Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
At the beginning of March we began our penitential season of Lent. It felt all the more sombre with the news of the invasion of Ukraine. During this past month many people have spoken to me of the jarring dissonance between watching the news of suffering and death whilst our lives ‘carry on as usual’. People have found the usual celebrations of life and joyous events to be challenging.
As a spiritual discipline, being able to pray each day in our daily offices for all who are affected by this war, Ukrainian and Russian soldiers who have died or are injured, as well as civilian casualties, for those involved in seeking an end to the violence and killing, and the setting of a just and lasting peace, feels so important to do. I am sure many of you are praying for peace just now, and I commend this practice to you. The Universal Prayer for Peace is just one of many prayers that people may find helpful:
Lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth.
Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill our lives, our world, our universe.
Peace, peace, peace. Amen.
There was a well-attended vigil in West Linton on 27th February, and a weekly vigil has been taking place in Penicuik since early March. At a practical level people have been generous in making donations to refugees of clothes and toys, and of money to organisations such as the Disasters Emergency Committee. In recent weeks large numbers have registered as sponsors under the UK Government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme. These are signs of where God is at work, where hope can be found.
With effect from Monday 4th April the Scottish Government regulations will change. Those attending church will no longer be required by law to wear a mask. Given the current rates of infection I am sure that many people may wish to continue wearing a mask for now.
We are also able to offer the sharing of the ‘common cup’ at Holy Communion once again. We shall use a second chalice for those wishing to share the common cup, or it may be more practical in some instances for those wishing to receive from the common cup to receive after those receiving by intinction. I am sure many may be hesitant at this time to return to our pre-COVID practice and will wish to receive Holy Communion in both kinds, albeit by the intinction and placing the wafer in the communicant’s hands.
Bishop’s Lent Appeal – The Welcoming
Bishop John’s Lent Appeal this year is for a charity called ‘The Welcoming’, that combines international and domestic concerns. It is dedicated to enabling refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants to feel at home and to thrive in our country.
Bishop John writes: ‘We have, over the past year, witnessed terrible scenes as Afghans fled Kabul and migrants faced shipwreck and drowning in the English Channel. I would ask you to be generous this Lent, not simply because outcasts and strangers always hold a special place in God’s heart, according to the Bible, but also because the future of the human race and of this planet depends on us learning that love knows no boundaries of race, religion or nationhood.’ For more information on ‘The Welcoming’, their website address is www.thewelcoming.org
If you wish to financially support the Bishop’s Lent Appeal, please make a bank transfer or give a cheque to the church treasurer, indicating it is for the Lent Appeal.
Shrove Tuesday Pancakes
In the early evening of Tuesday 1st March, the undercroft in St Mungo’s was filled with people and the smell of hot oil and pancakes cooking. It was lovely to share time with folk and to be able to invite people who came to our Christmas Eve Crib service to join us for different event. I enjoy cooking pancakes, but I am glad it is just once a year.
140th Anniversary of the Licencing of St James the Less for Services
The 140th anniversary is on Wed 13th April 2022. This will be in the middle of Holy Week. The church will be open from 10:00 to 18:00, with the usual Holy Communion service at 12.30, and Evening Prayer will also be in the church at 5.30 pm, as well as online. If you wish to volunteer to be in the church during the day, and provide refreshments to any visitors, please let me know.
New Equipment in both St Mungo’s and St James the Less
Last summer each church was invited to apply for funds from the Province for ‘COVID Recovery’. Both of the Vestries approved a bid for funding to improve our ability to live-stream services. All of the items purchased should arrive by the end of April, and then we shall start to install the equipment and implement the changes. At St James two dedicated cameras will be installed, and at St Mungo’s one dedicated camera will be installed. They will connect through to a camera controller and a dedicated laptop, which will enable services to be live-streamed. There will also be a large display screen (in the hall at St James and in the undercroft at St Mungo’s) that can be used to watch the service and also can connect to a laptop or other device to show films or whatever you wish to show from your device.
The systems will be easy to operate, and training will be given to anyone interested in helping with this aspect of our ministry.
We hold our weekly Bible study at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, online. On 26th April we shall commence a study of the Gospel of Luke. Why don’t you join us to explore the texts, understand their context, and just as importantly, explore how they speak to us and how they inform us today?
Monday Study Night in Easter: ‘A Season of Pilgrimage’
Starting on 25th April, over five sessions we will be using course material designed by our diocese (Revd David Paton-Williams and Revd Sophia Marriage), on the theme of Pilgrimage. It is designed to facilitate reflection and discussion on each week’s theme. There is a course booklet, available in PDF format, which I can email out to all who are interested. Please let me know if you would like to join in with some or all of these sessions. The Diocese of Edinburgh pilgrimage on el camino Inglese from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela will take place whilst this group meets to discuss pilgrimage, making it even more relevant and apposite.
Faith Development ‘Faith Books’
When we have a fifth Monday in the month I lead a discussion at 7.00 pm about a book as a way of introducing people to different authors which may pique an interest to read more of their work (or not!).
The next 5th Monday is on 30th May 2022. The book to be discussed ‘Generous Justice, How God’s Grace Makes Us Just’, by Timothy Keller. The books for the rest of 2022 are listed below. That should leave plenty of time to get the books or borrow them from someone (including me) or from a library.
Monday 29th August 2022: ‘In The Shelter: Finding a Home in the World’, by Patrick O’ Tuama
Monday 31st October 2022: ‘Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi’, by Ami-Jill Levine.
In looking for new or used books, I have often used www.bookfinder.com I am sure there are other search sites that will help people find the above books.
