When preparing to write this entry for Gleanings, I was surprised to find that we were about to celebrate Easter when we were last able to produce a Church Magazine. This is evidence perhaps of a rather busy, and on some occasions a tumultuous year, that this congregation, and individuals have been enduring.
I mentioned last time that the beginning of 2023 had perhaps had more ‘downs’ than ‘ups’! The downs have certainly continued with some illness and injury; and a few more issues with the Church Buildings. But I think there have also been several ‘ups’ for us to celebrate. The increasing age and ill health of some members of the Kirk Session had been making it increasingly difficult for all of the Session’s duties to be fulfilled; but the appointment of two new elders has greatly improved the situation. It is now hoped that a revised system of visitation by elders will be up and running soon.
Our regular Bible Study and Sunday Morning prayer group continue, and there have been several wonderful answers to prayer for individuals over recent months. One of our social events had to be cancelled this year due to a multitude of things out of our control, but the fundraising events that have been held, were well supported and enthusiastically received. The Wednesday afternoon Ladies Group, which is open to any ladies who wish to attend, has proved to be a great success. A variety of activities have been engaged in and those attending have found it a good place to be with friends and enjoy a laugh or two. With the Tuesday night bowls and the Scouts continuing to meet in the hall two nights a week; the Church Buildings are once more busy and this is a good reason to rejoice in all the good things that have happened this year.
As the summer turns rather definitively into autumn, we have already celebrated Harvest Festival, and the food supplies collected by the congregation to help St Patricks with the provision of meals for the homeless and those in difficult circumstances were much appreciated. It is a reminder that as winter approaches there are still many people struggling to cope with the current crisis in the cost of living and food prices. Whilst we endeavour to help those who are struggling in our local community, let us not forget that the cause of some of those price rises is to be found in areas of the world who are most affected by climate change or which are being devastated by war.
As Remembrance Sunday comes round each year, many of us might wish that the hope of a ‘War to end all Wars’, had been fulfilled. But sadly many are still losing their lives in acts of war and violence. Of particular concern at the moment are the ongoing war in Ukraine and the outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East. Though this recent event has huge implications for peace beyond the immediate region, let us not forget that for many innocent civilians it is a humanitarian crisis. Let us continue to pray for aid to reach those most in need and for the world to act with compassion towards those who have no say in what happens to them. As Christians we might feel powerless to do anything in the face of world politics, and deep rooted hostility and distrust that has such a long history. But we can continue to pray to God that the world might come to recognise; that the only way to overcome the evil that men do, is for people to come to realise, person by person, that the answer lies in Jesus Christ Our Lord.
We are rapidly approaching the season of Advent and Christmas! We will be preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ with parties and presents; the singing of those old, familiar carols; good food and the traditional gathering of friends and relations. We will talk about the Prince of Peace! The Saviour of the World, and the hope we have in Christ. Our church buildings will be decorated with tinsel and banners declaring ‘Jesus is the Light to the World!’ We will light our Advent candles week by week as we count down to Christmas Day! But through our celebrations will we remember that these are not just joyous words, but divine truths! That in order for the world to recognise the Prince of Peace we have to share the Good News of Christ. That though we can pray for the immediate relief of suffering across the world, what the world really needs is for us to pray that more people will come to accept that true peace, forgiveness, hope and salvation can only come through Jesus Christ Our Lord!
Dear Friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4: 7-12)