Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year

Happy Leap Day! 
Nowadays, in Canada, leap day, is just an oddity on the calendar or a day to celebrate children's dental health!  Historically, though, Feb. 29 abounds with significance.  
The most well-known tradition is the practice of women proposing marriage to men.  No one knows for sure where the idea came from but it is sometimes attributed to St. Bridget, who lived in  fifth century Ireland. The story is that she complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait and wait and wait for their suitors to propose.  In response, St. Patrick designated leap day as the day women could seize the initiative and propose.
Another story holds that Queen Margaret of Scotland imposed fines on recalcitrant beaux.  There are various versions of the fines.  One said the unresponsive suitor had to buy his lady twelve pairs of gloves, one for each month of the year.  The gloves would cover her shame of having no wedding ring.  Other penalties included a silk dress, enough fabric to make a skirt, or a kiss. Since Queen Margaret was only five years old at the time of the supposed law, the story is suspect.
    The tradition may have arisen from the fact that February 29 was not recognized by English law.  Since the day had no legal status, it was acceptable to break with the convention of a man proposing. Also, February 29 corrected the discrepancy between the calendar year and the actual time taken for the Earth or orbit the sun.  What better time for women to correct a tradition that was one-sided and unjust?
While we may laugh at the idea of dissatisfied spinsters pursuing reluctant grooms through the streets on February 29, we should remember that, historically, a woman's whole life might depend upon her marriage.  In many times and places women could not inherit, could not manage their own money, could not own a business and could not vote.  Denied an education, they could not enter the professions.  Being single was more than a social stigma; it meant poverty and powerlessness.

However your own marriage proposal happened, or is still to happen, here is a prayer for couples planning to wed on leap day.  It's a good prayer for any day and any marriage.
"God of love, please bless N and N as they prepare for the commitment of marriage. May the plans for the wedding not overtake the more important preparation for their lifetime together. Please bless their family and friends as they prepare for this special day and may your blessing be upon them now and always. Amen."
from Pocket Prayers of Blessing by the Venerable Jan McFarlane, Archdeacon of Norwich.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Mary Jones' Bible

One of the techniques we use at Bible Study, when we're stuck on a particular passage, is to read the verses in question from various translations of the Bible. Sometimes a change of word opens up a whole new avenue of thought.  
For example, we studied Eve two weeks ago and found these differences:
 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (King James Version)

The snake replied, “That's not true; you will not die. God said that because he knows that when you eat it, you will be like God and know what is good and what is bad.  ( Good News Bible)

“You certainly will not die!” the Shining One told the woman. “Even God knows that on the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you’ll become like God, knowing good and evil. (International Standard Version)

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.(New Living Translation)

The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”

We take for granted our access to all these versions.  If we don't have them in hard copy, we can call them up on a smart phone or computer.  It was not always so.  Here is a homily from an anonymous contributor that serves to remind us that owning a Bible is a precious privilege.
When Mary Jones was born in Wales in 1784 there were not many Bibles in the country. Mary worked hard to learn to read and she wanted to read the Bible as she had heard so much about it in Chapel.
Mary longed for her own Bible and she saved her pennies for years. She earned them by doing chores for neighbours and babysitting their children.
In 1800 Mary walked 25 miles to Bala where she bought a Bible from Rev. T. Charles - then she walked back home rejoicing.
In 1802 Rev. Charles was at a meeting in London and told the story of Mary Jones. He said there was a need for a Society to supply Bibles for Wales. Another minister, Mr. Hughes, said “If for Wales, why not for the world?”
As a result another meeting was held in London on March 7, 1804 and the British and Foreign Bible Society was formed to translate, publish and distribute the Scriptures
In 1904 the branch societies in Canada came together to form the Canadian Bible Society as an arm of the British and Foreign Bible Society.

There are now Bible Societies in countries all around the world and portions of Scripture are available in over 2,883 languages. 

Monday, February 15, 2016


Valentine's Day fell on Sunday this year and SPPC celebrated  -- not young love, although there was a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary -- but agape.  Since our preferred expression of love is to break bread together, we held a newcomers pot luck lunch after service.  

A newcomers event used to be an annual happening at SPPC but somewhere in the past few years it got lost.  
That made Sunday's event lots of fun as we weren't sure who should be categorized as "new."  Some of our "new" members have attended for a couple of years or more, some for only a few Sundays.  No matter, all were invited to fill up at the food table, and some, who were definitely new got a rose corsage.

In addition to the time of fellowship, there were some useful pamphlets distributed.  "Who's who? at SPPC" is a handy reference for newcomer and old-timer alike.  Some ministry's in the church are obvious -- Larry is our organist and choir director, Irwin is our preacher and Josh hangs out on the PA system most Sundays.  But what about Mission and Outreach?  Nurture? Finance and Property?  Members of those committees change from time to time so it's nice to have a list -- with phone numbers! I'm sure there are activities not covered by the brochure, Camp Imodene for example, but it's nice to have a quick guide to the common activities at SPPC.

