From Rev Barbara Chandler

Where are we now?
It’s a question I have asked often when out in the hills. Walking for a period of time through mist with limited information from the landscape leads inevitably to that question “where are we now”? Having decided on the current location the next question is where next – continue with the original plan made during the bright sunlight of the previous day or adapt to the change in conditions and enjoy the ongoing journey safely. Does that sound familiar as we enter this unknown territory of emerging from “lockdown”?
It is easy to long for how things were, when we could gather together in church, hug, shake hands, sing, break bread, but we cannot remain looking back. Remember those words to the people gathered at the ascension of Jesus, “two men in white robes stood beside them and said, ‘…why do you stand looking up to heaven? This Jesus will come…’” A time will come when the mist clears, a time will come when we gather again, but we don’t know when and so we must move forward in a different way.

The psalmist who wrote psalms 42 and 43, knew only too well the longing to gather in a familiar way to worship God, “these things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God”. There is much we can long for and forget to look ahead.

Julia on Sunday asked us to think about what we had learnt in lockdown, not simply what new skills or languages we had studied, but what we had learnt about ourselves and our relationship with God. The Psalmist also challenges himself to consider why he is feeling so dejected and longing for what has been. He repeats a refrain in these psalms in which he challenges himself and asks that question and also finds an answer: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”

As we confront an uncertain future in many ways, God has a path set out for us. One of the skills of navigating in mist is to take bearings over short distances only, but rejoice in that. Six months ago, meeting for a coffee was nothing special, now it is precious and treasured. Meeting in the garden will soon be extended to meeting within the house and that will be very special indeed. Can we take the opportunity we have been given and build on it. Rather than focusing on when we might be able to gather in church again, can we think about how we can “be church” in our homes? As we begin to meet, could we pray together, it doesn’t have to be scary or complex, or give that somewhat embarrassed, uncomfortable feeling! Perhaps just sharing a blessing as part of a greeting, committing any shared worries to God, sharing words of praise for the beauty of a garden, promising to say compline later that evening individually but together. Whenever we pray there will be someone, somewhere also praying and we join with them and the whole company of heaven. In the near future we will be able to meet another household and eat together. What about giving thanks at the start of a meal and breaking bread, remembering it was in just such an action that those travellers on the road to Emmaus met Jesus. Perhaps we can learn to “be church” in a new way, not dependent upon a building, but dependent on being a community of believers. Let’s really take to heart and put into practice those words of St Paul to the Colossians church, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

Barbara’s fundraising for Highland Hospice

Julia mentioned this again at the end of this morning’s service, so here again is the link to the just giving page for those who wish to support Barbara and her ‘Neuro Chums’. Just click on the link which will take you to the Just Giving page with information on the fundraiser.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sheena-thompson?fbclid=IwAR1sNLIOSpu3w50XgpKWcUTCu-ksOwacM9IFSzcCuhxSZ7778GfjoFGDQUI

Update for St James and St Anne’s

Following Scottish Episcopal Church guidelines for emerging from lockdown the Vestry met by Zoom this week and decided that for the moment St James and St Anne’s will not be open for private prayer. Looking at the guidelines that would have to be followed – including manning the church at all times when it was open, taking names and contact details of people as they entered, setting up hand sanitiser stations and providing face masks, to name but a few of the necessary safety precautions – led us to conclude that at this stage the better option would be to work towards getting the churches cleaned and readied for when we can again meet as larger bodies for worship in later phases of emerging from lock-down. It was not a decision that we took lightly but it was a unanimous agreement of the Vestry.
In the meantime, we are now allowed to clean inside the churches and will be doing the preparatory work required to enable us to open in due course. Removing all soft fabrics- cushioned seats, kneelers – taking out the hymn books and service orders and Bibles, enabling a one -way system through the churches, signage, showing where people can and cannot sit etc…these are just some of the things that will need to be thought and about and managed. We hope that then, when we are allowed to meet together in larger numbers, we are ready for it. I am afraid that even then it will still be a very different kind of service, with no music and with social distancing enforced, but we will at least be able to be together in body, we hope, in the not too distant future. If you have any comments or queries on this, please do get in touch with me.
If you would like to see the full guidelines as issued by the SEC they can be found here:

https://www.scotland.anglican.org/revised-guidance-for-phase-2-of-emerging-from-lockdown/

THE CATHEDRAL OPENS FOR PRIVATE PRAYER

We are not opening for private prayer at the moment but for those who would like to pray in church the Cathedral will be opening on Sunday and for two days next week. Details are below. Text taken from the cathedral newsletter (with thanks to the Provost for posting)

On Sunday 28th June the cathedral will begin to open its doors for those who wish to come for Private Prayer. Much preparation has gone into opening the doors and ensuring the safety, as far as we can.

