Monday, November 25, 2013

Busy Week

Whew!  We've had a busy week at SPPC.  It all began last Saturday with the Harvest Dinner.  Eighty-five people sat down to a dinner of Roast Pork with applesauce,  Beef Tenderloin with mashed potatoes and gravy.  Not to mention all the other dishes and endless desserts.  Felicity and Martha served punch and nibbles in the Ross Lounge for early arrivals, while a crew of eight put the last minute touches to the dinner.  
By six-fifteen all was ready and the diners, including many invited guests, filled the tables in the Molloy Hall.  Fun, fellowship and good food.  A typical event at SPPC.
By the time the last guest left, around nine, the kitchen crew tottered home to a well-earned rest and the church coffers were richer by over $1100.00

   For a change of pace, the Grief and Recovery group held a meeting on Tuesday morning.  Linda Cliff R.N. gave a talk on end of life care.  A difficult topic, but one we will all face.  Better to be prepared!

On Friday night, Molloy Hall was busy once again, this time with crafters. A huge basket of lavender for making sachets, filled the air with sweet fragrance. We got to enjoy some free aroma therapy.
An annual event at SPPC, this casual and relaxed evening is used to make Christmas decorations for our shut-ins, to play some games and, of course, have a bite to eat.  

      And, as if the above weren't activity enough, we had a photographer at the church all week taking pictures for our new photo-directory.   It has been some years since our old picture directory was published.  It may be sad to say good-bye to those younger images of ourselves but it will be lovely to see the faces of our newer members in the directory.

     So, that's the week that was, and we're not into December yet.  Stay tuned for stories from the Christmas Play.  We've been rehearsing since September, searching for the "Christmas Spirit."  Come on Dec. 7 to see if we find it.

Thanks to Janet Smith for sharing her photos.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Caring for Neighbours

   The news has been filled this week with images of disaster in the Philippines.  Many charitable organizations, including the Red Cross have launched special appeals.  Canada's DART team has been dispatched to help.  Food, medicine, water, shelter -- all are needed -- again.  
    The typhoon in the Philippines is just one more in a string of natural disasters.  Last summer there was flooding in Alberta, a landslide in India.  Before that a tsunami in Japan, an earthquake in Haiti. The list is endless.  The need persistent.  It's easy to feel overwhelmed.
  Yet God has told us to feed the hungry, Is. 58:10-11, to share the burdens of others, Gal 6:2, and to do good. Heb.13:16
   One way we follow those commandments is through the Presbyterian World Service and Development Fund.  Before disaster strikes, in the far-flung corners of the world, we are there   Before a particular crisis arises, we  have people on the ground, programs in place, connections with local churches and an understanding of the geography and culture.
    We also monitor where our aid goes and how it is used.  Last month, our congregation hosted a luncheon with Rev. Laura Kavanagh to learn about her work as part of an inspection team with PWS&D.

   On this occasion she shared her experience of visiting schools, hospitals and community centres in Afghanistan.  Child mortality is high in that country, and our church's support of pre-natal care programs is of great benefit.  Inspection teams, such as the one Rev. Kavanagh travelled with ensure that money donated through the church is put to the best possible use, that the programs we support bear real results and that services are delivered to those who need it most.

When news of the world seems an endless litany of grief, it is good to remember that every day our church is involved in feeding the hungry, easing the burdens of the poor and doing good.

The church is wherever
God's people are helping,
caring for neighbours
in sickness and need.
The church is wherever
God's people are sharing
the words of the Bible
in gift and in deed.

    ----- Carol Rose Ikeler

Note:  You may donate to relief in the Philippines through your offering envelope at SPPC.  Until Dec. 8, the federal government, will match all donations.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada.  I asked some members of the congregation what that means to them.  Here are their replies.

Remembrance Day is a time to remember the soldiers who fought for us in the wars.  At school we have a minute of silence.  -- Peter, age 8

To me, Remembrance Day is a time of celebration and thanksgiving. It's the one day each year we all come together to thank those who have given their lives for our families, our country, and our freedom. It's a time to remember those who we have lost, and praise the ones who still stand. Remembrance Day is a time to rejoice for our soldiers and their bravery.
  -- Felicity, Senior Sunday School Class

Remembrance Day.  Whenever I think of that day, I think of my 18 year old son going to Afghanistan. He, like all the rest, went to make a difference in the lives of the people there. A lot different from our parents, and grandparents day, in the forces.
     I remember when my son was receiving the medal of dispatch and parents of fallen son's and daughter's were picking up medals on behalf of their lost children. It tore my heart out. I was a lucky Mother, one that did not have to deal with no child, or a child that will never be the same.
     I am thankful, praising God for looking after my son, who should have never come home, on many an occasion.
     I think that, unfortunately, the Devil is alive and well in this world. People  prey on the poor, and uneducated.  I hope that the people of this world become less selfish and that hatred between religions, regions and races ends.  God's word is what we have to remember, so that we can be strong, against those who want to cause harm. We as Christians need to stand and support our own so that when others are being harmed, we stand together and help. -- Darlene, Rentals Co-ordinator

