Monday, December 30, 2013


   Christmas in Victoria is more often green or grey than white, but many of us have fond memories from other parts of the country where bringing in the tree meant a sleigh ride into the bush, reddened faces and numb fingertips.  One of my favourite memories is carolling on Christmas Eve while snow fell softly from a star-studded sky.
   I make it a point to NOT remember being stuck in the ditch, having to use jumper cables to start the car and missing the plane because snow closed the roads!
    One of our members, Lois, is having a typical Canadian Christmas season this year in the Caribou.  She sent these beautiful pictures and this post.  Thank you, Lois, for sharing with your SPPC friends.

Well, my grandson always cuts down the tree off the ranch property, he refuses to give in to an artificial tree.  We always attend the Christmas recital at Aimee's extended family's church in Williams Lake.  
    Christmas Eve is traditionally an ice fishing day, weather permitting, although I don't participate in that!  If someone is energetic and enterprising, and willing to clear the snow from the pond ice, there is skating to participate in.  No snowmobiles on this ranch, it's horses or tractors.
     Christmas Day is gift exchange, attending to the cattle, then horse drawn sleigh rides for all the grandkids prior to turkey dinner, either at Aimee's or Gary's daughters' house in town. 
     Christmas in the Caribou is snowy, cold and traditional!  

Merry Christmas, 

Monday, December 23, 2013


Emmanuel, God with us;
                               Beautiful Saviour, 
                                     Prince of Peace,
                                Wonderful Counsellor,

                                    Alpha and Omega,
                                    Good Shepherd, 

                                         King of Kings, 
                                     Blessed Redeemer,
                                      Lord of Lords

                                  Lamb of God, 

                            Mighty God

                           Son of God


Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Decorations

 Once again SPPC is decked out in wreaths and poinsettias, lights and a Christmas tree.  We have Jean Strong and Pat Aumonier to thank for spearheading this annual transformation of the sanctuary.  Although they have helpers, these two ladies spend many, many hours creating the trimmings we all enjoy.

     Looking at the decorations I began to ponder their symbolism.  While some modern ornaments owe more to Disney than to the Nativity, the oldest of our symbols do carry Christian messages.

The Christmas tree represents life (green) in the darkness of winter and its shape points us toward heaven and Christ.  Another story about the Christmas tree concerns St. Boniface (circa 722 AD) who stopped a child from becoming a human sacrifice to a pagan god, by striking down the oak tree that was to the stake where the child would die.  A fir tree sprang up in its place and St. Boniface declared it a holy tree.  He then told the faithful to carry one to their homes and surround it with love and gifts. 
    The Christmas tree  as we now know it comes from Germany, where Martin Luther is said to have been so awed by the brilliance of stars on a winter evening that he brought an evergreen tree into his main room and decorated it with lighted candles to recreate the scene outside for his children. 
    In 1521 Princess Helene de Mecklembourg brought a Christmas tree with her to Paris after her marriage to the Duke of Orleans.  Parisians were so delighted with the custom that the area of Alsace started to run out of pine trees and a law was enacted to limit their use to one per house.
The circle of the wreath, represents God's eternity. Already a part of English folklore, holly with its sharply pointed leaves, was adopted by the early church as a symbol of the crown-of-thorns. The red berries depict the drops of Christ's blood. The tradition of hanging a holly wreath on the door at Christmas began during the 17th Century and signified a home that celebrated the birth of Christ.

Even the candy cane, is symbolic of the first Christmas.  Its shape is that of a shepherd's crook and reminds us that the shepherds were the first to hear the news of Christ's birth.

Candles, like Christ, bring light into a dark world, but they have a special history in Ireland. During the early part of the 17th century, Catholicism was persecuted by Protestant rulers from England, yet the people of Ireland clung to their religion.  Many Catholic priests were expelled from the country or executed, but those who remained travelled in secret to celebrate the mass in homes at night.  At Christmas time, a candle in the window was a signal that welcomed the priest.

The star shape of Poinsettias points to the Star of Bethlehem and their red colour is the colour of sacrifice.

