Round the Churches

News from St James and St Philips

The 10.30am service this Sunday took the form of an All Age Service, which focuses on the Ministry of the Word, and prayer – and, of course, hymn-singing! The service was led by Lay Reader, Arma, and our other Lay Reader, Anne, preached on the Gospel Reading for the day – John 20 – particularly verses 30-31: ‘Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.’

Anne began by relating four stories about the life of Jesus which do not appear in the gospels: two concerning his childhood and two about events in his ministry.

These are stories originating in the Middle East – the first two appearing in the Q’ran, the holy book of Muslims, and the others in collections of exemplars – what Jesus might have done – in his life of ministry.

She then went on to talk about the special message of John’s gospel: the immediacy of everything – judgment for example, being a dynamic, not an ‘end of time’ event. In the words of John ‘He who hears my word…has eternal life…he has passed from death to life.’ John enlarges on this theme in Chapter 15 where Jesus tells his disciples that following his own example of love is what is necessary.

But there is hope for all, whether they come early or late to belief: Thomas, for example, did not believe the disciples had seen the risen Christ, but did at last see the truth that threw him into an ecstasy so that he could only say ‘My Lord, and my God’. And for us, when we start to become aware of the longing for ‘something more’ in our lives – we realise that understanding and knowledge about the material world is not enough. A good job, comfortable home, qualifications – are not enough. The human spirit, once touched by Christ, longs for something which has been given many names – salvation, redemption, eternal life, the Kingdom of Heaven. And it is this longing that is evidence of the divine spark that is within the human heart.

We sang some lovely, inspirational hymns – two of which from the pen of the blind hymn-writer, Fanny Crosby, about whom Anne will be preaching at our Wednesday Eucharist this week.

The 4pm service at St Philip’s, Catterline, was led by Rev Jane Nelson, who also preached on the theme of ‘coming to believe’. She also showed that one who doubts, and then comes to believe, can be inspired to do wonderful works. Just like Thomas, who had to actually touch the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side before he would believe – but then accepted Jesus not ‘just’ as the risen Messiah, but as his Lord and his God – and then went on to spread the gospel through the countries of the middle East, eventually founding a community in India.

At both the morning service in St James and the afternoon service at St Philip’s, we welcomed newcomers – who are always most welcome to our services.

Dunnottar linked with South Church

Reverend Rosslyn Duncan warmly welcomed all to worship on the second Sunday of Easter. A special welcome to organist Mr Joe Cowan.

The first reading was from Acts 4 : ‘everything was held in common’. Rosslyn encouraged us to consider if we could release ownership of all things and share everything. In considering this we are guided to think about what we give to the Church. Be it time, talents, money, our giving is our loving response to what Christ has done for us. When we give, with gratitude, we receive what we need.

The second reading was from the gospel according to John 20: Thomas: doubt and commitment. We reflected on how Thomas has been unjustly, throughout the ages labelled as doubting. In fact, Thomas had missed seeing the risen Lord and heard of it from the disciples. It was an incredible story. When he does see Jesus, he is the first to say ‘My Lord and My God’. He then spread the good news far and wide. Thomas should not be called doubting. He was faithful and Jesus gave Thomas what he needed at that time – reassurance. The risen Christ offers this to all.

Thursday April 16: 10–11.30am Fellowship Coffee Morning, 2–4pm Craft Group in South Conservatory

Contributions to the Spotlight to Jennifer Macdonald.

Friday April 17: Anyone wanting to help decorate South Church from 10am onwards will be made welcome.

Saturday April 18: South Church Spring Coffee morning in Church Hall, Cameron street 10am–noon.

Tickets £2.50 adult £1 children. Various stalls and donations for cake and candy, hamper and tombola will be appreciated (Contact Karen Smith 763380)

Sunday April 26: Communion Sunday 10.30am Dunnottar, 2.30pm St Bridget’s, 6.30pm South Retiring collections: India Village Ministries.

Minister : 01569 762166 or 07899878427

Baptist Buzz

One of our founding members, Jack Girdwood,led our communion service.

In John 21 we read how Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. But a few days earlier, during the trial, Peter had said that he did not know Jesus at all! However Jesus forgave and lovingly reinstated Peter, and gave him new responsibilities: ”Feed my sheep”.

Our pastor Nathan and his family were away on a well-deserved holiday, so Andy Vinten led the main service.

He took us through the beatitudes and compared them to a training course for his disciples, and for us, illustrated by the life of Abraham. Abraham lived centuries before Jesus’ disciples, but had to learn the same lessons. Happiness cannot be found by chasing after it, ignoring God’s law. The happiness of having an heir, was not to be fulfilled by impregnating Hagar, his wife’s slave, even though it was Sara’s suggestion. Untold sorrow and strife resulted.

Happiness is a byproduct from the pursuit of holiness. The beatitudes tell us that those people are happy and blessed who are emptied, filled and overflowing according to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

How? Being “emptied “ by being poor in spirit (helpless), mourning (hopeless), meek “hypeless”).

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. You only are hungry and thirsty for righteousness when you realise you do not have it in yourself, and you need it. Jesus ‘righteousness gives real satisfaction and fulfillment, so much so that it overflows in Jesus’ disciples attitude to their neighbours: as they are merciful, pure in heart and peace-making. This might result in suffering for Jesus’ sake.

As Abraham believed God’s promise (his unbelief being forgiven, just like Peter’s denials) and his wife Sarah bore him a son, Isaac. A cause first of incredulous laughter (before the pregnancy), and joyful laughter at Isaac’s birth. Abraham’s righteousness was not his own: He believed God’s promises and this was counted to him as righteousness. This righteousness by faith makes truly happy as God keeps his promises in wonderful ways.

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