Monday, April 19, 2021

Easter 3

 The link for this week's worship service is here.


Here we are into the third week of Easter -- the time of resurrection, yet death still pervades our world. Deaths within our congregation, our families and our country continue apace, at latest count there are 3 million COVID related deaths worldwide. 

For some we've had small outdoor services with a maximum of ten, others have postponed any service until COVID restrictions end. This weekend I watched the service for the Duke of Edinburgh--lots of ceremony but within COVID restrictions that dictated a choir of only four, and only 30 members of the family in attendance, seated well apart, echoing the experience of so many mourners in this epidemic. It hurts to see people bearing sorrow alone.

Yet, whatever the circumstances of the deceased, prince or pauper, the same words of scripture are read for comfort, for inspiration, and for hope. 

Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God. . .In my Father's house are many mansions: John 14: 1-2

I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: John 11: 25

"The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom then shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27: 1

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 38-39

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Rev. 21:4

These are just a few of my favourite passages, no doubt each of you can add many of your own. And here we come to the Good News. While COVID holds sway in our world for a time, Jesus Christ holds power forever. Whatever ravages death may inflict, Christ stands ready to heal the brokenhearted and welcome home His saints.

As we suffer through the remaining days of the pandemic, let us hold fast to God's promises. Christ will prevail. His kingdom shall know no end.

The Lord is My Shepherd                      

Monday, April 12, 2021

Reluctant Spring

 The link to last Sunday's livestream service is here.




We start this week with sad news. After a very long life, our friend Blanche, has been called home.

She'll be remembered for many things, including her fabulous shortbread cookies. There wasn't a single fellowship occasion at SPPC that didn't include at least one plate of Blanche's shortbread. Any that weren't eaten on Sunday mornings would carry over to Wednesday Bible Study.

She was a stalwart among the knitters at Friendship Coffee on Thursdays, often bringing supplies of yarn and batting for others as well.

At an age when most are stepping back from volunteer jobs, Blanche, along with her husband Bill, took on to produce The Shepherd's Way, our church newsletter. The Sunday a new issue arrived in our mailboxes was a happy day for the congregation.

Blanche was a saver. Her closets were stuffed with articles from all the decades of her life which meant, when we needed costume material, she was a "go to" source. Want a hat from the 1950's? Blanche had several. Need a flapper string of beads? Blanche had a boxful. A cane for the Christmas Musical? Ask Blanche.

Not only did she have all sorts of unexpected treasures she was eager and happy to share them. 

While the virus lingers as the worst of unwanted guests, spring has been a reluctant arrival this year. The odd warm day followed by weeks of frosty nights and chilly days. The death of our sister-in-Christ feels like another blast of winter. 

But spring is just around the corner and, though we will miss her, Blanche has arrived on the other side where flowers bloom, trumpets sound and friends rejoice to see her again.





Farewell, dear friend. Until we meet again.

The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended

Monday, April 5, 2021

Easter 2021

 There was no sunrise service this Easter, nor was there breakfast in the hall or an in-person service in the sanctuary.


We did manage an out-door Maundy Thursday communion. 





The Good Friday service was live-streamed 
here.




Easter Sunday service is 
here



Rev. Irwin has mentioned some upcoming birthdays, Janet, Hal, Leona, and Linda as well as an anniversary for the Lloyd and Lee. However, there was one person missing from his list. On April 11, Rev. Irwin will celebrate his birthday. 

Best wishes to all our celebrants.

Our Jewish friends traditionally end their Seder supper with the words, "next year in Jerusalem."  I will end this blog with the hope, "next year in the sanctuary."


Monday, March 29, 2021

Holy week 2021--Updated

 

Palm Sunday service is available here

Yesterday, Palm Sunday, was the start of Holy Week. Normally we would have a list of services and events posted here and in the newspaper and maybe on posters in the narthex. In 2020 our COVID-19 response was brand new and the province was in the initial lockdown of the pandemic. Many of us thought that after a few weeks or maybe even three months we would be back to normal.

Wrong! We were of the mindset of soldiers going off to fight in WWI who were convinced "it will be all over by Christmas." It was four more Christmases before survivors saw their loved ones again.