Memories of Remembrance Day
      During our time in Ottawa, 1986 to 2000, public esteem of Remembrance Day seemed to change substantially. In the 80’s and early 90’s, there seemed to be a sense that war service and things military were somewhat low on the scale of public respect or recognition. During the next decade,that seemed to change and the sense of respect and the honour attributed to those Canadians who served in the “World Wars”, grew considerably.
     At that time in Ontario, Remembrance Day had ceased to be a public holiday for schools. As a result, each school had the opportunity to develop a Remembrance Day programme which would be meaningful to students.Our school had the advantage of tradition and many former students and staff had served in the military. We had a formal Remembrance Day Service to remember those who gave their lives in the service of Canada in the great wars. One of my tasks was to read the Roll of Honour recognizing those who paid the supreme sacrifice. On that Roll there were 40 young men who perished in World War One and 31 in World War Two. Each year, we welcomed back veterans who had served in these terrible wars, and our students were profoundly moved to spend time with these men who had served their country in the time of war. In the formal service, there was
always a sense of great reverence and respect as we remembered those who died in the wars.
     A few years ago, Dorothy and I had the opportunity to visit the battlefields in Belgium and Vimy Ridge, in France. Our appreciation of the tremendous sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of young men and women became all the more real. The white crosses, row upon row, in many different cemeteries, speak of the great sacrifice made by so many. This sacrifice was made that we may live in relative peace and we must remember those who gave so much.
     In B.C.,Remembrance Day is a public holiday (of sorts), and the schools are closed. For most young people it is just another holiday spent, perhaps,idly at the mall. In cities and small towns, there is usually a Remembrance
Day Service, often sparsely attended by young people. Would it not be better to have students in school where each school could develop a suitable programme to remember and recognize the sacrifice made so that we may live in a time of peace? As we read the obituaries today, that great generation of men and women who served in the Second World War is passing. Let us not forget.
 --Roy, elder at SPPC

What does Remembrance Day mean to me?

     It's all about recognizing and appreciating sacrifice.  I was fortunate enough to grow up in the decades where major onflicts did not call for a national call to arms but I never took for granted the price that was paid for that privilege.  My first experiences with veterans of these conflicts was when I worked at Metropolitan United Church; the ordinary, extraordinary worshippers who paraded at the Remembrance Day services with their medals and stories.  Combine that with the Biblical verse John 15:13 . . . no greater gift than to lay down one's life . . . and you see that the ceremony of remembrance becomes very personal.  I have been privileged to worship and work with many veterans; humbled to watch them parade and remember their comrades.  Attending church and cenotaph services is the very least I can do. -- Tore, choir member

Remembrance Day.  I cannot help but remember my father, who contributed to winning "The Great War" (WWI) in that he gave his eyesight and received twelve other shrapnel wounds.  I never heard him complain or grumble.  Mother never said to us children, "Your Daddy's having a bad day."  He was an example of courage and of being a wonderful father.  I had a hero for a father and a saint for a mother.  --Peter, aged 96

Sunday, November 3, 2013

All Hallows Eve

    With our recent candy fest in mind, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the origins of Hallowe'en.  The name is an abbreviation of All Hallows Eve.  Like New Year's Eve, All Hallows Eve is just the lead up to the big event, All Saints Day.   And, like New Year's, the "eve" in some respects, has eclipsed the "day."
   Ironically, some Christians object to Hallowe'en as a celebration of a pagan rite, while some secularists object to its Christian overtones.  Like many of our holidays, (holy days) the truth is a blend of both.  The Celts of early Britain organized their lives and their celebrations around the seasons.  The end of October, meant the end of harvest and the beginning of winter, a time of darkness, fallow ground and death.  They also believed that this was "an in between" time, when the souls of the dead could revisit their homes.  Samhain, for whom the feast was named, was the Celtic lord of death.   Dressing in grotesque costumes, making loud noises or placing a jack o'lantern in the window was considered a way to keep the spectres at bay.    Hallowe'en in the Druid sect wasn't a happy festival!

     As Christianity spread throughout the world, the church often adapted existing festivals to Christian principles.  Thus, Pope Gregory IV, decreed that All Saints Day, a day to honour the saints and martyrs of the church, should fall on Nov.1, thus setting aside the end of summer as a day to remember all the saints (hallows) and martyrs of the faith. What had been a night of fear, became the eve of a sacred time.  A time to honour the great company of believers, and to remember that, through Christ, death has been swallowed up in victory. 1 Cor. 15: 54-56 
    The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, consider saints to be particular persons whose lives and good works have been recognized by the church, and who have been elevated by the church to the level of sainthood.
      As a "reformed" church, the Presbyterian denomination follows Luther's definition of "saints" in its New Testament interpretation.  For us saints are the whole community of  believers, past, present and future.  Therefore, All Saints Day is a day to celebrate the unity of the entire church and to give thanks for the saints who have taught and preached to the world, who have nurtured and protected the church throughout the ages and whose work continues to this day.
     For followers of Jesus, ghosts and goblins are just costumes, no more fearsome than ballerinas or cowboys.  We hand out candy for fun, not as a means to placate demons. 
  We may get a kick out of funny costumes and practical jokes, but the real joy in this weekend comes from the knowledge that we walk with Christ and are joined with the great company of believers.  As the hymn puts it, 
                   "O blest communion, fellowship divine!  
                    We feebly struggle, they in glory shine; 
                    Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.