In the Good Friday service this evening I used an idea from a friend, Donald McCorkindale, who mentioned that he had used a funeral service as the basis for a Good Friday service. I did the same this evening adapting one of the funeral liturgies that I use. It was a very moving experience for me to prepare a funeral service for Jesus for the moments after he was laid in the tomb.
From the words of those who left the service this evening, it was equally powerful for them as it had been for me. What would you say if you were writing the tribute for Jesus? [There's more...]
This is really good to see. Pope Francis breaks with tradition, as is becoming something of a habit for him, for the Mass for Holy Thursday.
Normally the Pope would celebrate it at the Basilica of St. John
Lateran, but Pope Francis decided he would officiate it at a juvenile
detention center in Rome, saying to the youngsters "I wash your feet to remind you that we have to help each other."
In another break from tradition, Francis washed the feet of two girls. A sign of changes to come, I wonder? Traditionally, foot washing has been all male remembering that Jesus washed the feet of the twelve male disciples.
It is Maundy Thursday today, and I saw someone on facebook reflecting on the meaning of the word 'maundy'. It is derived from the Latin mandatum, and its use here comes from Jesus' words to his disciples, "A new
commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved
you" which translates in Latin as "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos". The word 'mandate' comes from this root too.
This evening we celebrated in fellowship in the hall, journeyed to our upper room to remember the Last Supper and ended at the doorway to the church with a newly filled planter (thanks, Geoff Krawczyk) which represented the Garden of Gethsemane for us.
The words from this evening that most stuck in my mind were these from the end of the evening, part of our Spill the Beans liturgy for this evening:
There is a gap in the darkness where the Son of Light once prayed, a crease in the air like a warped lens through which we can see what fear has done and ghosts of the past have come to shape our present.
The kiss has been given and still the ripples distort the scene where the son of humanity has been betrayed. This may be the first, but it is not the last.
The path is now certain, the powers that be have chosen their way: chosen how to complete this story and Jesus has been stolen from us. Yet, my friends, with all that you can believe conspire with the light torn from us now, yet crumpled somewhere, ready to rise again. Conspire to believe that this turning of events is not the way love intends to leave things.
Tomorrow is Good Friday and we have a service in the Church at 7 p.m. when we will bear witness to the death of our Lord Jesus.
On Monday afternoon I had the privilege to step into David Burt's shoes representing the Church of Scotland for a Question Time panel organised by Glenlee Primary and John Ogilvie High School. The children had been doing a power of work together on sectarianism and displays along one of the corridors and in the hall graphically illustrated some of the work they had been doing.
On the panel was Dr Robin Jamieson (working with Community Links on sectarianism), Jim Reid (headteacher at Glenlee), David Scott (representing Nil by Mouth), Alison Logan (from Sense over Sectarianism), Father Matthew Despard (St John Ogilvies Roman Catholic Church) and myself, with representation also from Cooperative Funeral Care who had helped sponsor the project.
It has to be said, it was a very harmonious response to all the questions the children raised, unanimously seeking to find ways to continue the progress made to eliminate the blight of sectarianism that still can rear its ugly head. Respect of each other and the responsibility to ensure that our own actions do not add to the tribalism of the West of Scotland were frequent responses. [There's more...]
With a group of around a hundred other folks, I travelled through the snow on Saturday morning to Chatelherault Country Park where a breakfast conference was being held to launch some new discussion materials.
We met inside the country house, rather a nice wee pile, for bacon rolls before heading to the auditorium for the presentation by the folks from Search for Truth Enterprises. The discussion materials are called “The God Question” and comprise the usual DVDs and study books. The main areas covered are “The Cosmos and God”, “Life, Evolution and God”, and “God and Consciousness”. I confess I went with a healthy dose of scepticism as someone who has, for my own personal reasons relating to my own background in science, done considerable reading around all three of these subjects over the years. However, I was heartened by what I heard. [There’s more…]
This past week has been very Livingstone focused! It has been a good week and I had hoped to put down some thoughts before this but this has been the first moment to stop and breathe!
After the events last Sunday which I mentioned in a previous blog post, on the actuall bicentenary of Dr David Livinsgtone's birth, 19 March, there were a number of events to commemorate this anniversary. The first took place in the David Livingstone Centre and was a great morning with lots of involvement from local schools, music and drama (with a wonderful performance from Toto Tales as Susi and Chumah, Livingstone's companions, recounted their travels with Livingstone) and the offical opening of a new exhibit in the museum. [There's more...]
It was a privilege this morning to join John Prentice and family and friends for a special presentation held at Auchinraith Primary School. In memory of their gran, Sheila Prentice, Ellie and Ross presented two cheques of £870 each to Marie Cure Cancer Care and Macmillan Cancer Support. Ellie and Ross had spent many, many hours creating bracelets (some of which were available at the funeral service for Sheila in the church) which were given away to encourage people to make a donation for these two charities. They did an amazing job, and it was great to see all the pupils at Auchinraith singing Fischy Music's "You are a star" to them.
Every blessing to Anne Jarvie from Marie Curie Cancer Care and Chloe Martin from Macmillan Cancer Support as they support the work of these charities, and to Julie McCulloch and everyone at Auchinraith for making this presentation such a special event.
Yesterday afternoon, Sunday 17 March, one of the events to mark the bicentenary of the birth of the most famous of Blantyre Bairns, Dr David Livingstone, was held in Livingstone Memorial Parish Church. From our lofty perch in the gallery we joined in the worship led by a number of ministers both from Scotland and Malawi. The sermon was given by Rt Rev Albert Bogle, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rev David Burt blessed a set of pulpit and lectern falls as Moderator of Hamilton Presbytery, while prayers were led by Rev Dr T Nyasulu, Moderator of Livingstonia Synod, and Rev Mercy Chilapula, Moderator of Blantyre Synod, in Malawi. As you can tell, the service was very well moderated!
