Author Archives: bettyevans2010

In the rush

Beloved in Christ

I trust that this has been a good week and that you are looking forward to planning or meeting some special family or friends a little further afield. ‘Normal’ will be appreciated as never before won’t it!

The bishops office is keeping us up to date with implementing Phase 2, and we are discussing re-opening the churches for private prayer at present. The Advisory Committee is looking into the future – phases 3 and 4. Bishop Ian has been in touch with priests and invited us to a preliminary meeting within Area Councils via Zoom. It will be sacred space to deepen our reflections on church services. I rely on what you think, and so our seemingly light-hearted Zoom meetings are critical. Please share your feedback and ideas with me by phone or email should you wish to. In England, for instance, weddings of up to 30 will be permitted, but no singing allowed.  How important is singing to you and what difference do you think the lack of participating in hymns as against perhaps playing organ music or listening to a hymn will make? Much earlier, we discussed how we might adapt during the Eucharist and sacramentally… what do you think now? I am very aware that many who have been shielding will be ultra cautious re-entering events and group meetings.

The vital question is: what kind of church does God need us to be now?

Church visits: as yet no one has asked to visit church.  I fully understand and respect that many of you are being careful at this stage. What is right for you is right for our churches.  

Home visits: It has been a privilege to visit some of you in your gardens.  All of you are wonderful people and I am humbled to get to know you beyond the paper or screen we are accustomed to.  Even a phone call cannot make up for face to face!  May God bless you, those you love at home, and those precious to you as we move to being able to visit their homes!

Please pray for Bishop Ian as he is now additionally Interim Bishop for Argyll and the Isles.  I wonder how he will manage this daunting task, as there are so many complex issues within our state of being, in Scotland now, as well as within our own diocese, and even congregation. ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’ (Shakespeare) and he is leading us through unchartered terrain with grace and facility. I wil send him an email wishing him well and offering our prayers. Bishop Kevin is now Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, so your prayers for him and his diocese now too please.

I have asked Bishop Ian to record a video of a service for us here in Newport and Tayport. It will be a treat to have aour Bishop’s personalised sermon won’t it? We will also have it on hard copy so that we can ponder it at leisure.

Following, ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’, let’s shift to a more personal reflection. YOU! There is a fourteenth century British proverb whish says, ‘Opportunity makes the man’. I wonder if we could reflect on the opportunity lockdown has given each of us – have we taken it as a time of gift, or have you discovered some gifts along the way?  Has your behaviour, or attitude changed?  Have others – even strangers, been different this lockdown?  God has given every one of us unique gifts:  this could apply to each of us, diverse as we are: (1 Corinthians 12 : 7 to 11) Ponder these gifts and see which one or more applies to you.  In Genesis 12:22, we read that we are blessed to be a blessing, so shall we live into this actively this upcoming week? God had you in mind when creation began, Ephesians 1:11, and we are assured that we are here for a purpose: let us , if we have not done so already, identify what that purpose is, and live into it with clear focus.

Let’s look at the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12: 4 to 11. By recognising our gifts, or naming the gift we see in others, our unique purpose, let us share it actively with our church. Church, by the way, is, in Greek, ‘ecclesia‘ which means ‘the people’.  I suspect that some of us, me included, has been gifted new depth in church friendships.  Judging how easily you share parts of your lives with me, how much more must it be if you have deep friendships over the years?  That means, our family, friends and our church.  We are considering how church would be: should we now consider how YOU will be in church.  What will you do to add something new? Perhaps an action, an initiative, a proposal – which we need now more than ever.  I am not saying the church needs to change, but rather what you bring from your heart and experience, into this newness.

Here are some prompts for your thoughts and prayers (some were touched on during our Zoom chat).

At this phase 1 of lockdown:

*      What relationship, perhaps a new one, has been a change agent?

*      Has your home circle revealed some new aspects of relationship?

*      What gives you joy in lockdown

*      What, most of all, do you long for after lockdown?

*      Has your home space altered? Have you needed to create a study, or a pace for something you want or need to do? Has your relationship with God/ your prayer pattern/ your routines changed/ modified/ adjusted?

I hope you are looking at the SEC Sunday service at 11 am.  They are indeed inspiring and varied. The Thursday evening Service of the Word is also recommended: I a. always peaceful when I share prayers with others further afield.  What is great, is that you can view services at your leisure, and I’m wondering if this ‘convenience’ isn’t making a big difference to young families!

