From Land’s End to John O’Groats

Revd. Deborah Sandercock-Pickles, who is Priest in Charge of St Margaret’s Church Prestwich and St George’s Church Simister in Bury near Manchester, was in the shielding category during the first lockdown.

In a moment of madness, she decided that she would run from Land’s End to John O’Groats by running around her garden. At planned points she stops and explores the area electronically and visits a local place of worship (virtually of course). Whist she is ‘there’, she prays for the parish and their mission and ministry.

Well she has now ‘arrived’ in Sutherland via Tain and has enjoyed visiting our churches on-line. She writes:

I pray that God will bless the work that you are doing and encourage you as you seek to serve God in Dornach, Brora, Tain, Lairg and Tongue
You are in my prayers. Every blessing, Deborah

Deborah Sandercock-Pickles – 27th November 2020

We wish Deborah well for the remainder of her ‘trip’ and can only recommend that she stops off at The Crask Inn for its legendary welcome and hospitality. Our prayers go with you Deborah – haste ye back once you can travel for real.

St Margaret’s, Prestwich

A Seat in the Choir

Inverness Cathedral Canons’ Stalls

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.

St Drostan’s Stall

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.

St Drostan’s Church

We know about him because he appears in two old manuscripts, the Book of Deer an illuminated manuscript whose origins date back to the 900s, and Breviarium Aberdonense, (the Aberdeen Breviary) produced by Bishop William Elphinstone in Aberdeen in 1510. His name is also attached to various churches and to other places, such as St Drostan’s Well at Aberlour in Speyside, now the water source for Aberlour Distillery.

Aberlour Distillery

Grant them Rest Eternal

Tonight we remembered those who we have loved, but see no more; our friends, our relatives and those who have gone before us in faith.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

New Heating at St Finnbarr’s

St Finnbarr’s ready for All Saints

For a number of years we have been talking about replacing the heating in St Finnbarr’s, since the Diocesan Architect considered that it was in need of replacement.

Well it’s finally happened and the old assorted collection of radiant heaters hanging on chains have been replaced by dark infrared heaters attached to the roof beams. The new heaters on on a time clock so there’s no need for someone to go down to the Church on dark cold nights to put the heating on, it should all happen automatically.

It is now all finished and the congregation have had their first taste of what it will be like in future. By all accounts they were warm enough and didn’t feel that the new heaters detracted from the overall appearance of the Church.

Thanks to Jimmy who did the work so swiftly and without the need to cancel any services and to Margaret for all her work in getting tenders, etc.

We should be able to look forward to a warmer winter this year!!

Harvest and Thanksgiving

Today in St Finnbarr’s, St Andrew’s and St Columba’s we gave thanks for the harvest and for all God’s gifts to us. We may be finding things a bit tough just now, but that doesn’t stop us giving thanks for what we have and for God’s goodness to us, in fact it is in times like these that we need to recognise our need of God and be thankful for the constant presence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in our lives and the lives of those around us.

These flowers were in St Columba’s, but there were stunning flowers in both St Andrew’s and St Finnbarr’s as well (but I didn’t get photos of them:-( Thanks to everyone who exercised their considerable talents with their autumn flowers and fruits.

Charities Shop to Re-open

Opening

The St Finnbarr’s Charities Shop in Dornoch is scheduled to re-open for business this week.

Initially the shop will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 1pm from October 16th.

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 although it has been reorganised, the number of customers who can be in the shop at any one time is strictly limited. Staff will be on hand at the door 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.

Three in One

St Columba’s in Brora has been open for Individual Prayer on a Sunday afternoons for many weeks now, but on today (27th September) the Eucharist was once again celebrated in the “Tin Tabernacle”.

It was a lovely occasion, where we marked a Trinity of events. St Columba’s opened for worship after three years of closure due to fire on 28th September 2019, so this weekend marked the first anniversary of resumption of worship.

It was of course our first service since the start of lock-down in March, some six months ago.

Finally, it was the last service of Don Grant’s period of curacy with us and fittingly, he was presented with a painting of Brora beach, to remind him and Silvia of their time with St Columba’s. Thank you Don for what you have done in Brora over the last twelve months and we all wish you well in the next phase of ministry based out of the Cathedral in Inverness.

We weren’t of course able to have a party to celebrate these things but Claudia spend this morning making individual ‘cup-cake’ birthday cakes with a candle in the middle for each member of the congregation – thanks so much Claudia.

Thanks to everyone who helped to prepare the Church, the flowers and provide us with lovely music during the service and of course everyone who was there filling the Church to almost its (COVID) capacity. St Columba’s will now be open for worship each Sunday at 4pm.

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.