LETTER FROM THE MINISTER (SPRING 2021)
As I write this, we seem to be emerging from a prolonged period of ice, frost and snow. But days are inexorably lengthening and we look ahead to the first signs of Spring. Like many, I am sure, I have been using the dreich, dark days to do some badly needed tidying up, starting with my chaotic study. Having borrowed an incinerator from one of my kindly parishioners, I am steadily burning reams and reams of sermons, bank statements and receipts and heading for a paper-free life. Such has been my enthusiasm to destroy hard copies that the bin has suffered a bit of metal fatigue. In the words of a local worthy, it would seem that I have inadvertently ‘burned the erse oot o’ it!” During my clearing-out, however, I stopped to read a yellowing national newspaper cutting which had been kept since 2000. It bore the headline “Sleepy hollow rings to pot-shots at Maggie” – a reference to one of my sermons whilst still in the phase of youthful and rebellious ministry in the Borders. It was a review secretly conducted by a journalist who (incognito) sat through one of my services and who then published it in a Sunday newspaper. A more complimentary (I think) comment was: “The Rev Stan is a gentle giant…who looked gorgeous in his blue robes and gown…. some of his loyal ladies swooned for him.” But the crux of the matter was my comment on the Iron Lady’s assertion that “there is no such thing as society”. Seemingly, I stated that we only exist in relation to our network of obligations and contacts of which our family is the most important. Even hermits, I noted, have to relate to others because it is only in relation to other people that we find meaning and context. I must have made some sort of sense, because I achieved four stars out of five for my preaching, according to the newspaper’s ‘sermon-ometer’. Since it was Trinity Sunday, I could well imagine that I would be ‘banging-on’ about the Godhead being a bit like a family. Nevertheless, the experience reminded me of some valuable truths. It is incumbent on us, whether we have any faith or not, to look continually towards the Spring and the new life it contains, but from a community aspect. The message remains that darkness, death and the coldness of Covid is never the finale. We were made together for life and light and not the depressive lonely greyness which can become our default human condition. Between the effects of the virus and other painful losses that our communities have experienced, these past months have been something of a dire record. But however severe the winter might have been in terms of human loss, bereavement and sadness, we cling on to a great hope. With the start of the vaccination programme, better times are just waiting to transform our grey world. I have had the privilege to see how families, neighbours and friends have rallied around to support each other and their fellow villagers. So although these words will never get further than the bounds of our parish and won’t make headline news this time, they are still worth repeating: we do not just exist as individuals. Like the inner workings of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we too exist only in relation to each other. It is when we achieve such ‘community’ in our family, village and world that, that we become truly human.
With all good wishes.
Sadly, due to Covid restrictions, we were unable to hold physical services at Christmas-time but the ‘angels’ which were placed on the gates of both our churches were a great success. These were taken away by villagers, along with a seasonal message from the Kirk. We say ‘thank-you’ to all those who knitted them. Such was their popularity , that of the hundreds produced, only four were left by New Year. Likewise, our ‘carol-trails’ in both Abernethy and Glenfarg attracted quite a bit of attention and younger people especially enjoyed utilising the QR codes to hear a rendition of their favourite Christmas music. The Nativity Tableau in Nurse Peattie’s Garden was a new venture for Abernethy and created by many talented village volunteers. The stable and characters (both human and animal) were greatly admired over Advent and Christmas.
As I write this, again, even the small congregations allowed to physically attend church (sixteen in Abernethy and fourteen in Arngask) have currently been suspended by the Scottish Government due to Covid precautions.
On a more hopeful note, a monthly Zoom Fun Church has been taking place for our Sunday Club children. The minister and volunteer team continue to send out and deliver ‘On-Line Church’ services every Sunday.
Current worship information can be accessed through the Church ADA (Abernethy & Dron & Arngask) Facebook page. Here you can find details about how to ‘register’ your ‘Trace and Protect’ details (if necessary), get the weekly service sent to your computer and join in with Zoom events. Regulations are forever changing and so you are encouraged to access up-to-the-minute Kirk news in this way.