Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Virtual Church

 Welcome to our second week of virtual church. It feels odd to wander into the living room with a cup of coffee at 10:00 am on Sunday, but at least we can watch (on youtube) a service, with Rev. Irwin. Here is the link to the latest. https://youtu.be/oUNlEI8TiB8
I hope you sang!

Since the building is closed, there's not much to report there, although I've heard that one of our keen volunteers has taken the opportunity of an empty building to do some deep cleaning. She is scrubbing the grout in the ladies bathroom. Every cloud, eh?

In the category of “old dogs new tricks” Session is now holding virtual meetings on “zoom”. Not the same as sitting around a table but at least participants can see faces and hear voices.

One of the things I miss most is Bible Study.  We were in the middle of a Nooma series when gatherings were cancelled. We had watched number 12 of 24. The videos are available on line. Number 13, Rich, is here. The only problem with just watching is we can’t argue. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Previously we did a survey course with Mark Strauss, and John Walton. They both offer on-line studies. I've linked to some of their videos .

One of the dangers of social (physical) distancing is loneliness and depression. Astronaut Chris Hadfield had a few words of advice on the  front. Remember on his first trip into space in 1995 he was the only one aboard and the internet was in its infancy. He knows whereof he speaks. 
Among other things, he suggested picking one new thing to do during your “at home” time, and do it. Learn to play an instrument, for example. Take up whittling and make a statue of your dog. In other words, give a purpose to your day. Give yourself a sense of accomplishment by the time you go to bed.
 Along that line, one of my friends reports that she has cleaned her spice drawer. ๐Ÿ˜•Small steps. 
I have ambitions for my sewing room but there is a knitting project I must finish first, not to mention this blog.

If you are stuck for a project, might I suggest memorizing a passage of scripture. Do you have a favourite psalm?  The twenty-third is too easy. Pick another. How about Romans 8—that’s a project to occupy several days. Why not report your progress in the comments below? We can have a conversation.

There is still the telephone. Voice-to-voice seems terribly dated in today's world, but it's still a great way to connect on a personal level -- and you don't need worry about someone seeing your messy house.

I remind you that beauty is still open and it's free. The Butchart Gardens is closed, but I saw this lovely tree at the end of my street. 

The owners were happy to let me take a photo. I met their dog too.

Finally, I bring you another picture of my cat. I hope you can hear her purrs. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

No Church

This blog is about Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church and the happenings there. Since COVID 19 has dictated that nothing is happening at church, not even regular worship, I'm a bit stumped as to what to put in this post. But here are a few things I can share.

While corporate worship is cancelled at the moment, worship with our minister is not. Rev. Irwin put together a short youtube presentation to share with the congregation this morninghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt1A0Pyu46E&feature=youtu.be  
It's his first attempt at going digital but I think he did well. Keep watching our website for more tools to connect with him and each other. 
Of course, I think we must have music at worship, and other times. The CBC has a wealth of content at cbc.ca/listen. Here is the link to their choral music stream. https://www.cbc.ca/listen/cbc-music-playlists/48-choral

During "social distancing" people can get anxious and feel isolated. Pets are often our best companions at such times. In case you don't have a pet, I'll share some pictures of my cats for your comfort. 
Chloe relaxing after a tough morning of chasing a string

Take a leaf from her book and enjoy your extra leisure time.

Callie in the sunshine

Callie knows how to enjoy this warm spring weather. You can too. There's no rule against enjoying fresh air.

There is no rule against beauty, either. I'll share some flower pictures to brighten your day. 

These are simple, old-fashioned primula sharing their sunny faces. Look out your window and you may see daffodils or flowering trees. 

In times of distress, we all need hope. Here is my hopeful outlook, tomato seeds sprouted on the windowsill. Summer will come. 

We will gather as a community again. Until then, use the telephone--a friendly voice can perk up someone's day. 
Yell at the neighbours -- ask how they're doing, from a safe distance.
Trust in the Lord. 

