Round the Churches

News from St James’

Sunday saw the celebration of the feast day of St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. Before the service began, Rev Maggie Jackson give out the intimations: the Craft Fair on Saturday raised £280 for the Roof Fund, and she reminded the congregation of forthcoming events: next Sunday was to be Harvest Festival, with Harvest Lunch following the main Eucharist. Members were invited to come in on Saturday to help decorate the church for the event. Next Wednesday, there would be the usual 10.30 Eucharist, and at 2.30 pm there will be a short celebration of the Harvest followed by afternoon tea for our older members and their guests.

In her address, Maggie drew on the parallels between the life of St Matthew, and that of Nelson Mandela. She quoted from the Gospel “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’ for I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” She pointed out that the Hebrew root for the word ‘sin’ means ‘to miss’ (as in archery). So when we commit a sin, this may not be a deliberate choice, but rather missing the mark, or falling short.

When Nelson Mandela died in December 2013, the global media mourned “one of the most revered human rights leaders of our time.” However, biographer Lee Jenkins wrote that Mandela was not quite the saint we want him to be. In fact Mandela was imprisoned in 1962 for carrying out acts of violence. At his trial he said “I do not deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness…I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people by the whites.”

Jenkins also writes: “The apartheid regime was a crime against humanity…it is tempting to simplify the subject by declaring that all who opposed it were wholly and unswervingly good. …however, Mandela was the first the hold up his hands to his shortcomings and mistakes….too many people in the West can’t bring themselves to see what the great man himself has said all along – that he’s just as flawed as the rest of us.

In the Gospel reading Jesus calls Matthew to follow him. Matthew, like Mandela, had a past in which he had made mistakes and missed the mark. But Jesus is not interested in our past nor in those who consider themselves to have lived blameless lives.

If you look at Caravaggio’s painting ‘Calling of Saint Matthew’ you can see Matthew is ready to listen – he turns his back on his old life and realised what is truly important. There are two others at the table who are too focused on counting money even to look up – they don’t even notice Christ’s presence.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu explained in an article he wrote for the Guardian, “even though many in the white community in South Africa dismissed Mandela as a terrorist, he tried to understand their position….he invited his white jailor as a VIP guest to his inauguration as President, and he invited the prosecutor in the Rivonia trial to lunch. What incredible acts of magnanimity these were.”

Mandela was aware of his own shortcomings. Just as we are all flawed, so too we are all loved. Jesus seeks out and calls us by name. Will we be like St Matthew and hear that call, or are we like the money counters in Caraaggio’s famous painting – too engrossed in our own concerns to look up?

Dunnottar linked with South Churches

Reverend Rosslyn Duncan warmly welcomed all to Worship as we reflected on Living As Community. In her address to the children she told the story of Jonah ..... a man who had avoided God’s will but later became an instrument whereby the people of Nineveh repented of their wicked ways. Although Jonah had wanted the people to know God’s wrath, he was to learn that God had included Nineveh in His purpose. The congregation proclaimed that purpose - God’s universal grace and generosity in the hymn “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

In prayers for the world Rosslyn movingly led our intercessions in the same words being spoken throughout our country conveying our heartfelt desire for healing of any hurt felt by individuals and communities following the Scottish referendum.

In her sermon Rosslyn preached on the parable of the workers in the vineyard ..... who were all given a day’s wages for their labour even although some had worked merely an hour. Those who had spent the whole day working had complained that they should have been given more. However, the reply of the vineyard owner was that they had all been treated justly, and although it appeared he was excessively generous to some, he was in fact excessively generous to all. God’s grace and generosity continues to be bestowed on us to-day.

Harvest will be celebrated over the next two Sundays when all shall be welcome

Sunday, September 28, 1030 at Dunnottar Church,

Sunday, October 5, 1030 at South Church when the congregation will be joined by Granite City Community Brass Ensemble.

Today (Thursday) St Bridget’s Coffee Morning will be part of World’s Biggest Coffee Morning with money going to MacMillan Cancer. All Welcome.

Baptist Buzz

Men must be ruled by God, or else they will be led by tyrants”. This quote from William Penn, who gave his name to a US state (question: which one?) is as relevant today as ever. It is relevant to the referendum result, whichever way we voted. It is relevant in the workplace, in the family, in voluntary organisations, and…in the church. Our pastor, Nathan, has been shedding a new light on the letter to the Philippians, by showing that Paul’s main purpose in writing the letter was to deal with a conflict between two dear ladies. These two (shall we call them “Oui” and “non”?) had fallen out, and the waves were threatening to engulf the local church. They disagreed about some matter, and misunderstanding had led to their whole relationship going off the rails. Paul pleaded with them to agree with one another. And what was Paul’s advice to the others in the church, to help with this process? He gives six things for them all to think about and speak about, instead of about the conflict: whatsoever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. How helpful, how wise, to encourage others who might be tempted to take sides in a dispute, to praise and encourage the good qualities of both of the opponents, rather than add fuel to the fire! Paul says that the result of this response to the conflict was…”the God of peace will be with you”. If we can learn to leave the outcome of politics at all levels with our sovereign God, accepting His rule, we will find that we receive that greatest of blessings: God with us. Tyrants beware!

Focus on Fetteresso

We learned more about Jonah this week. Jonah ran away from God. He wanted to be an ordinary person – not a prophet. He didn’t trust God. He felt he had been asked to do too much. He was afraid of failure. Does that sound familiar to you? It might seem that God sent the storm to punish Jonah.

hat the storm really did was give Jonah second chance. The storm which lead to being thrown into the sea was a wake up call for Jonah. God was not going to give up on Jonah, even if Jonah tried to give up on him. Jonah had the potential to be a great man and the storm put him back on track despite his fears and doubts. God has great plans for us all. Like any loving parent He will put us in the situation where we can choose to think again and get back on the right road. Sometimes that means a roadblock or even an accident. Whatever happens, we can trust in God and live a full and free life. He will always give us a second chance to be a great as we can be.

Next week, Fetteresso will be joining in the ‘Give Hunger the Boot’ campaign to raise funds for Farm Africa which supports farmers to grow themselves out of hunger and poverty for good. Wear your wellies to church and contribute to a special Harvest collection or make a donation online. Find out about activities at the church by visiting http://fetteresso.org/ or our Facebook page.