Nathan spoke to us on Sunday morning about the subject of forgiveness. His text came from a letter the apostle Peter wrote to scattered Hebrew Christians across Asia Minor. Peter was well qualified to write about forgiveness – why? It was not so much that he was good at forgiving, but because he had been forgiven. Back when Jesus had been taken by the Roman soldiers, and was on trial for his life, Peter denied 3 times that he ever knew Jesus. After Jesus rose from the dead, when He spoke to Peter about this, He showed Peter he was forgiven, by giving him the great task of pastoring His sheep. And so Peter could effectively write to the persecuted, weak and seemingly hopeless little flocks of believers in the risen Christ:
“the end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.“
Christmas is a good time to work at forgiving one another, because often we are spending extra time with those whom God has put us into long term relationships with – our family and close friends. There may be joy and happiness in those times, but there may also be past or present wrongs, real or perceived, which are brought to mind. The church also is like a family – we don’t necessarily choose who we worship God with, but we do have the responsibility to love one another deeply. A Christian is a forgiven sinner, so we are, like the apostle Peter, charged to forgive and be forgiven, choosing instead to love one another deeply. We are to cover over, not uncover, past wrongs.
Nathan encouraged us to come and learn how this is possible, by attending one of the Christian services over the Christmas period. Stonehaven Baptist church has a service of carols and readings at St Bridget’s Hall on Thursday 24th Dec at 6.30 pm.
Dunnottar linked with South Churches
On the Second Sunday in Advent Reverend Rosslyn Duncan introduced the congregation to the Granite City Brass Ensemble who then greatly enhanced our Christmas Praise with their talents, skill, dedication and enthusiasm in the playing of nine Christmas hymns. The familiar ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ turned our thoughts to the Child in the Manger who is Lord of all.
On lighting the Second Advent candle we reflected on the faith of the shepherds who left their place of work to visit the baby Jesus.
The singing of Christina Rossetti’s famous hymn ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’ reminded us of how at Christmas time we celebrate the greatest gift of all Jesus Himself, God’s give to the World. We have nothing of our own to give, yet like the shepherds and the Magi of the Christmas story we have a desire to give which can only be met with the giving of ourselves in God’s service.
On Sunday the musical talents of the members of the band filled our hearts with joy but we also saw the exceptional talents of another group of people. The Craft Group(who meet weekly enjoying Christian fellowship while producing works of art using a variety of different materials) had produced a Wall Hanging depicting scenes from the life of our Lord. This beautiful piece was dedicated on Sunday with a promise of another to follow in the future, which we were able to view as a ‘work in progress’ after Worship.
Worship next Sunday 13th December will be a Nativity Service at Dunnottar at 1030
On Christmas Eve
1800 Christingle Service at South Church
2300 Carols at Dunnottar Church
2330 Watchnight Service at Dunnottar
Christmas Day 1000 Service at South Church
News from St James
We had a busy weekend: on Saturday our band of workers set up and served a hundred or so coffees and fine pieces – as well as running stalls of home-bakes, home-made produce and, of course, a raffle. This raised just over £400 for church funds.
As a church, we are always aware of the hardship suffered by some folk, and this is particularly so at Christmas. One aspect is that of loneliness. So we were particularly pleased to be approached by Scott, of Stonehaven Cares and to agree to help him to set up a Christmas Dinner for any folk in Stonehaven who would otherwise be eating alone on Christmas Day. Many local traders are assisting by making gifts of food and such useful goods – our contribution is to provide a Hall as the venue for this event. The contact details are available on posters distributed round the town. Our Vestry has agreed to our becoming involved in this worthwhile cause.
Meanwhile, in the liturgical run-up to Christmas, our services continue unabated. The 10.30 service for the Second Sunday in Advent was conducted Rev Jane Nelson, and the preacher was Anne, our Lay Reader. The lighting of the second Advent Candle reminded us that today we commemorate the prophets who have proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God. Anne began with a brief comment about some of the well-known prophets: Amos who was a shepherd and who preached against the evils of profiteering and greed among the traders in Israel in his day. Hosea was a baker, who warned of the destruction of the fabric of society that looked certain if the people of Israel pursued pagan religions. The one thing all the prophets had in common was the belief that God had chosen Israel for a special purpose.
The greatest of the prophets was Elijah, who challenged the weak king Ahab and his queen Jezebel over their imported worship of the Baals. It was believed that when Elijah’s time had come to depart this world, he did not die but was snatched up into heaven in a chariot of fire.
By the time of Jesus, the people believed that when the Messiah was about to come to Israel, Elijah would return to proclaim his coming – even today, at the Passover meal, the Seder, Jewish families lay a place for Elijah.
In the New Testament we hear that when Jesus was about thirty years of Age John the Baptist suddenly appeared out of the desert. Matthew’s gospel describes him as dressed in a coat of rough camel’s hair with a wide leather belt round his waist. You can imagine the impact this made on the Jewish people of his time. A people plunged into poverty and near-starvation by a heavy burden of taxation, coupled with runaway inflation, A proud nation, subject to the inflexible and intolerant army of occupation – the Romans, who did not understand their religion, nor speak their language.
The people came from all over the country to see this wild man from the desert – maybe some thought he was Elijah. His preaching was just like the prophets of old – and he challenged them to be baptised in the Jordan as a sign of repentance.
Jesus himself came to the Jordan to be baptised by John – before he went on to fulfil his own ministry. John was captured by King Herod and imprisoned. While awaiting execution he sent a messenger to Jesus with the question ‘are you the Messiah, or must we look for another?’ Jesus’ reply was cryptic: ‘Through my ministry, the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead live and the poor have the Gospel preached to them’ – all well-known verses from the book Of Isaiah describing the expected Messiah.
John was indeed executed, but he died secure in the knowledge that his task was fulfilled as the forerunner, the one who announced the coming Messiah.
Laurencekirk Church of Scotland has embarked upon a major fund raising initiative to raise around £25,000 to carry out essential repairs to its roof. A number of events have taken place including a Scottish Songs of Praise, a concert of Songs For the Season with Bruce Davies, and collections in Smartie tubes of 20 pence coins.
The Fundraising Committee is also grateful to a number of local goups and individuals for their support. The Lindsay School of Dance, Laurencekirk Gala Committee and the Oasis Group have all provided financial donations while a number of personal donations have also been made. A painting by Mrs Phyllis May of Laurencekirk, mounted and framed, was donated by her for a raffle. Mrs May, who took up painting in her 70’s, is a member of the congregation.
The raffle was drawn at a Michael Buble Tribute night in the Dickson Hall and won by Mrs Caroline Godsman, Laurencekirk. The picture shows Mrs May’s daughter, Mrs Lyndia Donald, making the draw.