As I type this article (last minute as ever) I can see clear signs of Spring bulbs coming up through the cold snowy earth, showing us signs of Spring in the depth of January.  Mid-January last year saw snowdrops in full bloom in my garden.  This year, barely an inch above ground level, proving this has been a much colder winter than past few years.

Over the festive period we enjoyed the Special Christmas Services, which were well attended and enjoyed by us all.  The Nativity Service on 10<sup>th</sup> December was brilliant and our Youth, so ably led by Dawn McLeod, were absolutely brilliant and surely many of us will remember their story for many years to come.

Laurieknowe School held their own Christmas Service in our Church and hearing over 200 children singing “Hark the Herald Angels sing” was a joy and surely offers us a real hope for our Church future.

Christmas Eve 7pm service was well attended and good singing and happiness was in much evidence.  Christmas Day service saw 8 children bring a Santa gift to share with us, and I am delighted to say I didn’t break anything, – tho’ I did manage to allow some cosmetics to fall out of their box.

Sadly, many of us have also gathered over the past few weeks in Church to not only pay our respects, but also to celebrate the lives of a number of very loyal, faithful, dedicated, members – members who gave so much of their time, talents and wealth of love and fellowship to Maxwelltown West Church over a great number of years.  Indeed they saw our Church as their second home.  Each member will be sadly missed, not only by their own families, but also by their extended family here at Maxwelltown West Church.

I am slowly but surely getting to know many of you better, and together we will continue to journey in the Love of Jesus.  My sincere thanks to all who have welcomed me into their homes, and I have enjoyed our chats and fellowship, as well as sharing a wee Psalm and prayer together.  I look forward to meeting many more of you over the coming weeks, in church, at home, and in various Church activities and meetings.

On 25<sup>th</sup> February we will celebrate Thinking Day with our Youth Organisations parading their colours into church.  So <strong>please</strong> come along and support our Youth and their Leaders who give so much of their time and talent to nurture our next generation.

The Season of Lent will commence on Sunday 18<sup>th</sup> February and the Service will be led by Members of Kirk Session and Members.   Palm Sunday will be celebrated on 25th March and Easter Sunday on 1<sup>st</sup> April.

If you have not been in Church recently, let me assure you a very warm, friendly welcome will greet you, and make you feel at home once again.

The author of the Book of Hebrews wrote in chapter 10 v 24 and 25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

May God Bless you and keep you
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Your Brother in Christ,    David Matheson