Round the churches

South Church linked with Dunnottar

T.S. Eliot opens his poem ‘The Journey of the Magi’ with ‘A cold coming they had of it’

The ambient temperature in our church being similarly fresh (Baltic), ensured that South Church goers had a similar experience on Sunday before heading for the hall. However, our service had a lovely café style appeal and the a Capella singing of familiar hymns led by the choir was rather fine. Coincidentally, one of the first hymns was both ‘happy’ and ‘clappy’ so those so inclined were able to warm themselves.

Rosslyn raised our spirits when she spoke about Epiphany to the children, explaining that it meant revealing what someone or something was really like. By means of her ‘lookalike minister’ teddy bear (a gift from her sister) she explained that it was not just the physical but the whole complex nature of God that was being revealed. This compelling theme developed further as we learned from the Book of John of the wedding at Cana and the jars of water turning to wine. This miracle was the first indication of the depth and strength of Jesus. The deceptive simplicity of His words, ‘My hour is not yet come’ lent weight to what happened. Mary, His mother had absolute faith in Him and this led to the miracle which saved the wedding. This event gave the merest hint of that of which Jesus is capable. Likewise, we must all be aware of how much we and those around us can achieve and strive to fulfil our potential.

Kirk Session meeting at Dunnottar @ 7pm on Wednesday 20th January.

Next Sunday, January 24 the service will be at Dunnottar at 10.30.

News from St James – 2nd Sunday of Epiphany

Despite the freezing cold weather, the usual faithful congregation attended both the 9.00 am and 10.30 services, which were both conducted by Dr Peter Smart, Warden of Readers. Before his address at the 10.30 service, Anne (Lay Reader) announced the forthcoming events: our Wednesday 10.30 service falls within the octave of Prayer for Church Unity and this will be dedicated to our desire for greater fellowship between the branches of the Christian Church worldwide. On 30th January we have our Burns Supper, and folk are invited to sign up for this – a three-course meal at £10 for adults, £5 for children and BYO bottles and glasses! Ash Wednesday falls on 10th February and will be celebrated at 10.30 in St James, while St Ternan’s will also be holding a service at 7.00 pm for those who cannot attend a midweek daytime service.

Peter based his address on the reading from John’s Gospel of the ‘Wedding at Cana’ – the first of the ‘signs’ of God’s power being shown in Jesus. Peter led us through some very interesting observations on the story. To begin with there were the huge 20-gallon water-jars and John tells us Jesus turned this into 120 gallons of best quality wine – clearly those wedding-guests would not have made much of our Chief Medical Officer’s advice about not drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week!

On one level this simply a jolly good story. The wine runs out before the wedding party finishes and Mary says to Jesus ‘there’s no wine left’ and Jesus retorts ‘what’s that to do with me’ – but despite his ‘Mr Grumpy’ response he instructs the servants to fill these containers with water. But what is the greater significance of this story for us?

First, just as God chose a small insignificant country for his Son’s incarnation, so Jesus began his pastoral work in a small insignificant village called Cana, in Galilee. And secondly, this was not a big society wedding – just a small family do. Jesus does not discriminate between the haves and the have-nots. The couple would have begun their marriage badly if the guests had realised the wine had run out. And third, in those days the wine was served according to status, with the better-off receiving the ‘best’ wines. But Jesus wine is for everybody.

Then Peter commented on Mary’s place in this story. She effectively brackets the whole of Jesus’ life and earthly ministry. She shared with God in his coming to birth, and now she is present as Jesus performs his first miracle – as she will be present at the foot of the cross at the moment of his crucifixion and death.

Secondly there is the role that Mary plays in this account. It was she who points out to Jesus that the wine had all gone – then seems to have received the rough edge of his tongue when he retorts ‘What has that to do with you and me?’ Nevertheless she instructs the servants to ‘do whatever he tells you’.

Then there is the role of the servants – to begin with they would have to fill up these 20-gallon jars with fresh water – not the old water used for purification. Then there was the steward – he hadn’t been privy to the conversation between Mary and the servants or he wouldn’t have spoken so harshly to the bridegroom about saving the best wine till last.

So the liberating news from this passage is that the Reign of God has got rid of all hierarchies. We all experience them – even in church we have bishops, priests, deacons, lay readers, authorised lay ministers, vestries and congregations. Such hierarchies have a real purpose, but we need to be able to break free from them and show our love for all our fellow women and men, as Jesus did.

Jesus is one who attends weddings and celebrates life in togetherness. Jesus shows us to closeness of God: God is not an absentee landlord, a never-present father. No. Jesus will never say we are too close for comfort.

Our Vestry will meet on Wednesday evening, when one of the topics will be the maintenance of church services during the absence of Rev Jane Nelson due to sickness. We all pray for a speedy recovery for her.

Baptist Buzz

On Sunday at Stonehaven Baptist Church we heard about a new project for families with toddlers that the church has initiatied. This is called “mainly music” and provides activities for pre-schoolers based around participating in music. We heard one of the numbers that two of the children have learned, entitled “5 little ladybugs”. It was a lot of fun, and we enjoyed seeing the special effects provided by the gloves with ladybug fingertips, which helped the young mathematicians count backwards from 5 to 1.

Parents and others will also need to count backwards (but only from 3) for the new enquirers course that Nathan Young, our pastor, is starting up. This is called 3-2-1: The story of God, the world and us. It runs on Tuesday evenings, 7.30 to 8.30pm in the church office in Arbuthnott Place. Nathan’s ministry this week centred around the theme of prayer, and this time in the light of God’s holiness. This light shines into our lives, like a torch into a murky fish tank that needs its water to be changed. When we realise God’s holiness and purity, we may be tempted to prefer the light to be switched off so we can hide. But if we confess our sins to him and ask Him to forgive us, God is faithful and just to cleanse us, like changing the water in the fish tank. This he can do, because Jesus died on the cross, to give forgiveness, cleansing and new life to all who call on Him.

The zone club for senior school children continues to meet at Carronhill School on Friday evenings, 7.15-8.30pm. Stonehaven Baptist Church Sunday services are at 11 am, also at Caronhill School. For more details visit, email or call 01569 765097