Monday, December 30, 2019

The Celebration Continues

December was full of activity for the congregation of SPPC, then Christmas Eve arrived. This is a very exciting service but peace pervades the sanctuary. The old, old story is read. Carols are sung -- so familiar, most people don't need a hymn book. Then the lights are lowered and a flame from the Christ candle is carried through the
congregation, lighting one small candle after another. In stillness and quiet, we sing "Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm."
What a blessed moment -- all is calm.  We have finished our preparations, we are ready. Ready for the Christ child to come into our lives. This is my favourite moment in all the Christmas season.

Then it is Christmas Day and we gather again, many heavy-eyed from lack of sleep. A day to greet the newborn Saviour and wish each other a Merry Christmas.

And then it was Sunday. I don't know about anyone else, but I felt like we had ten days of "the day before," "the day," and "the day after" then "the day before" again!

Often the Sunday between Christmas and New Year's is a low period in the holidays, but in 2019, this was a high Sunday. Naomi Edith was baptized into the family of God and our congregation.
As Rev. Irwin's grand niece, Naomi's baptism was particularly sweet. 

She was an excellent baby, not even crying when drenched with water, and smiling at all the people who cooed to her.
She wore a christening gown that had been worn from generation to generation, including her great grandfather, for at least 100 years. Another special moment in a day of special moments.

Welcome, Naomi. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Joy and Love

Happy Birthday to Don. Beautiful cake too!

The third Sunday of Advent is Joy.
A few extra lights to brighten the darkness

The fourth Sunday of Advent is Love
Our Advent lighting is complete

Last week's blog was very long so some events received only a short paragraph. This week, I'm making up for that.

On Sunday afternoon, Dec. 15, Love and Joy pervaded our sanctuary and our hearts. We shared music, fellowship and food with the Jesus is Lord Congregation. We are so happy they've been able to use our sanctuary on Sunday evenings and they are so happy to have a place to worship. 

This Sunday we lit the fourth candle
of Advent. In the afternoon we assisted
with a worship service at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital leading in carol singing.
We had a larger than usual crowd and many happy faces. Christmas carols seem to touch our souls in a special way, evoking memories of happy times, family and loving friends. They make us smile and shake hands and rejoice, regardless of our circumstances.

Music is a gift we celebrate at SPPC, especially at Christmas time.
On Christmas Eve we'll enjoy another time of carols and readings and candlelight.
Plenty of free parking. Enjoy a hot drink and a shortbread cookie.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Advent at SPPC

So much is happening around the church during Advent, this week's blog is an update on events past and others still to come. Get out your calendar.

To begin, Peter had an idea and Tore has a basement workshop. Together they created these
lovely outdoor decorations using the themes of Advent, hope, peace, joy and love. Hope, peace and joy are in place off the roof of the church. Love will appear next week, as we approach the fourth Sunday of Advent. Thanks you two. It looks great and provides a much needed bright spot on the outside of the building.

Last Sunday, the third of Advent two new elders were ordained during morning service. Elders in the presbyterian church bear significant responsibility for the well-being, both temporal and spiritual, of the congregation. Our thanks to Darlene and Tore for filling these positions.

The "out to lunch bunch" has been enjoying good company and good food since September, but this month we had a special event. Thirty six members of the congregation enjoyed a special Christmas buffet at Haro's restaurant in Sidney. We had our own room so all our visiting didn't interfere with other patrons. Fortunately no one kept track of the number of repeat visits to the buffet table.

Sunday was white gift day when we collected some extras for the shut-in members of our congregation and for those in need in our community. The Sidney Food Bank is always grateful for our donations.

There was a bake sale following worship. Thanks to Diane and Darlene and Joan and Linda and Aarol and all who contributed goodies. Thanks also to all who opened their wallets and took home the treats. The money raised goes toward our mission projects.

Sunday afternoon we put on our usual Community Carol Sing. We see many of the same faces year after year. Good to know the church is part of the community Christmas tradition. 
We followed the carol sing with a pot luck supper, shared with the Jesus is Lord congregation. Lovely to meet the evening worshipers in our church building.

Next Sunday we light the fourth Advent candle during morning worship, 10:00 am. In the afternoon we'll host a carol service at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital.

Christmas Eve is our lessons and carols service, complete with candles and Silent Night. Service begins at 7:00 pm.
Christmas Day at 10:30 am we celebrate Jesus' birthday with a short, family service.

With all this activity, it's easy to forget that Advent is a time of waiting. Linda has sent along this little reminder.

Thoughts on an Advent Devotional
Christmas is a busy season and one of the ways I cope with the busyness is to make lists.  One of  the important tasks on my list is to complete an advent devotional.  Today is day sixteen and I thought I'd share some of my thoughts so far.

  • In order to clear the clutter for Christ we have to take a moment to listen intentionally and expectantly.
  • Christ is the most important present to unwrap.
  • Rethink, rearrange and refocus so Christ has room in our lives.
  • For some there is little joy in the season, remember Christ came for the broken.
  • When does Christmas officially begin?  Christmas “officially” began with the fall of man when God put His rescue plan into motion. I never considered this before.
  • Advent means coming--lets be ready for this special guest.
  • Christmas brings us unfathomable Grace and unstoppable Love
  • Don’t doubt God's power, Mary didn’t.
  • Joseph showed no fear when he was obedient after God spoke to him.

Llinda Cliff
  These are some of my reflections from reading the devotional “Making Space” written by Susan Narjala a freelance writer who lives and writes in India.  The devotional is available on line, why not it read for yourself?
I wish you all a merry Christmas.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Caol Sing 2019

One of our favourite Christmas traditions at SPPC is the community carol sing.
This year the event takes place on Dec. 15 at 2:30 pm.
We'll sing old favourites like "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Away in a Manger," "Silent Night," and many more. Words supplied so no need to bring a carol book--just bring a friend and prepare to get into the Christmas spirit. 
The Jesus is Lord Congregation has been using the SPPC building for worship on Sunday evenings. We're delighted that they've agreed to join us for the Carol Sing and for a pot luck supper afterward.
As the old song goes -- "please to put a penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do,. If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God Bless You."  If you haven't got a dish to contribute to the supper, don't worry about it, we wish you God's blessings anyway. There will be lots of food to go around. If you'd rather just have a cup of tea and a cookie, that's fine too.
We look forward to meeting all our friends and neighbours at the Carol Sing.

9296 E. Saanich Road (at airport roundabout)
Free parking
More information at SPPC 250 656-2241

Monday, December 2, 2019

Advent 1

December and Advent arrived together this year. On Sunday the congregation entered a sanctuary decorated for this most festive time of year. It looked beautiful.
On Saturday, a number of church workers turned up to work the magic that takes a mess and turns it into something lovely. 

Felicity took charge and directed her helpers.
poinsettias in their wrappings declare Christmas season is here

An SPPC favourite, Hazel's knitted nativity.

Barb's antique plant stand creates a perfect display for the flowers

The candle of Hope is lit

December is full of special services. Dec. 8 is Communion and the ordination of new elders.
December 15 is white gift, bake sale, carol-sing and pot luck supper
Dec. 22 Fourth Advent, the candle of joy. Service at the Hospital
Dec. 24 Christmas Eve service at 7:00 pm -- carols, candlelight, lessons
Dec. 25 -- 10:30am  Birthday Party for Jesus  --All Welcome