Lent Study Groups 2021

In our Lent Study this year we will look at Lament and the Psalms.

A quick search in dictionaries for a definition of lament reveals that it’s: to express sorrow, regret or unhappiness about something, or it’s a formal expression of sorrow or mourning. But Biblical Lament is actually much more than this. It’s not just a formal expression of sorrow.
When we experience loss, grief is inevitable. In St. Augustine’s terms, we’re each a collection of loves that bind us to people, places, and practices. Whenever these bonds of love are severed, we grieve. Grief isn’t a choice; we’re subject to it whether we like it or not.

Lament, by contrast, is the exercise of spiritual agency in the face of loss. As a spiritual practice lament seeks to incorporate the experience of loss into the broader story of our lives before God. Where grief threatens to shatter the coherence of our story, lament re-opens our hearts to the possibility of a recovered sense of wholeness. Lament doesn’t internalise our pain, sorrow or loss, but helps us to call out to God. So it’s not just an expression of deep emotion resulting from loss, it calls to God for action and ends in praise to God. To lament is to join a long line of those who have wrestled with God in the midst of their sorrow.

We find lament throughout the Old Testament. Most clearly we find lament in the Psalms and these are referred to extensively throughout the New Testament. The Psalms are the Prayer Book of the Bible. As such they encompass the full range of human experiences—and in particular make room for experiences of suffering through Psalms of Lament.

The sessions will be centred around the following headings:

  1. The Need for Lament
  2. The Power of Lament
  3. Lament and the Suffering of Others
  4. Collective Grief
  5. Lament as an Act of Love

There will be a group meeting on Zoom
Wednesday Evenings from 7:30-9:00pm
(24th February and 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th March)

Zoom details have been circulated by email

The material will also be available on paper, by email and on the Web Site at:

https://episcopaldornochtain.org/study-group-resources/

For more details or to receive paper or emailed copies of the materials speak to James (contact details).

Lent Study 2021

The Lent Study this year will be about Lament and the Psalms.

When we feel blessed in life, when we experience goodness and wholeness, we turn to God in praise and thanksgiving. But what happens when we experience just the opposite? What happens when we are overcome by the presence of chaos, brokenness, suffering and death, or by a sudden sense of our human vulnerability? When we hurt physically, we cry out in pain; when we hurt spiritually, we cry out in lament.

The five sessions will be flexible and explore this often neglected practice, with particular reference to Covid-19 and Climate Change, though we will have the opportunity to explore lament in relation to the grief that we feel in relation to any loss.

As with last year’s Lent Study and our Advent Study, there will be a set of study materials each week, which you may use in whatever way you like. There will also be a set on five Wednesday evening Zoom sessions (on 24th February, 3rd , 10th , 17th and 24th March) starting at 7:30pm. The Zoom joining details will be circulated by email closer to the time.

Any questions or queries about the Lent Study should be directed to James.

Statement from the Primus

Following media reports that church leaders have threatened legal action if the Scottish Government does not reverse its recent decision to close places of worship during the current phase of the Covid pandemic, the Primus would like to make clear that the Scottish Episcopal Church is not part of the group seeking change.

Having worked closely with the Scottish Government during the pandemic, alongside the Church of Scotland and many other denominations in a bid to protect the vulnerable by stemming the spread of the virus, I would like to reiterate that we have no part in the move to take legal action against the Government,

Most Rev Mark Strange16 January at 19:07

said the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the SEC.

A group of 500 church leaders – 200 from Scotland and 300 from elsewhere in the UK – have written to the First Minister calling for her to lift the ban on communal worship. They have given the Scottish Government until 5pm on Thursday (21st January) to respond, and the group has said it will seek judicial review if the closure of churches is not dropped from lockdown restrictions.

No SEC churches have signed the letter.

The Church of Scotland has also distanced itself from the call for legal action.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 18-25th January

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally held between 18-25 January. In 2021 that means for a week starting tomorrow (Monday). Sadly we will not all be able to get together in person as the Christian Community, but that does not stop us from making use of materials that have been prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland.