READINGS FOR THE DAY

Last week’s readings (Pentecost 4). The SEC service focussed on the feast of St Peter and St Paul. Here are the continuous readings:

Genesis 22: 1 to 14.  Psalm 13.  Romans 6: 12 to 23.  Matthew 10: 40 to 42.

This week’s Sunday readings 

Genesis 22: 34 to 38, 42 to 49, 58 to 67.  Psalm 45: 10 to 17.  Romans 7: 15 to 25a.  Matthew 11: 16 to 19, 25 to 30.

With every blessing.  Thank you for all you are, and the way you love our Lord!

Kathy

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Pentecost 4

Hello brothers and sisters in Christ

Today I am filled with gratitude: for your faithfulness and devotion to one another and to our ‘home’ in church. I look forward, as you do, to populating those sacred spaces, and to receive the grounding fact that the buildings have held tradition, and its peoples, through thick and thin. I hope that each of you will come and enjoy personal prayer there. Bring your favourite book, the bible, and something you would like to mull over with the God who always loves you unconditionally, and Jesus who will never leave us. Love is what has brought us through lockdown, and created the desire to be reunited with family, with friends and with each other. I am hearing that lockdown has in some ways been pleasant, that it has been very little different, that you have been able to live within its constraints comfortably. But, in your heart, it is sure to have raised some questions, and that is what you might like to ask God about now.

It is a great pleasure to be meeting you on a one to one, face to face basis. Thank you for your hospitality and welcoming ways. I know your voice, I know your face if we have met on Zoom, but it is very exciting to share space, discover our commonalities and be urged to move forward together. I pray for each of you every day.

We are starting, in Zoom anyway, to bring our stories into common sharing space, and this has gifted us times of recollection and laughter, at times poignant, at times sad. These strands will be plaited together in new styles as we deepen those bonds, allowing Christ to guide, inspire and mediate.  With time, we will anticipate togetherness once again.

v  Pray for us all, by name

v  Forgive others as Christ forgives you

v  Book your time to re-enter church

v  I will be coming to visit you soon

v  Think of any innovations you think might work in church – after lockdown

v  Join us on Zoom on Wednesdays

v  Celebrate how much God loves you

v  Know that Christ comforts you – just re-look at tomorrow (Sunday)‘s reading in Matthew…’Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls’. Draw from this assurance!

Readings for Sunday

A golden thread that runs through the readings is that of choices. Not to forget, though, that although we might not make good choices, which bring an increase in faith, hope and love, that God is with us, wherever our choices land us, lovingly helping us to mend what was broken, forgiving us and enabling us to find new ways.

Genesis 24: 34 to 38 and 58 to 67. Isaac seeks, meets and marries Rebekah. It is a selection process in which God is consulted, guides, resulting in a blessed union. (I also love the part where it adds in that Isaac’s union with Rebekah comforted him in his grieving for his mother!)

Song of Solomon2: 8 to 13. I chose this rather than the psalm as it is a long time since we have pondered this wonderful metaphor of how God adores us: how God woos and seeks us, wherever we might be.

Romans 7: 15 to 25a. Paul speaks of his ‘natural self’, full of repetitious selfish behaviour, and by contrast, the life – giving spiritual self, motivated by the example of Christ: how difficult it is to break our base nature with its negativity, complacency and judgementalism, rather than consciously choose the way of Jesus. It is only through prayer that we can reflect on how we have succeeded in our daily deliberations  and decisions. As we consider what our choice has been, and what the result was. Jesus offers forgiveness for the ways we have turned away from him, and, as he said to the woman at the well, urges us to ‘sin no more’, break our old patterns, and choose His way.

Matthew 11: 16 to 19; 25 to 30. Jesus speaks of his generation ignoring the invitation to New Life, and he would echo this to us – being offered the richness of the gospel, and a Way of living, with Christ as our guide, mediator, forgiver and motivation: in fact, our friend. Prayer and reflection as we have it on offer right now in our church will throw new light on stale situations and approaches. It is indeed an exciting time! Let us turn to the Son of Man for some new life!

Reflection: how many synonyms can you find or the word, ‘choice’? What choices are you making now, and how is God featuring in them?

I have mentioned the Ignatian tool called the Examen before. In our evening prayer, we are invited to review our day, and we start noticing which of our actions or encounters were ‘of God’ and which were ‘not of God’. Should you be interested in trying this out for a while, you might download the app on your cell or computer called ‘Re-imagining the Examen’. If you don’t like it, it can be uninstalled!

Love is in the air – as I send this to you – the heavy rain has been replaced by dazzling bright sunlight: a perfect end to another day along the Tay.

