Midweek in St Andrew’s from 16th September

From this Wednesday (16th September), the afternoon arrangements will change (as agreed at a Vestry meeting last week).

St Andrew’s will no longer be open from 2pm until 4pm for Individual Prayer.

It will however be open:

  • from 5pm until 5:45pm for Individual Prayer 
  • from 6pm until 6:40pm for a Midweek Eucharist 

Both will be in the main Church and those arriving should come to the main Church door (unless they have mobility issues that make getting up the steps tricky).

I hope that you will find these new arrangements helpful.

Many Blessings
James

Prayer in the Upper Room

Fir Chlis Chapel

The Return is a movement which invites people return to God by coming before His presence in humility, in sincerity, in prayer and in repentance.

From the Biblical Feast of Trumpets (18th September) until the Day of Atonement (28th September).  We are invited to observe 10 Days of Prayer, Fasting, and Repentance.

During this period, Kathleen Pannell will be opening her “Upper Room” chapel at Fir Chlis in Tongue to anyone feeling led to come to offer prayer. Should you wish to drop in for a while you would be most welcome.

The door will be open from 10am until 8pm each day.

Kathleen has put in place measures to implement Government Guidelines regarding Covid-19. There will be sanitiser and masks in the hall and a book to record a name and phone number. Those dropping in should take responsibility for ensuring Social distancing both in the chapel and whilst entering and leaving.

During this period, Rev Beverly Cushman is going to post a special prayer on the Altnaharra and Farr and the Melness and Tongue websites each day.

Please phone Kathleen if you need any more information

Rewilding the Church

I have been sent a book for review entitled “Rewilding the Church”. In it Steve Aisthorpe sees the Church as having slipped out of kilter with its head – Jesus. He uses the metaphor of the rewilding used to restore a balance between nature and its environment, to suggest the corrective that we need to get back on track. He writes: “The New Testament’s vision of Church is not a herd of people with common beliefs or shared behaviours. Rather, it is a community centred on Jesus [which] draws them together in a shared quest of Christward transformation.

The last six months have had a profound effect on all our lives. Gone are a lot of the certainties that we’ve come to rely on. One of those certainties was that there would be services of worship, according to a regular pattern, in eight locations around Sutherland and Tain.

For much of that time, there’ve been no services and, even though there has been a resumption in Dornoch and Tain and also three church buildings open for Individual Prayer, there are a number of places where we can’t yet meet and people who for many reasons can’t be present even though they would like to be.

We’ve all spent much of more time on our own with God these last few months and the gatherings online, the broadcast services and now the hygienic, distanced and masked services aren’t the same as the familiar experiences we were used to and it can all seem very strange indeed.

Increasingly in our society, there are people who used to go to church who now describe themselves as Christians who do not go to church. What does our experience of the last six months say about such a position? Have we not all been Christians who do not go to church? Overwhelmingly the people that I talk to in our congregations speak about missing the fellowship of worshipping and praying together. They’ve come to realise just how important community is in being followers of Jesus. We seem to be very keen to get back to meeting up for prayer and praise, rather than only engaging with God on our own. Far from being the end of the Church, lockdown seems to have made us all appreciate the time that we spend together as the Body of Christ, the Community of Faith.

The balance between being with God on our own and being together with God is described by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, always the one to express things neatly in just a few words: “Let him [or her] who cannot be alone beware of community … Let him [or her] who is not in community beware of being alone.

Steve Aisthorpe concludes that “Rewilding the Church is not about implementing our best ideas with unusual passion; it requires stopping or slowing down, a conscious setting aside of preconceptions and a determination to discern what God is doing and our role in that.” Now is probably an ideal time to do just that.

Blessings
James

Worshipping again in St Andrew’s

Today we celebrated our first post-lockdown Service at St Andrew’s in Tain, five months to the day since our last one.  It was good to be back in each other’s company, even if behind a colourful array of masks.

It was a joyous occasion for the all those who were there this morning, with the sun streaming through the windows, as we lit the Paschal Candle and acknowledged Christ as the ‘Light of the World’.

Almighty God,
you sent your Son to be the light of the world
and to bring to your people the radiance of your glory:
set us aflame with the fire of your love,
and renew us in faith and hope,
that we may shine as a light in the world,
and glorify you in our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Preaching about a text that seems to resonate with so much that’s happening just now, James reminded us that “we have to remember is that as well as being fully God, Jesus was also fully human and what I find so refreshing about his encounter with the Canaanite Woman is that we don’t see a goody goody Jesus, we see a real human being, struggling with the difficult decisions and issues that you and I face every day.”

Although we weren’t able to sing, Jamie provided appropriate music on the organ at a number of points in the Service, including the Hallelujah Chorus to leave by.  By next week it will feel a little less strange sitting scattered around the Church  and doing things in a slightly different way from what we are used to.

A big thanks to everyone who contributed in so many ways.

There will now be a Service in St Andrew’s, Tain at 11am each Sunday in addition to the one in St Finnbarr’s, Dornoch, also at 11am each Sunday.

Three Churches Now Open for Prayer

St Columba’s, Brora open 4pm -6pm on Sundays

St Finnbarr’s in Dornoch and St Andrew’s in Tain have been open for Individual Prayer for a few weeks and have now been joined by St Columba’s, Brora.  A fair number of people have taken the opportunity to drop in for a little while during the two hour periods that the Churches have been open.

St Finnbarr’s, Dornoch open 10am -12pm on Wednesdays

 

St Andrew’s, Tain open 2pm-4pm on Wednesdays

A Psalm of lament and praise in a time of coronavirus

How shall we praise you, Lord, our God?

