Saturday 4th April
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week and I for one will find it so hard not to be able to lead and participate in our usual services over this coming week. However, I continue to be heartened by the way in which everyone I speak to seems to be coping with the limitations placed upon us and by the way in which everyone is keeping in touch with others and offering to help in different ways. The same applies in our wider community where I’ve heard different stories of neighbours and community volunteers doing shopping etc for those who are unable to get out at all. In the midst of all that is going on it is so good to hear that we are part of a community that is so caring and attentive.
Although we cannot meet on Palm Sunday there are again different services on line and the Daily Reflections here on our own website. Of course we can come to the Lord at any time and I would encourage everyone to spend time everyday in communion with our Lord, praying for all that is going on in the world today, as well as our own communities and our own families. There is also another call to prayer by the leaders of all Churches for this Palm Sunday at 7.00pm, where as a nation we can unite in prayer, praying for these same needs.
Lord, as we approach this most Holiest of weeks, help us to look ever to You, especially in these days of so much pain and heartache and help us to remember that You are with us and always will be. Amen.
Thursday 26th March
Over the past week we have all been adjusting to the limitations now in place to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus and I’m sure at times we all feel somewhat frustrated at not being able to come and go as we please and do the things we usually do. I know that I feel really uneasy at not being able to visit people, particularly those who are housebound or ill at home or in hospital. Yet in the conversations that I have had with so many over this past week I have been heartened by the fact that so many are still in good spirits and not to despondent. I have also been glad to hear that so many are keeping in touch with one another, helping to uplift our spirits and offering whatever small help they can by means of shopping. Indeed in the last couple of days we have received calls at the manse asking if we need anything – thank you.
From this Sunday the Church of Scotland will be putting services on their website from this Sunday and you will also find a list of churches who offer online services. In addition to this on the Ascend link on their website you can access different devotional resources for personal use and I would suggest having a look at this. One good one is a 24/7 prayer and devotional app provided by Lectio 365 – which can be downloaded onto your phone or tablet from Apple or Android. I know many of you may already have such an app – and there are many others out there – but if you don’t or would like another, this one on the Ascend page is good.
As I’m sure you are all aware, this situation isn’t going to improve for some time and it may be a while before we can come together in worship and fellowship. But through the Holy Spirit we can still come together in prayer and devotion, and I would urge you all to do so. In your prayers please remember all who are giving of themselves at this trying time and remember those in our own communities too. Hold in your prayers Jim Lindsay and Bob Farquharson and others too who are in hospital – them and all their families and loved ones. Also please remember Sheila and Allan Legge as they mourn the passing of Sheila’s brother, Jim, as well as Jim’s family down South unable to come to the funeral. Indeed remember all in our church families – hold everyone up in prayer. Please continue to keep in touch with one another and please don’t hesitate to call if you need anything, even if just for a chat.
Lord, thank you for Your help, support and guidance at this time, and by Your Spirit keep us united with each other through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen
Church of Scotland Response to COVID-19 Pandemic (18th March 2020)
Since we met for worship last Sunday things have moved on at a pace greater than we perhaps would have imagined. On Sunday I stated it was my desire and intention to keep our churches open until I was told not to and as you now know that decision came from 121 yesterday, based on advice they had been given by the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland. From now until further notice all worship gatherings have to cease. The guidance specifies what that means precisely in more detail but it does include Sunday worship and the services planned over Easter, so there will be no Easter services at either church. Although I have outlined this here and have notices on the notice boards of both churches, if you could please share this with others that would be good.
Like many of you I find this difficult to come to terms with and will miss the fellowship that we all enjoy when we gather together in God’s name, but the Church of Scotland has made this decision and we have to abide with it. However, whilst we may not be able to gather together physically, we can come together spiritually. For example, the prayer group would normally meet on a Wednesday between 2.00pm and 3.00pm – we can all set aside time during this hour to come to God in prayer – for our churches, our communities, our nation and indeed for all affected by this pandemic. At the same time we should not forget the many other needs in our community and world today and as importantly we should not forget to thank God for His never ending love and for being with us at this difficult time. Likewise on a Sunday, when we would usually sit together in worship we can have a time of personal prayer and devotion, spending some quiet time with God.
At this difficult time I would also ask you all to be aware of those who are alone and most vulnerable within our communities and please let me know of any specific concerns. There may be restrictions in terms of visitation and social contact, but we can still phone one another or keep in touch via email and social media. It may be more impersonal, and I for one find that difficult to deal with, however, the health and well-being of others has to be our main concern. Yet I am sure that many would welcome a phone call, just to ask after them and see if there are any needs.
Finally, although we cannot gather for worship there are services we can listen to on BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio 4 on a Sunday morning – and I’m sure there might be others too. There are also a number of churches who live stream their services, and a list of these can be found on the Church of Scotland website. And here I will be putting regular thoughts and reflections on our website www.bandcachurch.org.uk under the Weekly Reflections banner.
Throughout this week I have heard many repeatedly say that these are unprecedented times that we are living in – and they are – and I know that I have struggled to come to terms with what has happened and still find it difficult to take in. As always, however, at times like this I turn to the Lord and take strength and comfort in His Word – and I would encourage you all to do likewise – as I’m sure you already do. And so on that note I will finish with the words of the Psalmist, ‘ I will say of the Lord, ” He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust..’ (Psalm 91:2)
With Every Blessing,