stage. There is no age limit to the way He works in us or through us, His love never grows old and He never stops caring for us.

Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling,
Work ’mid springing flow’rs.
Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is done.

Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the sunny noon;
Fill brightest hours with labor,
Rest comes sure and soon.

Give every flying minute
Something to keep in store;
Work, for the night is coming,

When man works no more

Work, for the night is coming,
Under the sunset skies;
While their bright tints are glowing,
Work, for daylight flies.

Work till the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more;
Work, while the night is dark’ning,
When man’s work is o’er


Monday, June 3, 2019

In the Presbyterian church we don't have a lot of saints days or other holy days to mark the Sundays of our calendar, but June has a goodly share of high Sundays this year.

On June 2 we celebrated our littlest "saint" with a birthday cake. Our denomination holds that all members of the body of Christ, His church, are saints so happy birthday to Saint Abigail and all the other June birthday celebrants.

Our bulletin marked this week as "General Assembly Sunday."  Our representative elder, Roy is attending the annual conference of the whole Presbyterian Church in Canada in Waterloo, Ontario. The assembly meets from June 2 to June 6.  Please keep commissioners in your prayers. They will receive reports from various committees and individuals that will direct our church into the coming years.

Next Sunday, is Pentecost Sunday. Many consider this day the birthdate of the Christian church. It marks the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples and they began speaking in tongues. Three thousand people became Christians on that single day.  We don't celebrate Pentecost with all the fanfare of  Christmas, but next week you can mark the day by wearing red to church. Whatever you wear, a tie, a hat, blue jeans, shorts or a party dress, the Holy Spirit continues to dwell among us and welcomes you into the fellowship of SPPC any time.

The following Sunday, June 16 is Father's day and our annual church picnic.

Sunday, June 23 we'll celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion.

As I said at the top of this post, June has more red letter Sundays than most of the other months of the year. I guess we're gearing up for summer holidays.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Sunday's theme was missionaries.  When I was a kid, I believed the only way to be a missionary was to go to Africa. I had a schoolmate who did just that, spending thirty years working in Kenya. In my little one room country school house it seemed as though she'd stepped off the edge of the world. 
Modern day missionaries usually have access to modern technology so even those who go to undeveloped parts of the world, can be in almost instant contact with their supporters in Canada. But even in those circumstances, being a foreign missionary requires dedication and sacrifice. At SPPC we support many mission causes but we have a particular affinity for the House Upon the Rock in the Dominican Republic. 

In the past we have sent two teams of workers there. We receive regular reports on the mission and on the people who work and live there. It seems fitting then, on missionary Sunday, that a fund-raiser for special missions was on the schedule. Diane and Darlene and Joan and Irene have been baking and roasting and pureeing for several weeks.
The fruits of their labours were available for pick-up after service. Many of our congregants live alone so single serving goodies like soup and cottage pie and date squares are greatly appreciated. In this case, serving a foreign mission field and helping close to home coincide.
Speaking of close to home, on Sunday afternoon our congregation conducted a worship service at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. Contrary to my childhood view of missionaries, we can just go down the road to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and bring comfort and joy. For folk living within the confines of the hospital, no matter how excellent those conditions, a visit from outsiders brings a breath of fresh air. Some of the people at the service are members of our own congregation whose health has necessitated a change of residence. For those folks especially, a worship service among their old friends is a source of comfort.

It seems like coincidence that all these activities happened on the same Sunday, but perhaps God was working through the various ministries at SPPC to show us how every small act of caring can work toward His glory. 1 Peter 4:10

Monday, May 20, 2019

Pray on Your Fingers

As a church we talk a lot about prayer. In sermons, in Bible Study, in Sunday School, during coffee hour and just in general conversation. One question that repeats itself is "how to we pray?" Is there a formula for how to talk to God?

The acronym ACTS is often used as an example of the types of prayers Christians use. A for adoration or praise of the Almighty. C for confession. T for thanksgiving and S for supplication or intercession. It's a handy device and a pattern that we see echoed in our order of service.

I've come across another pattern for prayer that some might find useful, particularly when teaching children to pray. This one involves praying on your fingers. Here's how it works.

The thumb is nearest your heart, so pray first for those closest to you like parents, siblings and friends. Don't forget to pray for yourself. Tell God what you need.

The second finger is used to point. Pray for those who point you toward the way you should go; teachers, mentors, ministers and all who inspire your faith.