Diocesan Big Walk to Net Zero
On Saturday 28th May people will walk from various starting points in the Diocese to St Mary’s cathedral. There is a ‘Big Walk’ starting at 09:30 from The Balmwell Toby Carvery (opposite Mortonhall Crematorium) – a distance of about 5 miles. We expect to arrive at the cathedral between 11.30 and 12:00, allowing time for conversation, reflection, and traffic lights! Let me know if you are interested in joining the Big Walk. Lunch will be available in the cathedral and then there will three sessions; two talks and a final session led by the interests of those attending on issues relating to how the church can work towards net zero carbon emissions. Please note this is an amended route. The original intention to start from Roslin was not practicable.
Mid-week Services on Zoom
Our services on a Wednesday evening at 7.30 pm follow the regular pattern of services set out below. They are all on Zoom.
1st Wed of the month: Healing service (if you wish someone or a situation to be prayed for send an email to me or Marion Mather)
2nd Wed of the month: Christian Meditation (a time to settle, a short line of scripture, 15 minutes of silence, and a closing prayer).
3rd Wed of the month: Iona Abbey evening service liturgy
4th Wed of the month: service in the style of Taizé
At 9pm every Wednesday evening we hold the service of Compline. Please do join us for this short service of calm and settling prayers before sleep.
Tuesday Lunchtime Contemplative Prayer at St Mungo’s
Starting on Tuesday 26th April at 12.30 pm there will be a weekly time of Contemplative Prayer at St Mungo’s. There will be some variation in what is offered, including centring prayer, Christian meditation following the World Community of Christian Meditation model of John Main, and Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.
Continuing our Mission: Leading Your Church Into Growth Prayer
Each weekday morning we pray for growth in our church. If you are not able to join us online for Morning Prayer at 9 am, can I encourage you to pray this once a day. The prayer is given below.
God of Mission, who alone brings growth to your Church,
send your Holy Spirit to give:
vision to our planning, wisdom to our actions, and power to our witness.
Help our church to grow:
in numbers, in spiritual commitment to you, and in service to our local
community, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
St Mungo’s Website
The new website address for St Mungo’s is www.stmungoswestlinton.org
If you would like to help maintain the new St Mungo’s website; checking that the content is up to date, supporting the uploading of sermons etc., please let me know, Training can be given. I can assure you it isn’t very complex, as I learnt how to do it fairly quickly. Maybe one of our younger members would like to support the church by helping with this?
In Touch Magazine for St James the Less and St Mungo’s
The deadline for content to be submitted for the next issue is 8th May 2022. I would like to encourage you to submit something for inclusion in the magazine; a poem, a review of a book or a film, an article on a subject of interest? If you wish to submit an article please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial giving to St James the Less or to St Mungo’s
Church finances are feeling the effects of the lockdown, as the amounts normally collected in the offertory plate are obviously not currently being collected. If you are able, can I ask you to prayerfully consider setting up a recurring monthly payment to the church via on-line banking, to contribute financially on a regular basis. Details of the bank accounts are given below for each of the churches.
St James the Less:
Monthly donation by bank transfer (include your name in the reference line when setting this up – only the Treasurer knows the name of the donor). Bank details are: St James Episcopal Church Penicuik, acct no 17117264, sort code 80-22-60.
Monthly donation by bank transfer (include your name in the reference line when setting this up – only the Treasurer knows the name of the donor). Bank details are: St Mungo’s Vestry, acct no 00817851, sort code 80-09-39.
Praying the Daily Offices
In the Daily Offices prayer booklet there are specific prayers for each day of the month. I recommend these to you, as an aid to your prayer life.
Morning and Evening Prayer and the Wednesday evening services are online using Zoom. Sharing the Daily Offices each weekday with others is a wonderful way of connecting, praying and praising together with a natural rhythm of the week. It is also one of the few times we can hear the psalms being read more than just a few verses at a time. Please do consider joining us at 9 am and or 5.30 pm for about half an hour, whenever you are able.
Ecumenical Relations and Community Involvement Work
The Penicuik Ministers continue to meet on Zoom for coffee and chat and supportive prayers on a roughly monthly basis. Revd Dr Tony Foley has been very busy settling in to his new role in the Church of Scotland West Tweeddale churches. He and I have managed to speak on the phone a few times and share some time together, and we shall be meeting up in the next week to jointly plan activities related to the Whipman and Lass and joint services across the year.
Once a month the Penicuik Churches Together (PCT) has a joint Sunday evening service. On that Sunday our usual schedule will be adapted so that members can attend the PCT service.
The EH26 Resilience Group continues to meet occasionally. It remains a good way to connect in with the needs of our community and support how those needs are met. I am also still attending the Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership ‘Care for People Planning Group’ Zoom meetings, and the Afghan Resettlement Programme meetings.
The Ministry Team
We meet on a monthly basis to plan for the coming months; planning services and faith development activities as well as exploring other aspects of what is offered to the congregations and to our local communities.
In Other News…
On my day off I have been trying to get out for some longer walks over the last month, in preparation for the pilgrimage walk in May. Most recently, I have managed a walk to Dalkieth and back, from West Linton to Penicuik, and to Lasswade and back. The weather has been mostly kind. This coming Saturday quite a few who will be walking together in Spain will be gathering in Leith for what I hope is a ‘dry run’, of a 13 mile walk up the Water of Leith to Balerno. All the travel and accommodation is now booked, so it is now down to getting fitter.
Penicuik’s own community cinema has re-started. I did a short introduction to ‘Chariots of Fire’ on 27th March, using information from a lecture David Putnam gave in 2012, and during the intermission I gave a very brief precis of the life of Eric Liddell.
In mid-Lent I found myself writing a reflection for Advent. It was quite hard to get my head out of Lent and to think about Advent. The reflection is for a new Iona Community book of Advent reflections which will be published later this year. I just managed to get it submitted by the deadline at the end of March.