9th January 2022: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you are all keeping well and that you have had an enjoyable Christmas celebration.
This is the time of year when the Christmas decorations come down and we return to normal, whatever normal is these days! It always seems a rather dark, dismal and difficult time of year, with short daylight hours, bad weather, a greater tendency to ill health, and no Christmas lights and music to cheer us up. But did you know that the Christmas season does not end officially until the beginning of February, at Candlemas? For that reason, we shall continue to sing some of the music that we associate with Christmas in our services for a little longer. But even after Candlemas we should all try to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts and our lives throughout the year.
By the time we reach February, the daylight hours are beginning to lengthen noticeably and, if the weather is not improving much, at least new life is beginning to show itself in the garden. Having said that, there are already shoots of new life in my garden and I guess in many others, possibly because it has been so mild lately. If we look for them, the world is full of symbols of hope.
We have spent much time and effort recognising and celebrating the birth of the Saviour and reminding ourselves that, whatever the secular world might say, ‘JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON’. People have come to worship who never come at any other time of year, and they have been welcomed and I hope, helped to feel at home with us. They too have acknowledged the birth of the Saviour.
But now our task is to remind these people that Jesus doesn’t disappear for the next eleven months, to return next Christmas, amidst new hype and commercialism. He is with us all through the year, our companion on life’s journey, our inspiration through the gift of his Holy Spirit to all people. So, let us make it as easy as we can for all his people to acknowledge his constant presence in our world, and in their lives if they will allow him to be there. And let us do what we can to share and reflect the light of his love in our worship week by week, and through our lives every day.
With love and blessings
19th December 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
As you will all be aware, this has been a difficult week with so many changes to guidance concerning services and what we should and should not do so I want to begin by underlining what services will take place. Of course, everyone will need to wear masks as we have been doing, and to keep their distance from others not of their own household. Sadly, we felt it wise to cancel the proposed Children’s Carol Service on Christmas Eve, but all the other services will go ahead as advertised.
Sunday 19th Carol Service 9.45am Dunino
Sunday 19th Carol Service 11.15am Holy Trinity
Friday 24th Watchnight Service 7.00pm Dunino
Friday 24th Watchnight Service 11.15pm St Mark’s (Hope Park and Martyrs)
Saturday 25th Communion 10.00am Holy Trinity
Sunday 26th Morning Service 11.00am St Leonard’s
Sunday 2nd Cluster Service 11.00am Holy Trinity
As you will see, many of the services are not in our own church and most of the services are being shared between the three Church of Scotland ministers, so this will be the last full script sent out this year, as well as the last letter to accompany the service. We will return to normal on 9th January 2022.
It therefore only remains for me to say that I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas and a Good New Year.
With Love and Blessings
12th December 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
I must begin with a big word of thanks to you all for the wonderful party last Sunday. I had not expected anything so lavish and I am so grateful to you for all that you did to make the day special. It is such an honour and a privilege to share the gospel with both congregations, week by week. I still wake up on a Sunday morning feeling excited by the opportunity to be with you all. May I also thank you for your very generous gifts. The picture means a great deal, not least because of the thought that went into it. The vase is beautiful and is currently full of the flowers you gave me. But most of all, I am pleased to be able to tell you that we shall be sending £1000 to Sight Savers. If you translate that into children whose eyesight will be saved that means 200 children will have been helped to have a brighter future because of your generosity. I cannot think of anything better that we could do for them.
Thirty years is a long time to stay in the same job. But ministry is not, and never should be simply a job. It is a calling and a way of life. Sometimes it is very challenging, and always it is very busy. When I first thought about offering for the ministry a very senior minister suggested that it was the most important calling in the world. Certainly. it is a privilege to be able to share with people in the most difficult times of their lives, and hopefully to be an agent of the comfort that Christ offers to all his people, as well as to share in the good times. It can be very practical too, and I have found myself helping to decorate a house, and helping someone to bake a special birthday cake, as well as other equally practical tasks when needed!
But most importantly, it is the challenge of sharing the gospel week by week, in a way that is relevant to everyday life, especially in these difficult times. It takes much time and prayer in preparation, but bringing the people to Christ and Christ to the people is such and important and never-ending task. There is always so much more to do.
As we approach the season of Christmas people often say to me, ‘this must be your busy time’. It is certainly complicated to fit everything in. It is rather like a jigsaw with too many pieces. It is challenging and exciting, and lovely to be able to share it with people such as yourselves.
