The Manse : 17th September 2020
Dear friends of St John’s and St Leonard’s in the Fields and others from around the globe,
I want to wish you well most of all and send greetings to you and your families. Thank you for your support as we try to keep the flag flying high for the ongoing life of the Churches by prayer and preaching, by giving and by witnessing to the never-ending presence of God with us in Christ through the church universal and the church near you and always with you. The church cares for you, for you matter – to God, to your family, your community, your congregation; for indeed your life, as with all lives, matters.
You may remember the name John Lewis, not the rather special shop in Edinburgh, London or Bath but the American politician and congressman who marched at Selma in the early 1960s and who along with Martin Luther King made legitimate and peaceful protests, causing the United States and many others across the globe to realise that those with black skin matter, just as much as those with white skin or any other colour of skin– for indeed all lives matter to God who created us in his image to obey his laws, to walk in his ways and to treat one another with proper respect.A key phrase from John Lewis was:
Keep your eyes on the prize.
That concept is appropriate not only for the 1960s but for the 2020s and apt for equality, human dignity and freedom and also for onward and upward “Faith seeking understanding” as new expressions of faith come to the fore.
For the last six months there have been many new expressions of our Christian faith as clergy and others discover that a crucially important way of reaching out to others and witnessing to others about the life of Jesus Christ and his ways of peace and gentleness, self restraint and self denial and love unlimited, is by using one’s intellect, wit, voice and missionary zeal to communicate the Christian faith using the tools of modern media.I have been exceptionally privileged to have been able to speak to many people with an online ministry, using the platform of the websites of St Leonard’s in the Fields, St John’s Kirk and Youtube to bring this about – especially when both church buildings have been closed.
While St Leonard’s in the Fields Kirk Session is keen to reopen the church building, but not quite yet, interestingly along with the majority of churches in Perth Presbytery. St John’s Kirk reopened on Sunday, the 30th of August, having been given permission by Perth Presbytery so to do; it has been so encouraging to see Congregational members returning to the sacred space of holiness in the 13th Century Kirk, where we were recently able to celebrate its 778th anniversary since Consecration on the 5th of September 1242 by Bishop David de Bernham. King David the first, son of the beloved Queen Margaret was then on the throne, crowned at nearby Scone Palace and it was he who enabled the Monks at Dunfermline Abbey to raise teinds: funds to establish a Kirk Dedicated to St John the Baptist.
Online worship, such a delight and a joy to lead, continues alongside the live 9:30 am service in St John’s Kirk. May I thank you for the warm expressions of gratitude from so many across the world, from Australia and USA, from Canada and South Africa, from Switzerland, France, Germany and so many more from other parts of Europe in addition to those from almost every area of the United Kingdom: from the north of Northern Ireland to the south of southern England: Dorset, Devon and Sussex, not to mention many in Scotland who together with our Perthshire friends of St John’s and St Leonard’s in the Fields have been not only generous and kind in their emailed comments but have given financially to assist the vital needs of our churches. Might we not all want to reconsider how we could assist our needy churches by raising funds? You don’t have to cycle for Erskine around the NC500 but you could!
As we keep our eyes on the prize of following Our Lord and Saviour and doing the very best we can do to love our neighbour as we love Our Lord, let us remember the needs of the marginalised and the racially abused, the lonely and heartbroken, the homeless due to the ravaging fires of Oregon and especially at the moment the bereaved due to the coronavirus pandemic. May we pledge ourselves to do all that we can not only to assist the ones we know in our community but those we do not know across the globe, remembering that all lives matter wherever we live and wherever we go.
Keep your eyes on the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ who longs to find a home in the hearts of all who have kept Him outside and of course to be welcomed by you and me, His followers by grace.
With every best wish and God’s richest Blessings upon you and all in your families.