Monday, February 22, 2021

Give up winter for Lent?



Wouldn't you know, our latest blast of winter happened over a weekend. Last Sunday the shovellers were out early clearing a path into the parking lot for the few people needed to run our livestreamed service. 

On Tuesday Tore was clearing snow preparatory to Wednesday's in-person session meeting and was joined by one of the Tai Chi ladies and later by a cyclist who'd parked in our lot before taking her ride. Nice to have the help and nice to connect with our neighbours -- even if it is shovelling snow.



Snow hasn't stopped the bottle collection at SPPC. If you have empties to donate, call Joan (250 656-6130) and she'll come and pick them up for you. Proceeds go to our mission in the Dominican Republic.


 


Painting by Marianna Rosetto SAH






  Time to add a new skill to your     repertoire.  Rev. Irwin has set up a   zoom room where we can all meet at   9:00 am every weekday morning through Lent. The link was sent to everyone in the weekly mail out, but, if you lost it or never got it, you can call the office to have it re-sent.

The devotional we are using is one prepared by St. Andrew's Hall in Vancouver. The pdf for it is available here so, even if you don't "zoom," you can read the devotional for yourself.

It's not the same as our normal Bible Study--you have to make your own coffee for one thing, and there is no pre-study chat time. However, Irwin has offered to leave the room open for a while after the devotional if we want to "talk among ourselves." On Thursday we talked about "waiting for the Lord" and "waiting for the pandemic to end." 

  The discussion was short but left me with lots to think about. e.g. what are we doing with our waiting time? The Israelites wandered in the wilderness to prepare to enter the Promised Land. As we wander in the pandemic, how can each of us prepare for a return to church?

  I've missed all my Bible Study friends as well as the rest of the congregation. Even waving to you on screen would lift my heart. If you haven't already given it a try, please join in any morning you are able. 

  While we wait, here's a hopeful image. Thanks to Linda's gardening work last summer, Tore found this determined daffodil poking through the snow in the church's front garden. Brighter days will come.


Our most recent livestreamed service is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWrLvhAPTal9KXHGnDLeAfA/live

Monday, February 15, 2021

Heart to Heart


 Happy Valentine's!  

The Times-Colonist has been printing heart flags over the past months as a way to say thank you to front line workers. The most recent issue inspired Tore to put a red heart on our building. The logo can be read as "thank you" or "happy Valentine's" or "love." Whatever interpretation you use, it's a cheerful sign in the midst of our snowstorm. 



Update on the soup sale: We received around
 
fifty orders for soup. Joan got out ahead of the snow and made all the deliveries. There are a few servings left so you can still purchase some for yourself. (Call Joan 250 656-6130) Proceeds go to the Session Discretionary Fund. 


Noel's eye treatment has been so successful he is driving his car again.


Happy Birthday to Patricia Lawson-Gaw who turns 90 today. Thanks to Joan and Darlene, Patricia received a cake from SPPC. No party, I'm afraid. By the time we meet again in person we'll need a dozen cakes to catch up with all the celebrations we've missed this year.





Monday, February 8, 2021

Our Hope

 The link for this week's live-streamed service is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SczYOyDl9PY&feature=youtu.be


I've been stumped about what to post on this week's blog. There is not much happening at the church since we are closed! Looking for inspiration I paged through the last ten years of February blogs. I found that Jerusha and Felicity celebrate birthdays this month, but all the other posts dealt with stuff like winter blahs, the annual congregational meeting and funerals! 

Given the current restrictions on meeting and travel, no one needs a post on winter blahs. The ACM is postponed until we can meet in person. Holding a funeral under COVID rules adds another layer of sorrow to the already bereaved. 




So, what do we need on this page in February 2021. I think the answer is hope. Researchers, doctors and psychologists vary in how they define hope but in general hope
 means a desire for things to change for the better, and to want that better situation very much. 
Hope implies that there is the possibility of a better future, according to the famed hope researcher C.R. Snyder. When things are dire and difficult, hope can keep us going. 

But hope is more than just wishing. Hope is active.

Hope keeps us involved. Hope helps us cope with troubles. Hope is a necessity for good mental health. Hope doesn't sit back and wait for COVID to end. Hope takes action. Hope looks for ways to make things better for each of us right now. That might mean a phone call or a card in the mailbox. If you live with others fixing a special treat for dinner is an act of hope. Even if you eat alone, or especially if you eat alone, fix yourself a special treat and raise your spirits.


Relationships are vital to a hopeful attitude. With COVID around, our relationships are curtailed but they are not impossible. I've spent more hours on the telephone in the past year than I have in the previous ten. It's not a perfect substitute for in-person meetings, but it is something and much better than nothing.