With love and blessings
5th December 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
This Sunday is a special day for many reasons, and I am delighted to welcome to Holy Trinity our friends from Boarhills and Dunino, together with friends from the Howe of Fife and St David’s High Kirk Dundee. You are all most welcome, as are those of you who are joining us on YouTube and Facebook and in print. It was while I was minister of Howe of Fife that I first organised an Advent Carol Service and it became very much an important part of this time of preparation for Christmas ever since for me. I am grateful to our choir and to Walter for the music they will contribute to this service, as well as to our readers for their contributions.
Advent is a time to look forward to Christmas and a time to reflect on the reason for the season. We believe that this is a time to prepare our hearts and minds to receive Christ once again in the festivities of Christmas, as well as to contemplate the second coming of Christ, whenever that might be. In its original form it was a time of strict fasting before the excesses of the Christmas season. Now we think we have done well if we only consume one chocolate a day from our Advent Calendar!
Certainly, this is a very busy time for most people, whether they are involved in the commercial hype of Christmas, or simply in the pressure of writing of cards and the preparation of food for the feast. The result is that many people become stressed by all that they try to do. And this year, like last, is blighted by the pandemic, as well as by a new strain of Covid, and by all that this might mean for the celebrations, and for our future freedoms. So, can I suggest that we all take a step back, and take time out to be at peace, and to think about the real reason for the season. Just five minutes of peace and meditation and prayer in every day will make a real difference and enable all of us to cope.
There are many Christmas services on offer in our parishes and I would invite you to join us for any or all of them as you are able, either in person or remotely. Details can be found in our magazine or on our website and Facebook, as well as in the local papers.
For those who are with us in person, there will be light refreshments in the Hunter and Memorial Aisle after the service and I hope you will stay if you can.
With love and blessings
28th November 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
It seems very odd to be writing this letter so far in advance, but as I shall be having a break next week, it seemed sensible to do it now. This coming Sunday is Advent Sunday, the first Sunday of the new year in the Christian calendar. Advent is a time for looking back and assessing the year just past, and we have certainly navigated some difficult times during that time. But more importantly, it is a time for looking forward, for a new year is like a new page in the book of life, making this a time of opportunity. There will certainly be more difficult times ahead, but I am sure we will be better able to cope.
Advent then, is a time of recollection and a time of preparation, and as we get ready to welcome the Christ-child of Bethlehem into our homes and our hearts it is an exciting time, especially for the children. It is also a time to think about the second coming of Christ that we are promised in the scriptures. The ‘Second Coming’ is a concept which many people find difficult to accept or understand and I hope I may have gone some way to address these difficulties in our service today.
Next Sunday (5th December) is a very special day, for our morning service will take the form of an Advent Carol Service. We have all been delighted to welcome our choir, under the direction of Walter Blair, back to our worship and they will be taking a major part in this service. It is also the thirtieth anniversary of my ordination and so our friends from Dunino will be joining us for worship, as well as some friends from my first and second charges. The service will be followed by light refreshments in the Hunter and Memorial Aisle and I hope you will stay if you can.
I can hardly believe it is so long since I took my ordination vows in Kettle Church. Much has changed in that time, but the wonder of God’s love for his creation and the message of the gospel has remained the same. As people of God and disciples of Jesus Christ we are all called to love one another for Jesus says ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’. In a world so much in need of love, what better resolution could there be for a new Christian year than to strive, as we are able, to keep this commandment.
With love and blessings
7th November 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
Today we invite you to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion with us. All are welcome at the Table of the Lord and we hope that as many of you as possible will join us in person. However, for those of you joining us on YouTube or Facebook I would invite you to prepare a small glass of wine/juice and a piece of bread so that you can share with us in the service. If you are using this service in the printed version, please also prepare bread and wine so that you too can share in the physical and spiritual aspects of this service. Wherever you are, whether you are at home or with us in the church building, you are welcome.
If anyone would like to receive Communion at home from the minister, then please do get in touch. As long as you can provide your own bread and wine/juice, this can be arranged in a completely Covid-safe way, and it is always a privilege to share this sacrament.
Colin Buchanan, in his book called ‘The Heart of Sunday Worship’ says this about the Sacrament of Holy Communion:
‘Without the communion there is no identifiable body of Christ to be his presence in the world. Without the communion there is nothing from which we can be sent out into the world. Without the communion there is no testable Christian centre or point of focus to which enquirers in the world can be pointed, into which converts can be introduced through baptism’.
