Read my letters on
From Trinity Newsletter November 2011
When we read Matthew’s Gospel and study the section known as the Sermon on the Mount, we find that there are some startling comments. Look at Chapter 6 verse 25 when Jesus says that we should not be worried about food and drink nor should we be concerned about our clothing. Try placing these words in our current world. It is plain that we are concerned about our food and drink! There are so many television programmes encouraging us to get into the kitchen and every newsagent will have a plethora of magazines related to what we consume – some magazines inviting us to indulge in rich foods whilst others give us a hundred and one hints on how to diet! By the time we have read all those magazines we can move on to clothing and decide what the latest fashion dictates we should wear. Is it little wonder we’re confused about what Jesus says?
I’m confused because I know that there are many millions of people who have no choice about food. Maybe I could go so far as to say they have no food or, for that matter, any water to drink. The fear of going without food and water is easy to understand. How is it, then, that Jesus was saying that we should not worry?
One way of understanding Jesus’ statement is not to see it as a feeble resignation but as a bold challenge. As Christmas again approaches we spend an awful amount of time on material things, making sure we have enough and planning on how we are going to get more. There is the real danger of becoming so obsessed with what we want materially that we do not pay full attention to God. Instead of doing what Jesus said – “Seek first the kingdom of God” – we are short-sighted and chase after what we want. If, however, we place God first and he is truly our king then our lifestyle adjusts to a different way of living and we turn from self-centred ways.
Recently, Ewen Gurr from the Discovery Food Project spoke at church about how this project is helping to make a real difference to the lives of many people in our city. The story he told of a local prostitute having to “look for business” in order to feed her child made us all realise that poverty is not miles away but on our own doorstep. Through the dry foods and tins we collect each Sunday we are able to offer loving practical help until more regular financial support is provided.
Please do keep bringing your gifts along when you can. Like the parable of the feeding of the 5000, Jesus can bless our gifts and bring much blessing to many.
Your friend and minister
Those who know me well, know that I am not a naturally tidy person. I know I ought to make sure I put things back in their proper place so they are there when I need them next, but I’m not so good at actually doing so.
Recently because a search at home had proved fruitless for something that I suddenly needed I resorted to tidying my desk! Pretty drastic measures! Then of course, as is often the case, I discovered that said object had been right under my nose, staring me in the face all the time. I can tell you I was pretty relieved and delighted.
Two thoughts come to mind.
1. You can’t lose God or, rather, your relationship with Him. You may think you have but He’s always close by. Sometimes, you have to make an effort to see Him.
2. Luke chapter 15 tells us the three Stories of the Lost: Sheep, Coin and Son. In the first two, the person who has lost something has to make a concerted effort to find it. In the third story, it involves patiently waiting until the person makes a decision of the will to come back. The stories all end with some act of celebration.
How important it is for us to pray for people, especially if they do not know Jesus or seem to have lost their initial love for Him. When they turn, or return, it’s a cause for thanksgiving and celebration.
So today, make a point of praying for someone who appears to be lost. In this way we can have a part to play in God’s ongoing work.
On Remembrance Sunday, 13th November, the Church has the privilege, both of preaching the Word of God, and leading the Remembrance Service for every service personnel who has died during and since the First World War; for those the relatives they left behind and their comrades who survived. It is a time of year, when in life we are in the midst of death, and as a Church we must ensure, not only a space to remember, but also a support for the armed services, even if we are not fully in support of the reasons that they are in Afghanistan.
A Poem to help us remember what Remembrance Sunday is all about:
When they laid the Unknown Warrior
in the darkness of the Grave
with the earth of all those battlefields
enfolding his mortal remains
little did they know;
those politicians and Service Chiefs,
of the power of his presence
In the soil from whence he came
was a son, a brother, a husband and Dad.
He is here, not there, with Kings and Poets
Is ours and we are his
and he rests unseen, at peace.
In Flanders, the Somme and Dardanelles,
boys served, died, survived – only just;
Their families mourned for the dead
and some mourned more
for the remnant which breathed.
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR GARDENING TEAM
We entered the church garden into the Dundee City Gardens Competition that was to be judged in July but we did not hear who had won prizes. Last month we finally received word that we had won a Silver-Gilt Medal Certificate but the letter informing us must have been lost in the post. A copy of the Silver-Gilt Certificate has now been received and it will get pride of place with our other Certificates from previous years.
The Fabric and Gardening Team worked long hours, tidying and cutting back the fast growing bushes and putting in many new plants.
The judge awarded us 270 points out of 350 and commented that, “there was a good selection of plants and a clean and tidy garden that is well maintained and shows commitment from gardeners. The judge did suggest adding additional plants to cover some of the bare soil".
From September 2011 Newsletter
Towards a mended society
For a few days in August disorder suddenly broke out around the country. At least five people were killed, families were burnt out of their homes, strangers were cruelly robbed in the street, shops and warehouses were systematically looted and trashed. These events remind us that human greed and selfishness lurk not far from the surface. Those who took part in the looting were not all poor. Some came from comfortable, respectable backgrounds and their actions shocked their family. In the space of a few days, so much of the good work carried out by youth and community workers was undermined and it will take many months to restore public confidence and social trust.
Many of those who took part in the riots and looting thankfully have been identified and charged, but reacting to calls for stiffer sentences is not the way forward. We have to ask why these events took place and what can be done to repair trust and establish harmony in communities? This will not be easy but two things come to mind.
Firstly, dignity and love in the face of disaster have an extraordinary power: In 1987 Gordon Wilson’s daughter was killed by an IRA bomb in Enniskillen. Instead of calling for revenge on those responsible for her death he pleaded for peace. Last month in Birmingham Tariq Jahan’s son was killed and he asked people to calm down and go home. In situations where both could have inflamed a tinder-box of religious and ethnic tension, these men looked beyond their own loss to the health of the society around them. It is easy to measure what these two families have lost; it is impossible to know what good these two men have achieved, but I believe it to be a great deal more lasting and potent than the unthinking amoral nastiness which brought about their grief.
And secondly, we have a duty to our community. As Christians, believing that all people are made in the image of God, we are instructed to love our neighbours, to pray for our enemies and for the peace of Jerusalem. Jesus gave us the example of the Good Samaritan who responds in love to the need he sees, while others pass by. To be faithful Christians means working and praying for the whole of society, wrestling with the risk and discomfort of bringing good from ill, and never retreating into our own concerns and security.
May I remind you how St Paul ends his first letter to the Thessalonians: ‘……encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak…. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’
David Cameron, our Prime Minister, talks about Britain as a “broken society”. It is not a term I like but I do recognise that we must not be complacent. We have to follow Paul’s instruction and work for what is good in our society. Also, if we follow the Ten Commandments, God’s basic instructions for community life, then we will keep to the right path in tough times.
Your friend and minister
OUR HARVEST THANKSGIVING SERVICE is on Sunday 18th September. For a few years we have supported Self Help Africa at our Harvest Service through a personal gift. This money is used to provide improved tools and instruction to local farmers in Zambia. This allows them to improve their harvest, be more self-sufficient and grow in self-respect. Please bring your gift for the Harvest Service by 18th September, in the envelope that is included with this Newsletter, and put it in the collection plate.