I've learned to "zoom." The blasted technology keeps getting in the way, but when I finally see a loved one's face on the screen, my heart lifts. I hope for a better future.

E-mails can keep relationships alive, even from a distance. I have developed a very close friendship with a woman in Australia. We met in an on-line course and exchanged progress reports once a week. The course lasted six weeks but our friendship has lasted for years. We've met in person only twice, when she visited B.C. yet our friendship is rich and sustaining. I look forward to Mondays because that's the day I'll hear from her. 

One of the complaints I hear about our lives these days is the monotony. Each day seems the same as the last until we lose track of the days of the week and settle into lethargy. Hope can move you from that dark place. Hope is a motivator. Hope pushes you to reach for something better. Hope beckons you outside to enjoy a sunny day. A sunny day encourages gratitude. Gratitude opens your mind to God.

And here we have the greatest gift of all. 

fire at Notre Dame

While the secular world may wish for an end to the pandemic that hope may be filled with doubt. Our hope is founded on God's promise and there is no doubt that God keeps His promises. Scripture abounds with these assurances.



Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
 Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” 

Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Proverbs 23:18 There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

 We have many worldly hopes -- and on the pandemic front Dr. Henry hinted that church services may resume soon -- but our true hope rests in Jesus Christ. Trust in Him. Hope in Him and you will know joy and peace and the power of the Holy Spirit.



Monday, February 1, 2021

Search for Blessings

 The link for our livestreamed service this week is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBw_cyaoSZc&feature=youtu.be  

 
someone called the church to thank us for this sign.

     

  It's been a gloomy week. Grey weather, bad news on the     vaccine front, case numbers   climbing on the Island. Dr.   Henry's "do more" is met with a   grumpy "I already am" from a tired   population.

 

A bit hard to follow   Paul's behest, "in every thing,   give thanks." I Thessalonians 5:18

  Thinking on this I recalled that some years ago our Bible Study group did a semester on Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. The challenge she presented was to record our blessings, great and small, every day for a year and try to reach 1000. I took up the dare and listed my thanksgivings every day for a year in a lovely leather journal, a gift from my niece. It was tough to get started, but once I got the hang of it, I saw blessings all around. After a year, I'd reached 921 on my list. 80 short of my goal, but the effect of practising gratitude every day, had a profound effect on my life.

   That was in 2014. Seems like a lifetime ago. 2020 changed everything. But it didn't change the Holy Spirit, our encourager, comforter, advocate, helper, guide and friend. John 14 So, with the help of the Holy Spirit, let's pick up that challenge to find three blessings every day (3 x 365 = 1095) even during the pandemic.

   I'll start. 


1. The daffodil bulbs have sprouted at the church. This is a double blessing not only because of its promise of spring and beauty, but because it makes Linda very happy to see the rewards of her work last summer.


 


 2. The amaryllis has put on a magnificent display of colour.


Another two for one. The flowers are a delight to the eye and the plant was a gift, drawing me close to my far away family and raising happy memories in my soul.


3. Jigsaw puzzles. They are a great way to wile away time while stuck indoors. There is satisfaction in placing each piece that fits. In my case, I get the pleasure of the cat "helping." Even as I pick up and replace the scattered pieces, I have to laugh.


Bonus: Writing this list has cheered me up. 

   I wish we had Bible Study so we could all meet and compare lists and draw strength from one another, but . . . Meanwhile it's great that you can use the comments section below to add your gratitudes. Go ahead and share. It will make you feel better and lift the spirits of other readers.

Open your hand to the simple, daily gifts, writing down all the unique and ordinary things you notice, from the grand and obvious to the humble and hidden. Praise Him for the unexpected and the unlikely, for the daily and the difficult, and the graces in disguise. The more you count, the more gifts you will see. Do not disdain the small. The moments add up, and we might come to believe it --the whole earth is full of His glory! -- Ann Voskamp, one thousand gifts devotional Zondervan, © 2013

Monday, January 25, 2021

I Am a Church Member -- Review

 


Congratulations to Blanche on the occasion of her 96th birthday this week. I hear that Session sang happy birthday to her over Zoom! What a world. Here's a virtual slice of cake. 

The link for this week's livestreamed service:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K12MtIkcz4&feature=youtu.be


I Am a Church Member

 by Thomas S. Rainer


 

 

These Covid times and the inability to meet in person for church services had me thinking about church membership and its importance in my life.  So when I was in the Christian book store I couldn’t resist looking at this book.  In fact I sat down and read the first chapter while I was in the store!  It felt like the Holy Spirit was saying read this!