The third finger, the tallest, suggests we pray for leaders, both within our faith community and without. Pray for elders, for members of parliament, for Queen Elizabeth and the Prime Minister. We might even pray for celebrities whose position of influence could make them terrific ambassadors for Christ.

The fourth finger is the weakest. Pray for the sick and abused, the imprisoned and the helpless.

The fifth finger, the baby, is the smallest. Pray for those often forgotten in our busy whirl -- the lonely, the bereaved, those using food banks and the homeless.

Pray often. At Bible Study this week we watched the movie, "Shadowlands," a biographical account of a time in the life of C.S. Lewis, author ot the Narnia stories among others. At the beginning of the movie Lewis talked about suffering and God in a rather clinical manner. Later, when he knew suffering first hand, he was asked about prayer. He replied,
“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me.”
If you want to enrich your prayer life, try praying on your fingers. 

― C.S. Lewis

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mother's Day

   When I was a child, we wore a flower in our lapel on Mother's Day, a coloured boutonniere for a living mother and a white one for a mother who had passed away. I don't know where that tradition came from nor why it seems to have vanished, but it's a nice memory for me.
      The photo at the top of this post is of an Edith Cavell lilac bush. My mom was named for that WWI heroine, so having the lilac bush in my garden is a sweet remembrance for me. 

       Mother's Day, as it is celebrated in North America, was begun by Anna Jarvis in 1908. She held a memorial for her mother  in W. Virginia. Commercial companies embraced the celebration as a sales opportunity. According to some sources Mother's Day ranks second behind Christmas as the most lucrative occasion in the merchant's calendar. 
        It is easy to write off Mother's Day as a Hallmark marketing ploy. And yet . . . Christian churches mark the day, calling it Family Sunday, in many denominations.How do we reconcile a commercial event with a worship service?
     The Bible is laced with verses about mothers. 
 Proverbs devotes the entire 31st chapter to extolling the virtues of a good wife and mother "whose price is beyond rubies." Here are some others:
  • “Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.” – Proverbs 23:22-25
  • “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12
  • “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” – Isaiah 66:13
  • “And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.” – Luke 2:51
  • “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4
  • “Then the mother of the child said, ‘As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So he arose and followed her.” – 2 Kings 4:30
  •  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Eph.6:1-3
  •  I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5 ESV
  • He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord Psalm 113:9
     For most children, "mother" represents security, comfort, nurture, forgiveness, knowledge and an abundant fount of love. Perhaps it is because mother-love can be a foretaste of the love of God for His children that the writers of both the Old and New Testaments singled out mothers for special appreciation.
   The sunday bouquets will fade and the last of the special feast appear on the table as leftovers, but "Mom" is steadfast. May we count our many blessings, as the year rolls on.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Welcome Visitors

At SPPC we are happy to welcome visitors -- all visitors, including this young deer who recently sunned himself in the Garden of Remembrance for the duration of the sermon. I can't remember if Rev. Irwin peached on peace, or not, but this fellow presents a perfect example.

Buck, a neighbourhood cat makes frequent forays to our church. We don't keep cat treats on hand but he likes the cuddles.
Don't we all value our church community for the fellowship? A handshake, a hug, a sympathetic ear, a good laugh--they're all part of being a congregation.

Snowbirds. Just like migrating birds, we welcome a number of regular visitors during the winter months. We aren't Hawaii, but we're the warmest part of Canada from November through March. Refugees from ice and snow are happy to call SPPC home during those months.

Tourists. We're glad to see travellers hop in for services and other
events. The sign-board at the gate alerts passers-by to Friendship Coffee and Bible Study.

Guests. Some people stay home when they have company, but I bring mine to church. After sight-seeing for hours, eating too much and staying up too late, some soul-renewal is a welcome refreshment.

Providing hospitality to visitors, is just good manners. It's also doing God's will.

Romans 15:7  (KJV)

Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Isaiah 66 -- The Glory

This week we will finish our Bible Study of Isaiah. It has been a very long study -- it's a long book -- and we've had many interruptions, so the class will start with a short video reviewing the previous chapters.

Isaiah is a challenge for the students if only because of its time line. The first part is historical record of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel at the time of Hezekiah. The second part is prophecy about Israel going into exile and third part is about Israel returning from exile. As well, some of the prophetic passages are about Jesus, the suffering servant. Of course, the first hearers of Isaiah's message knew nothing about Jesus Christ. 
Our Bible class has the advantage of history. We know how the prophecies turned out. We know about Christ. To study an Old Testament book requires us to constantly remember the context. This is a time when God sent prophets to His chosen people, but it is long before He sent His son to rescue a fallen people. All in all, a quick review will be a welcome refresher for the study group.

