Dear Friends,

Life is in a state of flux. Everything changes; and nothing ever seems to stay the same. Some of us find it very hard and painful to adapt to change. I heard of two university professors walking through the quadrangle and bemoaning the change and upheaval brought about in their lives by new technology. “Soon,” complained one of them, “there will be no more need for universities. Everyone can now access information remotely and in their own homes. I blame this new inventor, Bill Whatsisname.” Now, in case you thought the professor was talking about Bill Gates, I should inform you that this conversation took place in 1476, and he was referring to Bill Caxton and his new invention of the printing press. Everything changes.

Just look at the way our shopping patterns have changed in today’s society. The Centre of Perth has altered drastically as we now shop online. Long familiar landmarks such as McEwens, Beales, Debenhams, Lakeland, and many more, have been closed.

In Church life too, some radical changes lie ahead. Soon we shall be part of a much larger presbytery taking in the churches of Angus, Dunkeld and Meigle, Stirling and Dundee. Decisions will be made at a more regional and less local level. Within Perth and Kinross there are proposals (as yet to be discussed and agreed) to reduce substantially the number of ministers and the number of well-loved church buildings. Our minister, Rev. John Murdoch, is leaving soon to go to Colvend. I am finally retiring at Easter and the post of Associate Minister is to disappear under the proposals in the Presbytery Plan.

Everything changes. Only God is constant. The phrase – “And it came to pass” – occurs some 85 times in the Bible. Nothing is permanent; nothing lasts for ever. Circumstances change; and God guides us through them. And though there are times when we all must go down into the deep, dark valley of the shadow – we certainly
don’t have to stay there! For God is there, and God is with us – to take us by the hand and lead us safely through; and on into green pastures and beside still waters. And so, when we go through difficult times - lets remember that things are forever changing - and it will pass. Life doesn't stand still; it is always moving forward. That's how we learn and grow and develop. We all have challenges to face in life; and sometimes it is
these very challenges that make us move forward - and help us to grow. The Book of Genesis reminds us that the angel with the flaming sword stands guard over the gates of Eden. We cannot live in the Past – and there is no going back. Always we must go forward; and go forward in Faith!

Finally, and on a more personal note, Liz and I are grateful for the experience and opportunity; and for the friendships formed during my time as your Associate Minister. Although retiring, we are not leaving Perth. We hope still to be around and to play a helpful part in the ongoing life of a very altered church.

With every blessing,