Monday, October 28, 2019

A Brief survey

During this session, the Wednesday morning Bible Study is following a video series entitled A Brief Survey of the Bible -- Discovering the Big Picture of God's Story from Genesis to Revelation.
That is a very long title for something that is supposed to be "brief," but the Bible is a very long story!
In previous studies we've focussed on one book, or one epistle, or one theme and explored that subject in depth. I've learned so much from those studies. They really help with this one. 
The current study takes a different approach and covers the whole of scripture, in a very brief overview. 
Each lesson covers several chapters of scripture. I'm glad I've had the shorter, deeper studies, otherwise I wouldn't have the language and the background for this survey.  The instructor assumes you know the stories of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, and Lot, and Abraham and Sarah, and Jacob and Esau, and the Tower of Babel, and Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, and Joshua and the walls of Jericho and Gideon and . . .  You get the idea. 
Without knowing all those stories, it would be like trying to study Shakespeare without knowing the English language.
Surprisingly, to me, the lessons are not about the people in the stories. The Bible is viewed as God's story and all the characters, even the great King David, are mere bit players. 
It's a fascinating study. If you'd like to join in, it's not too late. Don't be scared off by the amount of reading -- we don't mark your homework. Everyone does what he/she can and we all learn from each other.
If you'd like to see a sample of the instructors teaching, you can find John Walton (Old Testament) here, and Mark Strauss (New Testament) here.These are not clips from our study, but they will give you a sense of what the video is like. 
Wednesday's at 9:30 am, Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church, 9296 E. Saanich Rd. Free parking. The coffee's on.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Faith in Action

Normally this blog focuses on events happening at our church, but today I was reminded that church members have lives outside the congregation and engage in good works away from the church building.
One such couple is Brian and Meta Altenkirk. They were features in the Peninsula News Review this week because of their contribution to the craft sale at Water's Edge Village. 

We've had a chance to enjoy their work at various SPPC events. As shown in the photo above, Brian makes lovely wood things on the lathe and Meta creates greeting cards, but the products of their skill and imagination have a purpose beyond making pretty things.

The Altenkirk's have a daughter who suffers from MS. She was diagnosed at 21. She is now 52. Their daughter is fortunate that the disease so far has not been terribly aggressive. 
Since that diagnosis, Brian and Meta have turned to supporting the MS Society. Every penny they take in from the sale of their crafts goes to MS. Even if their daughter is not in dire need, others are. As Meta says there are many aids that people with MS need that are not covered by provincial health care plans. The MS Society tries to fill that gap.

So, well done, Altenkirk's. For 30 years, without fanfare or the prospect of gain,  you have contributed to the well-being of others. We're so glad to have you in our congregation where we may learn by your example.  Luke 10:34

Monday, October 14, 2019

With Gratitude

Rev. Arnie, our guest minister on Thanksgiving Sunday told a story
about thanksgiving in New England, when the Pilgrims first arrived in North America. Their first winter was very hard with cold and storms and not enough to eat. Legend has it that some days each person received only five kernels of corn as their ration of food. The next year, after a good harvest. The Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving with five kernels of corn, to remind them of five things they were grateful for. It is the legend of the five kernels of corn.
The minister asked what we would name as our five gratitudes. So, for this blog, I thought I'd share my list.

  • The harvest. If you've read this blog much, you know I glory in the abundance of the garden and the orchard.        

 Give thanks to the God of Creation for all He has done.    

  • The people at SPPC who shared their harvest to decorate our thanksgiving table. Any produce not reclaimed will go to the Food Bank, so we have shared in many ways. 

Give thanks to the Holy Spirit who moves people's hearts to do good things.

  • The people at SPPC who take care of our property, keeping it tidy and inviting for all who come. This week, we had the lines in the parking lot repainted, so the lot is safer and more inviting. 

Give thanks to Jesus for teaching us to be servants.

  • A broken fig tree. It reminded me of the parable of the fig tree. Give thanks to God for His Word, our guide and our creed.
  • Faithful members of the congregation who shared their celebrations within our fellowship. Lois just celebrated her 90th birthday. She couldn't come to SPPC, so SPPC went to her.

 Give thanks to Jesus who turned water into wine so that friends and family might enjoy fellowship.

Five is a rather poor number when it comes to listing our gratitudes. Some time ago the Bible Study class studied Ann Voskamp's devotional "One Thousand Gifts." When I started writing them down, 1000 seemed like an unattainable number, but within the year, I'd reached the goal. Five barely scratches the surface.

Happy Thanksgiving. I challenge you to make a list of five gratitudes, then keep going, until you have a hundred, or five hundred or a thousand. God is so good to us, we'll never reach the end.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Earth is the Lord's

Warnings about climate change and the fate of the planet have been around for many years, but in the past few weeks the debate has reached a new height. 

In the face of so much fear, I looked around and saw a magnificent display of God's grace -- in the beauty and abundance of nature.
At church, the hydrangea have turned a deep red. So lovely, I cut some to use as a bouquet during worship.

At home my apple trees are laden with fruit. These are dwarf trees yet they could feed ten families. (I'll  take a box to the foodbank.)

The fall flowers of dahlia and zinnia blaze brightly in the autumn sun


The maple tree makes my heart lift each time I look out the window.

Even the last roses of summer flaunt their beauty in the dying season.

My soul sings in response to God's creation. 

Yet the streets are full of fear.

Humanity has polluted  God's garden. 

We needn't look to the scientists and the activists for direction. We need only look to God's Word. Genesis 2:15 says that we are to care for creation. Lv. 25: 23-24 reminds us that the earth is the Lord's and we are but aliens and tenants.  Jer. 2:7 "I brought you into a fertile land  . . . you defiled my land." Prov. 12:10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals. 1 Cor. 4: 1-2  This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 

And in the beginning --
Genesis 1:21 "And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

Thanks to Aarol for her heron photo.