28th February 2022,
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
It is impossible to avoid mention of the situation in Ukraine at this time. As I said in my sermon in St Mungo’s yesterday, we are called to love our neighbour, and at this time it means a number of things.
Firstly, to recognise that this act of aggression and war is not in the name of or greatly supported by the people of Russia. We must not let ourselves show hostility to or hatred of the people of Russia, or of Russian descent. We must show them the same love as we wish to extend to the people of Ukraine.
Secondly, we can show our solidarity and support for the people of Ukraine. Many people wish to ‘do something’ as a response to the awful news but feel impotent and unable to know what they can do. We can publicly show our support, and we can support some emerging appeals for clothing and the essentials of life to be donated to groups planning to transport them to Ukrainian refugees now arriving at the Polish border. If you wish to take some practical action, then go to the website http://helpukrainescotland.live for further information about donations, demonstrations, etc.
Thirdly, as an indirect action, we can strengthen our resolve to follow Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbour. What can we all do that will show God’s love and light to our neighbours, those who are geographically close, and those who are at a distance? We can resolve to be more intentional in how we live as followers of the teachings of our Lord. We can choose to be a shining light wherever and whenever we can. Maybe it is as simple as doing the small and simple things that help makes someone else’s life a bit better and seeing how we can shine light into places of darkness.
Fourthly, and perhaps it may appear very selfishly, look to take care of ourselves. Consuming such distressing news all day every day has been found to be detrimental to our mental wellbeing. However, I am not advocating a ‘head in the sand’ mentality to ignore or deny the tragic and worrying events in Ukraine. Each of us has to work out our own ability to hear and absorb the facts whilst not getting overwhelmed.
Lastly, we can pray. We can pray for all who are living in Ukraine and experiencing the anxieties and trauma of war. We can bring to God all our own hopes and fears that this invasion has risen inside of us. In dwelling with God in prayer, we can hopefully see how we can be agents of love and justice, of peace-making and peacekeeping, and in the quiet stillness we may learn how God wishes us to respond.
Last evening, after some conversations held on Saturday evening, a vigil for Ukraine was held in Raemartin Square in West Linton, organised by me, Revd Dr Tony Foley the Church of Scotland minister, and Ian Reid who is active in the community. Despite being hastily organised and wishing to be mindful that not all who would attend may profess the Christian faith, we managed a good blend of secular concern together with some simple prayers and the singing of ‘Make Me a Channel of Your Peace’. People turned up with candles in jars and glasses and joined in with the singing and held a period of silence. A similar event is being arrange for Penicuik, probably on Wednesday at 6.30 pm.
Sadly, our congregations have lost three members recently. Alan Sibley, a member of St James died on 1st January with his funeral held on 17th January. Brian Shaw, a member of St Mungo’s died on 4th February with his funeral held on 25th February, and David Keys, a member of St James died on 21st February with his funeral due to take place at the Main Chapel in Mortonhall Crematorium at 1pm on 14th March. Please continue to hold Angela Sibley, Chris Shaw and Kathleen Keys and their families in your prayers. These three will be sadly missed. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.
Shrove Tuesday Pancakes at St Mungo’s – 6pm on Tuesday 1st March
Some of the families who joined us for the Crib service on Christmas Eve are joining us to share some pancakes together, with members of the congregation. If you wish to come but haven’t informed me, please let me know. I don’t want to run out of pancakes.
Ash Wednesday services – Wednesday 2nd March
There will be Holy Communion services with the imposition of ashes at 12.30 pm and 7.30 pm at St James the Less. After the 7.30 pm service there will be a an opportunity for some refreshments, followed by Sung Compline in the choir stalls at around 9 pm.
World Day of Prayer – 7pm on Friday 4th March
St James the Less will be hosting this annual service on behalf of Penicuik Churches Together, held on the first Friday in March each year. This year the liturgy was prepared by churches in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. After the service there will be refreshments.
We are now offer Holy Communion in both kinds, albeit by dipping the wafer into the wine in the chalice and placing it in the communicant’s hands. Those who prefer to just receive the wafer should indicate this when coming forward for communion. We are also able to offer refreshments after church on a Sunday, a welcome opportunity to share some time together in fellowship once again.
Mission to Seafarers
In February both congregations had a guest preacher from the Mission to Seafarers Scotland. Retiring collections were received and sent on to the Mission by the Treasurers. Thank you for your generosity.
Platinum Jubilee Celebrations
At both churches we are considering how best to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee. Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd June are additional public holidays, and Sunday 5th June we will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost as well. If you have any ideas or wish to be involved in planning and helping with events please get in touch with me.
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. It is intended to open the church from 10:00 to 18:00, with the usual Holy Communion service at 12.30 and also holding evening prayer in the church at 5.30 pm. If you wish to volunteer to be in the church during the day, and provide refreshments to any visitors, please let me know.