Although by tradition, we do not celebrate the sacrament very often, it is a unifying occasion, one that brings us all together as nothing else can, as the body of Christ. And it inspires us to go out and witness for him in our daily lives.
Richard McKenna describes a ‘dirty back street church’ in Fulham where he celebrated Holy Communion for six or seven elderly decrepit people, and where the church almost trembled with the presence of mystery, and the presence of Christ. Wherever you are, we hope and pray that you will be filled with the presence of mystery and the presence of Christ as you share with us in this service.
With love and blessings Marion
31st October 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
This afternoon I conducted a wedding, not in a church, but in a local wedding venue. I had not met the bride and groom until yesterday although we had considerable correspondence by email. This was their third attempt to be married, the first two thwarted by Covid regulations.
Interestingly, the venue was decorated to look as much like a church as possible, complete with candles and communion table. And there could be no question about the faith of the couple – this was very clear from their careful selection of scripture readings and hymns, as well as their active participation in the prayers and the vows. However, it did make me wonder why they were not being married in church, because clearly, I was not just a convenient person to legalise their wedding vows, and all that happened in the service meant a great deal to them.
It was after the ceremony that I discovered that they were both members of the armed services and might have been married in the garrison church, had that been possible. I also discovered that the groom had been posted and would be leaving on Friday for foreign parts. They would therefore have a very short honeymoon!
But there could be no question of their sincerity as they made their wedding vows to each other, nor of their love for each other as they looked into each other’s eyes as I pronounced them to be husband and wife. It was a lovely occasion, and it was a privilege to be part of it.
And all this made me realise again what a privilege it is for all of us to be able to worship together in fellowship and love whenever we wish, no longer prevented by Covid regulations. Whether you join us on YouTube or Facebook or in print or in person, we must never take the opportunity to worship together for granted. So, to all our congregation wherever you are, I want to assure you that you are truly part of our fellowship, and it is a privilege to share the gospel of God’s love in Christ with you all.
With love and blessings
24th October 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
Today in the course of my duties for the day, I met a young man who I have never met before. Nothing unusual about that, and we made polite conversation for a while as he worked away. Then he made a mistake in what he was doing, and without thinking said ‘O my God!’ He then looked embarrassed and turned and apologised to me and said, ‘But I don’t believe in God anyway’.
I always find it interesting that so many people, when they see a minister, have to tell them that they don’t believe in God and therefore don’t go to church. But at the same time, when the going gets tough, it is the God they don’t believe in that they address in their frustration. Had we had more time, this might well have been an opportunity for a more in-depth discussion. But we did not, and it will be interesting to see what happens when next we meet, as we surely will.
But all this did make me think. For many people, absolute unquestioning Christian belief is a very hard thing. There are, after all, so many questions in need of answers. And our intellect does not always allow us to find satisfactory answers to all our questions about our faith. Indeed, I would venture to suggest that that is the crux of the mystery of faith.
Anselm of Canterbury was Archbishop from 1093-1109. He was an Italian monk, abbot, philosopher and theologian. He once said, ‘For I seek not to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order that I may understand, for I believe for this reason, that unless I believe I cannot understand’.
There are many things in this world of time that as mere humans we will never be able to understand. So, it only logical to accept that there is even more about God and eternity that we will never be able fully to comprehend. But that should not prevent us from being able to say with an anonymous Jewish holocaust victim, ‘I believe in the sun, even when it does not shine, I believe in love, even when I am not feeling it. I believe in God, even when he seems to be silent’. Therefore, let us not feel guilty about what we find difficult about our Christian belief, but let us pray with the father of the epileptic boy in the gospel of St Mark, ‘Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief’.
With love and blessings
17th October 2021: Letter from Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
I trust you are all keeping well and are managing to avoid all the viruses that are going around as well as THE virus. At the moment there are times for all of us when simply to keep going is quite a challenge. This morning, when I woke up, I went through in my mind, all that I hope to accomplish today, and gave it all to God. The list is long, and possibly I won’t get to the end of it, but so far (12 noon) it is going quite well.
One of the things I needed to do was to choose hymns for Sunday. Some of you might wonder how this is done. Often, when I am writing my sermon, lines of hymns suggest themselves to me as I think about my theme. This is always helpful. There is also guidance in the hymn-book where hymns are listed by topic as well as alphabetically. Then there are the musical considerations, metre, key etc. And I have always tried to begin and end with something both well-known and uplifting.
