Reflection on a snowy day


Like many people I have spoken to in recent times, every so often I experience that sense of weariness with the current way of life. The restrictions just feel as if they are lasting forever. Meeting on line is great but not “the same”, it’s second best. There is much to be thankful for and I feel cross with myself for allowing that sense of misery to get a grip. As with so many experiences and emotions, the Psalmists have also been there and there is a lovely recurring question and answer in Psalms 42 and 43;
Why are you downcast, O my soul, 
and why are you disquieted within me? 
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, 
my help and my God. Ps 42:5
The psalmist asks “why” and we could jolly well tell him – it’s the 21st century, we are in a pandemic, there are awful things happening, but the psalmist doesn’t wait for an answer he just gives a suggestion that could be applied two and half millennia ago when there was illness, war, famine, and many threats to daily life, just as it can be applied today: Hope in God and praise him, my help and my God. We are additionally blessed with a knowledge that was as yet unknown to the psalmist, the presence of Jesus Christ, ever beside us. 
I put this into practice as I went out for a run this afternoon. Crossing the garden in my wellies, changing into trainers at the edge of the road and then dodging slippy bits, but noticing the absolute beauty of the snow. Brief rays of sunshine made it sparkle, each crystal delicately formed, a gift for any eye that opened in wonder and praise. Just saying thank you brought a smile and hope and peace. My resolution for this week is to acknowledge the difficulties but to find something to say thank you for each day and allow that thankfulness to bring a smile. 

Barbara.

The Lost and Found Department

A couple of days ago I was trying to squash all my socks into the drawer where I keep them. Failing to get the drawer to shut I decided to start the spring cleaning (!!)and tipped the contents onto the bed. I found a lot of socks that needed to be thrown out but to my joy, right at the bottom, I found an earring I had lost some months ago. It was one of a pair given to me by my sister, which I have always treasured. When I realised one was missing I had searched high and low and eventually had given it up as lost for good. It may only have been something small, but I was so pleased to have found it- it put a big smile on my face and I was quick to share with David the good news!

 That sense of joy and relief when finding something that you have lost is one we can all recognise. Usually in my case it is my car keys, and usually just as I am about to go out and need them-less so in these days of lockdown! Or that horrible feeling of realising that your bank card is not in your purse or wallet-and then finding it in your pocket!

I was thinking about this and it took me to that lovely trio of parables that Jesus told about the lost and found-the sheep, the coin and of course, the prodigal son. They are such familiar stories that we can pass over them without really engaging with the extraordinary yet fundamental truth they reveal. Put bluntly, we make God happy when we allow him to “find us” and bring us safe into his loving arms. God rejoices over us, as those who were lost but now wonderfully found. Like the woman with the coin, the shepherd with the sheep or the Father with his arms around his prodigal son, God delights in having us as part of his family- and rejoices over us daily when we turn to him. You and I, we can bring a smile to God’s face right now, by just speaking his name from our heart. Now that really is something to celebrate!

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust
The Lost Child, 1866. By Arthur Hughes

Reflections page updated

During Advent we ran a separate page where all the posts were filed. So if you want to review anything from that season it can easily be found there. https://stjamesandstanne.com/advent-2020/

I have now reinstated the Daily Prayer & Reflections Page and all Julia’s posts since Christmas can now be found there and can therefore be easily found for later read and review.

In addition to Julia’s posts there will occasionally be other posts not necessarily posted on the main website page, so it is worth checking the Daily Prayer & Reflections Page from time to time to se if there is anything else interesting over there!

For example over the holidays Gordon has been ‘pondering’ and has produced a couple of articles to get us all thinking about God. Part one is published this week and if you come back next week part 2 will be available for you to ponder!

Please take a look. https://stjamesandstanne.com/homepage/reflections-2/

An archaeological aside!
Some of you may remember a presentation Gordon gave well over a year ago about the Clachtoll Broch Project. Since then, the project has been nominated for an award – Rescue Project of the Year- organised by Current Archaeology magazine.  Voting is open to all and Gordon would be delighted if you felt able to do so.  Go to www.archaeology.co.uk/vote where there is also a link to a recent article about the latest findings.
Another local archaeology project, Tarradale Through Time, has been nominated in another category – Research Project of the year.  You can also read about that project and vote on the same website.
Voting closes on 8 February.

Jean (Ed)

Not growing weary..

 “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all..” Gal 6 v 9-10

Not growing weary of doing what is right is a message we keep hearing -to keep on staying at home, washing our hands, wearing our masks, practising social distancing etc.  This may not be what St Paul had in mind when he wrote these words- but the intention is the same…to encourage people to work  and live for the good of all. By following government guidelines, we are doing just that,  showing God’s love and care for our neighbours and communities  and playing our part in reducing stress on the health service and all those working there.