Now, as we face our second Easter of the pandemic, we have more realistic expectations. We also have some variance in the Public Health Orders around worship, that allows for some outdoor and/or indoor services.

At present this is what we know for services at SPPC:

  • Maundy Thursday, April 1, 5:00 pm. In-person communion service, outdoors. Maximum attendance is 50. Inclement weather might require us to stay in our cars but please dress warmly and plan to worship outside.

  • Good Friday April 2, 10:00 am live-streamed worship service with an in-person congregation of up to 40 people. 

  • Easter Sunday, April 4, 10:00 am. Live-streamed worship service with an in-person congregation of up to 40 people. Worship will conclude with the celebration of the Lord's Supper.
Other restrictions include 
  • no socializing before or after service. 
  • Face coverings must be worn even when seated. 
  • Physical distancing is required. 
  • No congregational singing.
The Maundy Thursday service requires pre-registration. Call the office at 250 656 - 2241 if you wish to attend.
Attendees are encouraged to do a personal health check before coming. B.C. Health check is available here.

As noted in the announcement from Dr. Bonnie Henry, the number of COVID cases on Vancouver Island is rising. Orders may change at any moment. Right now, we are allowed four services with COVID protocols in place. 

However, we must remember that just because we "can" doesn't mean we "should." Rev. Irwin and Session have done their best to strike a proper balance between the desire for in-person worship and the desire to keep congregants safe. No one should feel obligated to attend service if such a meeting is beyond your own comfort level and personal risk tolerance.

Easter will happen, however we worship. The darkness of Gethsemane and Golgotha will give way to the joy of Easter morning and the Risen Christ. Alleluia!





Monday, March 22, 2021

Ups and Downs

The link to this week's service is here.


The news from SPPC is a mixed bag this week. The good news is, our members are getting their vaccines. I saw in the newspaper that Blanche was one of the first. Kay got hers in the first week of March as well. I'm sure there are others. We often worry that our congregation is elderly, but when it comes to getting vaccinated, elderly is good.

The daffodils in the front beds of the church blooming happily. Nice to see a reward to Linda's hard work last summer and fall. Tore's been adding a few licks of paint here and there--a sure sign of spring.

On the sad front, Rosemary E. passed away this week. I first met her in a Lenten devotional circle. My but that woman could pray! It was my first time sitting in on the group and I was astounded at how Rosemary could talk to God like He was an old friend. Praise, supplication, intercession, adoration poured ceaselessly and confidently from her lips.

Later, in Bible Study class, I got to know her better. As well as being a prayer warrior, Rosemary was a keen student. On Wednesday mornings she'd show up with her workbook full of notes, the questions already researched and answered. If I was lucky enough to be in her small group, I could just crib the answer from her. Later she would take the lesson home and go through it all again with her husband. They liked to share books, with her reading aloud to him.

When her granddaughter, Josha, was in the Living Flame Choir, Rosemary was a faithful supporter. She'd turn out with a big smile on her face and a flowery hat on her head, bringing encouragement and gratitude.

Although none of us has been able to meet in person for the past year, I feel a sense of loss. I shall miss Rosemary's kindness, her steadfast faith, her cheerful attitude and her bright pink sweater. 

As per COVID rules, there will be no public funeral, but we keep Reynold, Josha and the whole family in our hearts.



Monday, March 15, 2021

Book Review

 


God and the Pandemic

A Christian Reflection on the Corona virus and its Aftermath 

                               --  By:  N.T Wright 

 

Let’s start by learning more of N.T. Wright.  Wright is a research professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrew and a senior research fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.  Previously he was Bishop of Durham, Canon Theologian of Westminster, Dean of Litchfield and fellow, tutor and chaplain of Worcester College, Oxford.  He is also the author of over eighty books.  I became familiar with his work when I started a Lenten devotion he had written for the You Version Bible App.   

 The book is short (only 80+ pages) and was written in July 2020 soon after the pandemic had begun and when we were all hoping it would be short lived.  He states the aim of this book is not to offer solutions to the questions raised by the pandemic but to help us resist the knee jerk reactions which are so easy to accept. He feels we need a time of lament, of restraint.  He feels if we spend time in the prayer of lament, new light may come.

