Candles, Fellowship and Food

Today in St Andrew’s, we celebrated the Feast of the Presentation (Candlemas), with a ‘Bring a Friend to Church‘ service, followed by fellowship and food.  Quite a lot of ‘friends’ joined us for what was a very joyous and uplifting service.

A big thank you to all our visitors and to the congregation of St Andrew’s for doing so much to make them welcome, looking after them both during the service and afterwards in the hall with food and conversation – true Hospitality.

Last Friday was the Feast Day of St Brigid (or Bride).  Brigid was born in 5th century Ireland.  She established a double monastery for men and women in Kildare around 470AD as a centre of education, pilgrimage, worship and hospitality.  Brigid’s spirit of hospitality was legendary. For Brigid, every guest is Christ – “Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ“.

Carols and Taindeer

A joyful sound came from St Andrew’s, Tain this afternoon as we retold the story of the Incarnation in readings and Carols at our Carol Service.  The the leaders, readers and congregation were in fine voice, but the prize for the best jumper must go to the organist:-)

As the picture implies there were refreshments – mince pies and mulled wine – but clearly Simon has finished his, or else the reindeer got to them first:-)

Thanks everyone you all did a splendid job.

On the Feast of Stephen

After the business and excitement of Christmas Day, perhaps a peaceful and relaxing St Stephen’s Day, although the prospect of ‘deep, crisp and even‘ snow seems rather remote given the temperature today.

Hereabouts we had very busy gathering at our midnight and Christmas Day services and there is still time to sing more carols at the Carol Services at The Crask on Thursday @ 2pm or at St Andrew’s Tain on Friday @ 3pm.

Many blessings for the remainder of Christmastide.

And all the angels sang for him!

What a lovely afternoon of prayer and carols, nativity readings and Christingle making we had in Lairg.  Folk from all of the local Churches and Fellowships and many others from round and about came together to mark Christmas in the Lairg Christians Together (LCT) Family Christmas Service.

A group of the children who attend the LCT Big Club sang “A Starry Night”, and they were really good and we all joined in the final chorus.

At the end, the Christingles were lit and the congregation processed out of the Church and to the hall for mince pies, sausage rolls, shortbread and tea and coffee.

A splendid occasion for young and old.  Thanks to everyone who organised, helped, read, sang, played and made tea and to everyone who came and provided such a wonderful atmosphere.

Go Tell it on the Mountain

Over sixty people enjoyed a selection of carols, readings, poetry and music this evening in St Finnbarr’s, as we reflected on the story of the nativity and its meaning.

A splendid retiring collection raised over £300 for the homeless charity Emmaus, which houses, feeds and provides work for people who have been homeless whilst they get back on their feet again.

By providing a stable home and meaningful work,
we help companions
 to regain their self-esteem
and find a positive way to move forward with their lives.

At the interval, there were mince pies, shortbread and tea and coffee, and if I was looking for a picture for a caption competition, this one might serve that purpose:-)

A huge thank you to all those who organised, read, sang and played and another one to all those who came and gave so generously for people less fortunate than themselves.  Now go tell it on the mountain, and wherever else you happen to be.

Advent Hope and Fellowship

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ – the life of the world.

And that is exactly what a group of people from the Easter Ross Inter-Church Group (ERICG) did yesterday afternoon, on a frosty day suitable for the first Sunday of Advent, as we gathered in St. Andrew’s Church, warming ourselves by the flickering flames from our candles.

Nearly 40 of us sang our hearts out, listened attentively (after all, it IS Advent!) to the readings, including the poem ‘Advent Credo’, from which the quotation above comes. As we held our candles aloft and listened to the introductory readings, we thought about how we can individually be, and bring, light, life, peace and hope, to others. The moving words of our opening hymn, ‘Longing for Light’ expressed our hopes:

Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness. Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today.’

The bright lights of hospitality and fellowship then beckoned us into the welcome warmth of the hall, where an abundance of delicious sandwiches and home-baking (see above) encouraged lively chat and catch-up with our inter-church friends.

Thanks to everyone who read to us, sang with us and catered for us.

St Andrew’s Night: a celebration

St Andrew’s marked their Patronal Festival on Friday in style.

It all started with a candlelit celebration of the Eucharist in Church. The service was followed by a splendid supper in the hall – lentil soup then haggis, neeps and tatties and finally shortbread tea and coffee.

And then the fun really started, with entertainment, including: a quiz, a sermon, song, music and general fun, games and prizes. All were encouraged to wear some tartan and that did produce some local colour and added to the atmosphere.

Other celebrations of St Andrew’s night were available across Scotland (and around the world, where finding a husband is a key theme!) with thousands of people celebrating far into the night. In fact, around the world there are probably more people gather to Mark St Andrew’s day/night than gather on the Feast days of any of the other apostles.