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Sun, sand and a Saviour made for some ‘Heavenly Hi-jinks at our ‘5th Sunday’ service at St Bridget’s. Speculation mounted as the congregation arrived to be greeted by deckchairs, sand, sea creatures and marvellous atmospheric birdsong.
The scene was set for our activities and, while we munched on fish-shaped biscuits, we were encouraged to build sandcastles, which were to be capped by flags of our own design revealing our own identities.
Cleverly, Rosslyn employed these fun activities to highlight the messages conveyed in her reflections. To build a people strong in Christ, we must first build on His inspiration never forgetting that he has always blessed and supported us all, even when we might not have been as faithful as we ought. It is incumbent upon us to dismiss remorse and regret – get past ourselves- refreshing ourselves with His loving Spirit and joy of being alive .
South Church Elders please note that the Session Meeting is postponed to Thursday 10th September at 7.30 in the Conservatory.
Next Sunday, the service will take place at the South Church with the theme of ‘Rededication’ Thursday, September 3 sees coffee at St Bridget’s in the morning from 10-11.30 and the Craft Group resuming for the new session in the afternoon from 2-4.Magazines for both churches will be coming out soon as the deadline for articles is 13/9/15 for Southscene and 17/9/15 for Spotlight.
Overseas friend sometime ask me what “haven” means. Some confuse it with heaven. I tell them that it signifies a sheltered harbour, useful in a time of storm. I think that the church is like that - a safe place of assured security in the presence of God. It can also be likened to a hospital for wounded souls or a barrack room for training soldiers...I could go on, the habit of regular worship with others serves many purposes and “haven” is one of them; a place for storm-tossed people to find calm and stillness.
Last Sunday, the theme of our main service was spiritual motivation towards a Christ-centred life, focusing on Matthew 13 - the parables of the treasure and the pearl of great price. People today pursue “treasure” in all the wrong places. Christ and his kingdom are the real treasure.
The school holidays are well and truly over but, on the plus side, that means all our activities are starting up again. A new venture is our Mums & Tots group from 10 am to 11.30 am on Tuesdays at St Bridgets. All mums/carers and their pre-schoolers are very welcome to join us for a fun-filled morning.
The Zone for S1 to S6 students starts up again on Friday 11 September at 7.15 am at Carronhill, with all the usual activities.
News from St James
The congregation was a little surprised to see Anne wearing a different set of clerical robes for the 10.30am service. This was a purple gown, with academic hood and her usual blue reader’s scarf. This, Anne explained, was because this was the official gown for a woman Reader at the time when she first became a Reader in the Church in Wales. And why today? Because it was a ‘kind of’ anniversary of her appointment on Trinity 13 in 1981, having completed the special training and having received the certificate and licence from the Bishop of Llandaff on that Sunday. Since then she became Diocesan Tutor to Readers and before leaving Wales to move to Stonehaven in 2003, was able to hear her last student deliver his ‘test sermon’.
This was by way of introduction to her main theme – the office and work of a Reader and how this relates to Biblical traditions. In Old Testament times, when few people could read, people trained in the Scriptures would visit synagogues to read the scriptures and say a few words of explanation. This continued into New Testament times, and by then these readers were known as ‘Rabbi’ which means teacher.
The Gospels tell us that Jesus was addressed by this title and at the beginning of his ministry went into the synagogue in his home town to read from the scroll of Isaiah. He then delivered a sermon, and we read that ‘all spoke well of him and wondered at the gracious words that procfeeded from his mouth’. It was only later in his ministry that his disciples recognized in him that he was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God.
So the idea of a lay ministry of teaching and preaching goes back to Bible times. And in the church, during times of shortages of clergy and when few people could read, an educated lay person would be asked to read the lessons and give a short talk about them at morning or evening prayer, as the rabbis had done in Biblical times.
The first part of being a Reader is to have a knowledge of the Bible – Paul’s letter to Timothy says ‘All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness’.
Anne added that another aspect of being a Reader is to be a rapid and avid reader of books and to be a serendipidist – that is, a collector of unrelated bits of information. To be able to find apt quotations or suitable readings to illustrate the teaching points raised at the various occasions in the church’s year. But another aspect of being a Reader is that we earn our living outside the church. So a Reader’s witness is two-fold: not only heralds of the Gospel in church, but witnesses for Christ in the places where we live and move and have our being – where we work. Then Anne illustrated her meaning with one of those ‘apt quotations’ – from the writings of the Prophet, Kahlil Gibran:
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the Temple and take alms of those who work for joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake bitter bread that feeds only half of a man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge dis tils a poison in the wine. And if you sing, though as an angel, but love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.
Anne quoted from a leader of a tutorial group who said the real job of a Reader is to open a window into the Gospel. We proclaim the word of God as he has come to meet us in the person of Jesus Christ.
Altogether while in the Church in Wales, Anne visited 26 churches to cover for absent clergy or during vacancies, as well as ‘pulpit swaps’ for special occasions and, of course, in the Cathedral. She remembered with fondness her first long attachment to a church in South Glamorgan during a vacancy, and how the congregation were so generous and kind in their expressed joy in hearing the gospel, and in hearing Anne’s preaching – her proclaiming it. The gospel that says Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday , today and for ever. That Jesus Christ is the salvation promised to us by the prophets. That through our baptism we share that salvation. That we are here to encourage each other in the faith.
In the intimations, Anne reminded the congregation ( somewhat diminished because of holidays and the preparations for the Harbour Festival) that next Sunday’s 10.30 service would be taking place at St Mary’s RC church, while their congregation came to use our larger space for their Confirmation and First Communions.