News from St James & St Philip’s
This was a busy week: on Tuesday the Social Group had a planning meeting, where events for the next twelve months were worked out in general terms. We will be holding social or fundraising events on average twice a month – so watch this column! On Wednesday we celebrated Ash Wednesday with the imposition of Ashes. The service was conducted by Peter Smart assisted by Anne, and was really well attended. The coffee break after the service gave an opportunity to talk about some of our future planning.
On Sunday , despite the overnight snow, our congregations at 9.00 and 10.30 remained substantial. One member could not get out from his home – one road had been closed for repairs and the only other was blocked by a crashed car! However, Anne received an ‘early warning’ from a member who lives 7 miles south of Stonehaven that while the main A92 was clear, the access roads were treacherous. This being so, for safety’s sake, it was agreed to cancel the afternoon service at St Philip’s.
In the intimations, Anne gave news of two forthcoming events: Bishop Nigel will be attending St James’ church to address the congregation on “A Faithful Future?” at 7.00 pm on Tuesday 23rd February – he will share his thoughts on the challenges to our faith in the turbulence and uncertainties of the world around us. There will be refreshments and opportunities for questions and discussion. On 4th March, at 10.00 am Fetteresso is hosting the World Day of Prayer and our congregation is invited to attend. Three of our members have volunteered to read or lead intercessions.
This being St Valentine’s Day, Anne chose to speak on the general theme of ‘love’ – human love as between man and wife, and the love of God for his people. She quoted from a 17th Century poem by Anne Bradstreet entitled ‘To my dear and loving husband’ as an example of someone who knew what it was to love and be loved. Then she led into the theme of God’s love for his people, and the saying of Jesus ‘I am the good shepherd and know my sheep and my sheep know me’. In illustration of this she told a story from an occasion when Anne and her family visited a family member, Peter, in Wiltshire who had a small flock of sheep. The story was particularly enjoyed by children as it showed how sheep do indeed know their shepherd. A neighbour of the family had placed her hand-raised orphan sheep in the care of Peter while she was on holiday, where it ran quite happily with Peter’s flock. On return from her holiday, the neighbour went to collect the sheep. Anne doubted how she would recognize it among the thirty or so other animals – all of the same breed. However, Mrs Jones simply whistled and called out ‘Ianto!’ – and one head popped up and a very happy sheep ran over to her and instantly began rubbing its head against her hand.
Like the sheep we know when we are loved – not for anything, just because we are who we are. The way we can show our love for God is to love his people, to be the Good Shepherd. Then, we may be sure, as St Paul says in the letter to the Romans, that ‘neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come….can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
Dunnottar Linked with South
The church was full for the morning worship at Dunnottar Church last Sunday during which Reverend Rosslyn Duncan baptised two baby girls. One was Eilidh Neve Dinnett, daughter of Andrew and Claire and the other was Carla Grieve, the daughter of Scott and Gemma. Rosslyn spoke about the reasons why we baptise children.
Because Jesus himself was baptised by John the Baptist, or Baptiser as he is sometimes known. The children don’t understand but we believe that this symbolises God’s Love and His Spirit. When parents bring their child to be baptised, they declare their faith and promise to bring up their children in the knowledge and love of God. Both of the children baptised last Sunday will have the support of their parents as well as their Godparents who were all involved in the service. As is the practice at a Baptism, a candle is lit for each child which burns throughout the time of worship and which the parents take away at the end of the service.
In her reflections, and with Sunday being Valentine’s Day, she produced a packet of Love Hearts and read three of the messages..Love You for Keeps, Spoil Me and All Mine. She reminded the men in the congregation, including the strong silent types in the North East of Scotland who may love deeply and show it in many ways, that they must sometimes put it into words and say these special words ”I love you”! She referred to the letter to the Romans, which states that it is not enough just to believe and to love in our hearts. As Christians, we also need to share by coming together to worship God and show our faith to others.
Fairtrade fortnight begins on Monday 29th February and on Saturday 27th there is a “Big Brew” event in the South Church Conservatory from 10.30am-12.30pm to launch the annual awareness raising campaign. There will also be stalls selling Fairtrade goods after morning worship at the South Church on 6th March and at Dunnottar Church on 13th March.
Last Sunday was a timely reminder that it’s still February and we live in Scotland! There was a variety of emotions amongst us when we each looked out our windows and saw the snow! Getting to church was a bit of a challenge for some and I for one was glad that it didn’t hang about too long; especially as we were expecting a visiting preacher, coming up from the central belt.
For the call to worship we have been reading from the story-book bible. It is refreshing to hear well-known stories given a different slant and gives us a fresh wonder of God’s goodness to us.
Our visitor was Jim Purves, a member of the leadership team at the Baptist Union of Scotland. By way of encouragement, he began by reminding us that the Christian church is the largest worldwide organisation and growing faster than ever before, especially in areas where there is persecution. Having said that, it was good to learn that the Baptist Union in Scotland is beginning to grow again, and nowadays people go to church because they want to rather than because it is expected of them.
His sermon looked at Hebrews 12 - Inspiration, Motivation, Consecration and Transformation. Inspiration from the life of Christ, the perfecter of our faith; Motivation because the Christian life is a life of discipline and as our heavenly father God will discipline us properly. Consecration - if there is no holiness in our church, God won’t turn up. Transformation because He will purify us and make us fit for purpose.
Life is busy as usual at Stonehaven Baptist Church with our 3-2-1 group for those seeking answers to puzzling questions about Christianity, Mainly Music for pre-schoolers, our focused prayer group (very important in the life of our church) and the Zone for S1 to S6 students. Given the snow, it was also quite appropriate that we are looking forward to our Christmas dinner (in March). Please see our facebook page or website for details of our activities. You are very welcome to join us.