Weariness is, however, a real issue. It is clear in the reports that we read and see on TV- so many are tired and overstretched, so many who day after day are working on the front line, be it in hospitals, care homes or essential retail and services are suffering exhaustion and burnout.

Indeed, we are all feeling weary -weary of living with the constant restrictions and limitations on our lives. Weary of not being able to meet up with loved ones, weary of the grim daily statistics and bad news, weary of the anxiety and uncertainty.  

However, we have a God who promises to help all those who are weary.  

“They that waits upon the Lord shall renew their strength…they shall rise up with wings like eagles. “

It is a text often quoted but nevertheless one that I keep coming back to. God will give us all we need day by day if we wait upon him and enable us not to grow weary in doing what is right. That means being faithful in spending time with God, sitting in his presence, allowing his Spirit to work in us and through us in the lives of others. It means persevering in prayer and in trust-even when we least feel like it. And God, who is faithful, will help us to rise from his presence on wings of renewed faith and strength.

Welcome to our virtual church! Details of services for the next 4 weeks.

Here are details of our virtual services (and opportunities to gather for coffee) over the next 4 weeks. If you want to attend and are not currently on our mailing list please contact Julia to be added.

To access services on our website or for details of our YouTube channel and for other options for virtual worship click on the link below. Services are posted on our worship page for several days after the service and thereafter can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

https://stjamesandstanne.com/worship-3/

12th Jan 2021 Befriending Faithfulness

Sometimes reading the Bible in a different version can open up a whole new meaning to a text. Yesterday I was reading Psalm 37 in the English Standard Version. This phrase in v 3” befriend faithfulness” leapt out at me. These verses are among some of my favourites, but I have never come across that particular translation before and it set me thinking afresh about God’s faithfulness to us-and what it might mean for us to be faithful to him in these difficult days.

To be faithful is to demonstrate constancy, reliability, firmness, to give security, to be unchanging. All these wonderful attributes of God-and much more- are summed up in that word, faithfulness. For me, looking at creation, enjoying the beautiful and inspiring scenery, marvelling at the play of light and cloud, the shades of creation, the earth under my feet full of life, even in these cold days, are a reminder that whatever may be happening in the world, God is faithful and worthy of my praise. He is my steadfast hope, my rock, my security and unfailing in his love for me.

But in turn, I am called to “befriend faithfulness”, to literally make a friend of faithfulness to God and to others in my day- to- day living. To befriend faithfulness by reaching out with love and compassion, to take time to listen to others, to befriend the lonely and those in need, to listen for the unspoken messages of need and anxiety, to befriend those small acts of kindness that can mean so much.

And perhaps above all, in these days, to befriend faithfulness to God by living a life that is centred around Him in prayer, in silence, in God’s word. To allow a faithful routine of living in His presence moment by moment, to transform these difficult and often wearying days. And to know that God’s faithfulness is new every morning and that He will carry me through.

Epiphany

Today we celebrate Epiphany- a Greek word meaning revelation/appearance or manifestation. There are many different traditions associated with it from cake to candlelit processions. Here in the West, we celebrate this primarily as the moment the wise men- who have been faithfully following their star to Bethlehem- finally arrive at the stable and Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, is revealed to them.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edward_Burne-Jones_Star_of_Bethlehem.jpg

As I was pondering what Epiphany might mean in the middle of a pandemic that is causing such grief and heartache across our world, and as we find ourselves in lockdown again, this lovely Epiphany poem by Christina Rossetti comforted me. It offers both an acknowledgement of our need for forgiveness as we come to the light of Christ that shines into the dark corners of our world and our lives, but also hope. Hope, that under Christ’s loving and pitying gaze, strength for each day may be found and that newness of life in Him is always waiting.

Trembling before Thee we fall down to adore Thee,
Shamefaced and trembling we lift our eyes to Thee:
O First and with the last! annul our ruined past,
Rebuild us to Thy glory, set us free
From sin and from sorrow to fall down and worship Thee.

Full of pity view us, stretch Thy sceptre to us,
Bid us live that we may give ourselves to Thee:
O faithful Lord and True! stand up for us and do,
Make us lovely, make us new, set us free–
Heart and soul and spirit–to bring all and worship Thee.


Christina Rossetti was part of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and this painting is from another member of that group, the artist Edward Burne-Jones.

It is a wonderful image to dwell on and to draw you into prayer for our world. May Christ’s light bring you hope and peace this day.