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.

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 

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.

We gave thanks for the Queen’s life

A joyful and uplifting service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Reign of Queen Elizabeth II in St Andrew’s Tain last evening in the presence of His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Ross-shire – Mrs Joanie Whiteford.

Folk from a range of different churches and community organisations contributed and local MP the Right Honourable Jamie Stone and Councillor Alasdair Rhind also took part.

The congregation were in fine voice. The Lord Lieutenant offered some personal reflections on the Queen’s life and on the contact that she had had with the Queen in her official role and Canon James Currall preached.

Over £100 was raised in a retiring collection for the Queen’s Green Canopy fund which aims to plant trees across the UK, but especially in urban areas, as a celebration of Her Majesty’s life and reign.

Marking the War Memorial Centenary in Lairg

On Friday on a very wet morning, a group of over 100 people gathered at the Lairg War Memorial to mark it’s 100th anniversary. A cascade of knitted poppies make the memorial a stunning sight and children planted crosses one for each of the 65 names on the memorial (55 from WW1 and 10 from WW2).

Harvest Celebrations

Yesterday we gave thanksgiving for harvest in all our services and James preached at evensong at St John’s in Forres, after some wonderful singing by the Gordonstoun chamber choir and the St John’s Church choir .

A Prayer for Our Beloved Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to the Royal Dockyard Chapel in Pembroke Dock, Wales.

Almighty and eternal God,
you uphold and govern all things
both in heaven and on earth,
and by your grace alone kings and queens do reign.

We thank you for all the blessings which you have bestowed upon us through our late sovereign lady, Queen Elizabeth, whom you have called from this life today.

We thank you for the wisdom of her guidance and her love of peace, for the care and devotion with which she served her people, for the example of her gracious life.

We pray that you would fill our hearts with gratitude for all these good things, and give us grace that we may use the memory of them as a perpetual call to live according to your will, for the good of all the world, and the glory of your great name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.