Tag Archives: Presbyterian

Preserving the sweetness of things

Our previous minister,  Rev. John Hunt, (now retired), would sometimes  offer the congregation ‘a sweetie for the sermon’. His sermons didn’t ever need any sweetening but he said a ‘sweetie for the sermon’ was an ancient Scottish tradition, and we, believers all, were more than happy to help preserve the ways of the old Kirk.  So the baskets of sweeties were passed from one pew to another and we, smiling and laughing like young ones at a birthday party, selected our sweetie and, then, spent the rest of the sermon, trying to dislodge sticky toffee from our gums and teeth. ( Perhaps we were not as young as our hearts imagined 🙂 ) Gummed up or not, they were sweet moments, and, although, I remember not a word of the sermons, I do remember feeling content and treasured and loved. Sugar it seems is a powerful  preservative of well-being.

In the spirit of ‘a sweetie for the sermon’, I  am spending time trying to capture and preserve  the sweetness of the current season. For there is much sweetness to savour.

There is the sweet fragrance and delicate tones of my dwarf sweet peas both outside

Sweetly fragrant Sweet Pea

Sweetly fragrant Sweet Pea

and indoors, mingled with scented rose.

Rose and Sweet Peas

Rose and Sweet Peas

Then there is the sweetness suspended in the flowers and leaves I  am drying for my home-made potpourri.

Summer Medley

Summer Medley with Tracy’s  butterflies

Potpourri translates as ‘rotten pot/stew’, which, hopefully, mine will not be, if I have dried everything sufficiently well.

Additional sweetness comes in a friend’s seasonal gift of  home-made  Christmas mince pies; so delicious they are impossible to preserve except on camera.

Stars of Wonder

Stars of Wonder

They are a scrumptious-sumptuous combination of melt-in-your-mouth sugary buttery pastry and ‘ barely there tartness’ of rich, fruity mince meat;   made, I am told, with the addition of apple and green tomato to the dried fruit.

So those are the sweeties. Now for the sermon. Sermon? What sermon?  My mouth is too full of goodness to speak.

© silkannthreades

Such is life; shadows and sunbeams

I have been very weary and a little down-hearted these past few weeks; mainly on account of my lingering cold/cough, the cold grip of winter weather and a general lack of sunshine. And let’s not forget the ever lasting wait for builders to appear. But just when I  feel that the daily shadows are becoming far too long for comfort, life suddenly throws  out a wondrous ray of sunshine that makes me beam with joy. Such was life today.

I was looking for some photos to illustrate a post I had in mind when I came upon this  gentle gem from my distant, distant past.This is my brother caring for me when I was about four and a half weeks old.   He has been doing it ever since; and he hasn’t dropped me yet :).

And the caring love begins

And the caring love begins

I also happened upon these sweet photos. I have certainly seen them before but, until today, I hadn’t truly noticed them, or absorbed the information they contain. They are photos taken on my christening day, which, I learn from the writing on the reverse of the pictures, was on 11 July. Which means that last Thursday was the anniversary of my christening.  They also show me that my maternal grandparents were present at my christening. I am surprised to learn this. It is not  unusual for grandparents to be at a christening but these grandparents had to travel by ship from Christchurch, New Zealand to Lautoka, Fiji for my christening. Quite a journey, in those days.  I also see that Janie, my dear Janie, was with me from the very start of my life. Even though I remember her well, I didn’t realise that she was with me from the beginning. No wonder, I was deeply sad when she left us to marry. I couldn’t understand why being married should require her to leave me. I don’t think she did either but it seems her husband  insisted. How I missed her warmth and her cuddles and her gentleness. They are with me still.

The one photo that holds few surprises is that of the christening cake. It is set on a table in our garden because my christening took place in our  home garden; there being no Presbyterian church in our town; and only the occasional visit from  an itinerant Presbyterian minister.  I think the cake  was iced by my father, who had considerable skill in the art of cake decorating. ( He always made us the most wonderful birthday cakes.)  I expect the cake itself was made by my parents. The only real surprise is the travel rug under the cake? Was that a christening gift? It doesn’t seem a very elegant table covering for a christening. And the cake looks as though it is close to falling off the edge of the table! Was the cake tipsy? Surely not at a Presbyterian christening.

Those were my smiles for today; my little taste of sunshine. Dear parents, I enjoyed being at my christening; thank you!

© silkannthreades

Healing St Giles

When I last visited St Giles Presbyterian Church in early December, 2012,  the site of the former Church building looked like this; messy!Church without WallsTwo months later, with the help of Superseeders and a good dose of Presbyterian pragmatism the site looks like this; the scarred earth is nicely covered with soft, young grass and there is a border of cheerful sunflowers.New Growth

I don’t know who devised this remedy for an ugly, bare patch but it  works beautifully. The church buildings and land are next to an extremely busy road and near some equally busy work sites and shops and eateries. The church complex is, therefore, surrounded by noise and activity and movement. When you drive, or walk, by the church corner, the plain white, wooden cross, against the green corrugated wall ( and green lawn ) engages your attention with its simplicity and  its openness.Welcome with open arms The cross seems to welcome with open arms and say,” Come rest awhile in my company. Enjoy the stillness and the calm of the garden. Let me soothe your eyes and be a balm for your soul.”Rest in my companyBut, the practical pathway, thoughtfully Presbyterian, also says that ,if you only want to pass by, that’s okay too. It says,”We are happy to walk with you in your comings and goings and, maybe, in the walking, you will feel the light touch of blessedness beside you.” PathwaysMore pathwaysI think it’s wonderful what a difference a touch of green and white, a few flowers, some simple planks and building material and a plain, gravel path, can make to our broken cityscape. And, even more interestingly, how such simplicity can create closer and more vibrant connections between the Church and the wider community. I am sure our Church has had more newcomers cross its threshold in the last few months than it has in the last few years.

© silkannthreades

Sensible simplicity endures

Not all of our built heritage has been written off by the earthquakes. Some of our very old wooden churches still stand firm, or reasonably so. One such is St Andrew’s at Rangi Ruru. We hadn’t visited it for some years, so, yesterday, we went by and I took this photo. St Andrew's at Rangi RuruThere was something very comforting about seeing it there, “ever faithful, ever sure”, so unchanged, so firmly grounded and ever lovely in its simplicity.

Part of the church dates from around 1856 -1857.  There have been additions and modifications over the years. It was originally sited in the central city. Over the years, the city congregation dwindled and the future of the church was in doubt. However, in 1986  the church was transported across town where it  found a new purpose and a new home at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, as the school chapel and  parish church.

St Andrew’s was the first Presbyterian church to be built in Christchurch and has close links with the first permanent Pakeha settlers on the Canterbury Plains, the Deans family at Riccarton Bush.

No doubt, those early Presbyterians would be quietly satisfied to know that their church, in all its sensible simplicity, has endured .

Open SesameMother and Sister! Remember when we thought we would have to spend the night in the church because the doors jammed and we couldn’t get out or raise the alarm. I wonder if the earthquakes realigned the doors. I wasn’t game to find out!