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.

Strew His Way on Palm Sunday

Image may contain: plant

This idea comes from the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in Oregon.

What if everyone on Sunday April 5 in the morning, puts a branch on the door of their house or on the window, to celebrate Palm Sunday.

It could be any green branch you can get. This would help, despite the social distancing, to be connected as we enter into the Holiest of Weeks.

We may be physically isolated, but not separated. We are united as the members of the body of Christ. We are the Church.

Light a Candle on Sundays

Scottish Christians* are encouraged to light a candle and place it in their window at 7pm** each Sunday in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We are urged to “join in prayerful solidarity with this witness”, describing the candle as “a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, the source of hope in this life.

The following prayer can be used when lighting the candle:

For all that is good in life, thank you,
For the love of family and friends, thank you,
For the kindness of good neighbour and Samaritan stranger, thank you.

May those who are vulnerable, hungry or homeless, experience support,
May those who are sick, know healing,
May those who are anxious or bereaved, sense comfort.

Bless and guide political leaders and decision-makers, with wisdom,
Bless and guide health workers and key workers, with strength and well-being,
Bless and guide each one of us, as we adapt to a new way of living.

And may the light shining from our windows,
across road and wynd, glen and ben, kyle and isle,
be reflected in our hearts and hands and hopes.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

* These include the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland, the United Free Church, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the Society of Friends (Quakers), Congregational Federation in Scotland, the Salvation Army, the Church of the Nazarene, and Redeemed Christian Church of God.

** Please take all necessary fire precautions when using a lit candle. Ensure you remain with the lit candle at all times, and do not leave it to burn if you leave the room. Ensure there are no fabrics or materials such as curtains near the candle.

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

National Day of Prayer – Sunday 22nd March 2020

Churches in Scotland* have joined together to Call for a National Day of Prayer in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Taking place on Sunday 22 March, people of faith are being encouraged to light a candle and place it in their window at 7pm.**

We are urged to “join in prayerful solidarity with this witness”, describing the candle as “a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, the source of hope in this life.

The following prayer can be used when lighting the candle:

For all that is good in life, thank you,
For the love of family and friends, thank you,
For the kindness of good neighbour and Samaritan stranger, thank you.

May those who are vulnerable, hungry or homeless, experience support,
May those who are sick, know healing,
May those who are anxious or bereaved, sense comfort.

Bless and guide political leaders and decision-makers, with wisdom,
Bless and guide health workers and key workers, with strength and well-being,
Bless and guide each one of us, as we adapt to a new way of living.

And may the light shining from our windows,
across road and wynd, glen and ben, kyle and isle,
be reflected in our hearts and hands and hopes.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

* These include the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland, the United Free Church, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the Society of Friends (Quakers), Congregational Federation in Scotland, the Salvation Army, the Church of the Nazarene, and Redeemed Christian Church of God.

** Please take all necessary fire precautions when using a lit candle. Ensure you remain with the lit candle at all times, and do not leave it to burn if you leave the room. Ensure there are no fabrics or materials such as curtains near the candle.

Charities Shop Closure


St Finnbarr’s Charity Shop will be closed from tomorrow (18th March) until further notice.

We are really sorry to have to do this, but the decision has been taken in the light of government advice issued yesterday. The advice is to avoid contact with others and to stop non-essential travel to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. It is also highly likely that from the coming weekend particularly vulnerable groups including over 70’s may be required to stay at home. We need to protect Charity Shop volunteers as well as the general public so with great regret we have to close until further notice.

We would ask please that people do not leave bags of donations outside the shop as we have nowhere to store them.

Thank you all for your generosity in shopping with us and for donating goods to sell. We look forward to seeing you all again when we are able to reopen. We will be back!

Coronavirus and the Scottish Episcopal Church – 17 March 2020

The College of Bishops today provided guidance as follows. It should also be emphasised that in a rapidly changing situation, the guidance that follows must be regarded as subject to any public health guidance or direction, which must take precedence.

