Lovely Evensong in Inverness Cathedral yesterday evening, the choir were in very fine voice and there were a slew of Canons in their stalls.
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.
Christmas message from The Primus
Let the joy of our faith light us up as we rejoice’
Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace to all in whom God delights.
Those are the words sung by the angels as recorded in St Luke’s Gospel, as they proclaimed the birth of Jesus to the shepherds out in the fields near Bethlehem. Glory to God and peace to all. These words will be repeated at nativity plays, carol services and in many churches at the Midnight Eucharist. People will begin to feel the warmth generated by these familiar words as Christmas Day begins.
As a society we have created a remarkable product around Christmas Day. We have built expectations of happiness, good cheer and comfort, all set against a picturesque backdrop of gently falling snow. Unfortunately, those images are never real for a significant number of those we are called to serve. This year, for many it will be even harder than before to create any sense of warmth in either heart or body.
As I arrived at the Cathedral in Inverness for our carol service the other day, I passed the rolled-up sleeping bags in the porch, the large container for children’s gifts, and the pile of coats left for those who need something to keep the cold out. These have become the ever-present symbols of a society where an increasing number of people rely on kindness for basic support. I know some shake their heads at the “mess” but most accept that what we see is the reality of life for some people. They need our help.
We celebrate this Christmas at a time when war is taking place in Ukraine, there is famine in the Horn of Africa, and desperate people are crossing the sea in small boats to flee dire consequences in their own countries. We are also aware of the many people near us who will not have enough to pay for their heating or for their food. We think of those who will not be able to make Christmas the special time that it would normally be for their families, and will feel they have somehow failed their loved ones.
As we hear those pleas for support, help us to offer something of ourselves to look after others; teach us how to share and care for those who are struggling, and to allow our churches and congregations to be beacons of prayer, light and hope in this world. We have a wonderful message to proclaim, we have a glorious festival to celebrate, let the joy of our faith light us up as we rejoice in the wonder of the Christmas story.
Let the power of the incarnation lead to us to action, and the love of God cause us to sing with the angels.
Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace to all in whom God delights.
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.
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.
Mandy & the food bank team
Food Bank – Collection for the Festive Season
As we approach the festive season, St Finnbarr’s Dornoch are organising a collection for our local Food Bank. If you would like to support us, please bring donations to the church on Sunday 4th or Sunday 11th December between 10.30am and 11am or on Wednesday 7th December 10am to 10.30am. We are collecting the usual standard food and toiletry items to support people through the holiday period and you might like to include a few seasonal treats. The Food Bank is particularly short of coffee, sugar and biscuits. Please can you make sure any perishable items such as prepacked ham or spreads have a long date and it would be helpful to pack these separately so that they can be kept refrigerated. The Food Bank is currently experiencing increased demand, so your support would be much appreciated. Don’t forget that you can also donate money if you feel you would like to help in this way. We know not everyone will feel they can contribute, but thank you in advance for supporting our neighbours most in need.
Looking forwards – Christingle Celebration!
On Sunday 18th December at 4.30pm St Finnbarr’s Dornoch will hold a Christingle Celebration Service in aid of The Children’s Society.
If you’ve never been to a Christingle before, please do come along to this very special, informal service which includes lots of carols and a simple all age Christmas message.
We know there is still a wee while to go before this happens, but wanted to let you know well in advance because part of the service includes making an offering to The Children’s Society. In the next couple of weeks special collecting candles and /or envelopes (like the ones below) will be available for you to collect from church and then slowly fill up during advent to then bring along as your offering to support some of our most vulnerable children and young people.
We look forward to welcoming you and presenting you with your very own Christingle to take home!
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.
Welcome to Aila
On Sunday we welcomed Aila to the Body of Christ in Baptism.
Be the change you want to see in the world
Yesterday evening in the Dornoch Social Club, over 70 people heard about some inspirational work being done by the 36 young women of the Black Mambas anti-poaching unit in South Africa.
The area that they protect is the Balule Private Game Reserve which is home to an many large mammals such as rhino, leopards, lions, elephants, cheetahs and hippos. It’ i’s part of the Greater Kruger National Park, over 2 million hectares of protected areas that’s home to an abundance of birds, impalas, giraffes, wildebeest, buffalos, antelopes, hyenas, crocodiles, fish and zebras.
The unit consists of 36 women, who operate unarmed, as Belinda says “we believe that rhinos shouldn’t be killed, but neither should people“. They point out that there is evidence that going unarmed leads to de-escalation and essentially makes their work safer. They do however have pepper spray which they have found to be very effective in apprehending poachers.
The Mambas are the first line of defence and provide early detection of poaching via the daily patrols. Rhino poachers operate using several methods and the unit has created interventions to help combat them. But it’s not just about stopping the poachers, the unit also operates the Bush Babies Programme at a number of schools around the National Park. In this programme they teach children about wildlife and the environment and how it needs to be protected and through this help to counteract other, exploitative narratives. The programme also helps to present them as role models in their communities.
These women work in and around their communities assisting in whatever ways are necessary. For instance they help to provide food for people in their communities that are struggling, so that they don’t have to resort to peaching just to put food on the table. All in all these women work to improve the lives of all in their communities and take a holistic approach to everything they do. In a very real sense they are the change that they want to see and inspired everyone who attended.
The enthusiastic audience asked some very insightful questions, before enjoying shortbread and tea/coffee. They also did a little to help, by raising somewhere of the order of £500 through donations and a raffle.
By the way, although “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. That isn’t actually what he said (however true it might be). What Gandhi actually said is:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”Mahatma Gandhi
These courageous young women are demonstrating that “as they change their own nature, so does the attitude of those around them change (including the poachers)“.