Greetings to you all.
Reading my last article, I see the Beast from the East was still hovering around and cold weather abounded in Mid-April. Indeed we barely saw spring this year as summer came mid-May, and now mid-July many plants are indeed flowering/fruiting earlier this year than normal. But what glorious weather we have enjoyed these past 2 months. The Beast has indeed been almost forgotten about. Some nights we may even have wished for the coldness of March as we struggled to sleep in the heat.
I write this article on the anniversary of my commencing as your Locum in 2017 – a year I have thoroughly enjoyed, for I have been privileged to lead worship Sunday by Sunday and see the transformation of our Lord come upon Maxwelltown West Church. When I started I could sense an unease and sense of uncertainty and doubts amongst Sunday worshippers, and indeed also amongst some members I visited. But now one year later I really sense a Church which is eagerly awaiting God to bless it with a new minister to lead you forward into the next chapter of your church.
You may recall that in the last edition of Contact, I spoke about myself and Mr. Crossan starting a Bible Study Group. I am delighted to say we are still going strong and meet every Thursday at 7.30pm in the small Meeting Room. We are currently studying the Book of Acts. Indeed we are also working our way through The Book of Acts during regular Sunday worship, for The Book of Acts is a Biblical gem for us to reflect upon how Jesus’s Church began in Jerusalem, and spread throughout surrounding countries and into Asia and Eastern Europe. But it also gives us great opportunities to see how we can journey forward as Maxwelltown West Church.
At this year’s General Assembly, the Council of Assembly put forward a 10-year plan for renewal of our Church of Scotland. This was thrown out by General Assembly and the Council were charged with bringing a much more radical plan back to Assembly in 2019.
Whatever the plan will be, the Church of Scotland will have to be a different church from what many of you were brought up in and love. But remember last year’s success, is this year’s empty nest. In other words, Jesus’s Church can never sit still. It must look for new ways of bringing the gospel of Good News to God’s people. Sure, the way ahead for the Church of Scotland will be painful and difficult and will require a great deal of heart-wrenching decisions being made, but I believe it will also offer great opportunities for different churches to work closer together as well as in fellowship in local communities and on a national level.
Highlighting some special services over past 3 months:
On 29th April we held another celebration service for the Year of Young People when 3 of Maxwelltown West Guides came and told us of the exciting summer camps they are attending in Cambodia, India and an International Camp near Manchester. They each had to fundraise a considerable sum of money to help pay for these trips. They have all expressed their gratitude for our contribution towards their trips. To think these young ladies will go out into the wide world this summer and share our Church with new friends and bring back many memories and stories which they have agreed to share with us later this year.
On 6th May we celebrated Rogation Sunday. This is an ancient service which asks God to bless the seed and land to produce good crops and strong healthy animals. I assisted our Sunday Children in planting seeds into a pot.
On 10th June we held our annual Sunday School prizegiving which was also a service to celebrate the Year of Young People, and indeed also Guid Nychburris. Congratulations to our 2 regular “STARS” Georgia and Blair. After being presented with their prizes, I then presented them with the pot of parsley they had sown on Rogation Sunday. To say they were stunned is putting it mildly. I do hope they have enjoyed tasting some!
Unbeknown to myself and the congregation we did indeed have the Real Guid Nychburr in Church. Congratulations to Mary McL, a richly deserved recipient of this years’ Dumfries Guid Nychburr Shield.
The NHS has cared for each one of us – from GP to dental, from eye specialist to hearing specialist, from walking aids to wheel chairs, from hospital surgery to aftercare in our own homes, from medicines to foot care and so on – all provided by our beloved NHS. So on Sunday 8th July we celebrated and gave thanks to God for 70 yrs. of the NHS. The Service began with the 23rd Psalm being beautifully sung by Mrs. Walter. Two members also provided me with excellent prayer and meditation material to use, and our own Praise Group sang expertly and beautifully “Into thy Hands O God”. The 2 chosen readings were read by NHS staff both current and retired.
My thanks once again to all those who have made me so very welcome into your homes and shared your life stories as well as faith journeys.
Let me close with some encouraging words from Ephesians ch 3 v 14-21
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”
May God’s Blessings of Love, Joy and Peace, be with you and your loved ones.
Your Brother in Christ