How Good it is to Worship in Unity

The Magi Journey to meet Our Lord

This Evening, during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18th-25th January), almost 50 people met from across the Churches and Denominations in Sutherland and Easter Ross and one or two from further afield. We met as Christians united in a common faith. We met as part of “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev 7). We met “united in the same mind and the same purpose” (1 Cor 1).

We met because before Jesus died, he prayed to his Father:

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

John 17:20-23

We met for a Service of Unity. We met for a wonderful service prepared by Churches in the Middle East which centred around the Epiphany. We met to pray and to sing, to listen to Scripture and to music and to reflect on Christian Unity.

A huge thank you to everyone who read, who lead and who joined us in a outward and visible sign of our Unity in Christ.

God bless you all.

Some of the participants

Charities Shop January Re-opening

Opening

The St Finnbarr’s Charities Shop in Dornoch is scheduled to re-open for business after the Christmas break on Thursday 6th January.

The shop will be open on Mondays to Saturdays from 10am to 1pm.

The Shop

Great efforts have been made to make the shop safe for customers and staff so we would ask that everybody follows the ‘rules’ carefully. As you will be aware, the shop is small and the number of customers who can be in the shop at any one time is limited. We have a wireless bell for customers to press to let us know they are waiting and staff will be on hand to guide you and answer any questions that you may have.

Donations of Items

It would be appreciated that if you have been saving donations of items for the shop that you drop them off during opening times only and in fairly small quantities as we don’t want to be swamped and have limited storage space.

Welcome

We look forward to welcoming everybody in the coming weeks, meanwhile keep safe.

Celebrating the Incarnation

A great many folk celebrated the Incarnation with us in East Sutherland and Tain this year at six services in four churches over the last few days – people from a range of Christian Fellowships joined us to mark the coming of Christ Light of the world amongst us.

More Singing in St Finnbarr’s??

St Finnbarr’s had an early Christmas Present when an anonymous donor gifted a smart new hymn board with space for, not four, not five, but six hymns. Does that mean extra hymns on Sundays???

A huge thank you whoever you are.

Singing Carols Together

Carol Singing in St Andrew’s Tain

People from Churches in Tain, Easter Ross, Dornoch, Lairg and elsewhere in Sutherland gathered together for a wonderfully uplifting service of lessons and carols this afternoon in St Andrew’s Tain. The readers were drawn from across the Churches, the singing was led by a fine choir (of two) and everyone seemed to be in fine voice, all to the Glory of God.

Goody bags were provided at the end (to make up for the fact that we couldn’t serve seasonal refreshments) and the retiring collection raised £125 for the homeless.

A huge thank you for everyone who made it happen by playing, singing, welcoming, making goody bags, cleaning and decorating the Church. We all look forward to when we can find another chance to sing praises together as the people of God.

Sing Advent Sing

This evening in Dornoch Cathedral, we ushered in Advent with a gloriously uplifting Advent Carol Service organised by Fr Simon.

A choir of nearly 30 voices and Roddy on the organ, helped the congregation of about 60, sing a number of well-known Advent Carols and they also sang a number of pieces on their own.

Interspersed between the Carols were Advent readings given by five different clergy from the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Scotland, ranging from Genesis to the Gospel of John.

The service gave Glory to God and at the same time raised money for Clean Birthing Kits for parts of the world where many women die in childbirth, as a result of infections contracted whilst giving birth.

This fund-raising is part of a wider effort coordinated by the Rotary Club of East Sutherland and the retiring collection in aid of the charity ImpACT raised over £250 – a huge thank you to everyone who contributed.

O come, O come Emmanuel!

We will remember them

May the memory of two World Wars
strengthen our efforts for peace,

May the memory of those who died
inspire our service to the living,

May the memory of a past destruction
move us to build for the future,

May the first two atomic bombs
be the last two also,

May the first two World Wars
be the last two world wars.

O God of peace,
O Father of souls,
O builder of the Kingdom of Love.
Amen.

George Appleton – 1902-1993

Listen to the Quiet Voices

Bishop Mark looks at the hopes and expectations around COP26 as we seek to care for God’s creation

As I write this, I’m sitting watching the leaves changing colour outside my office window. There’s a tree which is just at the corner of the churchyard at Arpafeelie which always begins to turn first, its leaves slowly, then quickly, becoming golden before plunging to a striking mix of reds then browns.

As I have watched the autumn begin, the plants begin to bed down for the winter in this changing of the season; I remember that once the bare winter is over then the cycle will come round again. We will have the cool, clear spring and then the joyful warmth of summer. So it has been for much of my life. Yet as we have stayed at home over these past months because of the pandemic, I have appreciated the slow but ever-moving changing of the seasons in a new way.

But just as I can anticipate the leaves coming back on that tree, it is becoming clear that in other places around the world many others no longer know what their seasons will hold. People can’t be confident that the rains will come, or know if their land will flood. People can no longer be confident that their crops will grow, or know if they will have the time and energy to harvest. People and places are struggling and dying now because of the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. People are increasingly anxious and increasingly fearful, and there is growing anger and concern for the future.

In Scotland we have a stable climate. As is so often the case, the worst affects of climate crisis will be felt that much more strongly in places where their climate is not so stable. So the changes that I can see, and the emotions which flow through me as I know they flow through many in our Church, are much more pressing in other parts of our world.

I’ve been thinking about those emotions and reactions as we all prepare for COP26 in Glasgow. The hopes and expectations of so many people are that political leaders will listen to the voices of people around the world who are simply frightened for the very ground they stand on and the lives around them. The Scottish Episcopal Church has put in place and will continue to develop processes which enable us to have a much lighter footprint on the ground, and will enable us to make a better use of the resource we have so that we don’t contribute to stripping the environment of those things which produce the very air that we breathe.

There will be moments of tears, moments of anger, and moments of laughter in Glasgow, but I hope there will be moments of prayer. Why are we going? Why is our Anglican Communion delegation gathering? It is because as a church, and as people of faith, that’s what we do: we pray. Our prayers are to God who created this beautiful little planet we all live on. Our prayers are that God will help us to do everything in our power to protect the environment we live in.

With prayer, with conversation and simply by being visibly present, we can use the time to push home the point to political leaders that this crisis is real and that people of the world, especially those with the least ability to affect change, are being impacted by our continual drive for greater consumption, greater profits, and greater power.

We will try and insist that they listen to the quiet voices, voices that might not be physically present, and we will pray again that world leaders make the right decisions for our planet.

The Scottish Episcopal Church will be there along with old friends and hopefully new friends. We will spend our time carefully encouraging, noisily supporting and – I suspect – sometimes loudly reacting to what is happening because to honour God means caring for God’s creation, not simply for what it gives us but so that we can pass it on, healing and restoring, to those who will come after us.

Please pray for all who will gather in Glasgow, for the leaders of the nations and those of us who will bring hope and prayer.

Service Changes – Online Prayer and Tain midweek

Morning and Evening Prayer on Zoom

We have some services of Morning and Evening Prayer on Zoom, from this week these are as follows:  

Morning Prayer – Mondays and Tuesdays at 10:00am

Evening Prayer – Thursdays and Fridays at 5:00pm (previously these were at 5:30pm)

All are welcome to join in these services, which will be led by a number of different (mostly lay) people. If you wish to follow them and join in with the responses, etc. then you would find it helpful to have a copy of the Scottish Prayer book.

Outside the Church

Midweek in Tain

The MIdweek Service in St Andrew’s, Tain changes from Wednesday at 6pm to Thursday at 6pm from this week. These services are generally in the hall at the back of the church and all are welcome.

Bountiful Harvest

A bountiful harvest delivered to the food bank today – thanks everyone.

In total, our congregations provided a staggering 175Kg of ‘harvest’ and the food bank is well stocked for the time being.