Running Home

Meet Mark Calder (seen here with James outside Lairg Church at 7:30am today, Good Friday).

For most people just finishing a single marathon would be a challenge. But marathons aren’t enough for Mark, who lives in Aberdeenshire with his wife and two young daughters. No Mark runs ultra-marathons (which is like several run one after another).  But ultra-marathons aren’t enough either for this intrepid hero, he’s running 14 in one year … That’s superhuman!!

Mark is a Regional Manager for charity called Embrace the Middle East.  Embrace the Middle East is a Christian charity with over 160 years’ experience helping people of all faiths and none to free themselves from a life of poverty and injustice. Together with local Christian communities they’re bringing lasting change to the Middle East through healthcare, education and community development projects.

Under the name Running Home, Mark is running pilgrimage routes across Scotland and the North of England to raise money and awareness about the challenge that Iraq’s Christians face as they try to rebuild their country after war.

As Embrace starts supporting Christian-led projects in Iraq for the very first time Mark hopes as many people as possible will get behind him in this epic challenge.

From Maundy Thursday until Holy Saturday (18-20 April) Mark is running from Bettyhill to Poolewe along St Maelrubha’s Pilgrimage route, calling at the Crask Inn and the Christian Communities  dedicated to St Maelrubha in Lairg and Poolewe along the way.

… that’s just 113.5 miles, which isn’t far is it:-) Sadly James had another engagement and wasn’t able to join Mark on his Good Friday run from Lairg to Dundonnell, but was in Lairg at 7:30am to pray with him and see him on his way.

If you wish to help Mark’s fundraising efforts, you can do so via this page.

If you want to hear more, Mark will be speaking during the Service at Dornoch Cathedral on Easter Day at 6:30pm.

Ready, Steady, Go …

Mothering Sunday was a busy day in St Andrew’s in Tain.  Being the fifth Sunday of the month, it was a joint service with the congregation of St Finnbarr’s in Dornoch joining the congregation of St Andrew’s for the 11 o’clock Eucharist.  It was also the latest in our ‘Bring a Friend to Church‘ services when we extend a particular welcome to friends and family of regular church-goers.

It was a lovely occasion, which acknowledged both the joys and heartache of motherhood, the fact that we are all children, both of Mothers and of God and the pain that each of us feels when eventually our Mothers are no longer with us.  Posies of daffodils were lovingly made by the Tain Guides and Blessed before being distributed to the whole congregation, with the posies left over being taken for friends and neighbours.

The Sunday which marks the mid-point of our Lenten Journey is sometime referred to as ‘Refreshment Sunday‘ and that was very much in our minds after the service as a splendid spread in the hall provided the opportunity for refreshment and fellowship as is fitting when hospitality is extended to those beyond our regular fellowship.

Ready …

 

Steady …

Go …

The 90Kg Rice Challenge

St Finnbarr’s Vestry have bought 90Kg of Kilombero White Rice from Just Trading Scotland, who deal directly with Malawian farmers. This is what is called The 90Kg Rice Challenge.

JTS say: “The 90kg Rice Challenge runs throughout the whole year and is the perfect social enterprise activity for your school, church or community group covering a range issues which are prevalent in today’s society including Fairtrade, Sustainability, Social Enterprise and Citizenship. Over 800 schools, churches and community groups have completed this already – so why not join them? It is a fun and engaging project with excellent learning outcomes to promote Fairtrade, Sustainability and Citizenship. It’s easy to organise and comes with an educational Challenge Pack, we have one for schools and one for churches, which feature plenty of information, lesson plans (or sermon outlines and prayers), ideas, promotional materials, recipes and activities to teach participants about Fairtrade which will be sent to you along with your 90 x 1kg bags of delicious Great Taste award winning rice.

Anna and I have tried the rice and confirm that it does indeed have a “Great Taste“.  The rice is available in 1Kg bags at £3 each. Please contact Anna or James if you are able to use or sell a few bags, whilst at the same time helping directly farmers in a part of the world that is facing huge problems just at the moment in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai.