 

When our church membership does not live up to our expectations we begin the blame game.  We blame it on godless politics, secular culture, uncaring ministers, hypocritical fellow Christians, everyone but ourselves.  What the author of this book suggests is that we join churches expecting others to serve us, to feed us, and to care for us, but we have lost the Biblical understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ.

 

He says we are being hypocrites.  Hard words!  The good news is that Rainer then goes on to give us a road-map so we can be functioning church members of a vibrant congregation.  The reader is given six tasks to fulfil.  Each task is explained, Biblical references are cited and at the end of the chapter, he asks the reader to sign a pledge saying they will commit to their church.  The tasks are as follows:  

  • I will be a functioning Church member;
  • I will be a unifying Church member; 
  • I will not let my Church be about my preferences and desires; 
  • I will pray for my Church leaders; 
  • I will lead my family to be healthy Church members; 
  • I will treasure Church membership as a gift.

 

The chapter on each task has stories about how necessary it is to address these aspects of membership.   Rainer begins by exploring Corinthians 13, the love chapter and explains that Paul was talking about us and how we should treat our fellow Christians. In the chapter on the church and our family he talks about how we as believers can affect the non believers in our families.  Some of the chapters tell us things about ourselves that are difficult to hear, especially the chapter on our preferences.

 

This book was a great read.  It is short, easy to read and important to all church members.  It should be required reading for all Christians who want to be part of a vibrant congregation.


Reviewed by Linda Cliff

 

The text for this book is available on the internet with appropriate study guides.  We are bound to our homes these days and filling our time can be a challenge.  Why not take the Pledge?

The book can be downloaded for free here , or you can read it on-line at the same url. Various scholars and preachers have offered study guides. Here are a few. https://michaelfkennedyjr.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/i-am-a-church-member-free-small-group-outlines/

 https://www.lansingcogic.org/files/8714/2482/9459/I_am_A_Church_Member_Ch_1_-_Presenter.pdf

https://www.lansingcogic.org/files/8714/2482/9459/I_am_A_Church_Member_Ch_1_-_Presenter.pdf

Monday, January 18, 2021

Soup Sale

 


The news you've been waiting for -- Darlene is making soup!

We're all getting tired of "stay at home" so it's nice to have a bright spot coming soon --homemade soup from the SPPC kitchen.

Laugh of the week: My brother was fed up with gloomy weather so he said "Hey, Google. When will we see the sun again?"

Google answer: April 2024!


Soup Sales

 

Types: Turkey Vegetable

 

Potato Leek

 

Size: 12oz. perfect for one or two servings

 

Cost: $4.50 C.O.D. 

cash or cheques, payable to SPPC

 

To Order: Call Joan at 250 656-6130

 

Free delivery on the Peninsula



You don't have to be a member of the congregation to enjoy our soup service. Feel free to call Joan at the number above, or the church office at 250 656-2241 to place an order or ask for more information.


Given the average number of orders (70) per soup on past occasions it is clear our congregation enjoys their homemade comfort food.

Previously the proceeds went to support  the House Upon the Rock Ministry in the Dominican Republic.

With COVID-19 hitting hard close to home, the latest batch of soup is designated to raise funds for the Session Discretionary Fund. These monies can be distributed by Session for unexpected requests from our local community and congregation. 

Place your orders now. The soup pot will be expanded to fulfil the requests.

 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1Corinthians 10:31



The link for this week's livestreamed service is here 


Monday, January 11, 2021

Out with the Old

 


Last week the decorating committee took down the Christmas tree in the sanctuary and repacked the nativity sets in their boxes. The surviving poinsettias are in the narthex and available for anyone who wants one. 

The outdoor lights came down as well but our "hope" sign is still hanging on the front of the church.  There have been various calls for people to keep their outdoor Christmas lights on well into February as a means to boost people's spirits and lighten the darkness.  That seems like a good cause for a church to embrace, so, as you drive by our empty building for the next few weeks you'll see "hope" gleaming in the dark.


You may remember that we had a pretty heavy snowfall before Christmas. At the time most of us were preoccupied with the power outage. It wasn't until later that we noticed the heavy snow, winds and torrential rain caused havoc with our trees.

A small, deciduous bush uprooted behind the shed, pushing over another shrub quite close to the south wall of the church building. More seriously, a mature fir


tree broke off about sixty feet up and dropped a thirty foot section very close to the gazebo. It also snagged some smaller trees which are now dangerously bowed over the gazebo.


Tore has been working to clean up the mess from the downed trees. These snagged and bowed ones are dangerous and require a professional to take them down.

In a normal year we would be worrying about having to cancel services because of bad weather or ice in the parking lot. Is it good news that, this year, services were cancelled already?


Happy January!