Monday, May 27, 2019

Sunday's theme was missionaries.  When I was a kid, I believed the only way to be a missionary was to go to Africa. I had a schoolmate who did just that, spending thirty years working in Kenya. In my little one room country school house it seemed as though she'd stepped off the edge of the world. 
Modern day missionaries usually have access to modern technology so even those who go to undeveloped parts of the world, can be in almost instant contact with their supporters in Canada. But even in those circumstances, being a foreign missionary requires dedication and sacrifice. At SPPC we support many mission causes but we have a particular affinity for the House Upon the Rock in the Dominican Republic. 

In the past we have sent two teams of workers there. We receive regular reports on the mission and on the people who work and live there. It seems fitting then, on missionary Sunday, that a fund-raiser for special missions was on the schedule. Diane and Darlene and Joan and Irene have been baking and roasting and pureeing for several weeks.
The fruits of their labours were available for pick-up after service. Many of our congregants live alone so single serving goodies like soup and cottage pie and date squares are greatly appreciated. In this case, serving a foreign mission field and helping close to home coincide.
Speaking of close to home, on Sunday afternoon our congregation conducted a worship service at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. Contrary to my childhood view of missionaries, we can just go down the road to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and bring comfort and joy. For folk living within the confines of the hospital, no matter how excellent those conditions, a visit from outsiders brings a breath of fresh air. Some of the people at the service are members of our own congregation whose health has necessitated a change of residence. For those folks especially, a worship service among their old friends is a source of comfort.

It seems like coincidence that all these activities happened on the same Sunday, but perhaps God was working through the various ministries at SPPC to show us how every small act of caring can work toward His glory. 1 Peter 4:10

Monday, May 20, 2019

Pray on Your Fingers

As a church we talk a lot about prayer. In sermons, in Bible Study, in Sunday School, during coffee hour and just in general conversation. One question that repeats itself is "how to we pray?" Is there a formula for how to talk to God?

The acronym ACTS is often used as an example of the types of prayers Christians use. A for adoration or praise of the Almighty. C for confession. T for thanksgiving and S for supplication or intercession. It's a handy device and a pattern that we see echoed in our order of service.

I've come across another pattern for prayer that some might find useful, particularly when teaching children to pray. This one involves praying on your fingers. Here's how it works.

The thumb is nearest your heart, so pray first for those closest to you like parents, siblings and friends. Don't forget to pray for yourself. Tell God what you need.

The second finger is used to point. Pray for those who point you toward the way you should go; teachers, mentors, ministers and all who inspire your faith.

The third finger, the tallest, suggests we pray for leaders, both within our faith community and without. Pray for elders, for members of parliament, for Queen Elizabeth and the Prime Minister. We might even pray for celebrities whose position of influence could make them terrific ambassadors for Christ.

The fourth finger is the weakest. Pray for the sick and abused, the imprisoned and the helpless.

The fifth finger, the baby, is the smallest. Pray for those often forgotten in our busy whirl -- the lonely, the bereaved, those using food banks and the homeless.

Pray often. At Bible Study this week we watched the movie, "Shadowlands," a biographical account of a time in the life of C.S. Lewis, author ot the Narnia stories among others. At the beginning of the movie Lewis talked about suffering and God in a rather clinical manner. Later, when he knew suffering first hand, he was asked about prayer. He replied,
“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me.”
If you want to enrich your prayer life, try praying on your fingers. 

― C.S. Lewis

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mother's Day

   When I was a child, we wore a flower in our lapel on Mother's Day, a coloured boutonniere for a living mother and a white one for a mother who had passed away. I don't know where that tradition came from nor why it seems to have vanished, but it's a nice memory for me.
      The photo at the top of this post is of an Edith Cavell lilac bush. My mom was named for that WWI heroine, so having the lilac bush in my garden is a sweet remembrance for me. 

       Mother's Day, as it is celebrated in North America, was begun by Anna Jarvis in 1908. She held a memorial for her mother  in W. Virginia. Commercial companies embraced the celebration as a sales opportunity. According to some sources Mother's Day ranks second behind Christmas as the most lucrative occasion in the merchant's calendar. 
        It is easy to write off Mother's Day as a Hallmark marketing ploy. And yet . . . Christian churches mark the day, calling it Family Sunday, in many denominations.How do we reconcile a commercial event with a worship service?
     The Bible is laced with verses about mothers. 
 Proverbs devotes the entire 31st chapter to extolling the virtues of a good wife and mother "whose price is beyond rubies." Here are some others:
  • “Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.” – Proverbs 23:22-25
  • “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12
  • “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” – Isaiah 66:13
  • “And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.” – Luke 2:51
  • “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4
  • “Then the mother of the child said, ‘As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So he arose and followed her.” – 2 Kings 4:30
  •  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Eph.6:1-3
  •  I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5 ESV
  • He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord Psalm 113:9
     For most children, "mother" represents security, comfort, nurture, forgiveness, knowledge and an abundant fount of love. Perhaps it is because mother-love can be a foretaste of the love of God for His children that the writers of both the Old and New Testaments singled out mothers for special appreciation.
   The sunday bouquets will fade and the last of the special feast appear on the table as leftovers, but "Mom" is steadfast. May we count our many blessings, as the year rolls on.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Welcome Visitors

At SPPC we are happy to welcome visitors -- all visitors, including this young deer who recently sunned himself in the Garden of Remembrance for the duration of the sermon. I can't remember if Rev. Irwin peached on peace, or not, but this fellow presents a perfect example.

Buck, a neighbourhood cat makes frequent forays to our church. We don't keep cat treats on hand but he likes the cuddles.
Don't we all value our church community for the fellowship? A handshake, a hug, a sympathetic ear, a good laugh--they're all part of being a congregation.

Snowbirds. Just like migrating birds, we welcome a number of regular visitors during the winter months. We aren't Hawaii, but we're the warmest part of Canada from November through March. Refugees from ice and snow are happy to call SPPC home during those months.

Tourists. We're glad to see travellers hop in for services and other
events. The sign-board at the gate alerts passers-by to Friendship Coffee and Bible Study.

Guests. Some people stay home when they have company, but I bring mine to church. After sight-seeing for hours, eating too much and staying up too late, some soul-renewal is a welcome refreshment.

Providing hospitality to visitors, is just good manners. It's also doing God's will.

Romans 15:7  (KJV)

Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.