Monday, June 27, 2016

Conversation at Bible Study last week turned to the catechism.  The people in the group came from different denominations, but the idea of "the catechism" was well known to all.  In brief, catechisms were written in simple question and answer form designed to give children a basic understanding of the tenants of our faith.

For example, question one in the current catechism of the Presbyterian Church in Canada reads:
Question 1. What is God’s purpose for our lives?

We have been made for joy: joy in knowing, loving and serving God, joy in knowing,
loving and serving one another, joy in the wonder of all God’s works.
Gen 1:27-28 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he
created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them.
Isa 65:18 For I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.
Ps 40:8 I delight to do your will, O my God.

See also: Isa 58:2; Job 22:26; Lk 1:47; Jn 16:22,24; Rom 7:22; Phil 4:4; Rev 19:7

An older version of another catechism was recalled as"

1. Who made you?
God made me.

2. Who is God?
God is the Creator (Maker) of Heaven and earth and of all things. 

The conversation sent me hunting.  I could not find any copies of a simple catechism in our pews but I did find "Living Faith."  This is a statement of Christian belief, designed for adults.  The introduction to the booklet reads:  "In every generation the church needs to confess its faith anew.  That confession must at one and the same time be the ancient faith of the church and yet spoken into the mood and questions of its own time."
This little book is a statement, not a catechism, but there are echos of the simple questions mentioned above.  In chapter two, God, Creator and Ruler, section 2 is titled "our Creation" and reads, "the mystery of human existence is that we belong to God and have been made in the divine image.  In God we live and move and have our being." 
 In a section on the church we read, "for life's true purpose is to glorify and to enjoy God."

The book is divided into ten chapters, 

  • God, 
  • God, Creator and Ruler, 
  • God in Christ,
  •  God the Holy Spirit, 
  • The Bible,
  •  Faith,
  • God's Church, 
  • Our life in Christ, 
  • The Church Reaches out, 
  • Our Hope in God.

For most of us, church membership classes were a very long time ago.  If you want a quick refresher course on what our church believes and why, Living Faith, is a good place to go.
There is a pdf version here.  It's about half-way down the page under "subordinate standards."  
Or you can pick it up off the shelf in the narthex at SPPC.  It's right beside the hymnbooks and Bibles.

Just a side note of particular interest to our congregation.  One of the authors of "Living Faith" was Rev. Dr. Cecil Kirk, who spent his retirement years at SPPC and often spoke from the pulpit.  As you read "Living Faith," if you listen hard, perhaps you'll hear his Irish lilt resonating in the text.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Picnic 2016

The skies cleared and the rain stopped just in time for the church picnic, 2016 version. 

What does it take to make a church picnic?






Since most people ended up wet anyway, I don't know why we worry about rain.
Thanks to everyone who came, who cooked, who played, who held communion with each other -- that's what it takes to make a church picnic.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Our National Church

 Belonging to Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church, means we are part of a national church, one that reaches beyond the borders of Sidney/N.Saanich, beyond the borders of B.C. and, in some ways, beyond the borders of Canada, as we are a member of the World Council of Churches.  Mostly our attention is centred on the local congregation, but this week I want to celebrate two events in our national life.

The first is General Assembly.

The 142 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada was held at York University in Toronto June 3-6.  Our minister attended.  The General Assembly discussed all manner of things, church doctrine, history, justice ministries, PWS&D, and the Presbyterian Record, to name a few.  They received reports from the Women's Missionary Society, Young Adult Representatives, the outgoing Moderator, and Faith Presbyterian Church in Fort McMurray, among others.  The topics were many and varied, reflective of our national church.  Some topics stirred heated debate, others universal applause.  That is the nature of our church. We may hold different points of view, but in the end, all are dedicated to doing the will of God.  
During the General Assembly, delegates prayed for God's guidance and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in their deliberations.  Now that the Assembly is over, we must still pray, in our local congregations that God will lead us in the way we should go.  And we should pray for those delegated with difficult task in the coming year that they are strengthen, enlightened and faithful in their work.

If you want to read the proceedings of the General Assembly, either in brief or in detail you can find them here.

The second is "The Presbyterian Devotional."

For twenty years the faithful writers of the Presbyterian Devotional have prepared and e-mailed a short devotional to subscribers. What shows up in my in-box is authored by one of several writers. I've come to recognize some names so I suspect they use a roster.  Many of the contributors are Canadian.  Whenever a devotional starts with a story of country life, I expect it to be written by Lynn Phipps from Atlin B.C. even before I read her name at the bottom of the post.

These little devotionals are a great way to start the day.  I get mine delivered to my inbox, so when I open the computer in the morning, the first thing I receive is a reminder that "This is My Father's World," and that "He Loves Me Too."  Whatever the rest of the day brings, I'm held safe in those two precepts.

If you want to subscribe for email delivery of the Presbyterian Daily Devotional, or just to read some of the posts, click here.


Monday, June 6, 2016

A Week in the Life


  • Morning worship
  • Elizabeth filled in on the organ bench as our regular organist was ill.
  • We learned the name of our nominee for elder.  Thank you Joan for accepting this challenging and vital role in the life of the congregation.  
  • The prayer chain received a request.
  • Regular office hours
  • The prayer chain received a request
  • Regular office hours
  • The prayer chain received a request
  • Morning Bible Study and Evening Bible Study on "How We Got the Bible."
  • Set-up for Probus Meeting
  • The prayer chain received a request
  • Regular office hours
  • Rev. Irwin left for General Assembly in Toronto
  • Our organist, Larry, was taken ill while visiting his mother in California.  He is in ICU.
  • Elizabeth agreed to continue as organist/choir director -- Thank you Elizabeth
  • Probus met in the Malloy Hall
  • Choir practice
  • The prayer chain received a request and a bit of good news
  • Regular office hours
  • Rev. Irwin arrived safely in Toronto and is staying in the residences at York University
  • Bulletin is printed
  • Sign up sheet for choir dinner is posted
  • The prayer chain received a good news update
  • Fundraiser for Fort McMurray at Keating School (Peter)  congregation invited to participate
  • The prayer chain received two requests

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge:
Take it to the Lord in prayer,
Do they friends despise forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In his arms He'll take and shield thee:
Thou wilt find a solace there.
                  --The Book of Praise, #431