The week after, on May 8, we're going to watch a movie, probably Chariots of Fire. The movie has a strong message about living out our beliefs. It also has a great soundtrack.

Up next will be a less intensive video-based study called  Drive Through History, a kind of travelogue through sacred places in the Holy Land. Just like kids at the end of the school year, we're going to relax, watch videos and enjoy some great discussion -- there might even be popcorn on occasion.

So, if you've been holding back from Bible study because you missed too many lessons on Isaiah, now is the time to come back. If you've never come to Bible study because you thought it would be too hard, now is the time to give it a try. Wednesdays at 9:30 am and 6:30 pm. Time well spent!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter 2019

Early morning service at Cy Hampson Park.

The bird came. 

We took the annual photo. With sunshine and warm temperatures there were more people to sing and rejoice. 

We are grateful for the worker bees who stayed in the kitchen to prepared our Easter breakfast.

Christ is Risen
He is Risen Indeed.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. 
On Sunday we started the service with cries of Hosanna! then moved to the sacrament of the Last Supper. 
This seems a very sudden transition from joy and excitement to sorrow and remorse, but it mirrors the Biblical story. Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the adulation of a crowd waving palm branches and hailing him as "Messiah." Before the week was out He had been betrayed and now the crowd shouted "Crucify Him." Mark 11: 1-11.
In the midst of the beauty and sunshine of spring, the Christian church enters its most sombre time of year. 

On Thursday, we will remember the meal in the upper room, the last time Jesus supped with His disciples.
On Friday, we gather in solemn remembrance for Good Friday worship.
On Saturday, we wait.
On Easter Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection with song and word. We cry "Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed." We sing hallelujah, giving thanks for God's gift of our risen Lord.

Join us. Here's the schedule:

Maundy Thursday, April 18, 6:00 pm. "Meal in the Upper Room"
Good Friday, April 19, 10:00 am  Worship with strings and choir
Easter Sunday, April 21, 8:00 am Sunrise service at                                                                                     Cy Hampson Park  
                                                  9:00 am Breakfast in the hall.                                                             10:00 am Worship in the sanctuary                                                                            

Everyone is welcome at these events. Easter bonnets welcome but not necessary.

Monday, April 8, 2019

April Showers

Not rain showers, but showers of blessing.
On the last Saturday of March, SPPC reached out to the community by hosting a Food Safe Level 1 course put on by VIHA. There were over twenty attendees, about 1/3 from SPPC and the rest from the area. Linda Cliff was there and sends this report.

The by-line for this course is Food Safe: Makes Good Food Better.  Health Canada estimates that more than 4 million Canadians surer from foodborne illness every year.    So you may ask: Does the course deliver? Why should someone who does not work in the food industry take the course? Has my behaviour around handling food changes?

The course does meet the objectives of describing the food handler’s responsibility in protecting food from contamination, the course also helps the participants to identify major improper food handling practices that can cause food borne illness outbreaks, it also describes how to serve food safely, wash your hands and clean dishes properly.These are the aspects of the course that are important to those of us who serve food in the non- commercial system.  There is also information given for those who will be working in the restaurant system and highlights the laws and practices that are required to meet provincial and federal laws.  After learning of all the regulations and practices that are required by commercial establishments I know I would think twice before opening a restaurant.  So we should really appreciate all that the staff must do to serve us food that is safe and fun to eat.
What did I learn?  First of all wash your hands, wash your hands.  Food is most often contaminated by people who have improperly washed their hands.  Also to store food safely before it is served.  Along with this is the need for a good food thermometer.  Hot food must reach an internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius to destroy food pathogens and must not fall below 60 degrees Celsius if it is being served in a Buffet.  If you are unsure of the safety of food it should be discarded, which we may be reluctant to do.   The principals we learned at the course are adaptable to your home kitchen especially the information at about internal food temperature.  A course participant told me that since they have bought a good thermometer, they find their food tastes better as they are no longer overcooking their meals.

Yes my behaviour has changed.  I look at the church kitchen with new eyes, I have a good food thermometer and I wash my hands, wash my hands.    

Our congregation is blessed with many, many April birthdays, including the minister and the clerk of session. On Sunday we had cake for all of them. It was very tasty!