As part of the celebrations of Livingstone's bicentenary, and as part of a number of events taking place in Scotland and London, both Her Excellenecy Mrs Joyce Banda, President of Malawi, and Alex Salmond MSP were present with Mrs Banda reading from Isaiah (49:1-7) during the service, and with Mr Salmond giving a note of thanks and cutting a celebratory cake after the service.
In the post yesterday I received a DVD titled "Facing the Reality: Can someone in a same-sex relationship be a Christian minister?" These are being sent out to all ministers in the Church of Scotland. I heard about the video last week and watched it via YouTube (a link is below the jump).
I have subsequently heard that this is the result of a meeting back in 2011 when around 50 ministers of a "traditionalist" stance within the Kirk asked themselves how they could express their view in "a thoughtful and gracious rather than rabid and homphobic" way. They raised the money to finance the production of the film, commissioning Sanctus Media to make it.
There is little new within the content of the film, which rehearses the same arguments I have read and heard many times, but the tone of the film is certainly an improvement on past interventions into the Kirk's ongoing discussions on the place and role of gay and lesbian people within the church. In the debates of 2009 we had some conservative ministers referred to as "terrorists", and the fight to prevent the acceptance of the ministry of gay and lesbian people likened to defending against Nazi expansionism. From both extremes of the debate, not very edifying or helpful. So it is good to see a less harsh and aggresive presentation of the "traditionalist" position within the film. However, as much as I am thankful for that more generous presentation, nonetheless it is the content that I cannot reconcile. [There's more...]
Almost every week I share an hour with a friend from Trinity Parish Church while we wait as one of my kids and her two grandchildren are at guitar class. Our venue is the coffee shop at the East Kilbridge Arts Centre. On numerous occasions over the past couple of years I have seen plays advertised and thought to myself I'd really like to see that, but the business of life and lack of free nights has always put paid to those notions. However, last Thursday I noticed the posters for a play by Stephen Adly Guirgis titled "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot". That fairly piqued my interest and when I got home and checked the diary, I decided to hang with it, a few hours relaxation surely need to be scheduled sometimes! So I booked a ticket for tonight's performance.
Needless to say, as the day has come around I started wishing I had not booked it as I have a pile of "to-dos" weighing down. But, having paid my £9 (you see there is a bit of Aberdonian in me!), I trekked back over to East Kilbride for the third time today (first time for a meeting with churches, second time for guitar classes) and I am so very glad that I did, even though I am going to pay for it for the rest of the night/tomorrow!
What a full house in the cosy theatre were treated I found to be an extremely powerful exploration, in turns viciously funny, poignant and deeply emotional, of both the wonder and desolation of free will. The performance was by the HND Acting and Performance students from Motherwell College. They excelled themselves. I was very impressed. [There's more...]
Friends at St Andrew's will be saddened to hear of the deaths of Sheila Prentice and John Brownlie in the past week. Sheila was always such a wonderful joyful presence in the church, and John, as our senior elder, was a quiet and deeply faithful member of the Kirk, yet always with a glimmer in his eye and a ready smile. They will be both much missed by us all, and our prayers go with both their families, particularly for John and for Marion. Through our sadness at our loss, we rejoice that both Sheila and John, after considerable time with ill health, are now at peace in the loving presence of God.
The funeral service for Sheila will be held on Saturday morning, 16 February, at 9:15 a.m. in St Andrew's Parish Church, with the committal following at Philipshill Cemetery in East Kilbride. Tea after the service is at the Torrance Hotel in East Kilbride Village.
John's service will also take place in the church, on Monday 18 February at 10:45 a.m. with the committal following at South Lanarkshire Crematorium. A tea will follow back in St Andrew's Church Hall.
If you are able, please do come to share in these services of celebration for the lives of two faithful servants.
This past weekend I was preaching as sole-nominee at Ferryhill Parish Church in Aberdeen. We were made to feel very welcome by everyone which made the day that little easier - it is an odd feeling to be leading worship with the additional knowledge that judgement is awaiting imminently! There is none of that 'don't count the days' thing that Jesus talked about...
There was great affirmation for us, however, with a unanimous vote. I have duly accepted, so the processes of the Kirk will begin their activity towards an induction date which will take place probably some time in June.
The long gap between now and then still makes it a little unreal, but there is a lot to do in the time between, so the time will no doubt pass quickly.
Time to pack up now, I write from our hotel room in Aberdeen, for our return to Blantyre later today.
We had a very fun night this evening in the Nazarene Hall with a Beetle Drive organised to raise funds for the developing new Hamilton District Foodbank. It was a competitive night, but with a lot of laughter too. Congratulations to Alice Jamieson who was the champion beetle driver!
Thanks to everyone who donated prizes and homebakes, and to Nicola, Linda, Marion, Elizabeth, Karen, Geoff and everyone else who helped get the evening planned and set up. [There's more...]
This morning was a morning I have not been looking forward to for some two weeks. I thank everyone for their kind words this morning, it meant a tremendous amount to Carolyn and me.
I wanted to put online a copy of the statement I read after the service and that was available for people to pick up after the service this morning. It seems that we ran out of printed copies of the letter, so I will make sure there are a few more copies available next week.
However you can download a copy of it here. And the full text of what I said is below the jump. [There's more...]