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

0755 205 3859

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

Trinity Sunday

Beloved in Christ

On this chill day, I hope you are feeling some of the return to the new normal in a little social indulgence, meeting with family or a friend, outdoors. That’s a Scottish challenge this morning isn’t it!

The Holy Spirit is over us, and there is, as a mother hen shelters her chicks, a lot of new companionship and love! This beautiful image is in the Genesis reading today, about creation. God is ‘hovers’ over the void that is to become this beautiful earth.

1.    This Sunday we have a pre-recorded video, the link being on youtube. Here is the link to the service. It will play first at 10.30 tomorrow morning, and then is available on Youtube forever! Send it to friends and family!

Just click on: https://youtu.be/1lsTVI3MnQI

You can also find it by typing ‘Tayport church’ into the You Tube search engine.

Let us know how using the video appeals to you – shall we continue?

Readings for tomorrow are: Canticle 1,5,17

Genesis 1: 1 – 2: 4a  really wonderful substance for this week’s contemplation

Psalm 8: a song of praise

2 Corinthians 13: 11 to 13 how we ought to relate to one another

Matthew 28: 16 to 20

I have sent you readings for the week till Pentecost – do you wish to receive this still, or only a Sunday reading?

2.    I include part of a very relevant excerpt from Bishop Ian covering 2 newsy and provocative items.

2.1 From Bishop Ian Paton: ‘Pentecost is the feast of the ’new normal,’ life in the Spirit poured out on the apostles and on all creation. As we celebrated Pentecost this year people were talking about a different ‘new normal’ – our life after the Pandemic. When we rebuild our lives, will we have a better sense of what is important? Or will we just rush back to the same old life? What will ‘new normal’ mean for the Church? What will our priorities be? How will we welcome those who have been joining us online? How will we support those who are sad about people and things that have been lost? What will we need to do if we are to open our churches but keep people safe? 

2.2 A week ago over 40 clergy and lay readers shared in an online CMD Conference about exactly these questions, organised for us by Michael Paterson. Our discussions began from his reflections on the Four Hallmarks of Ministry in Luke 24 (Jesus and the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus) in the context of the pandemic. I’d like to thank all of you who attended (and those who tried to but couldn’t due to broadband problems). The text and a video of Michael’s presentation is available on the Diocesan website. https://standrews.anglican.org/clergy-development- ‘

3.Weekly ZOOM meetings on Wednesday at 8pm: We have called this meeting, ‘Connect’: the aim is to share our lockdown experience, looking at where God is calling us, and how we are responding. For 45 minutes we share. This upcoming week we will look at the youtube presentation and would urge you to join us. Thus far we have Margaret, Betty, Duncan and family, Janet, Jane, Frank. If you would like any help in setting up, phone any of us and have a trial run.  We really need each parishioner to join in. I hope to resend you a guide as to how to join Zoom. If you can have a family quiz on Zoom, you can join us too! I send a weekly invitation to join for the Wednesday. There is an excellent youtube clip called, ‘How to join a ZOOM meeting as a participant’. It, and a host of other clips will help: if you have done it once, it’s easy! gives you a pictorial guide! If you would like the link just ask nikisage76@gmail.com to send an invitation, then click, ‘Accept’ and you can join us! We are looking for a way for you to join us by telephone only, so anyone without internet etc. and phone in. Just let us know if you would like to do that.

4.Included, please find what we submitted to the Diocese, on our engagement with the community. It makes impressive reading.  Do you have anything else to ask? If so, please let us have it. Many of you are doing wonderful things, not least of which is praying and caring for family and others in need.

God bless you and those you love, and those who you will come to love and those you met

Kathy

0755 250 3859