March 24th - Tuesday


I've heard people saying, 'I'm scared' and that started me thinking about the difference between being scared and afraid - was there a difference, and how to offer some words that might be of comfort. 

I’m scared too - but deep down I’m not afraid. How does that work - is that faith, dear God, I hope so!!!

All around are people who are scared. All around are reactions to this crisis. World-wide, governments are reacting and putting into place measures to take the pressure of health care services.

But ...

I’m not afraid because people and governments will eventually be able to plan for the future.  
I’m not afraid because around us within communities people are supporting and helping each other in ways not seen since the blitz (so I’m told).
I’m not afraid because in that support and help are seen the attitudes and responses of a loving and caring God that works alongside people each and every day of our lives.

I’m not afraid because when the very scared disciples had shut themselves into a room (self-isolating or social-distance, you chose!), Jesus appeared to them and said, 'Do not be afraid'. Perhaps he was quoting from an early prophet Isaiah, 'Do not be afraid for I am with you'

I’m not afraid because in the Bible, nearly 70 times, we are reassured by various people in various contexts giving and receiving a message from God that we should not be afraid!

I’m not afraid because I know that, somehow, long-term, we’ll get though this, because God is with us. 

God bless!

Jan 28th - Tuesday

I'm typing this and looking out over snow. We don't get much as we are too close to the sea but it is beautiful when it happens - seize the day!

Over the last week there has been worship as usual, pastoral visiting, a meeting to start thinking about what will happen about securing a place for a sanctuary at Kilchoan, a meeting for presbytery, accounts cover reports to write, some work to do for the village hall (I'm a trustee because I'm minister, along with the postmaster and headmaster!) and final preparations for Messy Church yesterday.

Messy Church was cancelled due to the weather - shame but we'll do it at the end of March instead. At Messy Church we would have been thinking of a theme of persistence and looking at the story of a man who needed bread for a midnight visitor. (Photo of the dough ready to make bread at Messy Church, now rolls for us instead.).Want to know more ... 30th March at Shilebridge Hall at 3.30pm. (Shameless advertising!)

Now, I'm off to have a cuppa at Acharacle Morning Coffees in the chalet beside the church building, then I'm off to St Andrews to stay with friends before a meeting of the Committee on Chaplains to HM Forces. I must write more about this in another blog. Now, though, the aroma of fresh coffee and pancakes is enticing me away!

God bless!

Jan - Tuesday 21st

Yesterday was the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. At Acharacle Community Centre, there was a service to mark this; attending were people there from most of the local denominations (Christian faith groups). Bits and pieces of prep and admin.

Today a meeting at Kilchoan, a couple fo visits, an afternoon at a local social group and now back to the desk.

I go away in a couple of weeks and it's always busy preparing for the usual events that will happen before I go, preparing for the events immediately on return ( so that I am not swamped with prep as soon as I return! ), thinking about what might happen while I'm away and putting in place plans for those happenings, making sure the pastoral care support is there, pulpit supply is ok and ... I'm sure I've missed something!

Ma heid's spinning! (Yes, more than usual!)
God bless!

Jan - Sunday 19th

Late afternoon zzzzz......

Jan - Saturday 18th

I should have finished the sermon / talk my now but it's not quite coming together yet ... don't panic! No, just write up the Minister's Log and maybe it'll all come together after that.

I last posted on Tuesday, I think. Since then, the rest of the week has included a two hour committee meeting by video link, a bundle of other meetings and a funeral. Quite varied, but then this vocation is always varied.

I can't quite concentrate on this post just now and I'm taking that as a sign that the sermon is pulling together. More another day soon.
God bless!

Jan 13th Monday

Saturday was a desk day with lots of prep and planning.

During Sunday worship we thought about how Jesus is revealed through his baptism and how we relate to that. Of how God was already well pleased with Jesus and how God loves us as we are - that doesn't mean we can't become more kind, gentle, loving etc but that we are loved now - how wonderful is that to know! 

One other point to highlight is that however we understand the Spirit of God to have come to Jesus, at his baptism this was a visible sign to others what the Spirit was with Jesus. Baptism was a sign for others. What, for others, are the signs in our lives that God's Spirit is with those who trust and live with God in their lives?

Now It's Monday - and a storm is coming! I've made sure my phone and computer are all charged up. A storm can mean power cuts so it's best to be prepared (once a Girl Guide, always a GG!). Today has some interesting research in it - more later ....

Meanwhile - a picture, from the study window. of a storm brewing. (The blurry bits are bits of leaves blasted onto the window - I'm not going out if I don't have to!)

Jan 10th - Friday

Picking up from yesterday's blog...

On Wednesday I went to Fort William.  
There were more donations to be left at the Foodbank. For a small population, just over 800 people, there are a lot of donations - what a generous and giving community! At the end of March (I think), Alex will write with the total amount that has been donated over the last year - now, that'll be interesting.

For most of us, a trip to FW means going here, there and everywhere. So, a trip to the tip with the Christmas tree and a few bits and pieces, charity shop with some things to pass on, the chemist for supplies for the up-coming trip to Peru with the Vine Trust, and ... so on it went. 

Back to the manse via a few stops to drop off bits and pieces to go to other people instead of being stored on the floor of the study. If you would like to come for a chat about anything, as there is actually room for you to sit down, now is the time!

Yesterday, I was at Kilchoan for the Lunch Group Christmas Lunch. Very delicious it was too - thank you to the Community Centre ladies! Craft group was fun, lots of activity and chat. Dropped into one of the local businesses to wish them Happy New Year and then back to the manse. There are other businesses to be visited next time.

