This year it will not be possible for the Churches to get together as usual, except via Zoom and there will be a variety of such services taking place.
This will be hosted by the Scottish Committee of the WDP and will be held at 2pm on 5th March (Zoom open from 1:45pm).
Easter Ross Service
Hosted by the Easter Ross Inter-Church Group and will also be held at 2pm on 5th March.
Hosted by Lairg CoS and will be held at 6:45pm on 5th March
All are welcome at any of these Services and I have circulated Zoom joining details for the Sutherland and Easter Ross Services to the members of the relevant congregations by email. If anyone wants Zoom details for the National Service or wishes to join one of the other, but han’t got the appropriate details, email me and I will pass them on. For security reasons these details will no be shared on web sites or on social media.
A file containing the Order of Service is available here
In our Lent Study this year we will look at Lament and the Psalms.
A quick search in dictionaries for a definition of lament reveals that it’s: to express sorrow, regret or unhappiness about something, or it’s a formal expression of sorrow or mourning. But Biblical Lament is actually much more than this. It’s not just a formal expression of sorrow. When we experience loss, grief is inevitable. In St. Augustine’s terms, we’re each a collection of loves that bind us to people, places, and practices. Whenever these bonds of love are severed, we grieve. Grief isn’t a choice; we’re subject to it whether we like it or not.
Lament, by contrast, is the exercise of spiritual agency in the face of loss. As a spiritual practice lament seeks to incorporate the experience of loss into the broader story of our lives before God. Where grief threatens to shatter the coherence of our story, lament re-opens our hearts to the possibility of a recovered sense of wholeness. Lament doesn’t internalise our pain, sorrow or loss, but helps us to call out to God. So it’s not just an expression of deep emotion resulting from loss, it calls to God for action and ends in praise to God. To lament is to join a long line of those who have wrestled with God in the midst of their sorrow.
We find lament throughout the Old Testament. Most clearly we find lament in the Psalms and these are referred to extensively throughout the New Testament. The Psalms are the Prayer Book of the Bible. As such they encompass the full range of human experiences—and in particular make room for experiences of suffering through Psalms of Lament.
The sessions will be centred around the following headings:
The Need for Lament
The Power of Lament
Lament and the Suffering of Others
Lament as an Act of Love
There will be a group meeting on Zoom Wednesday Evenings from 7:30-9:00pm (24th February and 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th March)
Zoom details have been circulated by email
The material will also be available on paper, by email and on the Web Site at:
Can we Christians align our beliefs and everyday habits in the twenty-first century? Christians have been formulating ‘rules of life’ at least as far back as the fourth century. The sixth-century Rule of St Benedict is probably the most widely known Christian rule of life, but a lot has changed since then! Is there scope for a Christian rule of life in the twenty- first century?
Advances in technology and communication, particularly social media, enrich our present-day lives whilst at the same time driving us to distraction. A cacophony of voices vies for our attention: how do we hear the Gospel above them all?
The Revd Dr Michael Hull, SEI’s Director of Studies (above), will facilitate an online discussion of issues about belief and habit, faith and practice, with insights from Justin Whitmel Earley’s “The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction” (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2019) available via: https://www.thecommonrule.org
The discussion will be held on Wednesday 20 January 2021 from 7pm to 8pm and delivered via Zoom. The link and password will be emailed on the morning of Wednesday 20 January. To register, please visit this link.
In our Advent Study this year we will look at suffering.
“The more I think about the human suffering in our world and my desire to offer a healing response, the more I realize how crucial it is not to allow myself to become paralysed by feelings of helplessness and guilt. More important than ever is to be very faithful to my vocation to do well the few things I am called to do and hold on to the joy and peace they bring me. I must resist the temptation to let the forces of darkness pull me into despair and make me one more of their many victims.”
“Suffering invites us to place our hurts in larger hands. In Christ we see God suffering – for us. And calling us to share in God’s suffering love for a hurting world. The small and even overpowering pains of our lives are intimately connected with the greater pains of Christ. Our daily sorrows are anchored in a greater sorrow and therefore a larger hope.”
The sessions will be centred around the following headings:
The Suffering of Job
The Suffering of Christ
Our own Suffering
There will be two groups meeting on Zoom Wednesday Afternoons at 2pm and Thursday Evenings at 7pm (2nd/3rd, 9th/10th and 16th/17th December)
The material will also be available on paper and on the Web Site at:
There will be a Christmas Foodbank collection for the Highland Foodbank outside in St Finnbarr’s grounds.
Every day people in the Highlands are struggling to put food on the table. Even under normal circumstances people struggle as a result of a variety of causes from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. This year however COVID has made the situation much worse for many people.
The Highland Foodbank is part of the work of Blythswood Care and provides a minimum of three days emergency food and support to local adults and children in crisis.
Below is a list of items that they are currently running low on, including essential non-food items such as toiletries and hygiene products, helping people in crisis to maintain dignity and feel human again.
Tins of ham/corned beef
Tins of potatoes
Tins of mince/stew
Small packets of washing powder/gel
Small bottles of washing up liquid
Toothpaste/individually wrapped brushes
They currently have an overabundance of
ALL FORMS OF TINNED BEANS
… so these items are best avoided.
Given the time of year, they are very keen to receive special seasonal treats for all the family.
On 30th November I will be led by Provost Sarah to my stall in the Cathedral and installed as a Canon and member of Cathedral Chapter at a Eucharist to celebrate the Feast of St Andrew. The service will be live-streamed via the Cathedral Facebook page.
My stall is dedicated to St Drostan, who was Abbott of Deer (in Aberdeenshire). Saint Drostan lived around 560 to 630. He was a follower of Saint Columba of Iona and spent a significant period in Aberdeenshire. He later retired to spend time in prayer and contemplation in Glenesk where there is an Episcopal Church dedicated to him and a self-catering lodge/retreat house.
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.
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…..