It was John Calvin, the Reformer, who said, ‘Among all the other things that are proper for the recreation of man and for giving him pleasure, music, if not the first, is among the most important; and we must consider it a gift from God expressly made for that purpose’. He also said that congregations should always be enabled to sing together as part of their worship. So in choosing our praise, all these things are considered.
During the past months we have for part of that time, not been allowed to sing at all, and so many people have made it clear how much they are enjoying the freedom to express their faith through their singing again. We are delighted to have our choir leading our praise again and we hope and pray that masks will become a thing of the past for all of us before too long, so that we can all have the freedom to express our worship as we would wish. Meantime, let us give thanks for all that we can do, and continue to look for new ways to praise God in our service to his people.
With Love and Blessings
3rd October 2021: Letter from Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
It hardly seems possible that it is harvest time again. The year seems to have flown by so quickly even though there have been so many difficulties along the way. This Sunday we shall celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving in both churches, and our gifts will be given to Storehouse, to help with their ongoing work amongst those in need.
It seems terrible that, in a country such as ours, there should be people who do not have enough to eat. It also seems terrible that there are families, some in which both parents are working, who cannot afford to keep up with their children’s clothing needs. We know that children grow very quickly and grow out of clothes very quickly and so our Kids Clothing Bank was set up to help alleviate this particular problem.
As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, many people are struggling with all sorts of issues caused by all that has happened. Some of these are financial, but others have more to do with a lack of confidence after the restrictions that we have all be living under. Whilst in the church we want to help our community and the wider world in every way we can, there is a limit to what we are able to do. However, if you know of anyone who would appreciate a visit from our minister or a member of our pastoral care team, do let us know. And can I remind you that there is a monthly short service on the first Friday of each month at 3-00pm for those who cannot for whatever reason, come to our morning service on a Sunday. All are welcome to this.
There will be no letter to accompany the service next week as the service is having to be prepared a week in advance.
With love and blessings
26th September 2021: Letter from Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
Today in Holy Trinity, we are so pleased to be welcoming back our choir. It has been such a long time since we have been able to benefit from their ministry during our worship, and it is so good to have them back. We are not yet quite back to normal as they will not process in the usual way, but we hope to go back to this tradition as soon as it is considered safe to do so. Meantime, we are just delighted to have them back.
On Friday of this coming week we shall also recommence our monthly Short Afternoon Services at 3.00pm, with a service of thanksgiving for the harvest. All are welcome to this service and to join in fellowship afterwards. We will also celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving at our Sunday services at both Dunino and Holy Trinity next Sunday. All of these events are steps along the way back to the things we love about our worship.
To be free to worship our God in the way that we wish is a huge privilege. To be able to share that worship both in print and on YouTube and on Facebook means that we are reaching far more people with the message of the gospel than we would have been able to reach by the traditional methods. Whilst being present in person at the service is always very special, we want all our followers to know that you are an important part of our circle and are all enfolded in the circle of God’s love. Ours is an inclusive congregation where all are welcome.
With Love and Blessings
19th September 2021: Letter from Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
This Sunday marks the annual Golf Service in Holy Trinity, and we are delighted to welcome the Rev Alistair Bennett as our guest preacher there, together with those golfers who are able to worship with us. Of course, because of the restriction on numbers and the social distancing still in place, and the fact that we have not been able to re-form the choir yet, the service will be a little different from usual, but I am grateful to all those who will be taking part in our worship.
Of course, so many things in life at the moment are a little different from usual, and for those who have to organise them, a lot more complicated than they might have been. So now is the time to re-assess what is really important to us as a fellowship of God’s people, and what is not. And I would want to suggest that at the top of the list of priorities should be our corporate worship. So many people have told me how much they have missed coming together for worship, and how much they have missed the atmosphere and the encouragement that worshipping God together creates.
But it is also important to remember that the good news of the gospel is for all people, and there are many who simply cannot come to worship together for health reasons. It is therefore equally important that they should feel included, so it is great to be able to send out our services on Facebook and YouTube and by email. It should be possible for all people to feel enfolded in the circle of God’s love, and as the body of Christ this is what we are all called to do. Throughout my ministry I have always felt that the core tasks of the minister are to preach the gospel and to love the people, just as they are for all of us. One does not have to stand in a pulpit to preach the gospel, for we all preach it by the way we live.
