Monday, October 28, 2013

That Ye Love One Another . . .

...By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples.  John 13: 35

Our Bible Study this term is based on a study guide by J.I. Packer called Meeting God.  Over and over the study points to scripture reminding us that love for one another is the hallmark of the church, the body of Christ.         
   On Thanksgiving Sunday, SPPC practised love for one another with a lavish display of the harvest and cake.

One of our members celebrated her 90th birthday and we threw a party.

The guest of honour was happy to share her birthday cake and it looks like our organist got the biggest piece. 

Of course, the best gift was a visit from her daughter, all the way from Australia. 

It is very easy in today's culture to dismiss the church as a relic of a bygone era, a social club for old people.   After all, the secularists argue, charitable organizations, without a faith affiliation, often outstrip local congregations in their good works.  Sports teams foster an esprit de corps and encourage healthy living.  Service clubs raise funds for good causes and provide fellowship for their members.  Why bother with church?  The answer lies in John 13:35. Only the church has a "constitution" that commands love.  Love for insiders and outsiders, for those like us and for those unlike us, even love for our enemies.  
     As the body of Christ, we are called to the highest standards.  We won't always succeed.  After all, the church is made up of sinners, flawed human beings who must throw themselves on the mercy of Christ over and over, but we keep trying, we keep reaching higher, we keep our eyes on Jesus and we love one another.  And that makes us relevant and necessary in the twenty-first century.
   Come . . . be a part of Christ's amazing church.  We'll throw a party.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Police Choir Visits

by Janet Smith

 On  Saturday afternoon, October 5th, a large number of people from the church and the community enjoyed some wonderful music in our sanctuary, presented by the Greater Victoria Police Chorus under the very capable direction of Valerie Turner.
It was indeed a joy and a privilege to have them come to share with us with quite a variety of songs, solos, duets and quartets.
Their programme included "Sweet Caroline," "In the Mood," "Ghostriders in the Sky,"  "Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen), "British Columbia," written by Steven Point our past Lieutenant Governor for the renaming of the Salish Sea and "Hymn to Freedom."  For their grand finale, they sang  their signature tune,  "Amazing Grace." They almost raised the roof.  

    The choir was accompanied by Jeanne Campbell at the piano, Mary Ross playing the piano accordion and Ed Salyn on the drums. It really was a musical feast and very much appreciated by all who came.
   For anyone wanting to learn more about the Greater Victoria Police Chorus you can find it @  and if you ever get the opportunity to hear them in concert, it will be worth your while and you won’t be disappointed.
Also through this website you can order any of their C.Ds. from Lynn Trace who began volunteering with the chorus in 1987!

 A brief history of the Police Chorus of Greater Victoria:

On January 11 1984, twenty members of the various area police departments met for their first practice at the Victoria Silver Threads Centre under the direction of Art Wiebe with Cyril Mossop as their accompanist.
Their goal was to bring together officers from separate forces with one common interest – music.
The Greater Victoria Police Chorus was founded and soon they were singing for schools, hospitals, charitable fund raising venues and public events.
Greater Victoria Police Chorus is one of a few police chorus' in western Canada.   The Greater Victoria Police Chorus is comprised of serving, retired and reserve police officers, plus some non-police performing members, all proud to be serving their community in this unique way.  Officers from Central Saanich, Oak Bay, RCMP, Saanich and Victoria City and the former Esquimalt forces, initially formed the chorus.  They have since been joined by officers from the Royal Ulster, Royal Hong Kong, Cheshire, Leicester City, Toronto, Shelbourne, Orangeville, Regina, Calgary and Edmonton police forces.  They are all united through their love of music and have built relationships that are both professionally and personally satisfying.  Although sanctioned by the area police chiefs, the Chorus operates independently and without any remuneration from the departments they serve. 
    The Chorus has toured parts of Europe on four different occasions, and has sung in historic cathedrals in the Netherlands, Wales and England. They were the hosts of the first International Police Music Festival in Victoria in 1993, and again in 2000. In 1986 they were selected to sing daily at Expo 86 in the B.C Pavilion and the Plaza of Nations.  The Chorus regularly performs in all denominations of churches, senior citizen centres, hospitals, civic and charitable events and government venues. As a registered non-profit society, the Greater Victoria Police Chorus raises its operating expenses through donations, sponsorships and the sale of Chorus memorabilia and CD's.
Beyond meeting their financial needs, the Chorus has proudly raised funds that have been donated back to various charitable organizations, including $615.00 to SPPC.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Spiders and Giving Thanks