We hold our weekly Bible study at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, online. Our Bible Study of the Book of Hebrews started on 22nd February with an introduction and then reading chapter one. We aim to finish this study on 5th April. 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 Lent: ‘Journey to the Empty Tomb’
Starting on 7th March, for our Lent study, Peter Woodifield will be leading sessions based on Paula Gooder’s book. You don’t need to have the book to join in with these sessions. Please join us as we journey through Lent together.
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 the 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 from Roslin – a distance of about 8 miles. It would be good if we had representation from both congregations. Let me know if you are interested in joining the Big Walk. Lunch will be available in the cathedral and then there will some sessions, led by the interests of those attending, on issues relating to how the church can work towards net zero carbon emissions.
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
If you would be interested in helping with these services, please let me know.
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. This service continues throughout August.
There is no further update on the resettlement programme. The first two families have been settling in well, considering the massive adjustments they have had to make. One of the families lives in Penicuik.
Continuing our Mission: Inviting Someone to ‘Come to Church’
As mentioned before, I would like to encourage you to invite a neighbour or someone from within our communities to join us for a service or one of our group sessions. It could not be easier to invite someone you know locally to join us at a one of our Zoom-based services, or to join us in person in church. You can send them an email if you want or pass them the Zoom meeting information. If you invite them to attend an online Sunday service, then do please give them a copy of the liturgy. Let me know their name, so we know to admit them to the service from the virtual waiting room.
In these times, when people may well be considering their life’s purpose and meaning, an invitation to attend a church service or to join a group may be well received.
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.
A New Website for St Mungo’s
The St Mungo website has been redesigned and new content has been created. The website went live on St Mungo’s Day, 13th January. The website address is slightly different. It is now www.stmungoswestlinton.org
Please do have a look at it. It now holds the sermon texts from each of the recent Sunday services.
If you would like to help maintain the 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?
You will hopefully be aware that we have our very own YouTube channel. If you search for ‘St James and St Mungo’, you will find a number of videos. It includes the playlists for our services, so you can go back and listen to the hymns at a later date. Please do visit it and subscribe to it. With 100 subscriptions we get a formal channel name rather than an anonymous url link below.
In Touch Magazine for St James the Less and St Mungo’s
The new edition has just been published. I hope you enjoy reading it. 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 email@example.com
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 circulated in July 2020 there are specific prayers for each day of the month. I recommend these to you, as an aid to your prayer life. A revised version will be emailed out shortly.
Morning and Evening Prayer and the Wednesday evening services continue to be 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 in 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.
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…
I have had two short trips away recently.
The first was to Bury St Edmunds, to see my best friend receive the Order of St Edmunds from the Bishop of Ipswich and St Edmunds. It was lovely to have two days travelling by train. It was a wonderful opportunity to really get into reading a book rather than trying to snatch a few minutes here and there or reading in the evenings and not really taking anything in. It was lovely to spend time with friends and to worship in the beautiful cathedral in Bury St Edmunds. I read ‘Christianity after Religion’, a book Neville has reviewed. His review is in the February ‘In Touch’.
My second trip away was to spend three full days at Minsteracres Retreat Centre, near Consett in County Durham. It wasn’t for a retreat. It was to meet with the other members of the Iona Community’s Council (their Board of Trustees), for our first meeting together since we were all appointed to the Board in the summer of 2020. We had only met for meetings using Zoom, so it was lovely to meet up with people and spend time getting to know each other. I also had a meeting of one of the two pendant committees of Council, and again it was lovely to meet some people for the first time too. Minsteracres is just off the A68. It is a lovely old country estate now run by a Roman Catholic order called the Passionists, an order I had not heard of before. Despite the stormy weather, I managed to avoid the worst of it in my journeys and once inside it was warm and welcoming.
I also had the excitement of a trip to the cinema earlier in the month. It must be over three years since I last went to the cinema. I went to the Filmhouse in Edinburgh to see ‘Parallel Mothers’, a Spanish film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar. It had English subtitles, my Spanish is definitely not up to understanding a film in Spanish. I like Pedro Almodóvar’s films, they do tend to be quirky, some far quirkier than others! As my daughters also point out, Penelope Cruz is nearly always in his films, and they tend to think Pedro Almodóvar isn’t really the reason I want to watch them. The Filmhouse had well distanced seating and it felt ‘safe’.
Penicuik’s own community cinema is re-starting in March. So, a good excuse to catch up on some other films, with no bus rides into Edinburgh, and much more affordable ticket prices. ‘No Time to Die’ (the lastest Bond movie) is on 20th March, ‘Chariots of Fire’ (one of my favourite films) is on 27th March, ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ (a 2020 film about an 18th century French feminist – it is far more interesting than that summary suggests) is on 3rd April, and lastly ‘Encanto’ (Spanish for ‘To Sing’) which is the latest Disney animation and full of catchy tunes, I am told, is on 10th April.
As the date of the Camino Ingles pilgrimage in May draws ever closer, I am starting to book in some time to start some regular walks of about six to eight miles, as well as a longer walk along the Water of Leith with some of the people who are part of the group going to Spain. I hope that it will provide a basic level of fitness to complete each day’s walk on El Camino.