Of course, we all like other aspects of what it means to be church, but these, I think, should be the priorities. So let us go forward in faith with a real vision of our church as a centre for corporate worship, and as place where all people can feel loved and valued and inspired by the love of God in Christ Jesus for all people.
With love and blessings
12th September 2021: Letter from Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
Yet, in another sense, we have all learned how important it is to be together. Since I have been home I have been asked to arrange a funeral, and it was so important that all the family should be together when arrangements were made. What struck me at the time was just how much it meant to the bereaved to be together with the minister on that occasion. No masks, no barriers, common sense of course, but we were together both in person and in spirit, and I hope in spiritual empathy.
In our church too, we have learned the importance of being together for worship, prayer and fellowship. Common sense and hygiene are both still very important, but it is the being together that enhances our worship and enriches the fellowship we enjoy.
Today, we are thinking about the words of Jesus ‘Who do people say that I am?’ and also about who we ourselves are in the light of his love. It is that love which binds us together with all our fellow Christians in that great cloud of witnesses referred to in Hebrews. It is also that love that inspires us to reach out to others in his name and bring them into the circle of his love, so that we are all together with him. So as we return to the new normal, let us take nothing for granted as we look forward in faith to a new future as the church, the body of Christ, that lives to serve the world in his name.
With love and blessings
29th August 2021: Letter from the Interim-Moderator Rev David Scott
How many different congregations are there in St. Andrews? There are three kirks – and if you include Dunino, Cameron and Strathkinness which belong to the St. Andrews’ Cluster, there are six.
In addition, there are two Episcopal congregations, a Baptist Church, a Free Church and a Roman Catholic Church. There is also the Gospel Hall, Vineyard and Cornerstone.
The latter is a congregation which grew out of a division within the worshipping community at Holy Trinity. It is now affiliated with the United Free Church.
Is that fourteen? I am not sure I have counted them all. There is, of course, St. Salvator’s Chapel and St. Leonard’s Chapel for the University staff and students. Members of the town worship there too.
These sixteen different churches all witness to the different patterns of worship and belief systems which have emerged over the centuries. But this variety also witnesses to the Church’s inability to love as Christ loved us.
Within congregations, there are people who consider their point of view to be so atuned to the mind and heart of God that they are unwilling to let go for the sake of a love which transcends all our differences.
But the Church does not have a monopoly on love. This is an attribute which is evident within all peoples, all religions, all denominations, all secular and sacred institutions. The Gospel may have something unique to say about it but it doesn’t possess it exclusively.
And so, we realise that this is the very thing which has the power to unite us all – not just different denominations nor religions but the whole earth. And rightly so for Christians believe that God is Love!
David D Scott, Interim-Moderator
15th August 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
As many of you will know, last week I travelled to the South of England to conduct the funeral of a very close friend. I had known Hazel for 44 years and her home was my second home when I lived in the south. She had been ill for some years and it really was time to say goodbye in this life, but none the less, it was an emotional and difficult time for her family and all who were gathered. And it was a great privilege for me to be invited to conduct her service.
This took place in her local parish church, a place of huge significance for her as it was the place where she had been married, where her daughter was baptised, and where she attended the early morning Eucharist for as long as she was able. But it was a place of worship with very different traditions from our own. This set me thinking about the architecture of our places of worship and what they have to say to us.
As you will see from the photograph, St Peter’s Parkstone is a huge Victorian Gothic edifice with a high altar which speaks of the centrality of the Eucharist. In our own churches, it is the pulpit that is usually more obvious, speaking of the centrality of the Word of God. In both cases, the means of Grace, the Eucharist (or Communion) and the Word of God are intended to bring the worshipper closer to the Saviour. The way this happens for us is a matter of faith and tradition, for in both cases Christ is the central focus.
It was a huge privilege for me to be allowed to lead worship in this beautiful church. It was a huge privilege to have the opportunity to serve a family that I know so well and who have given me so much love and support over the years. And it is a huge privilege for me to be allowed to open the scriptures to all of you at Boarhills and Dunino and Holy Trinity, as well as those who join us on-line and in print week by week. Thank you all for your love and support.
With love and blessings
1st August 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
Addressing a letter to friends is always a privilege, and every week as I write to you, it is very special to be able to call everyone who will receive this letter, whether here in St Andrews or halfway across the world, a friend. But what is the nature of friendship? There is a wonderful description of friendship in A.A.Milne’s ‘Winnie the Pooh’.
