Monday, May 30, 2016

Putting In and Getting Out

    I went away for a little holiday last weekend and came home a raft of bad news, including the death of a colleague, a sharp reminder of my mortality.  
     We all like to dream of the things we'll do when . . . 
we finish school...
get a job ...
quit our job ...
have (grand)children...
move to a new city...

The list is different for each one of us, but the idea that good things will happen only in the future can rob us of the joy of throwing ourselves into life every day.

   Here's a children's story from my favourite anonymous source that says it better than I can. 

Putting In and Getting Out

True story: preacher went to a little country church to take the service. There was a collection box which he thought was for the poor so he dropped in a $1.
After the service an elder said to him: “We are poor people and are unable to pay you. We have a box and anyone helped by the service and feeling grateful may put something in. We give it to the preacher for travelling expenses and we are delighted to tell you we found $1 in it today. Please accept it with our thanks.”
The preacher told his family when he got home and his son said “Well Dad if you had put more in you would have got more out!”
Jesus said: Give and it shall be given to you again.

Games are a lot of fun but they ask a lot too. [You]must train, practise. Must deny yourself to learn to play as a team. Must put your whole self in. If you only play at it all you will get is sore muscles and short windedness.

Studies: if you don’t work hard you will never win scholarships or prizes. Studies may seem an awful bore but if you really put yourself into them you will be amazed how exciting they can become.

Church and being a Christian: some people are slack in attending church or give it up altogether. “I get nothing out of it” they say. If you have no thought of what worship is, no prayer beforehand, no expectation church will be a real bore.
“Law of diminishing returns” even in Christian life. People who came to church and communion regularly - but no longer. They miss something and wonder why. They put in less and less and so they get less and less out of it. But if we give of ourselves to Christ and really work for Him we will be amazed at how wonderful life becomes for us.

Give yourself to Christ and He will give Himself to you.

Monday, May 23, 2016

How We Got the Bible

  Pop Quiz

1.How many books are in the Bible?

2.How many human authors wrote the books of the Bible?

a.Fewer than 10
b.Between 10 and 25
c.At least 40
d.More than 100

3.What do we call the original manuscripts of the Bible?                       __________________

4.How many original manuscripts of the Bible survive today?

5.In what language(s) was the Old Testament originally written?

6.In what language was the New Testament originally written?

7.What do we call the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament?__________________________________

8.When did mass printing of Bibles begin?
  a. Before AD 300
   b. Around AD 650
   c. After AD 1400
   d.  After AD 1750

9.How many ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament exist?
   a. Fewer than 1000
   b. Between 1000 and 2500
   c. Between 2500 and 5000
  d.  More than 5000

10.Who is known as the "father of the English Bible"?

     That is how we began Bible Study this week.  I don't think any of us scored 100%.  

     Our Bible study for the next few weeks will be more "about" the Bible, than the Bible itself.  As Christians we claim scripture is God-breathed, that it is authoritative, that it is the Word of God, that God is revealed in its pages.   But how do we know that?  Did God dictate the ancient texts to Jewish scribes?  Did some scholar one day find the complete manuscript in a library?  Just where did our present-day Bible come from?  Who decided what books to include and what to omit?  Why?
     These and other questions will be discussed and answered in the next six sessions of Bible Study.  

    So, how did you do on the quiz?  Want to know the answers?  Come to Bible Study, Wednesdays at 9:30 am or 7:00 pm.  You don't have to reveal your score.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Let the Sun Shine In

You may have noticed we're a little sunnier at SPPC these days.  That may be because of our sparkling personalities or our Christian love for one another, or it may just be the thinning of trees around the church building.

We have a peculiar arrangement with regards to the forest behind our church.  We own it, but we have a covenant with the airport authority that they look after it.  The airport has a vested interest in our trees because they effect the operation of the runways.  It is vital to the safe operation of the airport, that no trees be allowed to reach above a certain height if they are in line with the flight paths.  As it turns out, our forest is in line with a flight path.  So, this past few weeks, workers have been thinning our forest of mature trees, topping some that are too tall, planting some new ones and removing the ivy that threatens the health of the woods.

The result is a more open, park-like forest, plenty of sunshine on our windows, and lots and lots of firewood.
 Stay tuned for more information in that subject.  In the meantime, enjoy a stroll in our beautiful forest and bask in the sunshine.  

