All ready to start the Time to Remember quiet worship, this year at Acharacle.
Those who were there lit tea lights for those people and places they were thinking about, and there were candles already lit for those who had died over the last while but whose families could not be with us.
We gave thought to those suffering depression, life changes they didn't ask for, for those who are ill and for so much more. We asked that the light of hope shine in the dark days of any in need.
Monday 4th December at Acharacle
All who came along enjoyed rolls and bacon, soups, and a wonderful Christmas cake donated by Highland Cakes. It was lovely to host so many folks and thank you for the donations to funds.
Posada is off journeying! Please help accommodate Mary, Jospeh and the donkey!
What and why?
During the time of Advent Mary and Joseph would have been making their way to Bethlehem to be registered in a census ordered by the Roman ruler. They’d have had a long journey on foot and would have needed accommodation – can you help? Would your family be willing to offer them one night’s accommodation before they travel to their next stop? There's still time to sign up ...
The journey started from school on Monday 4th and will finish up back at school for a final stop before arriving at church on Christmas Eve where Jesus should be joining them at the Christmas Eve Service (4pm).
Mary and Joseph will be handed from one family or person to the next as on a rota that you can sign, just contact Acharacle Primary School or Rev Fiona (Fiona.email@example.com).
For each host, there is a card telling the story of Christmas, and a prayer for the receiving and the giving family to read, should they wish to. You will pick up the little group from school and deliver it back to the school the next day. The final host will be asked to return the set to school, or bring Mary, Joseph and the donkey to church. And that’s it!
This is one way for us all to remember the Christmas story at the heart of the festive season. I do hope you would like to participate.
Each week, the Presbytery of Lochaber has a Thought for the Week; this week it was the turn on the minister -
For many involved in ministry, this week marks a turning point; our thoughts turn from Remembrance to Advent and preparation for Christmas.
This morning, I sat down at my desk ready to firm up some of the advance planning and switched on the radio - Pudsey!!!! Good grief - it’s Children in Need week, how could I forget?
On Friday (17th) many of us will watch the programme and be touched by the stories we hear. Stories of children, and adults, whose lives are, for many various reasons, difficult. Monies raised are not given directly to children and families but go into supporting them, to give a better quality of life. So often we hear about families where the help given is to allow individuals to cope better with their circumstances.
One story was about a centre that gave twins with special needs individual support, which allowed each child the chance to be themselves and the quieter one finally was able to express their own personality. It wasn’t that the child was suppressed or deliberately held back previously but circumstances hadn’t allowed the family enough dedicated time and space needed for each child individually. Support from Children in Need gave the these with the result they were all able to better develop their relationships with each other.
Support networks are so very important!
At Remembrance many congregations deliberately remember not only those who died but those whose returned and those whose lives were so very altered, and those who were bereaved - effectively, we remember the support networks around each life.
During Advent we remember God who cared so much about giving adequate support to humanity that Jesus was born: Jesus experienced what it was to be fully human and showed how we could live and support each other in all circumstances.
The context of our lives may all be so very different from the time of Jesus, and from the family I heard about on the radio but, surrounding each life are relationships that give a quality of life that is so important to God. God wants each of us to have as good a quality as life as possible, remembering others and their needs too. Each of us is valued by God - and it is for that reason Remembrance is important and for that reason Jesus was born.
God knows the importance of relationships and support. Not only on Friday, let us too live lives that show the importance of relationship and support.
The Session Clerk at Acharacle, Ella Gill, is also on National Committees and here she tells us what she's involved in -
Participating in the work of the national committees is a great privilege and opportunity. It allows for the voice of small rural Presbyteries such as ours to be heard at national level.
Currently I am service on 2 committees:
The Assembly Arrangements Committee, as its name suggests, is responsible for the planning and organisation of the annual General Assembly in May. Included in the remit of this committee is the organisation of the Heart and Soul celebrations which have taken place in Princes Street Gardens on the Sunday of Assembly week for the past few years. We also have responsibility for the maintenance of the Moderator’s flat in Rothesay Terrace, Edinburgh as well as the Assembly building itself. Over the 5 years I have served on this committee I have been involved in the process of trying to make the Assembly proceedings as user friendly as possible in order to encourage greater participation in discussion and decision making.
