Monday, September 30, 2013

One Man's Trash . . .

... is another man's treasure.

 We had a great exchange of trash and treasure at the church on Saturday morning.  The weather was awful but we were indoors so perhaps that was an advantage.  Instead of hanging out in soggy soccer fields, folk could keep warm and dry while they wandered the tables of goods.

    I was on the garden table where I had dozens of flower pots and baskets to palm off ( sell)  Amazingly, there were people who wanted to buy!

As well as the exchange of goods, we also proffered good will.  

Workers and shoppers had a good time.  

Some more than others!

  Of course, this was not an ordinary garage sale.  This was the people of SPPC giving of their treasure. Ezra 2:69, Neh 7:71
Few of us have the resources to give like King David, 1 Ch 29:3, although we've had an offer from an anonymous donor to match the amount raised during the sale.  Still we all give "each according to his ability." Acts 11:29

Interestingly, as I searched my references for treasure that we give, I also found many that referred to the people of God as His treasure.  Ex. 19:5, Deut. 14:2, 2 Cor 4:7  

Praise God that  despite our unworthiness, He always counts us as treasure, more precious than gold or silver.

Monday, September 23, 2013


    The other day,  I was leafing through a book of homespun wisdom published by the Eastern Ontario Women's Institute and came across this little gem.


I have just been cleaning cupboards and with neat housewifely art,
I have set things all in order in the storehouse of my heart.
There are many things I've always meant to save and look at every day,
And then again, a lot of things I should have thrown away
There are things in wild disorder, and mixed up with the lot,
Were bitter things, and ugly ones that should have been forgot.
But there are scraps of tender dreams
-a child's remembered kiss,
And a poem that my Mother wrote -
Ah how I've treasured this.
I discovered tho' that ugly things were taking too much space
Sometimes for new and lovely ones, I couldn't find a place!
And so I've tossed the dark things out - the sullen scraps and tatters
Of old-time hurts and fancied wrongs and here's what really matters.
Now that I've tossed the dark things out - each cringing one I found
The others shine the brighter - shed a radiance all around!
My cleaning work is nearly done, and I suggest you start,
For you'll find it's might nice to have clean cupboards in your heart!
                                                     --Maritime Baptist

       Clean cupboards are a good thing, both literally and spiritually,   Next week, SPPC is having a garage sale.  Not spring cleaning, but still a perfect opportunity to clear the excess from our houses and donate it to a good cause.  
       Perhaps while we're clearing out the clutter in our closets, we'll look at clearing the clutter from our lives and our hearts as well.  Letting go of the useless and dangerous and making room for the good and the bright.  Matt 6: 19-20


Monday, September 16, 2013


This weekend at SPPC we spent some time looking to the future -- both short term and long term.
     In the short term, we looked ahead to Dec. 7, the date for "Spirit of Christmas," our musical play this year.  On Friday most of the cast gathered for an "Embrace the Play" evening.  We started with potluck.  Then read through the script.
 Talked over props and costumes and the rehearsal schedule.  We listened to a few clips of the music and generally had a good time.  As our organist remarked, "it is rare these days for people to get together and entertain each other."  Sadly, his comment is true.  It is so easy to become observers of other people's lives, we watch movies, or concerts or sports or daytime talk shows, living vicariously through others.  "Embrace the Play" was a great opportunity to experience the joy of creativity and sharing, and for playing an active part in the event.  
    Note from me:  Rehearsals for the Christmas play are now officially under way, but it's not too late to join!

    On Sunday, the congregation looked to the future in the long term with guest preacher Rev. Herb Gail, the Associate Secretary of Planned Giving in the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
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 Rev. Gail preached on stewardship of all our blessings during the worship service.  Afterward, in the hall, he gave a presentation on the benefits and technicalities of planned giving.  Being SPPC, we took the opportunity to eat!

         -- You can't take it with you
         -- Stewardship is a way of organizing your life so that you can give it away.
         --  Tax laws work to benefit both donors and charities
         --   Gifts may be made from current income stream or from accumulated assets
         -- life annuities through the Presbyterian Church offer better rates than similar instruments offered in the commercial market
         --   A bequest to charity may benefit your children more than a direct gift to them
        --   Bequests to the church can multiply many times over through tax benefits and good management

Rev. Gail had a seemingly endless fund of examples of Christian Charity as seen in the Presbyterian  Church in Canada.  To read more go to stories

Monday, September 9, 2013


    The Saanich Fall Fair has been a touchstone in my life for many years.  It reminds me of home, renews my appreciation for farmers and fills me with a sense of abundance.  After attending the fair as a spectator for many years, I was moved to become an exhibitor.  That meant more work before the fair, harvesting, arranging, polishing . . . a lot of fuss and anxiety.  But, the result of all that effort enhanced my fair experience.  I examined exhibits more carefully and with greater appreciation.  I couldn't wait to get into the exhibit hall to check out my entries.
 A prize ribbon put a smile on my face. 
    I used to bypass the junior's barn, but now I'm a keen observer, looking for tags that bear the names of children I know.   