One day Pooh bear is about to go for a walk in the Hundred Acre Wood. It is about 11-30 in the morning. It is a fine time to go calling – just before lunch. So Pooh sets out across the stream, stepping on the stones. And when he reaches the middle of the stream he sits down on a warm stone and thinks about just where he would like to make a call. He says to himself ‘I think I’ll go and see Tigger’. But he dismisses that idea in favour of Owl. Then he decides against that because Owl uses big and hard to understand words. At last he brightens up. ‘I think I’ll go and see Rabbit. Rabbit uses encouraging words like “How about lunch?” and “Help yourself, Pooh”’.
Friendship is such an important part of life, and true friends are encouragers who have the art of knowing what to say and what not to say, as well as when to speak and when to be silent. But friendships need to be nurtured and should not be neglected. This applies to both human friendships, and most importantly of all, our friendship with Jesus Christ. It is so important to understand that when we are spending time with him, if we do all the talking there will be no time to listen to his words of encouragement for us. Jesus wants to be involved in our lives, to talk as well as to listen.
Next week I shall be heading South to take the funeral of a very dear and thoughtful friend, one who has been a source of wisdom and comfort for more than forty years. Her passing was not unexpected, and although I have not seen her for a long time I shall miss the long telephone conversations we have enjoyed for so long. This means that there will be no letter with the service next Sunday. I shall be away from Wednesday to Friday and during that time any urgent pastoral needs should be addressed to Rev David Scott. Please contact him through your elder .
With love and blessings
25th July 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
‘Father, we thank thee for these thy gifts. Bless them to our use and ourselves to thy service for Christ’s sake. Amen’. So began every meal in my childhood home, and I can still hear my father saying grace when we sat down to eat. It didn’t matter whether it was Sunday lunch or Saturday tea and bread and butter, we always gave thanks. That was the way in many homes in those days.
In Orthodox Jewish homes too, grace would be said after every meal. ‘Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who causest to come forth bread from the earth. Blessed be he of whose gifts we have partaken and by whose goodness we exist. Blessed be he, and blessed be his name’.
Jesus too, always blessed and gave thanks for the food that was to be eaten, and you will remember that it was as he blessed and gave thanks that the two friends on the Emmaus Road recognised the Risen Christ.
Today we shall be looking at the story of the feeding of the five thousand, a story that appears in all four gospels, a true miracle on several levels. There was not much to eat, but still Jesus blessed and gave thanks. And in the multiplication and it is called, there was enough and to spare.
In a day when we take so much for granted, it is good to remember that with God there will always be enough and to spare. And it is especially important to remember to give thanks for what we have. The problem in our own day is that the resources of the world are not equitably shared. Thus, there have to be charities like ‘Christian Aid’, ‘Oxfam’, ‘WaterAid’ and ‘Storehouse’. So, as we do what we can to support them and to share our bounty, let us always remember to give thanks to God for all his generosity and goodness in every aspect of our lives.
With love and blessings
18th June 2021: letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
I have just finished writing this week’s service and, as usual, my last job was to insert the hymns into the script to go out by email. In order to save time, I use a website and copy the words of the hymns. But many of you will have noticed that sometimes the words in the script are not the same as the words that you know. That is because, down the years they have been modified, modernised, or made inclusive, and although the meanings are the same, the words are slightly different. Sometimes I don’t manage to spot the differences before going to print! Tunes too, can be different. We know and like the tunes we grew up with to particular hymns, but others grew up with something different. None of that is wrong. It is simply different.
Just at the moment we are having to accept that in all aspects of life, things will be different after Covid. And the reason for that is that every person has been changed by the experiences of the last few months. We all need to get used to a new normal, a new carefulness about the way we act and react. We will get used to it and it will become normal. We don’t like it but if we can cope, our future will be restored.
However, there is one thing that never changes, and that is the love of God for all his people, the love that gave his Son to save us from our sins. There used to be a children’s hymn that said:
Ev’rything changes, but God changes not;
The power never changes that lies in His thought:
Truth never changes, and beauty’s her dress,
And Good never changes, which those two express.
In a time of immense change, what great words to keep in our hearts.
With love and blessings,
11th June 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
Talking to a friend the other evening, I remarked on the fact that it was quite difficult to write a letter every week to go out with the emailed service, and that what I was going to say this week was still something of a mystery. This led me to think about what is meant by the word ‘mystery.’