For 3 years I have also been a member of the Presbytery Planning Task Group to which all Presbyteries must submit their plans on an annual basis. All changes to the configurations of parishes within their bounds must be scrutinised and approved by this committee before being accepted and implemented. The reducing number of available ministers increases the challenging nature of this work.
Part of the Ordination and Induction vows taken when becoming a minister included taking an active role in supporting not only Presbytery but also national committees and councils of the Church of Scotland.
Yesterday the minister spent the day with the 'Committee on Chaplains to Her Majesty's Forces' at HM Naval Base Clyde, visiting Faslane, hearing about the work there and how service people and their families are supported. It was fascinating.
Both the military and civilians at the base work hard. Their presence in the area is a huge part of the local community. The Committee supports the chaplains as they, in turn, support this large and complex community.
There are no photos of this visit but a picture remains - of people dedicated to helping each other do the absolute best they can, in their work and in their own lives, of encouraging each other, looking out for one another and of focussing on a common goal - fulfilling their mission. Oh, now, that could be a model for those who follow Jesus!
If you know anyone associated with HM Forces, either serving, a relative or a friend, please offer your prayers for them and their loved ones - this alone with help them to know they are being thought of and supported as they live lives of service so often far from their homes. Thank you. God bless.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is the highest decision making body of the institution of the Church. Each year representatives of the Church meet together to approve, or not, reports and 'deliverances' on policy. The Assembly lasts a week, not because it takes a week for the Assembly to come to any decision (contrary to popular opinion) but because of the breadth and scope of the decisions to be make.
The Session Clerk from Acharacle and the Minister are at Assembly this year and will be putting up a few posts on the week.
Saturday 20th May. - The Assembly was opened with pomp and ceremony. The Princess Royal, Princess Anne was in attendance while last year's Moderator (chair of meetings and spokesperson for the church) was succeeded by this year's Moderator (it's an annual appointment). Here's a link to the CofS main website with some of the details. http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/news_and_events...
In the afternoon there were seven reports presented from various committees and the session finished earlier than expected as there were no lengthy debates.
Sunday 21st May - Worship at St Giles. This year's Moderator, Rev Dr Derek Browning preached about hope. There was singing from the choir, more pomp and ceremonial. Coming from an area where congregations for worship are usually small, this was an opportunity to be part of something much bigger than we are used to; the High Kirk was so full there really was standing room only (as worship used to be before the invention of pews!). The singing of the congregation reverberated up to the fan vaulting and the people rejoiced in worshipping the God who brings hope to the future.
Here are a couple of photos from the walk up to St Giles (There will be a better photo of St Giles soon) and one of the view we had of proceedings.
General Assembly is not only focussed on decision making and guidance for the future of the Church but also when people get together and celebrate Church life. On Sunday in Princes Street Gardens is Heart and Soul where there are displays of aspects of what the church actually does, as against says, are showcased. We'll be going along and joining in and will post photos when we return. http://www.heartandsoul.org.uk/home
Heart and Soul - this was an interesting afternoon! There were a good number of tents and stalls lining the main pathway through Princes Street gardens - each of which highlighted some aspect of church life. Late in the afternoon worship drew people to the main stand where the Heart and Soul band led worship through music. As you can see the seating was full. Around the edges were flags from many of the CofS's 48 presbyteries.
For most of the rest of the week there were reports presented by the various committees and councils of the CofS. Each committee or council has its own remit and responsibility e.g. the General Trustees look after all legal aspects of the administration of the organisation and Mission & Discipleship help to resource congregations and ministers with materials for worship.
Debates take place in the Assembly Hall which is an integral part of the University of Edinburgh. In the first of these pictures is a view of the Assembly Hall and in the second a board with photographs from those congregations that have participated in the Word of Life Campaign (more details on the Ardnamurchan blog page).
The week was intense but interesting. Having a vote in the decision making process of the Church of Scotland is a big responsibility and can be challenging depending on the issues being decided. Alongside the main sessions there are fringe events and, of course, the social side of being there. It's not often ministers and elders are able to get together in such numbers (each year a different group of representatives from congregations are able to attend) and that lends itself to many a cuppa and or meal.
The Acharacle Session Clerk and the minister came back weary but having had a good time. It's roughly three years until the opportunity to attend will come again - we should have recovered by then.