Monday, March 16, 2020


The character Dave on CBC's Vinyl Cafe used the slogan, "we may not be big, but we're small," in reference to his fictional record store.  Today when events with a large audience, including worship services, are being cancelled, being small works in our favour. Our worship services are well under the threshold of 250 in attendance.

So, we gathered together on Sunday morning, mindful of the situation, but with compassion for one another. We made some changes. 

  • The choir spread out, with an empty chair between each chorister. 
  • The congregation was asked to "socially distance" from one another. When a small group spreads out they actually look like a large group!  
  • Doors were left open or attended so we didn't touch shared surfaces. 
  • Cookies were served with a set of tongs rather than self-serve.
  • The minister did not shake hands and 
  • there was no hugging. Very hard for our congregation not to hug.

So why meet at all?

Because, while social distancing is a way to keep us all safe, social isolation can be very harmful to a population already short on social networks. We are not meant to live alone.
Right from the beginning, God intended humans to live in relationship with Him and with each other. Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
The Bible abounds with examples of friendship, David and Jonathon.  1 Samuel 18: 1-4 
 Naomi and Ruth,  Ruth 1:16 
Jesus and Martha and Mary. John 12: 1-3

Throughout the Bible we find God commanding His people to live in friendship and love for one another.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Colossians 3:16 ESV
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit

Historically, sanctuary meant a place of safety, where fugitives -- slaves, criminals, losers in a war--could flee. Once inside the sanctuary, they could not be arrested. 
Amid all the public health bulletins, endless newscasts, social media hype, panic buying and hoarding, we all need a place of sanctuary. 
We found that place on Sunday morning, among our fellow believers, where we could tune out the competing voices of the world and hear instead the Word of God. In particular, we listened to the well-loved verses from Romans 8:38-39(KJV)
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Stay safe this week, protect your friends and community, wash your hands, and remember that not even COVID 19 can separate us from the love of God.

A sacred place, such as a church, in which fugitives formerly were immune to arrest (recognized by English law from the fourth to the seventeenth century)

Monday, March 9, 2020

Packing for the DR

Our mission team is busy with last minute details for the trip to the Dominican Republic. They've had their shots, found work clothes and shoes that they can leave behind and loaded their suitcases with supplies for themselves and gifts from our community. 

Among the items going from SPPC are over twenty knitted teddy bears -- Hazel has been busy,

44 packages of pencils, along with pens, crayons, notebooks and as many school supplies as can be packed into extra suitcases. 

Clothing and hats of all sizes will be welcome. 

Medicines not easily available in Pedrigal have been purchased and will be used to fill the shelves at the medical clinic there.

Of course, the most precious gift we send is our people. On Sunday morning Benjamin, Darlene, Diane and Joan were commissioned by the minister and congregation to carry not only supplies, but the love of God and the love of this congregation to the people of the Dominican Republic, particularly those associated with the House Upon the Rock Ministry. 

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35 KJV

We hold these members of our church family in prayer, and commit them to God, praying for their well-being and the success of their work.  We wish them God speed and many wonderful moments on their trip. 
We also pray for their safe return to the embrace of their families and Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church.

Monday, March 2, 2020

previous mission trip
Last week I mentioned that the congregation at SPPC has a heart for mission. This week, as though to prove the point, there was a good news about our mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

The financial cost of our team members, i.e. accommodation, and airfare has been covered!    

popular soup sales support missions

A huge Thank You to everyone for supporting our fundraising endeavours! The ongoing soup sales have been a blessing to all of us. The bottle drive has moved us forward. The Silent Auction fundraiser raised over $1200 - thank you for your donations and for attending. Many have made financial donations directly to the team. 
What this means is that any further funds raised can go directly to the purchase of school and medical supplies. 
If you'd like to contribute "in kind," we could use some ‘one way’ suitcases that we will fill with supplies, then leave behind in the Dominican.
Clothing and shoes that are in good repair can also be sent with the mission team.
If you do not attend SPPC but would still like to help out, donations can be dropped off at the church this week. Office hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings. If you need a tax receipt, please include your name and address and telephone number with the donation.
This will be the third time SPPC has participated in a mission trip to the DR. We feel very fortunate for this opportunity to serve.Commissioning of the team members will take place on Sunday, March 8.

