Monday, May 25, 2020

Updated Perspective

Link for our virtual worship service:

The following blog was first posted here five years ago, May 2015. I liked it at the time, but five years on, "perspective" has taken on a whole new dimension.
Some things are still true. The gardens are lovely. Walking there with my friend is still a favourite pastime. But now the gardens are nearly empty. We all nod and keep our distance. There are no student workers waving you into the car park. Instead, older permanent employees are filling those jobs. I met an accountant and a welder acting as tour directors.
Still, I think the original post bears repeating.

This week[May 2015] I indulged in one of my favourite activities -- a walk with a friend through Butchart Gardens.  It's a trek we have undertaken dozens of times before, through every season of the year.  We know what to expect.  In the spring, we'll be carried along on the heavenly perfume of hyacinth.  We'll marvel at the giant tulips, and the tiny tulips and the many coloured tulips.  Later on, the rose bushes will wow us with their exquisite petals and perfect blooms.  In the autumn the trees will turn to fall colours and the dahlias will put on a show.                                     
                                                         Even in winter
we enjoy the walk, admiring the many textures and shades of green, catching a glimpse of primula through the snow.  We know this place.  We've been here before.
   Yet, this week, we saw something new.  Hidden
beneath a shiny broad leaf, were a cluster of deep purple flowers.  We stopped, stared and exclaimed, "Why haven't we seen that before?" 
    We came upon another exotic, like a yellow thistle without the prickly thorns.
 "Never seen that either," we said to one another.  "What do you suppose it is?"
   As we continued to meander we took less travelled paths and saw old scenes from a different viewpoint.  We saw behind the showy beds to find tiny gems in forgotten places.  As we took in the gardens in a new way, our talk turned to the Scriptures, so like our walk.  
     We start out knowing what we'll find.  We've read the familiar passages so many times.  We can recite Psalm 23, and John 3:16 and Luke 2.  We know the stories by heart. -- Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Jonah.  Why study it yet again?  We've "been there; done that."
   Well, if our garden walk is anything to go by, we haven't "done that."   
  My friend and I have walked the Gardens in every season of the year, always discovering something marvellous.  So too, as we study Scripture in the many seasons of life, we find hidden treasure, words of comfort we missed when we were young and invincible, words of wisdom we overlooked when we were set in our ways, and words of courage as we face difficult times.
    Studying the stories with a colleague may show us a different viewpoint, where the old and familiar reveals something strange and new.  Read them with a scholar, read them with a child, the scriptures always have something new to say.

   A favourite hymn for the Saanich Peninsula Hospital service is "In The Garden."  It contains the line "and He walks with me and He talks with me,"  Perhaps scripture is that garden where we may hear God speak, as surely as He spoke in Eden.
   This week, why not explore the garden God gave us?  You'll be surprised.[end of original post]

    Not surprisingly, on our walk this month we found new vistas to enjoy. There are dogwoods hiding in the Japanese Garden that we hadn't noticed before. These tiny pansies (violas?) brightened a previously overlooked corner of the Italian garden. 

And these little rays of happiness lurked under a rhodo bush, unseen when the Gardens are crowded, but ready to brighten our day when we were forced to go slowly and linger over every step. 

Certainly our perspective has altered from May 2015 to May 2020. What hasn't altered is God's care for His children. That endures from generation to generation. Deut. 7:9

Monday, May 18, 2020

May Notes

 This week's virtual service is available at

 The May long weekend is a bit different this year. No travel, no
Victoria Day parade, no backyard BBQs, no pretty picnics. 
  Even so, we have some milestones to celebrate at SPPC this month.

Brian M. had a 90th birthday! Thanks to Bill and Margaret and
Vivian and Brian, he got a birthday party, under the COVID 19 rules. Lots of social distancing, outside, and limited attendees.
Thanks to Bill for sending along some pictures.  Happy Birthday Brian.

Joan Larsen had a birthday in May. She's living in Calgary now, so no party from SPPC. Still, I came across this old photo of the "Living Flame" circa 2002, having ice cream in our yard. That's Joan centre back. I know she loves ice cream, so I hope she had a bowlful on her birthday.

Other birthdays include Meta and Sylvia and Russ and Diane. There may be others but they've been kept secret.

Linda and Albert celebrate their wedding anniversary on the long weekend, as do Tore and Alice. In fact Tore and Alice celebrate on Diane's birthday.
1988 at Metropolitan United Church

Verse 3 of Psalm 100 is a great scripture for celebrations. It reads 
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
  Actually, do yourself a favour and read the whole psalm. It will lift your heart. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

Old Habits and New Ways

Q. How many church folk does it take to change a light bulb

A: Change? Why would we change? My grandmother donated that light bulb.

All joking aside, churches (and other institutions) are generally slow to make changes but now that COVID-19 has forced the issue, I was curious about how we all adapted.