Blessings

Kathy

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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

Kathy

07552503859 

Pentecost 2

Dear friends

I trust that you are doing well and looking forward to a little easing up of lockdown.  It has been wonderful to stagger seeing family and a friend, outdoors, and I see some more shops are preparing to open, so that those of you who like retail therapy will be getting your lists prepared!

I have enjoyed our telephonic conversations this week: it is fascinating to reflect on a different level of companionship by telephone.  I find that we are introducing ourselves to each other by speaking of common interests, we would not have shared over a cup of coffee after a service. We have a rich and diverse congregation, and I am proud to be with you, and feel affirmed that God has called me here and that we will grow together, and through each other. The church worldwide is being encouraged to enjoy live streaming and watching online services. Our Episcopal Sunday services, conducted by our bishops, and the Thursday Service of the Word, on You Tube are wonderful examples of our church fellowship and diversity. Each service tells the story of its community and the Gaelic prayers and Our Father last week, were exquisite.

The Zoom video chat last Wednesday was heartening, as we are growing in numbers, and anticipate more this upcoming week. Let us encourage and help one another to join.  The world which is emerging, phase by phase by phase, taxes us to acquire as many mediums of communication as possible.

We discussed 4 questions and I give them to you here and invite your feedback please. The questions invite us to probe the origins and development of our particular community, as well as our own personal involvement and evolution. (It is NOT a history lesson but a personal prayerful reflection!)

1.       What stories formed our church community?

2.       How has that story changed, or has it?

3.       What are the anchors in our church community?

4.       Why does the Episcopal presence matter in that story?

I have been asking you for cell phone numbers and will try to send a message to you weekly, using wassap if possible. It will be a bible verse or reference and prayer.

Livestreaming services are being encouraged by the Diocese, and church world – in fact the whole world. Judging from your response to last week’s service, I am seeking a way of recording a weekly service, and I need your help. My request is for someone to take the recorded video and post it on YouTube or Facebook. It does not have to be someone from church or even living in our district, but someone reliable and with that skill. Could you help?

I also encourage you to follow a link or two as listed, in your own time. I have taken it from the Resources page on the Diocesan website:

·         The following link follows the line of thought in our 4 questions, on our place in the unique history of our church.  Lutheran theologian Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber picks up on some of the themes we were exploring in the Diocesan Mini Conference and writes ‘when people ask me, “why are you still connected to the institution of the church?” I can only answer, “because I believe that scripture and theology and liturgy are too potent to be left in the hands of those who only use them to justify their dominance over another group of people”. I also believe that God is powerful enough to guide us in the dismantling of the evil that has been done in God’s name; that this is holy work and that God’s Spirit will accompany us. https://nadiabolzweber.com/

·         Before we get ‘back to normal,’ we need to grieve and pray writes Methodist Bishop Scott Jones https://religionnews.com/2020/05/11/before-we-get-back-to-normal-we-need-to-grieve-and-pray/?

 Covid 19 and Climate Change. If COVID-19 frightens you, you should be terrified by climate change. In this ‘Faith Seeking Understanding’ article, Daniel Horan writes: ‘If you don’t like the current reality of widespread illness, death, economic collapse and rolling lockdowns, then you should really direct your energies toward combating climate change.’ Instead of a ‘return to normal,’ let’s pursue a profound transformation by Elise D. García. Even before the pandemic, we understood that we were entering a make-or-break decade for humanity to act to avoid catastrophic climate change and global suffering. Now the call could not be clearer. (Did anyone follow the Michael Dowd ‘Post-Doom conversations in one of my earliest emails to you, in which Michael Dowd interviews people who are living, and thinking beyond the, ‘we have messed up the world irretrievably’, to rather, ‘this is what I think, and live up to in the world that has been messed, but, is full of hope and regeneration’. It’s on YouTube).

Our readings for tomorrow are: Genesis 18: 1 to 15.  How surprising to ‘host’ angels in human form! Often we do not realise that presence until we prayerfully review our encounters. I wonder which angels and messages we could receive this week!

Psalm116: 1, 2 and 11 to 18. We are filled with love when Yahweh bends down to hear my prayer!

 Romans 5: 1 to 8. Hardship develops perseverance, which develops character, and we receive hope, based in the love of God!  Matthew 9: 35 to 10: 8. As the apostles were appointed, you and I are asked to be Christ unto others, responding to their need in practical and spiritual ways.

Be blessed as you are a blessing to others

Yours in Christ

Kathy

0755 250 3859