Monday, January 30, 2012

Pivotal Moment

by Alice Valdal

At Christmas, I received an interesting book, (one of my favourite things) called 100 Days that Changed Canada.  It is a different kind of history book.  One that draws attention to the day-to-day matters that affect the lives of Canadians, things like the invention of Pablum, or the day Foster Hewitt called his first hockey game live on radio station CFCA or the day Stompin' Tom Connors sent back his Juno Awards.
    One of the dates singled out for this book was March 16, 1907, the day the Lord's Day Act was passed.  Before then Canadians worked seven days a week, old and young alike, often in miserable conditions.  If you think children working underground in a coal mine only happened in Dickens' England, think again.  Canadian children worked in the mines of Sydney, Nova Scotia and the factories of Toronto.  Work days were 12 to 16 hours long, conditions were dirty and dangerous. 
   The crusade for a shorter work week was lead by the Reverend John G. Shearer, a Presbyterian minister in Toronto.  He founded the Moral and Social Reform Council of Canada.  Support for the idea came from a variety of interests.  Religious groups campaigned on the premise that it was wrong not to observe the Sabbath.  Labour and reform groups pushed for legislation that would give workers some relief from their toil. 
   When the Lord's Day Act passed into law in 1907, Canadian workers, for the first time, could look forward to at least one day off every week.  A day when they could worship, walk in the park, spend time with family and friends and enjoy Sunday dinner. 
    The Lord's Day Act paved the way for the standards we now take for granted, things like an eight hour workday, pensions, child-labour laws and the minimum wage. 
    Over the years, the law has been challenged, and today commerce operates freely on Sundays, but the principle of a day of rest for workers is enshrined in our culture. 
    British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken a lot of flak for his assertion that Britain is a Christian country, but history shows that Christian principles are at the heart of traditions and freedoms countries like Britain and Canada enjoy.
    March 16, 1907, a day that changed Canada.

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Heart Leaps Up . . .

By Alice Valdal

I’m not a sun worshipper in the traditional sense of exposing my skin to the sun until I’ve turned to leather. But I adore the sunrise. "And God said, Let there be Light!"
At a recent Bible study we discussed what difference it makes to have God in your life. One of the answers was that everything becomes worship. How we perform our work, how we relate to one another, how we live in the world. . .all is an act of worship. It may be difficult to associate some aspects of daily living with worship, but when I watch the sky turn crimson, the shadows of night flee away and the glory of the day break, I cannot help but adore the God who created us all.
     This "knowing" that God is at work in every moment of our days is a great blessing that those who deny God cannot know. To view a rainbow as an interesting phenomenon of refracted light may exercise the scientific mind, but we remember that it is also a brilliant, sparkling, awesome reminder of God’s promise.  That fills the soul.
    "And God created great whales. . . and every winged fowl. . . cattle. . . and every creeping thing. . . And God saw that it was good."
     In our course on the Beatitudes, we studied "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." In the beauty and abundance of God’s creation we can already catch a glimpse of that inheritance.
    Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;

W. Wordsworth
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Monday, January 16, 2012

School's Back

We're all in our places with sunshiny faces.
Wednesday saw the return to Bible Study classes and what a return it was.  The tables were crowded, the conversation robust and we ran out of coffee. 
This was the seventh session on The Beatitudes using John Stott's study guide.  There is one more lesson in this study.  All are welcome to attend.  It is not necessary to have attended any of the previous classes.
   Next week we will begin a study of the Book of Acts, with Irwin as leader.  If you've always been curious about the beginnings of "church", the Book of Acts is an excellent place to start.  We will follow the workings of the Holy Spirit as shown through the lives and teachings of apostles such as Peter and Paul.  See the formation of early congregations and the flood of converts to this new religion, Christianity.
   If you've always loved school, you'll love our Bible Study.  If you've always hated school, you'll find our Bible Study overturns all your preconceived notions.  Come give it a try.  Come once, come every week.  You are always welcome.  The conversation is lively, the teacher is knowledgable and funny, the text is the Greatest Story ever told and the coffee's always hot.

Wednesdays, 9:30am, Ross Lounge, Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church, 9296 E. Saanich Road, by the airport roundabout.
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Monday, January 9, 2012

SPPC Celebrates our Artists

Artwork from two of our members, Bill Richer and Beulah Garrison, appeared in the December issue of The Presbyterian Record, one on the front page and one on the first inside page.  Congratulations to Bill and Beulah!

I interviewed our winners about the pictures.  Here's what they said.
Why did you enter the contest?
Bill:  Jean Strong saw the invitation to submit art work for the cover of The Presbyterian Record and “urged” me to enter.  She almost twisted my arm, but I need it to draw.  There were seventy entries ranging from age 4 to 90 years. My best hope was to make it to an inner page of the Record. When mine was chosen for the cover, I was flabbergasted, and delighted.

Tell me about your picture.
Bill: It is a pen and ink and watercolour angel in a star-filled sky
      Angels are an integral part of the Christmas story. I see this one against the dark blue of a night sky, proclaiming the news of Christ’s birth to the shepherds on the hillside.

How long have you been drawing?
Bill: Since the age of three. I really enjoy getting into the details of a picture. Sometimes it’s those little details than engross me more than the overall design. I have always loved drawing and painting and when I returned to Guernsey (I was evacuated during the war) I studied Art while working in my father's greenhouses. In 1952 I came to Vancouver and sailed the West Coast, right up to Alaska.

Any other art honours?
Bill: When I was a child in Guernsey I received commendations on work that I entered in the Eisteddfod  (Welsh Festival). Making the cover of the Presbyterian Record was a huge surprise for me, especially since I started getting congratulatory telephone calls before my copy of the magazine was delivered.

Any future artistic plans?
Bill: I’m not going to retire from drawing! I often get requests from people to draw particular scenes for them, usually seascapes or landscapes. I don’t do portraits. Of course, I regularly draw the cover of SPPC’s newsletter, “The Shepherd’s Way”, and the poster for the Christmas play.
And the director of the Christmas play is very grateful!


What made you decide to enter the contest?
Beulah: Because I saw the big Christmas tree in a painting last year and I thought it didn’t tell the whole story. Christmas isn’t just about the tree, the Christmas tree leads to the cross.

I used a Bible instead of the cradle at the foot of the tree, then the tree leading to the cross and finally the star, showing the light of the world has come.

Do you have any other “art” trophies?
Beulah: No. This one bowled me over.

When did you start painting?
Beulah: I took up Chinese brush painting about twenty-five years ago. I chose it because I wouldn’t have to draw, just smear the paint around with a brush. There are some very fine artists in my family, so I’ve been exposed to the medium most of my life, but I never thought I could do it myself. I took classes in Chinses art, then a few years ago, my daughter suggested I try just plain water colours, so I decided to give it a try. I had a week of lessons as a birthday present just this past year. I loved it.

What does painting mean to you?
I’m ninety years old and use a cane so jogging, golf and tennis are out. Painting gives me something I can do!

Thank you both.  May you continue to grace our congregation and our church with your many gifts.
To see all of the art submission for this contest, click here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Gate of the Year

The following poem was made famous when it was included in his New Year's Day address by King George VI in 1939, while the clouds of war gathered over England and Europe.  It was also read at the funeral service of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 2002.
"Put your hand in the hand of God" seems like good advice to begin the year 2012 as well.

At the Gate of the Year

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'
And he replied,

'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'

So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.

So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention."

God knows.  His will
Is best.  The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

by Minnie Louise Harkins 1875-1957