Monday, February 24, 2020

What Do You Have?

Last Sunday's sermon used the text, Mark 6:31-44, 8:1-9, the feeding of the multitude.
This is a familiar story of Jesus teaching to thousands beside the Sea of Galilee. After many hours the disciples became concerned that people were hungry and they hadn't enough to feed them all. Jesus answered "What do you have?"  The answer was five loaves and two fish.  From these meagre offerings, five thousand men were fed.
Sunday was also the date of our Annual Congregational Meeting. We hustled through the dry business of receiving and approving reports. The meeting could have been wound up in half an hour. But then we started the "thank yous" and the list went on and on.
We are a small congregation so it is easy to focus on what we lack, but using Jesus' question "what do you have," we discovered that we have many gifts. 
  • To begin, we have food and fellowship in abundance. The potluck lunch not only fed everyone present but resulted in baskets of leftovers. The Friendship Coffee on the second and fourth Thursday of the month is a highlight for many.
  • We are a church with a heart for mission. Year after year, the congregation gives more to missions than is called for in the budget.
  • We have people willing to stand for session, shouldering the day-to-day responsibilities of running the business of the congregation.
  • We have pastoral carers, people who make time in their lives to visit hurting members of the congregation. The Sunshine Lunch is another volunteer event that provides a meal for singles in our congregation, along with rides to the church and home again for those who need them.
  • We have a secretary who goes above and beyond without complaint.
  • We have a choir and music director who practice every Thursday in order to enhance worship Sunday after Sunday.
  • We have quiet volunteers who run the sound system, manage the blog, and respond to prayer requests.
  • The members of our property committee give many hours of work to keep the building and grounds in good repair.
  • We are grateful to have a minister who enables, encourages, teaches, preaches and counsels with insight and knowledge.

   What do we have? A Saviour who died for us. A Holy Spirit that moves among us. A Heavenly Father who created us. We have love for one another.


Monday, February 17, 2020

Auction for Missions

Saturday night I attended a silent auction --a fundraiser for our mission team to the  Dominican Republic.   
As well as items for auction, there was dessert and coffee. Lots and lots of desserts.  I think the sugar high was  designed to reduce bidder inhibitions. It certainly worked on me!
 I thought many bids were too low for the quality of the item up for auction, so I bumped up the bid.  I came home with four dozen roses -- and a few other items. Apparently, instead of boosting the prices, I discouraged other bidders. Good intentions gone awry.
Ah well, it's all in a good cause, as they say, and I've shared the roses with others.

The silent auction is a fun event, requiring enormous organization and a small army of workers. Sometimes it is the main event for funding the mission trip, other times it is an adjunct.  At SPPC we've been quietly fund-raising for many months.
Some congregants have Thrifty's Smile Cards that ensures a portion of their grocery bills is donated to buy school supplies and medical items for the mission team to take with them.
more workers

More directly, we have a team of cooks who makes soup, meat pies and other goodies for sale. The food comes in small portions, it's tasty and it's economical. Many in our congregation have a big appetite for these small meals. 
Loved this, refrained from bidding

We also hold a bottle drive from January to March, adding a little more to the coffers and saving people a trip to the recycle depot.

All of these efforts mean that our mission team, Benjamin, Darlene, Diane and Joan, is well positioned for their trip to the Dominican Republic a few weeks from now.  
ready for fall
spring planter that I resisted

 Matthew 25:40: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Matthew 9:35-36 “Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”

Whether we're making soup or buying roses, we too can show compassion for the distressed and dispirited in our world.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Vision 2020 Prayer Team

One of the groups involved in SPPC's Vision 2020 is a Prayer Team. The purpose of this team has been both to pray and to look for ways to engage our community with prayer. 

This week we launch our first prayer campaign to seek the prayers of the people for our individual  spiritual growth, for our spiritual growth as a congregation, for growth into our community and for our denomination.