There was also a leaflet on weekday groups in the congregation.  Bible Study, Prayer Group, Saanich Peninsula Hospital Services, Friendship Coffee, Choirs, Compassionate Resource Warehouse, Grief and Recovery Group, Genealogy Group and The Sunshine Lunch, to list some, but not all the opportunities for service and friendship at SPPC.  The number of activities made me catch my breath.  We are a very active congregation!

Thanks to the fellowship committee, especially Janet Smith,  for organizing the lunch.  Thanks to those who brought food and thanks to those who ate it.  Special welcome to those who came for the first time and to those faithful members who come Sunday after Sunday, year after year.  

As the anthem says, "Many gifts, One Spirit."  May we all, new and established, seeker and settler, share our gifts and give thanks to the Spirit who blesses our fellowship with His love.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Movie Morningt

 The Wednesday morning Bible Study group has wrapped up their study of the Sermon on the Mount.  For a change of pace they watched the movie "Chariots of Fire" last Wednesday.
      The British made movie was first in theatres in 1981.  I recall seeing it then but most of what I remembered was the terrific sound track by Greek composer, Vangelis Papathanassiou.  The opening theme, released as a single, topped the charts for weeks.  It has been played at weddings, graduations, funerals and sporting events ever since.
    I also remembered that Eric Liddell refused to run on Sunday, but I'd forgotten the resolution to that dilemma.  Liddell was a devout man, son of missionaries and destined for the mission field himself, yet he had this gift of speed.  He believed that "God made me fast," and that by running, he honoured God.  He set aside his missionary training temporarily, in order to run in the 1924 Olympics.  That decision was a great disappointment to his sister.  Her disapproval pained Liddell deeply.  When the date of his qualifying heat falls on a Sunday, Liddell refuses to run.  All his sacrifice and pain and effort, will be for naught.
     He is under tremendous pressure by the British Olympic committee and even the Prince of Wales to set aside his Christian convictions and run.  Knowing he will disappoint the whole of Great Britain, Liddell maintains his stand.  He will put God first and keep the Sabbath.
    Rescue arrives in the person of Lord Lindsay. Lindsay has already won a silver medal in the 400 metre hurdles and offers his place in the 400 metre race to Liddell.  The offer is gratefully accepted and Liddell goes on to win.
    In the excitement over Liddell's principled stand and his subsequent victory, Lindsay can be overlooked. Yet his actions are equally heroic.  An Olympic medal is a much-prized reward, but two are better.  Gold is better than silver.  Lindsay, although portrayed as an easy-going charmer, proves that beneath his suave demeanour lies a loyal friend and a true patriot.  For the sake of others, he sacrifices his chance for personal glory.

   None of us watching the movie on Wednesday morning has the gift of speed, but we have other gifts.  We can speak, or garden, or sing, or bake cookies.  We can organize, fund-raise, and run for office, all to the glory of God.
  We might also be the means by which another's gift is realized and that pleases God as well.  

Next week we begin our study of Women of the Old Testament, starting with Eve.

Monday, February 1, 2016

MSMS Team, part 2

by Linda Cliff

On January 16th the SPPC study team met with the five other congregational teams to explore the findings of the facilitator, Bill Lawser, and to learn how to go forward with the information that had been gathered.

As expected all of the congregations present where wanting to look at how:  
              to grow,  
              to define the scope of the problem, 
              to decide if there was a problem and 
              to develop next steps so that our congregations are vital and relevant.

Reverend Lawser began by having the participants look at the purpose of the church.  We looked at the last story in Matthew’s Gospel--The Great Commission.   Jesus asks his disciples to: 
              Make Disciples, 
             Teach and
             Fear not.  

We then looked at The Great Commandment--to love God totally and to love your neighbour as yourself.  All present felt that this should be the guiding principles for our discussions.

As a group we continued to work through how to take inventory of our congregations, how to ask and how not ask questions, how to notice what is happening and how to pay attention.  We also looked at conversations.  Transformation occurs through choice and we are being invited to create an alternative future.  Reverend Lawser provided feedback on the strengths and challenges of the six churches.  The afternoon session was largely inspirational in nature, attempting to show and inspire opportunities and illustrate “leadership styles and influences.”

So…..what does this mean to YOU, a member of the congregation of Believers at SPPC?  We hope it means that you will accept the invitation to take part in the discussions that will be occurring over the next weeks.  The first opportunity will be on February 18 time to be announced where a focus group will be held to look at some questions that will help us to go forward in this process.  The forum will be repeated on March 3.  If you are unable to attend these forums you can submit your thoughts about the questions being asked to any member of the Study team.  We look forward to hearing from you! 

Submitted by Linda Cliff 

Members of the Study Team include: Rev Irwin, Roy Napier, Norma Scott