Praying for Unity amidst Injustice

Yesterday in St Andrew’s we held a service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. A sizeable group drawn from across the Churches and Fellowships around Tain, Invergordon, Ardgay and Dornoch gathered together for a Service prepared by Christians in Minnesota. The focus was on injustice and in particular racial injustice, remembering George Floyd who died during ill-treatment by police in Minnesota and also marking the 30th anniversary of the brutal killing of Stephen Lawrence in London.

Folk from a variety of churches and fellowships contributed to the service which included hymns, readings, prayers and a ritual where we built a cairn at the foot of the cross as we acknowledged our complicity in injustice.

It also included a rather wonderful Franciscan Benediction:

May God bless you with discomfort
at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears
to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in the world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done
to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Amen

(Attributed to the early followers of St Francis)

… and afterwards?

Well of course there were lovely refreshments and a time for fellowship where Christian who don’t get to meet up very often were able to relax and share.

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to both the service and the refreshments.

Final Christmas Celebration

Our final celebration of the birth of Jesus took place today in St Columba’s, Brora at Noon. Lots of Carols and Christmas readings, prayers and then a celebration of the Eucharist.

We blessed the Crib…

Afterwards we shared food and fellowship, whilst carols continued to play in the background.

Christmas message from The Primus



Let the joy of our faith light us up as we rejoice’

On

Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace to all in whom God delights.

Those are the words sung by the angels as recorded in St Luke’s Gospel, as they proclaimed the birth of Jesus to the shepherds out in the fields near Bethlehem. Glory to God and peace to all. These words will be repeated at nativity plays, carol services and in many churches at the Midnight Eucharist. People will begin to feel the warmth generated by these familiar words as Christmas Day begins.

As a society we have created a remarkable product around Christmas Day. We have built expectations of happiness, good cheer and comfort, all set against a picturesque backdrop of gently falling snow. Unfortunately, those images are never real for a significant number of those we are called to serve. This year, for many it will be even harder than before to create any sense of warmth in either heart or body.

As I arrived at the Cathedral in Inverness for our carol service the other day, I passed the rolled-up sleeping bags in the porch, the large container for children’s gifts, and the pile of coats left for those who need something to keep the cold out. These have become the ever-present symbols of a society where an increasing number of people rely on kindness for basic support. I know some shake their heads at the “mess” but most accept that what we see is the reality of life for some people. They need our help.

We celebrate this Christmas at a time when war is taking place in Ukraine, there is famine in the Horn of Africa, and desperate people are crossing the sea in small boats to flee dire consequences in their own countries. We are also aware of the many people near us who will not have enough to pay for their heating or for their food. We think of those who will not be able to make Christmas the special time that it would normally be for their families, and will feel they have somehow failed their loved ones.

As we hear those pleas for support, help us to offer something of ourselves to look after others; teach us how to share and care for those who are struggling, and to allow our churches and congregations to be beacons of prayer, light and hope in this world. We have a wonderful message to proclaim, we have a glorious festival to celebrate, let the joy of our faith light us up as we rejoice in the wonder of the Christmas story.

Let the power of the incarnation lead to us to action, and the love of God cause us to sing with the angels.

Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace to all in whom God delights.

Carols at Christmas

This afternoon we had a splendid Service of Readings and Carols enjoyed by a fairly full church drawn from right across the area. There were readers from a variety of local churches and fellowships and a dozen favourite carols. Afterwards there was a collection for those in need and seasonal refreshments. It was great to be back to the pre-pandemic form.

A huge thanks to everyone who helped to make it the wonderful afternoon that it was and helped to decorate the Church.

Christmas Generosity

A huge thank you to all who came along to support The Children’s Society at our Christingle Service at St Finnbarr’s last Sunday. The sight of everyone’s faces aglow in the candlelight was extremely special. Our four part guest choir sang unaccompanied so beautifully, as did our trio of boys who sang Away in a Manger for us.

The special collection for The Children’s Society totaled £301.86. Thanks to all our readers, congregants, our organist and those who gave but could not make it to the service. Our contribution will I am sure make a difference!

In related news – we received the following in an email from Tain Food Bank – again, thanks to all you generous, lovely people.

Just a short email to say ‘thankyou’ to you and all at St Finnbarrs for the very generous donation of food and money for the food bank today. 

The weight of the food came to 27.2kg and the £100 will be used to either buy food that we get short of or to help people out who find themselves in fuel poverty.

I cannot tell you in simple words the difference this donation will make to many lives this Christmas time and into the New Year.

Please pass on our sincerest thanks to all concerned.

Every Blessing 

Mandy & the food bank team 

Food Bank – Collection for the Festive Season

As we approach the festive season, St Finnbarr’s Dornoch are organising a collection for our local Food Bank. If you would like to support us, please bring donations to the church on Sunday 4th or Sunday 11th December between 10.30am and 11am or on Wednesday 7th December 10am to 10.30am. We are collecting the usual standard food and toiletry items to support people through the holiday period and you might like to include a few seasonal treats. The Food Bank is particularly short of coffee, sugar and biscuits.  Please can you make sure any perishable items such as prepacked ham or spreads have a long date and it would be helpful to pack these separately so that they can be kept refrigerated. The Food Bank is currently experiencing increased demand, so your support would be much appreciated. Don’t forget that you can also donate money if you feel you would like to help in this way. We know not everyone will feel they can contribute, but thank you in advance for supporting our neighbours most in need.

Looking forwards – Christingle Celebration!

On Sunday 18th December at 4.30pm St Finnbarr’s Dornoch will hold a Christingle Celebration Service in aid of The Children’s Society.

If you’ve never been to a Christingle before, please do come along to this very special, informal service which includes lots of carols and a simple all age Christmas message.

We know there is still a wee while to go before this happens, but wanted to let you know well in advance because part of the service includes making an offering to The Children’s Society. In the next couple of weeks special collecting candles and /or envelopes (like the ones below) will be available for you to collect from church and then slowly fill up during advent to then bring along as your offering to support some of our most vulnerable children and young people.

We look forward to welcoming you and presenting you with your very own Christingle to take home!

We did Remember

In Flanders Fields

BY JOHN MCCRAE

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.