Wright begins with the Hebrew Scriptures and asks us to consider how early Jewish people responded to their tragedy of the Babylonian exile. He guides us through some of the Psalms and the book of Job.  Wright suggests “we are simply to lament, we are to complain, we are to state the case, and leave it with God”.  

He then turns to Jesus and the New Testament.  He uses stories from the Bible to point us to how early Christians responded to the tragedies of their times.  Wright notes that these early Christians do not attempt to lay blame, call for repentance or assume that Jesus is returning soon.  Rather, “they ask three simple questions: 

  1. Who is going to be at special risk when this happens? 
  1. What can we do to help? 
  1. And who shall we send?”  
Wright reminds us throughout history; Jesus’ followers have started hospitals, cared for the wounded, fed the hungry and tended to the dying. 

Early in this book Wright refers to the “End Times” and how many Christians feel the pandemic is heralding these times.  I find it difficult to explain how, but Wright develops a clear argument of how he feels that this is NOT what the pandemic is about.  Instead Wright takes the reader through the Gospels and explains that Jesus is God’s sign and that God’s kingdom is now.  You will have to read this book yourself as I found my own ideas about God and Jesus changed as I read both the book and the scriptures Wright uses. The author wants the reader to look at what is happening, to be prayerful and look for what may come.     

E-book is available on Amazon for $5.99 

 Thanks to Linda Cliff for this week's blog.



 


 

 

 

 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Travelogue




As our world moves toward the end of COVID many are dreaming of travelling again. Meantime, Barb Lyon has sent us this report of a trip she took in 2019 where she "met" an ancestor.


     My cousins and I planned a trip for September 2020 to travel to Germany, Austria and Italy, travelling by train along the way. Our trip was, of course, cancelled due to Covid 19 travel restrictions but we did manage a trip the previous year to England.
     My cousin Gerry and her husband Ray have visited England previously and were posted there for five years during Ray’s career in the Canadian Navy. I couldn’t have asked for more knowledgeable, kind and accommodating travel companions.
     One of our stops was West Bromwich in the West Midlands area of England. There we visited the grave of our great, great, great, great uncle James Eaton.



Born in London in 1783, Eaton entered the navy in 1799 during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was appointed signal midshipman aboard HMS Temeraire by 1805, and served as such at The Battle of Trafalgar with Lord Nelson on the HMS Victory during the Napoleonic wars.
HMS Victory

The HMS Tremeraire was broken up after the war but we did visit the HMS Victory in Portsmouth.


It was James Eaton, as signal midshipman, who repeated Lord Nelson’s command at the start of the Battle of Trafalgar that “England expects that every man this day shall do his duty”.
     James Eaton is buried at All Saints Church in West Bromwich. The Warden there was very generous of his time and gave us am interesting tour of the Church and its grounds.
This is a picture of my cousin Gerry with the Warden and myself at James Eaton’s grave site.



We visited Hill House in West Bromwich where James Eaton lived until his death in 1857. We knocked on the door hoping for a brief look around but the current owners were not at home
Hill House, Dagger Lane, W. Bromwich

 

Built in the early 16th century, Hill House became the home of Captain James Eaton in 1839. It is believed Charles Dickens was a visitor to Hill House while he wrote "the Old Curiosity Shop." 

     The next day we travelled from Portsmouth by ferry to the Isle of Wight.There we visited Osborne House which Queen Victoria and Prince Albert built between 1845 and 1951. Prince Albert designed the house himself in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. The Royal Family enjoyed the House as a change from the stuffiness of Buckingham Palace and the more relaxed atmosphere for their 11 children. The family used it as a summer home and rural retreat.
Osborne House

We greatly enjoyed our tour of the House and the extensive grounds.
     Queen Victoria died at Osborne House on January 1 1901 and even though her will expressed her desire that the House be kept in the Royal Family, Queen Victoria’s heir Prince Edward VII donated the House to the state in 1902. As such it is the first and only royal residence to be enjoyed by only one generation of the Royal Family. 

     We look forward to the day when we can enjoy each other's company again and travel God's magnificent Creation.

Thanks for the armchair tour, Barb. Imagine being the man who passed along the order "England expects . . . his duty."