Monday, April 28, 2014

Pilgrim's Progress -- Book Review

The Pilgrim's Progress by 
John Bunyan first published in 1678 and translated into more than 200 languages,  has never been out of print. 
  Bunyan began his work while in the Bedfordshire county gaol for violations of the Conventicle Act, which prohibited the holding of religious services outside the auspices of the established Church of England.

Many of us will have studied this allegory somewhere in our schooling, but it is always interesting to re-read a classic from a new perspective.
  Briefly, the plot follows the progress of a young man named Christian who was tormented by spiritual anguish.  He meets a guide named Evangelist who urges Christian to leave the City of Destruction and go to the Celestial City of Mount Zion, where he can find salvation.  
   Having failed to persuade his family to come with him, Christian sets off alone.  On his way he falls into the Slough of Despond,  meets Worldly Wiseman, shelters in Goodwill's house and stops at the Interpreter's home, where he leans many lessons of faith.
    At other stages of his journey Christian sees the tomb of Christ, meets the Three Shining Ones, the four mistresses of the Palace Beautiful and the monster Apollyon, who seeks to kill Christian.  
    He also passes through the Valley of Humiliation and the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  He meets other travellers, Faithful, Talkative, Hopeful and By-ends and Ignorance and Flatterer. They take shelter on the grounds of the Doubting Castle and meet Giant Despair.  As they approach the Celestial City they must cross the  mountains, Error and Caution.
    Eventually after many trials and adventures Christian and Hopeful arrive in the Celestial City.
    The second part of the book details the journey of Christian's wife as she too, sets off for the Celestial City.

    Written over three centuries ago, this Christian allegory can still resonate with a modern reader.  As I read, there were many word pictures that were so vivid, it made me weak in the knees and made me look at myself and question where I was at on the pilgrim path.  Was I at the Slough of Despond,  doubting, fearful -- or was I trusting,  willing.  There are so many decisions to be made, with care as we journey on our own path through life.
     This terrific little book points you to God's word, The Bible.  It's a beautiful companion and reminder to look to our Heavenly Father for everything in this pilgrim's progress, through prayer.
     If you want to identify some of  the struggles, you may be going through, in a way that's easy to understand, this is the book for you.  If you've already read it, perhaps you should have another look.

--Reviewed by J. Browning and available in our church library.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Sunday 2014

   "Sunrise" service -- well, 8:00 am if you want to be picky.

The forecast was for rain, so we had a canopy

Wearing our best clothes

And here is our traditional after-service picture at Cy Hampson Park on Easter Sunday Morning.

     Then we repaired to the church for a delicious breakfast, of quiche, sausage, fruit, orange juice, hot cross buns.  Quite a feast.  I think the cooks and servers were up even earlier than the sunrise service worshippers.
     Our morning service was filled with joy, from the first "Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!" to the last "Hallelujah," praise and prayer and especially music filled our senses and our souls.
     The Living Flame, all turned out in their Sunday best, sang "Glory, to the Risen Lord!" with handbell accompaniment.

   Our hard-working organist invited guest musicians to help out so we had  William and Frances Perriam 
on violin and piano.  Elizabeth Clarke added a second pair of hands to the piano and then switched to the organ.  Larry hopped back and forth between the organ and cello.
    The service ended with Handel's magnificent "Hallelujah Chorus"

Here's Larry dressed for action after the service!

    Happy Easter, everyone. 
 Christ is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  Hallelujah!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Surprise, it's Easter

For some reason Easter has snuck up and caught me unaware this year.  Maybe I was distracted by the string of rainy Saturdays, or the multitude of items on my to-do list.  Both choirs have been working on Easter music, but in my mind that was for some far off Sunday. I haven't even noticed the sales pitches for Easter bonnets and chocolate rabbits. So, a glance at the calendar showing Easter Week has already begun gave me quite a jolt. 
     Surprised by joy as Wordsworth's famous sonnet begins.  From the grey busyness of distractions, I look up and see -- the awful passion of Christ, the unbearable grief of Good Friday, and then the stunning, surprise of joy on Easter morning.  The stone is rolled away, the tomb is empty,  Christ is risen!  
     I still have a few days to prepare and you are invited to join me at SPPC.

Wed. April 16, 9:30 am  
Bible Study on the last chapter of  Revelation,     
 "Behold, I come quickly." Rev.22:7

Thurs. April 17, 6:00pm  
Tenebrae service in the sanctuary

Good Friday, April 18, 10:00 am  
joint service at Friendship  Community Church, 7820 C. Saanich Rd.

Easter Sunday, April 20, 8:00 am  
Sunrise service at Cy Hampson Park.  Easy parking.  I've been to every one of these services since Rev. Irwin started them.  It usually rains, but we still see the Son rise.

Easter Sunday, April 20,  9:00 am 
 Easter Breakfast in Molloy Hall at SPPC, and a welcome cup of coffee for the early risers from Hampson Park.

Easter Sunday, April 20, 10:00 am, 
Easter Sunday Worship in the sanctuary of SPPC.   I mentioned musical preparations at the top of this post.  Our Easter worship will be filled with joyful music.

Monday, April 7, 2014

End of Life Care

    On Tuesday, April 29, SPPC will be hosting another workshop in our on-going series on health care for the elderly and for patients with a terminal diagnosis, with Linda Cliff as our presenter.
     Linda has extensive experience in nursing, hospice and community health, and a true passion for her profession.  Her last workshop, in November, was titled,  
Let’s Talk About End of Life Care
  Here is a summary from her notes
    Hospice Care began to be formally organized in the late ‘70s in Canada. In those early days the care was described as “skilled and compassionate care primarily directed to dying and the bereaved to meet physical, emotional and spiritual needs”. By 2002 there were subtle changes to this definition “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and families facing problems associated with life threatening illness and the prevention and relief of suffering.
     The emphasis has switched from the dying to the quality of living. Today we are using the term End of Life Care, as our population ages we are interested in the quality of living until we die.
     How can we accomplish this goal without ignoring the dying part of the equation? The answer lies in the application of the principals of Hospice/Palliative care. As our population ages, the demand for service will increase. Currently seniors represent about 14 percent of the Canadian population this group is expected to grow to 25 percent of the population by 2036. It is estimated that by 2025, two-thirds of Canadians who die will have two or more chronic illnesses and will have lived for months or years in a frail state of health. There is a way through this challenging situation and it involves an integrated approach to care that has been named the Palliative Approach. The care is patent centered, includes open communication between caregivers and patients and their families about the illness trajectory and advanced care planning, and psychosocial and spiritual support for both patients and family members. It focuses on providing care and enhancing quality of life throughout the illness using knowledge of pain and symptom management.
     This care requires patients and families to be involved with their care team, for them to be informed and seen as partners in health care. It requires that patients be given accurate information about what can and cannot be done for treatment of their disease. When we focus on this type of inclusive and informed care we are able to improve our quality of life even when we are dying. A caring approach such as this will help us all to find the dignity we long for as we face end of life challenges.

     The above is just a brief overview.  Linda provided much more information at the meeting and was available to take questions.  So, if you missed that one, here's your chance to mark your calendar for the next one, April 29, at 10:00 am in the Molloy Hall.  
     We will all face these end of life decisions one day, so it doesn't hurt to be prepared, and where better to face difficult matters than in the loving community of our congregation.