Bells, Bells, Bells …

Churches and other buildings in Ross-shire and Sutherland ringing their bells at 11:02 on Friday 8th May 2020 on the 75th Anniversary of VE Day (St Andrew’s, Tain and St Finnbarr’s, Dornoch amongst them).

Audio only version

Bells to Ring Out

This morning, after the two minutes silence, Church bells will ring out at St Finnbarr’s Dornoch, St Andrew’s Tain, St John’s Arpafeelie, Fearn Abbey, Nigg Old Church, Dornoch Cathedral and other Churches across the region, as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Gethsemane

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’  … Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:36, 40-41)

 

Watch and Wait and Pray

The Watch in the Garden

Today is Maundy Thursday, when Jesus met with His Disciples and shared a Last Supper with them.  Normally on Maundy Thursday, we meet for a very moving service in one of our Churches and we do a number of things that commemorate that last evening together:

Washing the Disciples’ Feet:

During supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.” (John 13:3-5)

Sharing the Last Supper:

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

Watching, Waiting and Praying at Gethsemane:

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’  … Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:36, 40-41)

The first two of these we can only do when we can be together, but the third is something that we can all do at home – watch and wait and pray with Jesus in His anguish.  Normally some of the congregation would gather in St Andrew’s Hall and pray silently in front of the small altar on which the Sacrament is placed, surrounded by greenery and candles.

Tonight, Simon and I will both celebrate the Last Supper alone in one of our Churches, “with the people on our hearts”, but at 9pm, we invite each of you to join us sitting in a suitably prepared space with greenery and candles, to pray quietly for one hour.  Praying for our families, our friends, our neighbours, our governments, those who work in the NHS and in other essential services and particularly those in our land and far away who are anxious, unwell or grieving. Pray also for yourselves.

Lenten Study Group on Prayer

At the beginning of Lent, we started a Study Group on Prayer. In spite of not being able to meet physically for the last three weeks, over 20 people have continued to receive the Study Group Materials for use at home.

For those that haven’t been part of that group, but who might wish to delve into the materials, they are now available via the Web Site – here.

The materials for each session are in two forms:

  • A PDF file with sequential A4 pages
  • A PDF file with pages arranged so that if your printer can print double-sided with a short-edge binding (and you know what that all means:-) you can print it and fold it to resemble the ‘booklets’ that I was handing out for early sessions when we could meet.

If in doubt, the first format will produce something readable. If you have problems, either ask a friend or get in touch with James.

For each session, there is the session booklet and often further booklet of bits and pieces.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss any of the material, get in touch with James.

 

Churches Now Closed

Following the directive from Boris Johnson this evening (23rd March) and updated guidance from the College of Bishops, our Churches will no longer be open to the public for either services or private prayer.  So from now on we must all pray at home.

Two prayers from the Scottish Prayer Book

In the time of any common Plague or Sickness.

O ALMIGHTY and merciful God, with whom are the issues of life and death: Grant us, we beseech thee, help and deliverance in this time of grievous sickness and mortality, and sanctify to us this affliction, that in our sore distress we may turn our hearts unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

For Hospitals and Infirmaries.

ALMIGHTY God, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ went about doing good, and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people: Continue, we beseech thee, his gracious work among us in all hospitals and infirmaries; console and heal the sufferers; grant to the physicians, surgeons, and nurses, wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience; prosper their work, O Lord, with thy continual blessing; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

A smile is contagious

Sunday is Mothering Sunday and I’ve spent the last two days distributing Mothering Sunday Posies, and you know it would have been worth it for just one of the smiles returned by those who received one, but I’ve had dozens of smiles and feel so blessed.

For the fit and healthy, there are posies in St Andrew’s, Tain and St Finnbarr’s, Dornoch, so please feel free to drop by at some time on Sunday (between 10am and 4pm), to offer a prayer and pick one up (whilst stocks last:-)

Must rush as I have to go out round and about again, no handshakes, no cups of coffee, just a brief chat and a beaming smile at the door – God Bless.

Arise, take up your mat and walk

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World Day of Prayer services in Brora, Dornoch, Lairg and Tain on Friday.  Wonderful ecumenical gatherings that engaged creatively with the material prepared by the Christian Women of Zimbabwe. Prayerful, reflective, thoughful, joyous and uplifting are all words that could be applied to the three services that I was at.  Not to mention the food and fellowship that was shared after each of the services.  A huge thanks to all those who organised the services, took part in them and most of all to the Christian Woman of Zimbabwe.

Food for the Body and the Mind

Lent has now begun. However, in anticipation of Lent, last night we had a splendid pancake feast, with a challenging quiz to keep us amused, perplexed and stretched between pancakes: Patron Saints, pancake facts, knots, geology and pancakes around the world – no-one was an expert in all of these.

Thanks to the quiz setters, the batter mixers, cooks and all who brought goodies to share.