Monday, February 26, 2018

Highlights of Annual Congregational Meeting.

The annual congregational meeting was held following worship on Sunday morning.  Of course, we started with lunch.  
As I read through the reports I noticed that the Fellowship Committee has one of the longest.  Little wonder, since we like to include lunch in almost every church activity.  In 2017, according to the report there were ten special occasions marked with a full lunch or tea and cake. Thanks to the members of that committee for your mission of hospitality.
After breaking bread together, we got down to the business of passing motions and adopting reports.  In 2017 our long-time clerk of session passed away so this was the first ACM for Janet, our new clerk.  She ably took on the duties of secretary of the meeting.  With Irwin in the chair, all ran smoothly.

I was glad to see the report of the Pastoral Care Committee.  This group of volunteers aren't as visible as those serving coffee or singing in the choir, but their ministry brings such comfort to the twenty people of our congregation who are in care homes, hospitals or housebound. 

Finances is always of concern to the congregation.  Happily, we ended 2017 with a small surplus.  The budget for 2018 shows a zero balance.  Unlike corporations, we're not looking to create financial dividends for our shareholders.  The church seeks to spend its money doing good. In 2017 the congregation supported many missions, including substantial donations for relief in Syria, the South Sudan Famine, and the Fort MacMurray Fire (even after the flames were extinguished there was much work to do rebuilding the city.)

20/20 Vision asks, where do we go from here?  In fact, it asks the W5 questions of who, where, when, what and why.  It is always useful for a congregation to ask "why" we do something.  That way we make sure that the current programs are useful and possible, and not a relic of an outdated issue.  If you have any suggestions for what and why and who, talk to Roy.  He'd love to hear from you.

The formal business of the meeting ended, we moved on to thank yous.  There were so many, I can't list them all here.  In particular, Rev. Irwin mentioned session, the choir director, the church secretary, the volunteer groundskeeper, the Friendship Coffee volunteers and the Sunshine Lunch volunteers.  Finally, he commended us all for all the invitations we've extended for others to join us in the congregation, whether for worship or study or coffee.

As moderator of the meeting, Rev. Irwin couldn't say anything about his own role in the congregation, but here on the blog we're not bound by such modesty.  Thank you, Irwin, for encouraging, teaching, managing, praying, suggesting, noticing and empowering members of the congregation to give of their best to the work of the church and to the glory of God.

Let us see what 2018 brings to SPPC.

Friday, February 23, 2018


This week, our Bible Study begins a series of lessons on the Old Testament writings of Amos, one of the minor prophets, who lived in the 8th century BC, during the forty year reign of King Jeroboam II, 
This was a period of prosperity for Israel. They recovered all the land which had been lost in previous wars. Moab was subdued, and parts of Syria, including Damascus were captured.
Jeroboam II maintained strict control over the southern Kingdom of Judah, but worked to develop friendly relations between the two nations, even giving to the king of Judah, some of the land taken from Syria.
Political stability lead to economic economic well-being. Trade with Phoenicia filled the market stalls with rare and precious goods. The nation enjoyed luxury, opulence and ease. Life was good.
As often happens in affluent society, people obsessed with "things," forgot about God and the moral standards He demanded.The well-off Israelites oppressed the poor, might was right, corruption crept into all aspects of society. he teachings of the Torah and the holy commandments were viewed with contempt.As a final insult to God Almighty, Israel built idols to the Canaanite gods of Baal and Ashtarte
God sent many prophets to warn Israel of His anger. One of those prophets was Amos. A lowly shepherd, he clearly stated he was not a "professional prophet," approved by the religious leaders, but a simple man, sent from God. 
Roaring forth a message of condemnation and doom, he was not popular.  However, he was filled with the spirit of prophecy and proclaimed his message fearlessly, even in Bethel  when crowds were gathered to worship the Golden Calf.
In the midst of the celebration, Amos announced that God would bring forth a terrible punishment upon the people of Israel. Threatened with violence from the crowd, Amos fearlessly declared that God had sent him and he would speak God's message.

Old Testament prophets are not the most likeable characters in scripture, but their proclamation of God's word is part of holy scripture. Our society is no less wealthy than the one Amos railed against. Corruption threatens our institutions. The number of people living below the poverty line continues to grow, while wealth is concentrated at the top. Christian values are under attack in the press, in politics, and in education. The idols of sport and leisure and celebrity dominate our screens.

We may not like what Amos has to say, but perhaps we should pay heed.

See you Wednesday at 9:30 am or 7:00 pm in the lounge.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Special Music for Good Friday

As a special service for Good Friday, Larry and the choir are rehearsing The Crucifixion by Sir John Stainer. The work is new to us but is a staple of the church choir repertoire. Of course, in Stainer's time church choirs were bigger so we're working to augment our forces for this presentation.

Extra singers are invited to the first hour of rehearsal on Thursday nights to practice, and will perform with us on Good Friday morning. There is still time for more singers to join. If you're looking for a short-term musical commitment, come talk to Larry on Sunday or call the church office, 250 656-2241.

The Crucifixion is scored for tenor and baritone soloists, mixed choir, and organ, although our performance may include a string quartet. Like Bach's great St. Matthew Passion, the Crucifixion, includes choruses, chorales, recitatives and arias.

Stainer never claimed the designation, "oratorio" for his work. Instead, he titled it "a meditation," and intended it to form an integral part of the Anglican service. He even wrote several simple hymns so that the congregation can join in the singing.

The Rev. William Sparrow-Simpson, compiled the libretto for the work, alternating between Biblical narrative and newly composed poetry expressing the Christian's response to the events of Good Friday.

Critical opinion of The Crucifixion is varied. At its first performance it was well-received, then fell out of favour as being "Victorian sentimentality." Nevertheless, the work continues to be performed in the present day, and, 118 years after the composer's death, musical scholars recognize the enduring value of some of the movements, especially the unaccompanied setting of ‘God so loved the world.’ Of the five hymns composed for congregational participation Cross of Jesus must be counted amongst the finest of all hymn-tunes.

While The Crucifixion, is not in the same league as Bach's monumental Passions, or Handel's Messiah, let us remember that Stainer never set out to rival those works. Rather, his intention was to provide a Passiontide cantata that was within the scope of most parish choirs. Perhaps that modest ambition has contributed to the works enduring place in sacred music. Church choirs can sing it, and they do, year after year.

This year you can hear it at 10:00am on Friday, March 30, at SPPC.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Amazing Grace - Book Report

Book review by Linda Cliff

What’s so Amazing About Grace was written in 1997 by Philip Yancey.  The book examines grace in Christianity, a central theme in the bible but often absent in the Christian church, which seems to focus on immorality rather than forgiveness.   Yancey tells a convincing story of how the world has a difficult time identifying Christians with grace.

The book is easy to read as Yancey uses personal stories, Bible stories and accounts from history to reveal what the Bible teaches us about grace.  The book is divided into four parts.  Each part begins with an illustrative story of grace and how it is revealed by Christians and the church.  
    The author argues that many of the activities carried out by the church (social justice, community service) have secular counterparts but only the Church can offer grace- as it comes from God.   Yancey gives examples of  ungrace in the Evangelical churches of America, he talks of the rule bound legalistic lives of Christians that can effectively shut out sinners.  
     He talked about racism and how he was taught within his own congregation that people of colour were not welcome in the church building or programs He then explored this belief that he himself held and by looking at the life led by Jesus he came to understand that  many of the practices of Christians were about ungrace.  

    At times I found that many of the historical references in the book seemed out of date as the world was very different in 1997.  
    The last part of the book was titled “Grace Notes for a Deaf World” and looked at the evangelical church in America and how there has been an increasing involvement in government.  When I read this section I found that if  looked at what he was saying through the lens of the current political climate in the United States, I was able to understand  the support given to the current president by some evangelical Christians. 

This book was well received by both the secular and Christian readers.  It is a book that will have you look at your prejudices through the eyes of grace.   A few years back there was a movement that asked you to think “what would Jesus have done” before you did or said something.  I found that reading this book has done the same for me.    I recommend What’s so Amazing About Grace as another avenue to explore the message of the gospels. It is available in our church library.

 Side Note: As a Birthday present for Alice, the editor of this Blog, I promised 12 book reviews. This is the first and I am looking for other books to read.  If you have suggestions please let us know and I will add them to my reading list. 

 Editor's Note:  A great birthday present.  Thank you, Linda.