The opening times for the coming week are:

Sunday 28th June 11.30 to 12.30pm
Wednesday 1st July 11am to 12noon
Friday 3rd July 3pm to 4pm

There will be a number of precautions in place for the safety of all during this time and in line with the Scottish Episcopal Church guidance and the Scottish Government guidance.

There will be a one way system, using the All Access Door for the entrance with the exit through the West Doors. Please wear a mask in the building. You will find hand sanitiser at the entrance and exit to use. There will always be 2 stewards on duty to welcome you and to help you with where to go etc.

Candles will be available to light and the contactless donation facility will enable donations for candles. Please note that if you prefer to use a Bible/Prayer Book during this time then please bring your own copy as we are not able to have these on offer at this time.

Churches reopen for private prayer | The Parish of Badshot Lea and ...

The Road Less Travelled

Two roads diverged in a wood and I –

I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.  Robert Frost

What is the new normal going to be like?

There is no shortage of competing facts and predictions.

On the one hand – over 40,000 UK Covid 19 related deaths, a dramatic economic downturn and increasing levels of unemployment along with warnings about a second virus spike, some sort of social distancing for the foreseeable future, increasing mental stress and domestic violence, a backlog of delayed hospital treatments and deepening social inequality.

On the other – cleaner air, the success of working from home and on line meetings, dramatic reductions in the use of coal, huge demonstrations for racial justice, the news that 80 organisations have requested the Scottish Government to use this crisis as a springboard for improved socially equality and 200 top UK firms and investors have demanded that the UK Government build a green recovery.

Jesus also lived at a time of crisis.  Roman rule was spreading out into all the known world.  It brought an end to a long sequence of civil wars and invasions. The Pax Romana was good for trade and business flourished and a self-congratulating Caesar Augustus claimed to be Son of God, Prince of Peace and Light of the World!  But Roman rule was ruthless – taxes rose steeply especially for the poorest, and exploitation of the weak by the rich and powerful was both expected and easy for those in power. For the poorest life was increasingly unsustainable.  More and more homeless and workless people, like Lazarus, lay starving at the gates of the rich Sadducee families, tax farmers and temple bureaucrats.  In this polarised situation Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God, a cumbersome English phrase trying to convey a transformed society in the world; a new creation governed according to God’s will.  In this Kingdom, which Jesus saw himself inaugurating, social justice and personal integrity (righteousness in biblical language) are as central as faith.

In our coronavirus crisis it’s obvious that we should be concerned for and pray for those who are sick and dying, for the bereaved and those suffering acute mental stress because they work on the front line or are lonely and isolated in lockdown or facing unemployment or the ruin of cherished dreams. And it’s also easy to long for a return to the normal we knew before all this started.  But can we also hold on to that bigger, wider vision of a world transformed into God’s Kingdom, a world of social justice and personal integrity, where exploitation of people and exploitation of the planet are reduced?

Crisis – from the Greek krisis meaning the moment of decision, a crossover, time to choose. But what do we choose, as individuals, as a church, as a nation?

  • A return of the old, safe and familiar normal in spite of all its growing inequalities and injustices?
  • Or do we risk going down the road less travelled, the one that leads towards the Kingdom, God’s transformed world?

The first may well be impossible anyway, but the second demands an unusually high level of political will and leadership if we are to rise to that challenge at a more than personal level. A lot to pray for but all encapsulated in some words we know well –

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done – on earth

Services for Sunday 14th June (Pentecost 2).

This Sunday we will not be hosting a service locally.

Other options include Inverness Cathedral:-

The Provincial Service. Links will be updated before Sunday:-

https://www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship/

A reminder that you can find a wide variety of online worship from around the Scottish Episcopal Church at this page should you want to explore other options:-  https://www.scotland.anglican.org/…/online-worship-from-ar…/

Worship update

For details of local services check out our worship page.

In addition a list of services for Corpus Christi has been published on FB by the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Here are the details if you want to take part in worship tomorrow.

Online Worship for the Feast of Corpus Christi.

There are a number of services and online worship alternatives happening around the Province tomorrow (11 June) to mark this Feast.

Old Saint Paul’s, Edinburgh will be live-streaming a Celebration of the Eucharist at 7.30pm, lead by the Rev Canon John McLuckie, via their Facebook Page (Old Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church) and their Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf9gUvh1ysUb2MLU6TBNX_g

St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow will host an episode of their reflective podcast series on Corpus Christi from Dr Deborah Lewer, Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Glasgow’s School of Culture and Creative Arts.

There will be a service from St John’s Cathedral, Oban, led by the Provost, the Very Rev Margi Campbell, and available from 10am at https://stjohnsoban.org.uk/wor…/coronavirus-worship-at-home/

Holy Trinity Dunfermline – Scottish Episcopal Church, will live stream a Celebration of the Eucharist at 10.15am, lead by the Very Rev Kenny Rathband. It will also available at their Youtube Channel after the live service on Facebook.