Don't forget about the Christian love thing, either.  It will brighten your day and the world around you.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Prayer for Fort McMurray

   Along with the rest of the country, our congregation has watched the images of the tragedy unfolding in Fort McMurray this past week.  As fellow Canadians, our hearts ache for the nearly 90,000 people who've been evacuated, fleeing for their lives before the monster fire, leaving their homes in the knowledge there may be nothing left when they return.
    At SPPC we feel a particular connection to Fort Mac because that was Rev. Irwin's previous congregation.  His sermons are peppered with Fort Mac stories.  The children were all born there. He and Diane have many dear friends still living in the area.
    Elizabeth, who often graces our worship with her music, is from Fort McMurray.  Her parents still live there.  At last report, they are safe, but in separate locations.  Her mother has made it to Edmonton and is staying with relatives.  Her father is at the Syncrude site.  He and his crew are working to shut down the plant in case the fire reaches it.  (The latest news is that Syncrude is now shut down, so he has also been evacuated.)
    Our immediate response is to want to help.  We would love to reach out from our congregation to the Presbyterian congregation in Fort Mac with personal gifts and compassion.  However, that is not the most effective way.  Organizing the transport of goods and materials is costly and time-consuming.  Our best means of assisting is through the Red Cross.  Not only are they on the ground with organized distribution centres and an army of volunteers, but every dollar you give to the Red Cross will be matched by the federal government.  You can donate on-line here, or go to the Red Cross office, 909 Fairfield Road, Victoria, BC V8V 3A3, Phone:(250) 382-2043,
 PWS&D is also accepting donations marked for Fort McMurray.  Here's the link.
   You can also read the letter from the minister of Faith Presbyterian.  At latest report all of the congregation is safe, although scattered.  There is also a letter from the Moderator.

   We can also pray.

Dear Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for the glory of this world, for forests and meadows and vast skies.  We acknowledge Your power and majesty.  We know that even the winds and waves obey Your command.  In the face of forest fire, we pray for rain. 
We pray for the fire-fighters.
 Give them courage and strength and determination to battle on until all are safe and the task complete.
We give thanks for police, paramedics, and military personnel who risk their lives to serve their community and their fellow citizens.
We ask that You bless the people of small towns like Lac LaBiche and Boyle and Athabasca who have reached out in compassion to the tide of evacuees washing into their communities.  People pulling together to offer refreshment, a bed, a shower, and comfort to bewildered, frightened strangers. 

We thank You for the generous souls who hand out coffee and muffins and gasoline to those stranded along the roads.
We give thanks that no lives have been lost to the fire.
Dear Lord, sustain and comfort our neighbours in Fort McMurray, give them resilience, faith and hope.
We ask all this in Jesus' name.  Amen

Monday, May 2, 2016

Save a Life

On Tuesday, fourteen people gathered in the Ross Lounge for a demonstration of the AED (automated external defibrillator) that hangs in the narthex.

Andrea Mackey from Philips heart start AED led the demonstration.  Just like the angels in the Bible, her message was "be not afraid!"  The defibrillator is meant to be used by ordinary citizens, people without training or a license.  It has an audio component that walks you through the procedure as well as lots of pictures.  Still, if you came upon a person who has collapsed and isn't breathing, you'd feel better if you had some instruction on the use of the AED.

   Andrea had some hard figures for us.  If a person isn't breathing, organ damage begins within three minutes.  CPR without AED is only 2 - 5% effective.  With AED it is 80-90% effective. She said the instrument is like a fire extinguisher.  It is meant to be ubiquitous -- you'll see them in churches, theatres, arenas, grocery stores -- and easy to use.
    However, if you want more information, here's a handy guide to help calm your nerves while you try to save a life.

  Check -- 

  • Be sure you're safe i.e. no traffic, no threatening dog, etc.
  •  Talk to person or bystanders to try to find out what happened. eg. did the person fall?  hit his head?                           
  • Determine level of consciousness e.g. talk to person.                 Can he hear you?  Pinch him to see if he responds to pain  
  • Tilt the head back to clear his airway.  Watch and listen                      for breath.

Call --

  •  Get someone else to make the 911 call while you start CPR
  •  If possible give dispatcher your location and the condition of    the patient e.g. not breathing
  •  Get the AED kit, preferably someone else does this while           you continue chest compressions
Care --
  •  Open AED kit and follow the audio directions.  If two                 people are working, there should be one on each side of the  patient.

  •  Recruit helpers if possible.  The average person loses                  effectiveness giving CPR after about two minutes.  If you           are alone, do your best.  Angela said doing something is             better than doing nothing.  
  •  The AED unit will tell you whether to shock the patient.  If the heart has already started or if it has stopped completely  the machine will tell you not to apply shock.
  •  keep giving care until the ambulance arrives.

It all looked very simple while Andrea demonstrated.  When we took turns practising, even on the doll, the process got more real. I hope I never have to use the AED, but if I do, I'm glad I had a trial run.