When we are locked down, how shall we praise you?
When the doors to your house are barred, and your people cannot assemble?
When those urgently in need of money and work can’t even wait in the market-place?
When we have to circle round people in the street,
and to queue for shops maintaining safe distance?
When we can only communicate by hearing on the phone,
or seeing on the screen; or by digital messaging,
or even just waving through a window?
When we cannot meet our parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren,
or other family members and friends?
When we cannot touch them in their flesh and blood, to know they are really alive?

How shall we praise you?
How, like Thomas, shall we not see yet believe that your son is raised among us?
How shall we praise you?

Lord, I will try to praise you.
Through gritted teeth, I will try to praise you.
I will try to remember that you created all things, and this virus is part of creation.
I will try not to hate it but seek to mitigate its harm.
I will try to do my bit to keep others safe, by the way that I behave.
I will pray for all those around me and seek to help in whatever way I can.

Lord, when I cannot pray or worship help me be aware of all your people
and your saints and angels hovering around me, lifting me up.
When I feel alone, let me feel you near me,
even if only for a moment that enables me to go on.
Let me hear you say “Peace be with you”.

 

 

Joyous Return at St Finnbarr’s

Today we celebrated our first post-lockdown Service at St Finnbarr’s in Dornoch.  It was good to be back in each other’s company, even if behind a colourful array of masks.

It was a joyous occasion for the all those who were there this morning with the sun streaming through the windows, as we lit the Paschal Candle and acknowledged Christ as the ‘Light of the World’.

Almighty God,
you sent your Son to be the light of the world
and to bring to your people the radiance of your glory:
set us aflame with the fire of your love,
and renew us in faith and hope,
that we may shine as a light in the world,
and glorify you in our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

It was reassuring to hear Simon tell us that although “Jesus doesn’t calm our storms, he’s certainly there with us, because he’s Lord over everything, including the coronavirus, and he comforts us and encourages us with his words and His holy presence“.; just as he comforted the disciples with his presence when they were frightened by the storm.

Although we weren’t able to sing, Caroline provided appropriate music on the organ at a number of point in the Service.  By next week it will feel a little less strange sitting scattered around the Church  and doing things in a slightly different way from what we are used to.

A big thanks to everyone who contributed in so many ways.

There will now be a Service in St Finnbarr’s, Dornoch at 11am each Sunday.

100 years young today

Barbara at her front door with her card from ER II

Have you heard the one about the Funeral Director, the Priest and the Lord Lieutenant?  Well this afternoon all three turned up with pipers and standard-bearers and an MP at Barbara Rae’s house in Tain.  The occasion was Barbara’s 100 birthday.

Born in the aftermath of the 14-18 Great War, Barbara lived and served through the 39-45 second world war, and all its after effects – a life changing and life affirming experience for so many of that generation. Barbara, in common with both our own Marjorie Taylor and actress Patricia Routledge, attended Birkenhead High School; though of course they were not all there at the same time and neither Barbara nor Marjorie bear any resemblance to Hyacinth Bucket in “Keeping up Appearances”.

Barbara’s war included the blitz of Liverpool – she was not yet 21 by the time it ended. She was lucky to survive. She worked in Liverpool but lived with her parents in Birkenhead. Her brother David was serving in France and having his own adventures. The family home was badly bomb damaged in May 1941 and they had to move out, but the family survived.

Barbara joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in 1942 after the Liverpool blitz, and went into the Meteorology section of the RAF. She had her main training in London, and thereafter was based at several UK airfield locations. Especially RAF Millom and RAF Cark in Lancashire (Cumbria) the Lake District, which is where she eventually met Willis. They were married in 1945. During the time that Willis worked for Customs and Excise at Liverpool Docks.

They lived in Birkenhead until 1961 when they made the move up to Tain where Willis was the Excise Officer at Glenmorangie Distillery until his retirement in 1981. Their children Ian and Pat were educated at Tain Royal Academy. In 1974 they bought a new build house in Knockbreck Avenue – and lived there from 1976. So, Barbara is one of the longest duration residents of the Avenue…and certainly the oldest!

Barbara who had always been active in her church in Birkenhead quickly found her way to St Andrew’s Church. Barbara did so much in and for St Andrew’s Church over the years, much of it as part of the St Andrew’s Ladies Guild, (later the St Andrew’s Fellowship). She put in hours of patient needlework to make altar frontals and pulpit falls, she repaired vestments and all these things we still experience as they’re still in weekly use. She arranged flowers to enhance the congregation’s experience of coming to church. She did work on the Church Magazine and was a member of the Vestry. Just a few of the things that Barbara did in our Church.

Barbara was also very active for some years with the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (the WRVS) in Tain again helping with their local work, and especially delivering ‘Meals on Wheels’ around Tain and environs. Both Barbara and Willis were also active in later years with the Tain Choral Group and the Garrick Singers (now Easter Ross Musical Theatre). Willis performed for a few years with the Garrick Singers, whilst Barbara as ever just got on with things needing to be done in ‘wardrobe’ and backstage.

Sadly Willis died in 2000 after having suffered a heart attack and a series of strokes in the 90s which left him with reduced mobility and unable to talk properly, but he was ably looked after by Barbara.

Today family and friends turned out up and down Knockbreck Avenue to honour Barbara, an amazing lady. It was a privilege that we were all able to celebrate with you on this special day…..

Lord Lieutenant Joanie talking with some of Barbara’s Family

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Almighty and everlasting God,

who revealed the glory of your beloved Son

when he was transfigured on the holy mountain:

mercifully grant us such a vision of his divine majesty,

that, being purified and strengthened by your grace,

we may be transformed into his likeness, from glory to glory;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, world without end.  Amen.