St Michael and All Angels, Inverness have a Celebration of the Eucharist, lead by the Rev Canon John Cuthbert, sermon by the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness.

Youtube link to St Michaels service – premiere at 7.30pm.

Youtube link to St Michaels service – premiere at 7.30pm.

There will be a Provincial Service of the Word from the Rev Ellie Charman, Curate at St John’s Wick and St Peter & the Holy Rood, Thurso at 6.30pm on the Scottish Episcopal Church Facebook and Youtube channels.

A reminder that you can find a wide variety of online worship from around the Scottish Episcopal Church at this page: https://www.scotland.anglican.org/…/online-worship-from-ar…/

Saint Columba

Todays meditation comes from Laura Symon

Today is the feast of St Columba – or Colmcille, as we call him at home. Credited with spreading the gospel throughout Scotland, Columba spent some of his early years at Movilla Abbey, only 4 miles away from where I grew up and is perhaps most strongly associated with Iona Abbey, that wonderful community devoted to peace, prayer and social justice. As an Irish expatriate to Scotland, he is very dear to my heart – I think of him when I sit on the Stena Line, though his journey in a wicker currach was neither so direct nor so comfortable!

The stories of Columba’s life are colourful – full of political intrigue, dangerous seafaring and even a rumoured face-off with the Loch Ness Monster! Columba himself was devoted to prayer, and delightful stories of his prayer life are still in existence. He would frequently steal away from his community at night to spend time with God, would pray all night long in vigils, and even experienced visits from angels! Several of his prayers and poems have been recorded and within them, one can find this lovely line:

‘Delightful it is to live on a peaceful isle,

in a quiet cell,

serving the King of kings.’

Like those in other monastic communities, the monks of Iona had their own dedicated space, or cell. These little unadorned huts were not merely living spaces, but centres of their personal devotion and prayer. The stone foundations of these small homes can still be seen dotted around the island.

These words of Columba offer us something during this time – though our isles may not feel quite so peaceful these days. During lockdown, our worlds have shrunk. Pre-COVID we had workspaces, cafés, shops, hill walks, visitors, church – now, we live in semi-seclusion, each in our own quiet cells. Working out how to live life fully in that space doesn’t always come easily.

Yet for many years – and still today – men and woman have been making something beautiful of that quiet time in a single place. Even when we are alone in a room, there is still work being done in serving the King of kings through our prayer and praise. Perhaps we hum a hymn while we cook or thank God earnestly for the birdsong that comes through the window. Perhaps, like the monks, we follow a routine of daily prayer and intercession for others. All of this is important work in God’s kingdom, and like Columba, we can learn to take great joy in it. The task of serving the King of kings is still possible in our own small spaces, and perhaps we can use this experience to see new ways of doing so as we spend time with Him, who is always ready to join us in our homes. May we use this time in our own quiet cells to learn to ‘pray without ceasing’ to the God who was so present for Columba, and still is to us today. 


Window of St Columba in St. Columbanus’, Ballyholme Parish – courtesy of Gloine.ie

Peace be with you

Todays reflection comes from Revd Norma Higgott, Deacon and Highland Hospice Chaplain

John 20: 19

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

COVID-19, and the period of lockdown which it created, has meant some major changes in the way we all do things in our lives, our work, in our social lives and in our spiritual lives.  However this moment of pause, no matter how long it is, should not change the way we show forth the love of God to those around us because, although the doors may be locked, Jesus is still with us, standing amongst us and still offering us peace and love and compassion. We like the disciples may be afraid but that doesn’t mean that we can’t care for those around us and for our wider communities and indeed for the world.  Jesus’s love can still reach out through us to those in need, the lonely, the afraid, the hungry, all those who need our prayers and our compassion. 

The world around us will still be very scary and we will still feel anxious, overwhelmed and helpless, not sure how or when things will get back to some sort of normal! We are in that in-between time, a time when we wonder what the future holds for us, for our nation and for the world.  A time when the future of our society and our church is unknown but for Christians we know that after Ascension came Pentecost but that there was a time of waiting in between.  A time when everyone was challenged to wait for the Holy Spirit to come.  It was a scary time for them all but life had to go on and they had to be creative and courageous in moving forward into the future and that is where we are too – in a scary time, being challenged to find new and creative ways to be emissaries of hope, and having to move forward all the time with courage, learning from our mistakes and creating a new and positive future – knowing that someday life will get better again and that we can do all this in the power of God and through God’s great love for us all.

Pentecost is here and we have seen some slight relaxation in our lockdown lives, so let’s move forward knowing that God’s spirit will guide, help and encourage us to show forth love as God’s people.

With love and prayers, Norma

Pentecost Window from Taize