Finally, I was reminded that I hadn't posted the answers for the hymn quiz from two weeks ago. Here they are with links to video performances. You'll notice some aren't sung to the tunes in our hymnbook, but they are lovely. Give them a listen.

1)All things bright and beautiful
2)For the beauty of the earth
3)This is my Father's world
4) From Ocean Unto Ocean
5)For the fruit of His creation
6) Morning has broken


8)Praise my soul, the King of heaven
9)Fairest Lord Jesus
10) God who touches earth with beauty.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Welcome Home

     Sunday at SPPC centred on the theme of "home."  Of course, we always try to be a welcoming congregation, but this Sunday we went the extra step and said "welcome home," not "welcome stranger."

The scripture reading was "The Prodigal Son." We all know that one so well -- the youth who demanded his inheritance then went off and squandered it on riotous living. When he'd run out of options, he decided to go back to his father and beg for a servant's place. Instead, the father ran to greet the prodigal, threw a big party and gathered him back into the family fold. 
Welcome home.

     After coffee hour, the newest members of the congregation, those who formally joined in December of last year, were welcomed home with lunch. The feast was catered by session and we were invited to ask any questions we might have about our church. Problems or issues we wanted to discuss.

Welcome home.

     When I was growing up, our home was a welcoming place,  always ready to set another place at the table. There was a plaque on the kitchen wall that began with the words "Friend you are welcome here, be at your ease." Small wonder that, among my mother's treasurers, I found this little homily.
There is magic in that little word ...Home. . . Home is the sweetest word in the Saxon tongue. It has in it the brightness of sunshine and the fragrance of flowers. It suggests love, peace, rest and gladness. It calls up pictures painted imperishably on the heart. It speaks of father's love and mother's care... 
      At SPPC, we strive to be that place. The place that gives a tiny foretaste of heaven. The place that opens its arms to all who call. The place that offers friendship, support, laughter, love and prayer. The place that says ...
Welcome home.

     If you're feeling a little lonely, a little lost, a little down, a little adrift . . . our doors are open.  
9296 E. Saanich Rd. N. Saanich. 
250 656-2241. 
Call or drop by, and . . .
Welcome home.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Happy Spring

After our hard (for Victoria) winter, the sunshine this week has been a welcome relief. Hard to stay gloomy when the flowers bloom, the birds sing and the air is soft upon your face.  No wonder  hymn books are filled with hymns that praise God for the weather!
Here's a quick sample:
Birds are singing, woods are ringing... 
As Comes the Breath of Spring
When morning gilds the skies, my heart awaking cries ...
Walk softly in springtime ...
In the bulb there is a flower . . .

Now, here's a challenge for you. Below are lines from hymns about nature, but not the first lines. Can you identify which hymn the lyric is from?  Most of them are very familiar. Looking it up on Google is cheating. If you feel like a winner, leave a comment in the comments section. Come back next week for the answers.
Here are the test questions. :-)

  1. "...each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings . . ."
  2. "...hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light..."
  3. ... the birds their carols raise, the morning light the lily white . .."
  4. "...our prairies and our mountains, Forest and fertile field, Our rivers, lakes and fountains To Thee shall tribute yield."
  5. "...For the ploughing, sowing, reaping, Silent growth while men are sleeping..."
  6. "...Like the first dewfall on the first grass. Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden..."
  7. "...Field and forest, vale and mountain, Flowery meadow, flashing sea. Chanting bird and flowing fountain..."
  8. "Frail as summer's flower we flourish, Blows the wind and it is gone..."
  9. "Fair are the meadows, Fairer still the woodlands, Robed in the verdant garb of spring..."
  10. "Like Thy dancing waves in sunlight, Make me glad and free, Like the straightness of the pine trees, Let me upright be."

In Romans 1:20, the Apostle Paul proclaims that creation itself reveals God, even to the heathen. How much more does He reveal Himself to the believer? Enjoy the flowers and give God the glory.

20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[a] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 

Romans 1:20 English Standard Version (ESV)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Beetle Drive

Sunday was St. Patrick's Day and there were lots of people wearing green to church, but the party began the day before. SPPC held a beetle drive. No, we weren't racing hard-shelled insects. We were playing a game and having some fun.
Of course, "fun" at our church always includes food!
Studying the rules?
Green, green, green and some  very odd beetles.

Some may wonder if the fix was in because the preacher won! Here he is with his loot, a toque and a chocolate bar.  

He won a medal too and showed it off during the children's story on Sunday morning.
Maybe the next party will be a contest to see how many presbyterians can fit in a beetle.