It was Dewi Morgan in ‘The Times’ of 1985 who sad that mystery means, ‘not the inexplicable but the inexhaustible.’ The dictionary defines ‘mystery’ as an unexplained or inexplicable phenomenon, a truth that is divinely revealed but otherwise unknowable, a sacramental rite. We often speak about the mystery of faith, the mystery of the numinous, the mystery of the sacrament, and indeed, about the ultimate mystery whom we worship in the mystery of our God.
Many down the years have tried to define our God, the one who we understand as the creator and sustainer of all that is, the one who is the source of all love, and we all know that such discussions are completely inexhaustible. The fact is that no language has sufficient words to describe the divine mystery of God. Some things then, are just meant to remain a mystery. However, our God understands our difficulties and has therefore revealed himself through his Son Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is through Christ and in the power of the Spirit that we worship him. It is through Christ that we receive guidance for life.
It was the American preacher Jeremy Taylor who once said that ‘a religion without mystery must be a religion without God’ and it is the divine mystery of our God who we worship Sunday by Sunday. And as we do so, and as we do our best to understand all truth, it is through the mystery of faith, the mystery of the numinous, the mystery of the sacraments, that we can catch glimpses of the glory that is yet to come.
With Love and Blessings
4th June 2021: Letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
One evening, just before the great Music Hall star Mary Martin was about to go on stage in ‘South Pacific’, a note was handed to her. It was from Oscar Hammerstein who at that moment was on his deathbed. It read:
‘Dear Mary, a bell is not a bell until you ring it! A song is not a song until you sing it! Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away’.
After her performance that night many people rushed backstage saying, ‘Mary, what happened to you out there tonight? We never saw anything like that performance before’. Blinking back the tears, Mary read them the note. Then she said, ‘Tonight I gave all my love away’.
Jesus says ‘The greatest commandment is this, love one another’. There are many, many ways of giving love away, both in practical support and actions, and in words. And there are so many people who feel unloved, particularly after all that we have endured during these last months. The Gospel message is all about love, and this means that everything we say and do in the name of Christ should, as far as we are able, reflect his love.
The first verse of our final hymn in this morning’s service says:
We have a gospel to proclaim
Good news for all throughout the earth;
The gospel of a Saviour’s name:
We sing His glory, tell His worth.
Now that there is real light at the end of the tunnel, and new freedoms are promised as the Covid restrictions gradually come to an end, let us resolve to use our new freedoms to do everything we can to share the Gospel of God’s love in the way that we live, so that everyone will know ‘Whose we are and whom we serve’.
With love and blessings
27th June 2021: letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
When I lived in Dundee, my study window gave me a wonderful panoramic view over the city to the River Tay. I could see the boats going up and down the river, and away in the distance Newport and Wormit. With my binoculars I could even see my friend’s house and watch people going in and out of the shop! Not that I was nosey enough to do that, but I could have done so if I had wished. Sadly, from my study window now, I can only see across the road and there is usually not very much going on. I really miss the interest of the view.
All of this made me think about what we see, and what we don’t see, what we concern ourselves with, and what we don’t notice. During the past months for most of us, thoughts have been taken up with the rules and regulations concerning Covid, whether we are doing right or wrong, and whether and when it will all end. Now, all things being equal, we are told we can look forward to being set free to get back to normal on August 9th. Hooray! But free to do what? To return to the old ways, or to embrace new adventures? So, what is our vision for the freedom we are promised?
As the church in Boarhills and Dunino and Holy Trinity, we have worked hard to keep our fellowship together, to show we care, and to share the gospel message during the difficult times we have all endured. And we are now delighted to be able to return carefully to the things that we love about our worship and our Christian fellowship. But is that all we are going to do? During the pandemic we have learned a huge amount about the use of technology in winning people for Christ, and we must continue to develop and use that knowledge in our witness for Christ. But we also need to expand our vision as far as physical worship and service is concerned. Yes, quite rightly we want to get back to the ways of worship that we love. But let us also expand our vision, for there is so much more we could be offering in the service of Christ.
Can you simply see across the road, or can you see the panoramic view? And which is right for the future of our church, and which would you prefer?