Helen Ewing was wearing her family motto in a beautiful brooch last Sunday. We asked her what it said and she told us "ora et labora" This translates to "pray and work." What a great thing to do! It is now our time to work and pray. 

We have made prayer bookmarks for people to take home as guidelines for praying for our faith and our church. Here is the comprehensive list of the prayers

The bookmarks are available in the narthex. 

As well as the launch of the prayer campaign, last Sunday saw the congregation treated to a free lunch.

Thanks to Barb and her cousins! (Does that sound like Gilbert and Sullivan chorus?" 
 It was a lovely gesture and much appreciated. This congregation does enjoy "breaking bread" together.

with notes from Diane Cunningham
photos from Janet Smith and Rebekah Cunningham

Monday, February 3, 2020

New Bible Study

Our regular Wednesday morning and evening Bible Study has resumed. Good to have Rev. Irwin teaching us again. 

How do we treat "spirit" in our lives? Ignore it? Put it in a pigeon hole? Be aware that it wraps around every aspect of our being? The study invites us to explore these and other questions.
Each session begins with a brief presentation from a video series called Nooma,with Rob Bell, In these short presentations Bell uses every day life events to illustrate scripture, or perhaps he uses scripture to illuminate every day life events. Is rain just precipitation or can it be seen as a metaphor for our life in Christ? 

The word Nooma comes from the Greek and is translated as "spirit."  The series challenges us to reflect on our faith and how we understand scripture. It invites us to take God out of the "church" and put Him at the centre of our lives.

We plan to watch two short videos per week for the 12 weeks of the course. Don't worry if you miss a week, or if you've missed the first one. Each session can stand alone--or with the others. The sessions are available on youtube if you want to see what it's all about.

All are welcome, whether you attend SPPC or not. The morning study begins at 9:30 am and the evening one at 7:00 pm. We're a friendly bunch. Discussions are animated, thoughtful, fun and respectful. Coffee is always ready.
 Call 250 656-2241 for more information.

Monday, January 27, 2020

What a Party

We certainly welcomed 2020 in style -- 1920's style that is -- last Monday. The turn out was terrific. At the beginning of the month we worried if we could make 25 guests and in the end there were over 50. 

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to dress up. All those feathers and beads added a festive air to the proceedings. Congratulations to Tore and Jerusha for winning the costume contest.

Thanks also to Janet for persuading so many people to try their hand (feet?) at the Charleston. You all looked very impressive.

The caterers did a great job. I heard many expressions of relief from the usual kitchen volunteers that they could just relax and enjoy the lunch instead of serving and cleaning up.

All the streamers and vintage sheet music added a bit of interest, not to mention all the old 78 records on the tables.

Noel was emcee and kept us all entertained and the event moving along. The 1920's quiz was a good conversation starter and history lesson.

All in all, it was a great party. SPPC is a fun place to worship. Spread the word.

Monday, January 20, 2020


It snowed this week. And then snowed some more. Then it snowed again. The wind came up. It got really cold. It snowed.
Our intrepid secretary resorted to a taxi to get to work. 

Just like B.C. Ferries, the airport, the school district and many businesses, SPPC cancelled or postponed most events in the early part of the week, including the discussion of the book If You Want to Walk on Water you have to get out of the boat.
The police issued warnings for everyone to stay home, so instead of showing you pictures of the snowstorm at SPPC, here are a few from around my house.

By Thursday the weather let up a bit. Crews arrived to clear the snow from the parking lot. The sun shone. Our brave choir members came out for rehearsal on Thursday night.
The sun came out and the world was beautiful
crew at work

Sunday service will proceed as usual and all is set for our 2020 luncheon on Monday at noon.

Being snowed in is a good reminder to us all that we do not have the control over our lives that we think we do. Proverbs 19:21 Be grateful if you were warm and dry and thank God for this bounteous, beautiful world -- His gift. Col 1: 16-17    

For the Beauty of the Sky
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.