90kg is the amount of rice a farmer in Malawi has to sell to enable him to send a child to secondary school for a year and so we can see that our participation can directly help to provide a better life for those in some of the poorest communities in Malawi, through the opportunity of education.

The Fall in White

To help celebrate the Centenary of St Finnbarr’s in 2013, Mary Luckie created a wonderful white Altar Frontal. featuring a Celtic Cross in the centre and a host of God’s creatures along the bottom.   This Frontal has been much admired, not least by those who have come into St Finnbarr’s for recent weddings.  Sadly we have had no complementary Pulpit Fall, that is until now.

One of James and Anna’s neighbours, Lauraine Peterson, is a native of Shetland who set up her own bridal-wear business in the 1990s, making and supplying all that brides, brides mothers and bridesmaids need. One of her designs, in ivory Shantung silk, is featured in a new exhibition at Shetland Museum.

With Mary’s agreement, Lauraine was asked if she could make a Pulpit Fall to complement Mary’s Altar Frontal and in this, the week of Fibre Fest, it was finished.  Lauraine has very generously donated the Fall to St Finnbarr’s, but you will have to wait until Lent is over to see it in all its glory.

But … here is a sneak preview.

Holy Oils

Janet provided the bottles, Tanya engraved them, Sarah filled them and James made an oak stand for them to sit in – St Andrews now has a new set of Holy Oils thanks to teamwork.

Three different oils are used in the spiritual life of the church. The oils are blessed by the bishop at a special service – the Chrism Mass – at Inverness Cathedral during Holy Week and then distributed to all the churches in the Diocese.

The three oils are:

The Oil of the Sick (Inf). This is used in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. It signified the grace of strength, peace and courage to overcome the difficulties of illness or old age and renews trust and faith in God. This is the oil that is used in what called the Last Rites.

The Oil of Catechumens (Cat). This represents liberation from sin and God’s protection for someone starting out on their journey of faith.

The Oil of Chrism (Chr). It is used during Baptism and Confirmation, It signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit on the newly Baptised or Confirmed.  This oil is usually mixed with a sweet smelling perfume called balsam. To show its importance it is referred to as being ‘consecrated’ rather than just ‘blessed’.

The Final Blowout!!

If you were after a final ‘blowout’ before Lent, then St Andrew’s Tain was the place to be on Shrove Tuesday! Church members and friends gathered together in the evening to share a feast of home cooked pancakes stuffed with a wide range of sweet and savoury fillings.

A special quiz (which included identifying ten smells and ten objects by feel only) had been prepared for our education by an intrepid member of the congregation and even greater fun was had trying to name all the different bits of ‘kit’ used on the altar during Mass.

Two teams – The House of Laity and The House of Clergy – took it in turns to toss the pancakes. “Mmmm”, said one hungry diner, ” the clergy definitely make pancakes that are more holy” (as in ‘full of holes”)!

Our thanks to everyone who contributed to this final bit of frivolity before Lent – such fun and a great time was had by all  !

We Came and All was Ready

This year the World Day of Prayer Service was beautifully crafted by the Women of Slovenia under the slogan “Come all is ready“.  And indeed it was – in Tain, Dornoch and Lairg.  Splendid ecumenical gatherings in all three in which people from across the denominations took active parts.  Thanks to everyone involved at all three places – they were very special reflective, prayerful and joyous gatherings.

those invited
Those Invited

The service was based on: Luke 14:15-24The Parable of the Great Banquet, when those invited all made their excuses and the Master of the House ordered his servants to “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”  The table was set following the guidance of the Women of Slovenia, to include symbols of their culture: bread (in the shape of a cross), wine, water, salt, carnations and rosemary.

those who tasted the dinner
Those who Tasted the Banquet

After the services what else but sharing the banquet prepared by the hosts: