Churches Now Closed

Following the directive from Boris Johnson this evening (23rd March) and updated guidance from the College of Bishops, our Churches will no longer be open to the public for either services or private prayer.  So from now on we must all pray at home.

Two prayers from the Scottish Prayer Book

In the time of any common Plague or Sickness.

O ALMIGHTY and merciful God, with whom are the issues of life and death: Grant us, we beseech thee, help and deliverance in this time of grievous sickness and mortality, and sanctify to us this affliction, that in our sore distress we may turn our hearts unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

For Hospitals and Infirmaries.

ALMIGHTY God, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ went about doing good, and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people: Continue, we beseech thee, his gracious work among us in all hospitals and infirmaries; console and heal the sufferers; grant to the physicians, surgeons, and nurses, wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience; prosper their work, O Lord, with thy continual blessing; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

A smile is contagious

Sunday is Mothering Sunday and I’ve spent the last two days distributing Mothering Sunday Posies, and you know it would have been worth it for just one of the smiles returned by those who received one, but I’ve had dozens of smiles and feel so blessed.

For the fit and healthy, there are posies in St Andrew’s, Tain and St Finnbarr’s, Dornoch, so please feel free to drop by at some time on Sunday (between 10am and 4pm), to offer a prayer and pick one up (whilst stocks last:-)

Must rush as I have to go out round and about again, no handshakes, no cups of coffee, just a brief chat and a beaming smile at the door – God Bless.

Coronavirus and the Scottish Episcopal Church – 17 March 2020

The College of Bishops today provided guidance as follows. It should also be emphasised that in a rapidly changing situation, the guidance that follows must be regarded as subject to any public health guidance or direction, which must take precedence.

  1. Advice issued last night by the Scottish Government is to the effect that church services should cease. Consequently, the Bishops ask that all gatherings for worship, including small gatherings such as house groups, should be discontinued until further notice.
  2. Church buildings can be kept open as a place for people to come and pray. However, if a church is open for private prayer, notices should be clearly displayed asking that visitors wash their hands on entry to the church.
  3. The province is working on plans to make worship available online. The bishops encourage participation in the broader Eucharistic life of the church in this way and emphasise the such online involvement is a form of participation in the Eucharistic community, even though participants cannot physically partake of the bread or wine.
  4. The taking of funerals may give rise to specific concerns. It may simply not be possible for family relatives or friends of the deceased’s to be able to attend a funeral service as usual. However, clergy can still take a funeral at the graveside or crematorium, even if those present are limited to clergy and funeral directors.
  5. In the light of the public health recommendation that non-essential travel should not be undertaken, it is clearly inappropriate to continue with meetings which would draw people from a wider area – such as regional gatherings. Institutions, licensings etc will need to be dealt with differently from normal.

The full Guidance can be read at: https://www.scotland.anglican.org/coronavirus-updates/

In East Sutherland and Tain we will be following this advice and so all scheduled services and meetings will not now be taking place until further notice.

Subject to making arrangements for the opening and closing of the buildings, St Finnbarr’s, Dornoch and St Andrew’s, Tain will be open for private prayer at those times when there would have been services taking place but this will be for the purpose of allowing individuals to pray or meditate quietly on their own.

None of this means that ministry and pastoral care will cease, it’s just that we will need to carry it out in new and creative ways. Contact and communication can still be maintained over the telephone, by email or other electronic means and you are all  encouraged to use these means to keep in contact with the clergy and others in the congregations, when you feel that it would be helpful or if you need advice.  You shouldn’t suffer alone and we can pray together over the phone.

The clergy will be considering how best to provide regular information and material (such as reflections and prayers) to assist in your spiritual welfare and will make arrangements for such communication to be available to all whether or not you have access to the Internet.

Blessings
James

 

Arise, take up your mat and walk

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World Day of Prayer services in Brora, Dornoch, Lairg and Tain on Friday.  Wonderful ecumenical gatherings that engaged creatively with the material prepared by the Christian Women of Zimbabwe. Prayerful, reflective, thoughful, joyous and uplifting are all words that could be applied to the three services that I was at.  Not to mention the food and fellowship that was shared after each of the services.  A huge thanks to all those who organised the services, took part in them and most of all to the Christian Woman of Zimbabwe.

Food for the Body and the Mind

Lent has now begun. However, in anticipation of Lent, last night we had a splendid pancake feast, with a challenging quiz to keep us amused, perplexed and stretched between pancakes: Patron Saints, pancake facts, knots, geology and pancakes around the world – no-one was an expert in all of these.

Thanks to the quiz setters, the batter mixers, cooks and all who brought goodies to share.

 

Diocesan News – February/March 2020

The February & March Diocesan News is now available.

In it, Bishop Mark writes…

Dear Friends,

I am writing this to you from The Crask while I wait to lead worship here this afternoon. The weather is still rather driech but the inn is very cosy.

I have just completed the joyful task of hosting a meeting of the Celtic Bishops here in Inverness, we spent time in conversation and debate and I also took the opportunity to lead them on Pilgrimage through Inverness, visiting churches and stopping half way through for High Tea in the Town House. We were guests of the Council and it was wonderful to be met so warmly by the Deputy Provost and her team.

Pilgrimage is of course the theme for next years Scottish Episcopal year of Pilgrimage and I hope that all of you will at some point be able to journey with the church. I am also looking for ideas of pilgrimage within this diocese, so if you have any ideas please get in touch.

Tomorrow is Candlemas and we bring our Christmas festivities to a close, my prayers will be with you all as we begin the preparation of Lent.

Blessings
+Mark

Lights in the World

This week there have been lots of candles:

Firstly there have been single candles, signifying Christ – Light of the World, reminding us of who’s we are and who we serve.

At the Hub service we meditated on Light, surrounded by many candles and were each individually blessed with a candle to take as a symbol of our calling to be a light in the world and to share Christ’s light.


At Candlemas services today in Lairg, Dornoch, Tain and Brora we reflected on the same theme, blessed the candles that we will use this year and were each blessed as we held our own individual candle and then took it home a Light to dispel darkness and fear from our lives, a light to enlighten our minds, a light to brighten dull days and show each of us the path we must travel.

(NB – if these candles arranged on the floor at the Hub resemble the flag of any group of nations, it’s entirely unintended)