Today, we've had breakfast while, from the kitchen window, watching a white tailed sea eagle swooping and diving onto prey - stunning.

Desk now to prepare Sunday worship and for a couple of meetings soon. Below is one of the photos I took on the way back yesterday. It's a slightly different one to that on my own page. Ben Resipole on the right and Ben Nevis in the centre. Moon reflection on the bottom edge. Full moon, wolf moon.

Jan 9th Thursday

Sunday's worship was interesting - at one service the reading was not the one expected. I spent the time of the reading frantically tweeking what I was about to say! It all worked in the end - it's amazing how that happens! Praise God!!

On Monday, there was 'Church Lunches' at Acharacle. There was a good crowd there and lots of laughter and chat. Hospitality is such a gift and the team love to share their gifting with all who come along. I missed lunches as I was out and about doing other things.

The next morning, Tuesday, there was a Messy Church planning meeting at the manse. We now know what we'll be doing for the next few months and that's following some of the parables (stories) that Jesus told. So many themes to explore and fun to be had. Messy Church is usually on the last Monday of the month at Shielbridge Hall from 3.30pm unto 5.30pm. Why not come along and have some fun.

That's all for today. Over then next couple of days, I'll get up to date with this.

God bless!

Jan 4th 2020 (!!) - Saturday

After the busyness of December, the first week of January usually quiet - thankfully!!

This week has been a chance to catch breath, clear up the study, sort out some paperwork and admin (there's always more of that than expected), a couple of pastoral visits, take the manse mutt for extra long walks and to do some reading.  It's been nice, and it's reminded me of the importance of actively taking a Sabbath, a rest time from busyness, to let the voice of the soul fight back, elbow it's way back, into balance with everything else.  It's almost like re-seeing the wood for the trees.  Taking a step back allows a regaining of a sense of perspective, or balance and, hopefully, seeing what is important and what's not. 

New Year is a marker in time that allows us all to step back and to try to work out what's important and to regain perspective.  May your soul elbow hard and make itself heard loud and strong.  That's your connection with the divine that is in us all.  May you hear that voice and remember that for a healthy, happy and fulfilling life (not just 2020) we all need to take care of ourselves, body, mind ... and soul!

Every blessing for 2020,

God bless.

Dec 30th - Monday

Weddings. I've just seen another post that suggests humanist weddings should be a preferred option for any couple. The sub-text is that their ceremonies are far superior to anything else, full stop! Well, let’s have a look at some of the points they put forward.

Venue. In Scotland, the licence to marry is with the celebrant and not the venue. This means that anyone licensed by law can carry out the wedding ceremony in any reasonable venue. This is not exclusive to humanists. While I’ve been here there have been weddings in many different venues, as well as in church buildings; for example and amongst other venues, there has been a wedding at the top of the lighthouse, under a tree and quite a few on beaches ( after checking tide times! ).

Spiritual aspect. Unlike a Humanist ceremony, a faith based religious ceremony will not ignore that part of a couple's relationship. Church congregations may be at an all-time low but that doesn’t mean couples don’t want a faith element in their special ceremony. If fact, there are many, many people of faith who have no formal religious affiliation who still choose to be married by a religious celebrant.

Religious differences. Faith ethos is centred around being kind, treating people with respect, and so much more. The faith celebrant, ( I write from a Church of Scotland tradition ) has the best interests of the couple very much at the centre of the ceremony. If the couple are from different religious traditions, weddings are a chance for couples of different faith systems to come together, discuss their own faith traditions and to incorporate these into their wedding ceremony developing a ceremony that accommodates most main-line faith traditions. Being open and honest with the celebrant will help for the day and, so important for their future, help the couple understand each other better.

Content of the ceremony. Each wedding is crafted ( very deliberate use of this word ), with the couple very much at the heart of the ceremony. This doesn’t mean ignoring the formal legal requirements of the wedding ceremony but it does mean these are incorporated in a way that suits each couple. There can be singing, dancing, pet ring-bearers ( though I’ve not experienced those last two … yet ), symbolic gestures, etc, all worked into the celebration. I know of ministers who have incorporated hand-fasting and, this summer, one wedding here included drinking from a quiach. 

Inclusion of family. This has always been part of religious traditions. How family is involved is up to the couple and their families. Children are very welcome to be involved in the wedding of their parents!

Drama. Most dramas are caused by what goes on around the wedding at the core of the day. Who to invite, where to have the wedding worries about the party / reception, family tensions - these are what causes most drama!

Cost. If a couple decide to hold their wedding in a church building there will be a charge for the use of that venue, as there would be for any building. There would be charges for any organist and, occasionally, for the person who helps prepare the building for the day. Beyond that, there is no charge for the minister ( remember, I write from a Church of Scotland tradition ), but it’s nice to receive a donation towards the costs of ministry. Donations are charitable and alturistic, not fees or charges. Donations help with the cost of ministry in supporting the communities they are part of eg to enable other weddings, or baptism or funerals, of those who are less fortunate, and to provide ongoing pastoral support of all in their care.

Same-sex weddings. This is the only point on which humanists can claim to provide a service a Church of Scotland minister cannot.

After all that … is a humanist wedding best? Well, they certainly seem to believe that! I don’t. What is best for the couple is very much a reflection of who they are and what they would like on the day. Any Church of Scotland minister will work with the couple to achieve the best for them on the day - and, as mentioned above, continue to provide ongoing pastoral support as necessary. Perhaps humanists could be aware that others are just as good and offer the same range of services, with the addition of being open to acknowledging people of faith have value too.