  1. Advice issued last night by the Scottish Government is to the effect that church services should cease. Consequently, the Bishops ask that all gatherings for worship, including small gatherings such as house groups, should be discontinued until further notice.
  2. Church buildings can be kept open as a place for people to come and pray. However, if a church is open for private prayer, notices should be clearly displayed asking that visitors wash their hands on entry to the church.
  3. The province is working on plans to make worship available online. The bishops encourage participation in the broader Eucharistic life of the church in this way and emphasise the such online involvement is a form of participation in the Eucharistic community, even though participants cannot physically partake of the bread or wine.
  4. The taking of funerals may give rise to specific concerns. It may simply not be possible for family relatives or friends of the deceased’s to be able to attend a funeral service as usual. However, clergy can still take a funeral at the graveside or crematorium, even if those present are limited to clergy and funeral directors.
  5. In the light of the public health recommendation that non-essential travel should not be undertaken, it is clearly inappropriate to continue with meetings which would draw people from a wider area – such as regional gatherings. Institutions, licensings etc will need to be dealt with differently from normal.

The full Guidance can be read at: https://www.scotland.anglican.org/coronavirus-updates/

In East Sutherland and Tain we will be following this advice and so all scheduled services and meetings will not now be taking place until further notice.

Subject to making arrangements for the opening and closing of the buildings, St Finnbarr’s, Dornoch and St Andrew’s, Tain will be open for private prayer at those times when there would have been services taking place but this will be for the purpose of allowing individuals to pray or meditate quietly on their own.

None of this means that ministry and pastoral care will cease, it’s just that we will need to carry it out in new and creative ways. Contact and communication can still be maintained over the telephone, by email or other electronic means and you are all  encouraged to use these means to keep in contact with the clergy and others in the congregations, when you feel that it would be helpful or if you need advice.  You shouldn’t suffer alone and we can pray together over the phone.

The clergy will be considering how best to provide regular information and material (such as reflections and prayers) to assist in your spiritual welfare and will make arrangements for such communication to be available to all whether or not you have access to the Internet.

Blessings
James

 

Food Bank Collection Coffee Morning – 24th March

The Food Bank Collection Coffee Morning scheduled for Tuesday 24th March at the Dornoch Social Club, will now operate as a Foodbank Drop Off only.

All contributions will be gratefully received at:

the Ramp Doorway

of the Dornoch Social Club

between 10am and 12 Noon

on Tuesday 24th March.

Thank you in anticipation.

Gender and Liturgy in Conversation – 29th-30th May update

Responding to the Sacred:

Gender & Liturgy in Conversation

It is with great regret that we inform you that the “Responding to the Sacred: Gender & Liturgy in Conversation” Conference has been cancelled.

The decision was reached unanimously by the steering committee after much thoughtful consideration. Given the guidance from NHS Scotland, along with the SEC and the University of Stirling’s advice, we decided we could not risk the health of conference organisers and attendees.

However, we believe that the work of this conference is still important, and interest remains high. With that in mind, we are in the process of rescheduling the conference for Spring 2021. We’re also planning to host several online events in Autumn 2020, to stimulate conversation and debate in the run up to the conference.

If you have purchased tickets refunds will be issued within 7 working days of this email, and you should contact genandlit@gmail.com if you do not receive a refund within 10 days.

We look forward to welcoming you to Responding to the Sacred 2021.

Best wishes,
Alison Jasper, Elaine Cameron, Marion Chatterly, Jennifer Holden, Emily Alldritt
– Conference Steering Committee

Bishop’s Lent Appeal – The Street Pastors

This year Bishop Mark has chosen Street Pastors as his Bishop’s Lent Appeal.

This wonderful ministry which the Street Pastors do takes place in many parts of our diocese. The Street Pastors live out the Gospel message on our streets not just in word but in action, showing Christ’s love to all through their actions, reaching out to those most vulnerable in society, being a listening ear and ensuring people get home safely after a night out.

If you wish to support this appeal you can contribute via any of our Churches, in cash or by cheque.  Please ensure cheques are made out to the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness.  We will then collect the donations and forward them to the Diocesan Treasurer who will gather them together and make the donation on behalf of the Diocese.