The theme that they have chosen, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”, is based on John 15:1-17 and expresses the Grandchamp Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the Church and the human family. For 2021, the sisters are inviting churches across the world to enter into their tradition of prayer and silence that is rooted in the ancient traditions of the Church. Those ancient traditions include the offices of daily prayer which are prayed by individuals and groups each day in many many places and settings around the world. Although these individuals and groups are praying separately, they are also praying together and those who pray the office daily feel this togetherness very strongly.

Whilst the original version of this year’s material for Ecumenical Celebration was created for communal worship, the tradition of prayer and silence lends itself well to this period of lockdown. A simplified version of their communal service was prepared by Lynne Chitty, on behalf of ROOTS for Churches Ltd who publish weekly worship and learning resources at: www.rootsontheweb.com.

I have modified Lynne’s version for use at home in lockdown, so that we can all join in this celebration of what unites us as Christians. I hope that you can join with me in praying for Christian Unity this week at whatever time and place that may be.

Blessings
James

There are two versions of the simplified service:

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 the Unity of the Church

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior,
the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the
great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away
all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us
from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body
and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith,
one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all
of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth
and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and
one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Christian Belief and Everyday Habit

Mike Hull

Can we Christians align our beliefs and everyday habits in the twenty-first century? Christians have been formulating ‘rules of life’ at least as far back as the fourth century. The sixth-century Rule of St Benedict is probably the most widely known Christian rule of life, but a lot has changed since then! Is there scope for a Christian rule of life in the twenty- first century?

Advances in technology and communication, particularly social media, enrich our present-day lives whilst at the same time driving us to distraction. A cacophony of voices vies for our attention: how do we hear the Gospel above them all?

The Revd Dr Michael Hull, SEI’s Director of Studies (above), will facilitate an online discussion of issues about belief and habit, faith and practice, with insights from Justin Whitmel Earley’s “The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction” (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2019) available via: https://www.thecommonrule.org

The discussion will be held on Wednesday 20 January 2021 from 7pm to 8pm and delivered via Zoom. The link and password will be emailed on the morning of Wednesday 20 January. To register, please visit this link.

Charities Shop Closed for now

St Finnbarr’s Charity Shop will be closed until further notice.

We are really sorry to have to do this, but the government regulations issued on 4th January only allow essential shops to open and prohibit non-essential travel, to reduce the spread of Coronavirus.  The vaccination programme will obviously help, but in the meantime, we need to protect Charity Shop volunteers as well as the general public so with great regret we will be closed 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!

Pastoral letter from the College of Bishops – January 4, 2021

On behalf of the College of Bishops, the Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church writes:

To the Churches and congregations of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Many of us have watched, with growing concern, the rise in the number of those testing positive for Coronavirus. This rise has been seen right across Scotland during the past few weeks and may get higher still as the effects of the recent holidays become clearer.

Many of our churches had already decided to remain closed or to suspend face to face worship as this situation unfolded, limiting the numbers to 20 people had given an added headache to our larger churches while sustaining the weekly opening regime had become exhausting for some of our smaller congregations. The awareness of the speed of transmission in the new variant had made it quite clear that the position of Places of Worship was becoming more and more difficult to sustain, a situation made clear by the First Minister today.

The reclosing of our churches is difficult, especially for those who have had the privilege of meeting together over the past few months, yet it is now what we must do. The provision of Provincial online worship will continue and many of our churches will meet together via a variety of platforms. We must continue to pray for each other, for the communities we serve and for the authorities charged with protecting the nation.

The full implications of today’s announcement and the answers to the questions we all have will become clearer as the government documents are produced this week and meetings between us and the government take place. Information will then come from the Advisory Group.

Please continue to pray for the College of Bishops as we will continue to pray for you until with the help of science and our health service we can once again have the freedom to meet together.

Churches Closed Again, sadly

Following the announcement in the Scottish Parliament by the First Minister today (4th January 2021) and pending updated guidance from the College of Bishops, our Churches will no longer be open to the public for either services of worship or private prayer.  So from now on we must all pray at home.

We will be reflecting and praying about what we can offer by email, on-line and on paper over the next few days and would appreciate your prayers as we do this.  The on-line Coffee Morning will still take place on Tuesday mornings on Zoom using the same details as before (if you have mislaid the joining details, email James and they will be provided by return).

Keep safe, keep well and we can all look forward to when we can gather again in the presence of God and each other for worship.  In the meantime, we can all help to look after each other via the phone, email etc.

May God bless you all.

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