Pentecost 3 and Phase 2

Dear families in Christ

There is growing, fullness and joy in the air this perfect day! Our churches will be inviting you to prayer time within their hallowed walls, walls which have sheltered generations of believers.  And now it is our turn to ease out of lockdown in that sacred space.  It would be useful to each of us to consider how we have been in heart mind and soul for these months; how that experience has changed us, our way of living and possibly, even the way we look at life.  We have been made one – for the virus has affected all of us, regardless of who or where we are. Whatever our personal story, our home story, our world has taken a knock; medical science been pushed, human rights have taken a new shape in the ‘black lives matter’ upsurge, politics have worn a new mask!

I have enclosed 2 pictures taken in March/April, in our churches, where I sat alone, celebrated mass, on your behalf, but feeling a great sense of sadness on turning to look at empty pews.  The moment our Bishop has approved our plan for phase 2, hopefully next week, you will be able to make a time with our vestry secretaries Christine and Betty, or me, to spend personal solitary time in church. I know that those buildings will hold your prayers and regain its own life and add another skin of prayer to those hallowed walls.  These times are like those in the Ezekiel 27 passage about the valley of dry bones. It is you who will be enfleshed to new movement and purpose, and God will slowly renew us in ways we will tell the history of to our children and grandchildren. Each phase will be treasured, and we will grow strong.

It is my first Scottish summer, as a resident rather than visitor! I am filled with joy and often laugh at the antics and habits of the birds and animals foraging or playing in gardens; amazed at the ever-changing sunsets over the Tay, the late light evenings, and the growth spurt of summer in the plants and flowers.  I too feel a quickening within myself in alignment with nature.  The beauty of lockdown has been that appreciation through the freedom to have time and choice of when to walk, talk or be.

Zoom on Wednesday evenings has been fun. We are delighted that the numbers are growing, so once again YOU are invited to join this week. In a relatively unstructured way, we continued to reflect on the 4 questions from last week, then to recount an anecdote about our personal church memories. Janet, Betty and Mike retold their story, all poignant, some hilarious, some personal, some historical, some about people and events. More of us will do so this coming Wednesday. Perhaps if you can’t join, email me your unforgettable church story please. My memory takes me back to early childhood.  All the children and their families gathered in St Dunstan’s church hall for the Christmas service. Father Christmas galumphed down the aisle, greeting children benevolently. All was at a heightened pitch of excitement until my older sister yelled, ‘It’s DADDY, because TIGER (our dog) is following him!’  A riot ensued, breaking the myth forever not only for our little family but for every child in the church! Many years later, giving the eulogy at a friend’s Dad’s funeral, it was really nostalgic to return, see my dad Tiger, us as children, and the coffin, and our bereft friends.

The Service of the Word is aired every Thursday evening, thereafter whenever you would like to watch it, on YOU tube. It is well worth a watch: Thursdays seem to be good times to just STOP and LISTEN, JOIN IN to devotions.

Sunday services at 11 are well received, last week showing Primus Mark leaning on his crozier and blethering with us. One always feels so safe and unthreatened by him!  Someone told me that they prefer the Shepherd in the bible to the Scottish shepherd! The Scottish shepherd uses his sheepdog to round up the sheep, whereas the biblical one does the rounding up himself. (probably herself now). Sometimes we are both – going out when called to do so, and sometimes, initiating the journey ourselves.  Both ways, it is the Spirit’s prompting which urges us to go and find others who might be in distress, or lonely. I think we shall all be busy after lockdown! I certainly am looking forward to outdoor visits to you!

Readings for this Sunday

Did you notice that I used the Pentecost 2 readings and the Primus used St Columba? I liked the way he addressed and banished Nessie!  If you watched that video, you would have had a double dose like I did!

Do read these selections, asking God to show you a word or phrase which stands out to you. Write the words down and pray into this week, as they will lead you to Godly action and speech.

The overarching theme is to be courageous, as God is with us, guiding to build others, our church and community up, in new ways.

Genesis 21: 8 to 21. A story of rejection, insecurity and isolation, following the pitiful plight and flight of Hagar the Egyptian and Ishmael.  ‘God was with the boy’ verse 20, is memorable to me.  No matter what happens to us, or to someone we know, God is there: God can deliver us, God can show us a way forward, differently from what we can perceive, but life-giving and meaningful. Perhaps it is about trust. Do we really believe God will find a new joy and healing for us after lockdown and loss? 

Psalm 86: 1 to 10 and 16, 17.  ‘Show me your way O Lord, and I will walk in your truth’; let my heart delight to respect your name.’

Romans 6: 1b to 11. ‘…we too should begin leading a new life… realising that our former self was crucified’. This urges us to allow ourselves to be lifted up by God to new levels of life, looking with new eyes at opportunities and new fortitude and appreciation, allowing God to work through new ways on ourselves and community   

Matthew 10: 24 to 39. Jesus, having chosen his disciples, tells them there is ‘no need to be afraid’, that open and fearless speech is what we should use, in building God’s ‘kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven’, as we say in the Lord’s prayer.

Blessings and joy