Monday, November 25, 2019

Report on Bible Study

This week marks the end of our current Bible Study, A Brief Survey of the Bible. There has been lots of positive feedback. The group enjoyed the presentations by John Walton, with his deep love of the Old Testament. We've been inspired by the enthusiasm of New Testament professor, Mark Strauss. 
And we've read! Chapters and chapters and chapters of both testaments. For some it has been the first time they've looked at certain passages, for others it has been a review of old favourites. For all of us it has been a journey of discovery.

We began this study by default, since Rev. Irwin was on sick leave in the fall and many of us Bible Study regulars wanted to continue to meet together. Fortunately, our minister has recovered and has been able to sit in on the last few sessions. Having him available to answer questions as they arise has added tremendously to our experience.
We're coming into December now, so there will be no more Wednesday Bible Study until after Christmas.

On January 15, we will meet at the usual time to discuss a book "If
You Want to Walk on Water you have to get out of the boat."  Linda recommended this book and wrote a blog on it earlier in the year. She will lead the discussion group. Anyone who wants a copy of the book to read can get it by contacting the SPPC office at 250 656-2241

After that -- who knows? The "Brief Survey" raised lots of topics which could be explored in the new year.  Stay tuned for updates.

P.S. Reading through the Bible once is only the beginning. Go back and read again the beautiful parts as a balm to your soul. Re-read the hard parts to enlarge your understanding. Look again at the commandments to encourage you in faithful living. It is a Good Book.
The DVD of "A Brief Survey" will be in our church library

Monday, November 18, 2019

Amidst all the Remembrance Day observances last week, I realized one of the hymns of my youth was missing, "O Valiant Hearts." It does not appear in our Book of Praise,. In fact, lists it as appearing in less than 25 hymnals between the 1920's and the 1990's.
The poem was written in 1917, by John Arkwright, and later set to music. It was an attempt to bring meaning to the millions of deaths brought on by WWI -- the war to end all wars.
It is easy to see how grieving nations would embrace the words of this hymn, which links the sacrifice of so many young lives to the sacrifice of Christ. 
The hymn was was sung at the bur­i­al ser­vice of the Un­known War­ri­or in West­min­ster Ab­bey, Lon­don, No­vem­ber 11, 1920, 
Sadly, the Great War, did not end all wars. Perhaps that is one reason later hymnarys did not include this hymn. However, it was a standard at the cenotaph when I was young and a quick search on-line shows it is still very much a part of Remembrance Day in Britain.
It may not suit our times, but the heartfelt sorrow and grief of so many nations, is worth remembering.

1. O valiant hearts who to your glory came
Through dust of conflict and through battle flame;
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
Your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

2. Proudly you gathered, rank on rank, to war
As who had heard God’s message from afar;
All you had hoped for, all you had, you gave,
To save mankind—yourselves you scorned to save.

3. Splendid you passed, the great surrender made;
Into the light that nevermore shall fade;
Deep your contentment in that blest abode,
Who wait the last clear trumpet call of God.

4. Long years ago, as earth lay dark and still,
Rose a loud cry upon a lonely hill,
While in the frailty of our human clay,
Christ, our Redeemer, passed the self same way.

5. Still stands His cross from that dread hour to this,
Like some bright star above the dark abyss;
Still, through the veil, the Victor’s pitying eyes
Look down to bless our lesser Calvaries.

7. O risen Lord, O Shepherd of our dead,
Whose cross has bought them and whose staff has led,
In glorious hope their proud and sorrowing land
Commits her children to Thy gracious hand.

John Arkwright, 1917  

(Tune: The Supreme Sacrifice) - composed by Charles Harris

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Time for Remembrance

This Remembrance Day Sunday our wreath was laid by Harold Taylor, a veteran of the Korean War, serving with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. 
Harold was doing his National Service in England when he was eighteen. He was supposed to go to Hong Kong. However, because the first English soldier killed in Korea was only eighteen, there was a protest in England, particularly from the mothers. As a result, the military decided that young men would not be deployed to foreign service until they'd passed their nineteenth birthday. So, Harold stayed training in England for another year. When he turned nineteen, he got his orders for Korea. 
He served in the "police action" there for eighteen months. Back home in England, after he finished his National Service, he found the country in turmoil because of a miners strike. He and Hazel decided to emigrate and Canada offered a hopeful future.  
Examining the Bible Harold received while in Japan, before deploying to Korea

Although Harold was in Korea as part of the British military, Canadians served in that conflict as well. Korea is often referred to as Canada's forgotten war.
When Canada agreed to join a US led military action in Korea, the country was weary of war. The Second World War had ended only five years previously. Even though most citizens agreed with the need to stop communist aggression, they did not feel an emotional or personal connection to Korea, even though 500 Canadians were killed in the conflict.
British casualties were 1,078 killed in action, 2,674 wounded and 1,060 missing or taken prisoner.  
South Korea, however, did not forget the service and sacrifice of people like Harold.  The Republic of Korea holds Canada, and other allied countries in high regard for fighting to save them from falling victim to one of the world's most merciless regimes.

Korean  War Monument to Canadian Fallen (Ottawa)

Monday, November 4, 2019

Book Review -- Linda Cliff

If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat

By John Ortberg

This book was the winner of the 2002 Christianity Today Book award! - And is well worth the read.   The author invites the reader to consider the potential that awaits outside your comfort zone.  Ortberg takes the reader step by step through Peter’s walking on water experience helping the reader to develop the necessary skills to do the same. 
In the preface of the book Ortberg states that he believes there is some aspect of our lives in which God is calling us to walk with and to him, and that when we say yes to his calling it sets in motion a dynamic that is beyond mere human power.  Fortunately there are some essential skills we can learn before we try “water walking”, this is a book that will help you get out of the boat. 

The book begins with a discussion of water walking, the people who risk getting out of the boat and the boat potatoes, the people who stay in the boat.  Ortberg tells the reader there are consequences with each decision but God’s promises about water walking are worth the first step.  
He uses scripture from Matthew to look at each part of the water walking skill.  After having the courage to take the risk the walker needs the wisdom to discern the call. Each chapter focuses on learning a part of this new skill.   Once we have discerned the call, there is the actual walking on the water.  This is when we, like Peter, may see the wind and cry out in fear.  Then there is the sinking which is stopped by focusing on Jesus.  We also have to learn how to manage failure and decide “How big is our God?” How big is Christ in our lives? 

Ortberg leads us through this new skill by focusing on each part of the water walking. He uses Bible references to illustrates how others have taken the risk of getting out of the boat.  He is like any good coach; he explains what is needed and then gives us things to practice so we build both the skill and our confidence.  The book is filled with humorous antidotes that make you want to read more and help to keep the reader engaged when you are doing the hard work of learning a new skill.

I highly recommend this book.  The chapter on fear was one of my favorites and one I reread.  Also the chapter on focusing on Jesus has practical ideas on how to make Jesus the focus in each day. 

If you would like to be part of a group who will do a short study on this book, copies are available at the Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian church.  The group will meet in January 2020 and we would like to welcome you.  Watch this Blog for updates.

Linda Cliff