The Manse of St John’s Kirk and St Leonard’s in the Fields 
Friday 10th July 2020 

To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose
Under heaven
 The Byrds : 1965 

Dear friends 
The ‘season’ for us all involves change and all of us will have been changed in many ways since the pandemic reached our shores in the middle of March. The suddenness of its arrival changed everything and yet, to put everything in perspective, it is only a matter of four months, whereas as everybody realises, in the Second World War, separation, change, loneliness and absence lasted for many for over five years.

Nevertheless it has been a strange time, a time of change and uncertainty and, for the future, who knows what will be ahead for any of us. Here though as Christian people we have an ‘Anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!’ 

And what of the church? How different it will be when we once more are allowed to enter the sacred space of our church buildings.

These four months have allowed flexibility in worship, new expressions of faith, new modes of communication, new avenues drawing many within the fellowship of our gathered Congregations not only from Perth but from much further afield. Further, I have been so encouraged and inspired by the many who have volunteered to sing, read, write and pray for the benefit of our online worship. It has been uplifting to lead the worship each week in different venues, encompassing the different spheres of life in which we join with others throughout the world. 

The River Tay has been an ever present friend as have been lambs, horses, many small birds, not forgetting ducks and swans and of course the eagles; in two weeks’ time on the 26th of July for the Family Service online I very much hope you might enable your pet to attend, in a virtual way of course. You may wish to have your dog, cat, goldfish, tortoise, hamster, budgie or any pet, ready to participate in what might be called a ‘Pet Family and other Animals Service’. Part of that Service will come from near Salisbury Plain. 

Some years ago great friends of ours decided to have a different expression of church worship and with others began in Wiltshire a group called God Unlimited Outdoor Therapy, or Gul for short. During the Service a video clip will explain that GUL is a growing family of centres founded with the aim of providing an opportunity to anyone, regardless of age, ability or background the chance to enjoy the outdoors in a therapeutic setting. Many in need, spiritually, mentally and physically, are assisted as the Christian faith is shared, as worship outdoors is offered amidst the delight of horses providing much of that therapeutic care. 

These online Services have of course enabled many who might not normally be ‘in church’ on Sunday mornings to worship God in new ways with new styles. Online worship is a new concept but has established a firm footing in my hopes for live streaming when church worship within a building resumes. It is difficult to know when our church buildings will re-open for worship but the Scottish government is beginning to talk about Congregational life being able to resume once more: at the moment the timings are unknown but it is probable that before summer ends - and I hope possibly in August - we shall be able to have worship within our church buildings once more, albeit of a different style. Be assured that those charged with responsibility for health and safety within our Congregations will not allow any recommendation to go to the Kirk Session, who in turn require Presbytery’s approval, without a very full and thorough examination of all the factors that have to be discussed in order for church worship indoors to begin again. At the point at which it is felt safe for us to return, I will write again as we go forward slowly in our attempts to return to some form of normality. 

The new normal will be very different from the old. It will require change of attitude, care, understanding, patience and generosity of spirit as we look to one another’s needs to serve the Lord and offer him our lives in new and exciting ways. 

Please never hesitate to contact me by email, phone or letter about any matter. 
Worship next Sunday the 19th will be an outdoor Service of Holy Communion. I hope you can view this in its picturesque setting. 

My very best wishes, thoughts and prayers as we seek to honour God and serve one another in love. 
John 
Contact details 07578 558978 jmurdoch@churchofscotland.org.uk 
The Reverend John Murdoch, Minister of St John’s Kirk of Perth linked with St Leonard’s in the Fields, Perth