With love and blessings
20th June 2021: letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
This Sunday in Holy Trinity we shall welcome two more little children into our Christian family by Baptism. It is always a joy to celebrate and to welcome new life into our fellowship. We hear parents and godparents making vows about the Christian upbringing of their children, and we hope and pray that they will do their best to keep them. But they do need support and we, as a congregation of God’s people, also promise to take our part in the Christian upbringing of these children. For many months now, we have been limited in what we can do for the children, but come the new season, we hope to be allowed to re-start our Sunday School. If anyone feels that this is work in which they can share, please do get in touch with me.
It was a joy for us all to be allowed to sing last Sunday. Congregational singing has always been a vital part of Reformed worship and it felt so unnatural not to be able to express our worship through our praise. Now we can, even if still behind masks, so do enjoy singing with enthusiasm and conviction. We hope it will not be too long before we can remove the masks as well.
We are looking forward to the day when our choirs can be re-formed. We are very privileged both in Dunino and Holy Trinity to have enthusiastic choirs – quite different in nature – but such an important and enhancing part of our worship. Our organists Laura and Walter would be delighted to hear from anyone who feels that they would like to join the choir. There will be a simple audition as some of the music can be quite challenging. But it is great fun, and an important part of our worship.
Slowly, slowly, and with great care, the world is waking up after the pandemic. We have learned so much and have found new ways of sharing the gospel message. But there is nothing that can replace the physical Christian fellowship that we have all missed so much. So do come and join us – you can be sure of a warm welcome.
With Love and Blessings
6th June 2021: letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
Whatever happened to a pen and paper and face to face meetings? We are now living in a digital age which is supposed to make everything easier. And of course, contacting all of you in this way is much easier, as is sharing our services on YouTube and Facebook. I am very grateful to Ron and to John who arrange all this for us. But still there are so many who cannot be contacted in this way, and I am so grateful to those who deliver letters and services by hand and make it possible for many more people to join us in spirit.
But for those of us who do use digital technology, what happens when it doesn’t work? I have spent many hours trying to fill in important forms only to discover that the recipient’s websites are down. The stress and frustration this can cause can be very damaging. No matter how useful modern technology is, nothing is as effective as face to face meetings.
During the period when our churches have had to be closed, many people have said how much they have missed meeting in person. Human contact is a fundamental part of the human condition. Indeed, part of our worship is the fellowship we enjoy and the encouragement we receive from each other. We know we have been separated for very good reasons and whilst things are not yet back to normal, we are doing all we can to make it safe for people to come together on a Sunday, and numbers are now only limited by the size of the building.
However, during this period, we have all come to realise more than ever how important communication with each other is. What is more, many who had never thought about it have come to realise that spiritual communication with our God in worship is important too. So, we want to use every way we can to make sure that as many people as possible are able to join us in worship, whether it is in the flesh, on paper or by digital means. Everyone is welcome.
With love and blessings
30th May 2021: letter from the Locum Minister Rev Marion Paton
As we are gradually and carefully being released from the restrictions that Covid has placed upon us, it has been interesting to talk to people who have found this whole period very testing. There have been those who could not wait to get out and about again, and also those who want to get out and about, but are not quite brave enough to do so. And there are some who simply do not want to go out at all. There is still much fear of the virus, and we know that there can be pockets of infection in unexpected places. So, it is that we still all need to be very careful as we try to pick up the pieces of our lives. Indeed, it has been so long since anything has been ‘normal’, that many are wondering what normality is.
In the church too, we are still taking great care. It was lovely to have a baptism in Holy Trinity last Sunday, with a most perfect baby, but some people remarked that I did not hold baby Alex and nor did I take him round the church, and that they had missed that. At the moment that is not possible, although I very much hope it will be possible within the not too distant future.
However, it is now possible to come to church and worship together as there is no cap on numbers and we can accommodate as many as the building can safely seat. We cannot yet sing, although I hope it will not be too long before we can. But we can worship together, and that makes a huge difference as we encourage each other in fellowship and faith.
One of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject of revival and reawakening was Dr. J Edwin Orr. In the early 1970s when Dr. Orr was presenting a series of lectures on revival at Columbia Bible College, a student approached him.
‘Dr, Orr’, he said, ‘Besides praying for revival to occur, what can I do to help bring it about?’ Without a moment’s pause, Dr. Orr replied, “you can let it begin with you’.
As we pray and work for the future of our own congregations, and for the future of the church in our land, after the restrictions of Covid, and we look for the revival of our work in the community, please remember that ‘You can let it begin with you’.
With love and blessings
March 2020: Covid-19 Prayer by Rt Rev Colin Sinclair