      by Diane Cunningham

 This morning Peter was completely captivated by the cobwebs on our patio. “Tell me they’re not real. There can’t be that many.” He said. 
    A heavy fog had rolled in and the moisture in the air had settled on the multitude of cobwebs that had formed on our patio that hadn’t been used much since the cooler wet weather had arrived. It was a moment of wonder and discovery as we each spotted a
cobweb and then another and another. On the furniture, the fuchsia, the gate, the tree they hung suspended and finally visible with the fine droplets of water attached to them. 
   Then as he headed out the front door to go off to school he spotted them on our big bush out front. “Look
Mommy, there are more!” 
     After the van, full of my loved ones pulled away, I stopped and counted the multitude of 6 inch cobwebs on that bush. One side alone had 24! Each angle that you looked at it from revealed more delicate weaving, carefully crafted by a little creature. It was a delightful moment.

     I love this time of year when the invisible becomes visible and God's presence becomes evident.  We see it in the filigree of the cobweb and in the abundance of the harvest.  

    We have a book about spiders.  It points out that we are never more than three feet away from a spider at any moment. That is sometimes hard to believe and often not something we want to think about.
But I remember one November day, driving along East Saanich Road and seeing, suspended between the power lines hundreds of spider webs. I was so amazed that I pulled over and stopped to count a section of them. In a mere 100 feet, I saw over a hundred just on the power lines and poles! Overwhelmed by the sheer number of them I was moved to think about how they got there. Did the spiders just make them for that morning? Where are they the rest of the time? At that moment the spider’s web became for me a symbol of God’s presence in our lives. Blissfully unaware of the little creatures, we carry on as though they weren't there.
Then, one morning, when the conditions are just right and we pause for a moment, we see the evidence of their presence.
      So God is there with us, never more than a prayer away, His fingerprints touching so many points in our lives. He is always there, even when we are oblivious to His presence, even when we are trying to ignore Him, even when we are too busy to take that moment to see Him.

Paul says in Acts 17
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heavenand earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himselfgives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their
lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.”

Jesus told his disciples just before he ascended into heaven “...and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matt 28:20

And I praise God with the psalmist who long ago celebrated God’s

Psalm 8
1 LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

   So, this Thanksgiving Sunday, along with the blessings of harvest, I thank God for those fine little strands suspended in mid-air that remind me that I am never alone and I praise Him for revealing Himself in His creation.

Monday, October 7, 2013

No Silver Lining

   While gazing out the window at the storm swept landscape following last Sunday's "weather event" I saw the lawn littered with leaves and branches, the last of the fall flowers beaten into the mud, an overturned deck chair and a snowball bush snapped off at the fork.  Mostly what I expected after our wild night.  
    But then I saw the unexpected.  A patch of brilliant blue in the midst of a lowering sky. 

  This was no mere lightening of the clouds.  It was clear blue sky in the midst of the storm.  There, I thought, there is God.
    Our world is beset with evil tidings, Christians are persecuted for being Christians, women are assaulted because they are women, and children are coerced because they are children.  Where is God in that world?  Yet, He is there.  That patch of brilliant blue shines forth in the gift of a cow to a farmer in the developing world, in a micro-loan to a woman that lets her start a business that will feed her family and provide employment for a village.


   Closer to home we suffer loss, illness, grief, pain, disappointment.  Where, we might ask, is God?  But He is there in a hospital visitor, in a phone call from your neighbour, in a get well card from someone who cares.

   In our congregational life we must contend with declining membership, tight budgets, and an aching concern for the world that runs past our doors and does not know Christ.  Why, we ask. Why doesn't God renew our fellowship, bring in the lost, show forth His power?  And yet, on Sunday morning, when we gather to worship, there is the bright blue sky of God's presence.  When we meet for Bible Study, God's encouragement shimmers around us.
On Tuesday, Oct. 1st, when 17 members of the congregation met for training to better equip themselves to use the new A.E.D, Automated External Defibrillator purchased by the church, God was there.  Encouraging us in our care for one another, while Kendall Houg of Alert First-Aid Inc. showed us how the A.E.D. works and updated us on the latest C.P.R. techniques.  Through fellowship and shared learning, members of the congregation are more ready to care for the body and the soul.

    When we make even a stumbling attempt to share the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus life and death and resurrection, that patch of blue glows so bright, the blackness cannot stand against it.

    Praise God for His wonderful works.

With thanks to Janet Smith for her photos and report on the AED session.