Happy New Year!
Last Sunday we met at the church office for an “abbreviated” service. Since it was still December we took the opportunity to sing carols one last time; for this year.
Pastor Nathan turned our attention to Psalm 100 and encouraged us to delight in God’s presence, to recognise God’s power, and to know God personally, giving Him the glory and credit for all aspects of our life.
Several of us then spoke briefly of things we were thankful for in 2014.
We are now looking forward to 2015. The usual activities start up again and we have a new one: you are all invited to a short series looking at Christian beliefs. It starts on Tuesday, January 6, in the church office at 7.30 pm.
The Zone resumes on Friday, January 9, at Carronhill from 7.15 pm. Again you are all invited - but only if you are in S1-S6.
News from St James’
Any visitors to St James can’t fail to have been enchanted by the glorious decorations on window-ledges, pillars and side-tables – and of course our Bethlehem scene. The three Wise Men, complete with camel, are still waiting in the wings, as it were – they will make their formal appearance on next Sunday – more of this later.
As with all churches in the country, Christmas at St James was a happy, joyful spirit-filled time! The Midnight Service, ushering in the celebration of the First Eucharist, was well attended and all enjoyed joining in the Eucharist, with well-known carols.
There were many visitors, who were made welcome. For those who were unable to attend the Midnight Service or who had young children, there was a further celebration on Christmas morning.
Sunday, December 28, was celebrated by Maggie Jackson, who also preached on the topic ‘Holy Innocents’ – when Herod was said to have arranged for his soldiers to kill all the babies under two in the village of Bethlehem because he heard a new baby was born about whom it was prophesied he would become the King of Israel. Traditionally we learn from the Bible that Jesus and his family fled to Egypt to avoid Herod’s murderous plot. Herod was known to have assassinated the whole of the Supreme Court of the Jews when he ascended to the throne, then 300 court officers, his wife and mother-in-law and three of his sons.
Maggie reminded us of other innocents being killed – the children in Dunblane in 1996 and more recently the children in a school in Peshawar. Where was God in all this? But God in Jesus experiences the heartbreak on the cross when he cried out ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ To which there was no response – only silence. The innocent is and are slaughtered – but God actually bears the pain of our grief.
We have our innocents in this day and age and it is our duty to defend the weak from the tyranny of the strong.
But now here’s another thing! This was the first part of the service on Sunday: the second was the baptism of a new member, which is always a joyful occasion. Here we welcomed a new ‘innocent’ into our church family, where after the formal promises by parents and Godparents as well as the congregation, the baby was baptised in our stone font, and anointed with Holy Oil – followed by welcoming applause from the rest of the congregation.
This Sunday, January 4, will be celebrated as the Epiphany – and it is an important day, being the last service to be celebrated at St James by the Rev Maggie Jackson and the Rev Lizzie Campbell. The congregations of St Ternan’s, Muchalls, and St James will join together not only in the Epiphany (when, yes, the Wise Men will be present in our Bethlehem Scene) – but also in a special lunch to say ‘goodbye’ to our two priests who are about to leave us. Lizzie to become priest in charge of Simonstown in Jarrow, and Maggie to take her retirement (though, knowing her, it is unlikely to be slippers by the fire!)
We wish them both all the best in their new move.
As far as our services in St James and St Ternan’s are concerned, these will continue to follow the established pattern until a new encumbent is found.
Services will be conducted by the Rev Jane Nelson from Newtonhill, Dr Peter Smart, Warden of Readers for the Diocese, and the Bishop of Brechin, +Nigel. Our two Lay Readers, Anne and Arma will carry out their usual duties conducting Communion from the Reserve Sacrament as well as non-eucharistic services. We ask you to pray for our two churches during the period of the vacancy, and that we may soon find a new priest.