   You may be surprised to know that the Presbyterian church has not always welcomed Christmas decorations within the sanctuary. John Knox, a strict reformer, regarded all such festivities as pagan or popish.  "All worshipping, honouring, or service invented by the brain of man in the religion of God, without His own express commandment, is idolatry," wrote Knox. 
    When Cromwell ruled in England, there was a determined attempt to remove Christmas from both religious and secular life. In 1645 a group of ministers was appointed by the British Parliament to produce a new Directory of Public Worship.  The resulting document decreed a strict observance of  Sundays as holy days for the worship of God but all other festivals, or Holy Days, including Christmas, Easter and Whitsun were eliminated.

   This ordinance was not popular and there are reports of violent confrontations when government tried to force shops and businesses to remain open on Dec. 25.  After the Restoration, all the legislation of the Cromwell period was declared null and void. Christmas was once again celebrated both in public and in private, within the church and on the street.  In Scotland, however, the influence of John Knox was so strong that Christmas did not become a public holiday until 1958.
   How ironic that Christmas was once banned for being un-Christian and today is under attack for being too Christian!  
In any case, the decorations in our church are lovely and filled with meaning.  Let's enjoy them and say thank you to the decorators for their faithful service. 


Monday, December 9, 2013


By Alice Valdal

If you missed the musical play on Saturday night, you have missed The Christmas Spirit.

It was a wonderful night with a large audience, ready to be pleased.  They laughed at our jokes, applauded our singing and contributed over $505.00 to the collection plate.

We had our own version of the Nutcracker with a beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy and an impish toy soldier.

We had duelling divas -- one rich and one clever.

We had kitchen volunteers to feed the cast before the show and cater to the crowd afterward.

And we had a hard working cast that also included, a school disciplinarian and a rock star wannabe, a giant teddy bear and a little girl who had to give him up.  But the heroes of the story were a grumpy angel and a sulky teenager.  In the end we all learned that "Christmas isn't teddy bears, or gifts beneath the tree.  Christmas Spirit comes from God and dwells in you and me."

I mentioned the generosity of the audience in filling the donation plate.  What makes their gift even greater is the matching formula for "Spread the Net."  Our $505.00 will be matched six times over, meaning that over $3000.00 will go to purchase mosquito nets in Africa, where mosquito-born malaria kills a child every 60 seconds.  Thank you to everyone for catching the Christmas Spirit.

Monday, December 2, 2013


by Alice Valdal

This Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 is the annual Christmas musical presented by the Living Flame Choir - intergenerational version -- at 7:00 pm. This year, the theme of the play is finding the Christmas Spirit in a world obsessed with shopping and eating and entertainment.  
    When I wrote the play, last April, Black Friday sales were the farthest thing from my mind, yet news reports of stabbings and fist-fights and even a shooting over bargain priced goods, make the play more timely than I imagined.

    Next Saturday marks the eighth year we've signaled the Christmas season at SPPC with a musical play.  Little did I think, eight years ago, when we staged "Once Upon a Christmas" that I'd be in this position today.  

 Prior to doing a Christmas play, the Living Flame Choir (children's edition) had put on a short musical in the spring.
 We did "Don't Rock the Ark", "Heroes of the Faith", and "Bones."    The latter was our most ambitious undertaking with images of wheels whirling across the ceiling and a four-headed monster dancing down the aisle.  

   Sadly, our numbers fell off and there were not enough singers to put on another play.  
  The few children that remained were very disappointed.   "But it's our turn!" wailed one, with a very long face. And so the Christmas Play, with an intergenerational cast was born.  A one off, thought I.

Our shows have included a Russian cobbler and his shrewish wife, a legendary set of chimes, travellers lost in Israel on Christmas Eve, an impatient congregation so determined to put on a "perfect" Christmas Eve service that they forget who the service is for.

We've followed a camel on a long journey from the East and we've dealt with a grumpy old man who refused to put up his Christmas lights.


This year we have a sulky teenager and a cranky angel.  
Should be fun. 
 Join us.  Admission is free and we give you cookies and coffee afterward.