     This year, I added another dimension to my fair experience, I worked as a volunteer.  Once more my understanding and appreciation grew.  I'm in awe at the sheer number of exhibits, all carefully recorded, displayed and judged. I've expanded my circle of acquaintances, and I've tried something new.  With every step that increased my involvement with the fair, my enjoyment and satisfaction has grown.
I take that as an object lesson in living.  If we stand back and merely observe, we'll get some pleasure and maybe learn something.  If we jump in and participate, we'll discover all kinds of new things, we'll stretch ourselves and we'll grow, plus we'll know the satisfaction of giving back.    
     September is a great time to put this lesson into practice. Classes are back in session, sports teams return to practice, choirs re-form, clubs set their agenda for the coming term.  This is an ideal time to up your level of participation. At church too, we're getting back into full gear after the summer season.  
     The Apostle Paul often exhorts the early Christians to pour themselves into their life in Christ.  1Tm. 6: 12 tells us to "fight the good fight." Heb.12:1 "run the race that is set before us." Eph. 6:11 "Put on the full armour of God."  I can't find any scriptural text that tells us to sit on the sidelines of life. 
     Why not make this the year you try something new?  Join the choir, or the Bible Study group, or the fellowship committee, or the pastoral care team.  Help out in the library or the nursery or the Sunday School.  Volunteer to weed flower beds or scrub the kitchen. Make a prayer list and pray it every day. Become a driver for shut-ins or the Compassionate Warehouse.  Make it your mission to remember Food Bank Sunday and remind others.  Find the gift God has given you, Rm. 12:8 and use it.
    There used to be a bumper sticker that said, "the glory of God is man, fully alive."  Let's all be "fully alive" at SPPC.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Be Still My Soul

I'm still hearing comments about our hymn sing of last Sunday evening. There is no doubt that people love the grand old hymns! One oft-requested number that didn't make it onto the hymn list but did show up in the organ prelude is, Be Still My Soul.   

Here are Dr. Kirk's notes.

"Be Still my Soul"

Scripture reading:  Luke 21. 13 - 19

            Jane Borthwick made her translation of the German original of this hymn in 1855.  The hymn itself was written in 1752 by Katharina von Schlegel.  Very little is known about her though she is believed to have been the head of an Evangelical Lutheran nunnery in Cothen.  It is not impossible that she may have been attached to the ducal court there.  The songs of the German Pietists were largely unknown outside that country until three women - Jane and Sarah Borthwick (later Mrs. Findlater) and Catherine Winkworth - translated them into English.  Jane and Sarah Borthwick published a volume of translations under the title "Hymns from the land of Luther" and it was there that this hymn first appeared.  Miss Borthwick was a devoted member of the Free Church of Scotland and was actively engaged in missionary and social work.

            When first published in English the hymn was headed "Submission" and was accompanied by the words of Jesus: "In your patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21. 19 AV.).  This is the key to the theme that runs all through the hymn - the Christian's attitude of complete trust and submission to the Lord in times of grief, pain or bereavement.

            One of the great assurances of the Christian faith is that we are not called on to travel the pilgrim road alone or unaccompanied.  "The Lord is on thy side".  He is our constant companion in every situation whether glad or sad.  It is important to know this because Jesus himself described Christian discipleship as cross-bearing.  He stated that anyone who would come after him must be prepared to deny himself and take up the cross daily and follow him (Matt. 16. 24).  That cross may be "of grief or pain" and yet we must be prepared to bear it patiently trusting God to provide the strength and to order our way for us.  Whatever happens to us "he faithful will remain" and however difficult the road we are called to walk we know it "leads to a joyful end" because Christ himself will be there.

            As we look back over the years that have gone we can see the ways in which God has provided for us and directed our way.  So very often our understanding of the divine guidance is fully understood only as we look back to it.  For the present all may now seem dark and mysterious but we rest our confidence in the loving presence of our God and when we do so we shall discover that "all . . shall be bright at last".  Our Lord is as capable of ruling the stormy passions of the world around us and those that beat within us as he was of controlling the elements of nature during his earthly life.

            The further we travel along the road of life the more likely it will be that some of the travelling companions of the years will depart through death.  The loss of such friends can be a real trial for us.  We have valued them for their support and encouragement.  Their loss means that we are cast more and more upon the One who comes to us "to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears".  But more, he fills up the void that has been created for "thy Jesus can repay from His own fullness, all He takes away".

            Life passes all too quickly by and "the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord".  That thought should fill us with hope and expectation.  Here below we have human "disappointment, grief and fear".  There has been the sorrow of defeat and loss; we have been confronted with change and our eyes have known bitter tears.  But we have so much to look forward to.  We shall experience "love's purest joys" and we shall arrive "safe and blessed" in our heavenly home.  With such blessings we can "be still" in the presence of the Lord.  

Flowers beautify our sanctuary every Sunday.  Thanks to all who contribute to this ministry, week after week. The bouquets posted here were particularly lovely so I took a picture.