In singing, a common rule of thumb is, if you have learned a mistake, it takes seven times of singing a phrase correctly, to undo that mistake and make the correct notes a habit.

It has been more than seven weeks now since our Sunday morning worship habit was changed. I asked around to see how people were adapting. Here's a sampling.

Our clerk of session watches service first thing before the household is astir, giving her peace and quiet to enjoy worship.

Edna watches in Ontario.

Tore and I watch at 10:00 am -- with a cup of coffee in hand.

Blanche and Bill watch several times throughout the week, always properly dressed. As their daughter says, no pyjama lounging in this house.

Lois, who cannot get to in-person services any longer, is enjoying the on-line version, watching more than once.

Aarol watches after breakfast, but sometimes still in a bathrobe.

In the Cunningham family, Diane bakes something special and gathers the whole family, including Irwin at about 11:00 am. They eat breakfast (yes, it might be a bit of a bribe). Diane has coffee and one day a cat joined the crew. 💞 Peter is on the couch in the living room and the video is streamed onto the kitchen TV. 

Al and Irene watch at 8:00 am, then they watch a couple of other services too, before heading out for a walk.

Roy and Dorothy sent this, 
We have appreciated the e-services (e for excellent!), and applaud Irwin for the hard work he has put into this endeavour.
We appreciate, too, the part played by readers and soloists, along with Larry.
On Sunday mornings, we check our e-mails, sending off responses to any requests for copies of Irwin’s sermon.
Sometimes, I have forwarded the link to the services on YouTube to ensure that some folks have the service.
Generally, we are up and “on the go”, so we watch the services often around 10:00am, in casual duds, perhaps once in PJ’s!
We do miss chatting to friends at SPPC, and while the casual attire is easy, there is something to be appreciated about being up, dressed, and out the door by 9:30am.
blossom canopy in Butchart Gardens--now open for walks

Our telephone coffee hour has yielded some unexpected results too. A one-on-one with someone on the phone means we have more in-depth conversations. Sometimes at the church we want to greet as many people as possible, so don't have time for a long chat. Using the telephone, I've learned a lot about Barb M. and know that she and Gladys have deepened their friendship with Sunday morning calls.

I've also learned that telephone conversations can take place any day of the week!

One day we will go back to worshipping in our church building. We'll rejoice in the company of fellow-worshippers. We'll give thanks for seeing our friends again. We'll "be" in worship instead of just "watching" worship. But, maybe, we'll have changed -- more than just the light bulbs.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The Lilies of the Field

This week's virtual service is at

Matthew 13:31-32
 Last week on our youtube service, the minister quoted John 10:10, "that they might have life and have it abundantly." In this very strange spring, life in abundance seems sadly absent. 

COVID-19 has messed up 

  • our Sunday morning worship,
  • Friendship Coffee, 
  • Sunshine Lunch, 
  • Out to Lunch Bunch, 
  • Bible Study, 
  • Rentals, 
  • Choir Practice
  • Presbytery visit in May
to mention only a few of the "lacks" in our life as a congregation.

tiny daisies on the roadside
But, it is still spring. The earth is full of abundance if we look. In a normal year, I'd haunt the Butchart Gardens in spring, drinking in the sight and scent of the many bulbs and flowering trees. Until this week, that pleasure was closed as well. So, I decided to take the narrow focus of "consider the lilies of the field," and searched for evidence of the Creator's abundance in the uncultivated corners of my world. 
And there it was -- life abundant, overflowing, extravagant, wanton. God is not stingy, and while our society is in lockdown, this earth, God's great gift to humanity, is wide open. 

In his book on hymns, Dr. Kirk, late of this congregation, had this to say about "All Things Bright and Beautiful."
dogwood in bloom

Often when we think of God the Creator, we consider the vast galaxies of time and space . . . This hymn brings us back to reality. It employs concrete, not abstract ideas. The point of the hymn is quite clear: God is the maker of everything we see around us - and the things we cannot see as well.
poppy planted by birds in my garden

The flowers in the meadows, the trees in the greenwoods, the meadows where the cattle graze --"the Lord God made them all."
pansy is  not wild, but growing through cement?

And He made the fruit that grows on those trees; and the majestic mountains that beauty and a sense of awe and everlastingness to our world, He made those too. . . we see the unfolding
ornamental grasses
splendour of the springtime and. . . and marvel at the perfection of His handiwork.

So, if we "have eyes to see," there is abundance in our lives, despite the vicious virus.

there will be fruit for birds on this tree

naturalized bluebells
My parents used to visit from Ontario and they couldn't stop exclaiming about the lovely green, green, green of our landscape.

flowers in the meadows

P.S. I made a mistake when I posted this video a couple of weeks ago and it wouldn't play. I'm trying again, just to give you a chuckle. Hope it works this time.