As we approach Christmas and 2016, our Rector, Robin Paisley, offers you this message.
‘Churches are special places in which an encounter with God is particularly likely because of the regular invocation of the presence of God in the word of preaching or the sacrament of holy communion.
‘I believe St John’s Dumfries, is a special place and the many visitors to our church testify to this when asked. Our church is adorned by works of art (stained glass, mosaics and sculpture) which communicate the deep wisdoms of religion in a special way.
‘St John’s is a place in which the story of Jesus Christ is told and at this Christmas time there will be an additional focal point of the crib, recreating the surprising revelation of God’s presence in the humility and homelessness of the Bethlehem stable.
‘I invite you to visit us this Christmas – at any of the services detailed on the front page of this website – or at other times as we open our doors for most of each day.
‘Christ-Mas means encountering Christ and, as a result, going out in the world, changed to do good.
‘Please try it at St John’s – you would be most welcome – or wherever you can in your locality.
‘I wish you all a joyful and blessed Christmas and good health and fortune for the upcoming year.’
THE manager of the First Base food bank charity in Dumfries has issued a heartfelt thank you to St John’s ahead of our final fund-raising soup lunch of the year.
On Friday, from noon-1.30pm, the lunch will take place in the church hall with cash raised from the donations (£3+ per adult is suggested) – heading to the charity on Buccleuch Street.
First Base food manager Mark Frankland said without the effort of St John’s and many other fund-raisers throughout Nithsdale
and Annandale, the charity would struggle to survive and a lot of people would suffer.
‘Without the support of the community, and the contribution from the likes of St John’s, a lot of people in this area would go hungry,’ said Mark.
He added: ‘The food donations and money we are given, from fundraising events like the soup lunch, are our lifeblood.
‘We thank everybody who goes to the soup lunch.
‘St John’s was one of the first two churches who supported us and now we have over 30 in Nithsdale
‘St John’s started a ball rolling that has become very, very important to us.’
At the moment, the charity is handing out between 400-500 parcels each month, a five-fold increase from only five years ago and Mark forecasts that the demand is likely to grow with the onset of the winter months.
He added: ‘We see a definite increase in the winter.
‘There are an awful lot of people we see who only have a certain amount of money available to them and it won’t pay for both food and heating so they have to make the choice between one or the other.
‘As things stand there is no where you can go for a heating parcel – it doesn’t exist – whereas food parcels do, so when people get to that position that they are so struggling that’s when we see them.’
St John’s has been supporting First Base as an integral part of its mission after Mark spoke in church during Poverty and Homelessness Action Week in January 2013 — sparking interest among our congregation and a decision to hold the soup lunches to generate funds.
Robin, the Rector of St John’s, says that, in relation to the Biblical principle of tithing, we aim to generate additional away giving which comes to at least 10% of our regular income.
Throughout the year, St John’s supports a wide range of projects both local, national and international which together make up our target. Some of the projects seem to have been particularly embraced by the congregation and the First Base Food Bank Project is one such.
‘At times it is hard to think that the world we live in is anything other than very dark. All around us are threats to life – climate change, terrorism, civil wars, genocidal campaigns, corruption, failed and failing states, appalling abuse, not least of women and children – the list is endless, the litany of disaster and horror very, very long. Fear is rampant in our society, fear for the future, fear for our security, fear of the other, not least of refugees and migrants. It would not be too difficult to conclude that the darkness has indeed overcome any light there is or is well set to do so. The world seems very far away from heaven and from God’s light and love.
And then Christmas comes again to remind us that it is not so and that we lay our lives and our living on the trust that it is not so. Listen to the words of our eucharistic liturgy, first for Advent and then for Christmas: In Christ your Son the life of heaven and earth were joined …. He made his home among us that we might for ever dwell in you. If we are sincere in our worship and in our participation in the Liturgy we cannot really believe that the world is very far away from heaven and from God’s light and love. Why? Because the God of light and love chooses to dwell in it, to love it into glorious life from within, beginning with this infant whose birth we celebrate with great joy each and every year of our lives and going on with all his people right up to us and beyond us for as long as time endures.
It is, of course, easy to mock this belief as naïve – as great a writer as Thomas Hardy, in a poem called Christmas 1924 could say
‘Peace upon earth!’ was said. We sing it,
And pay a million priests to bring it.
After two thousand years of mass
We’ve got as far as poison-gas.
And we’ve got rather beyond poison gas in 2015, nearly a hundred years on. But is this really the vision we want to lay our lives and our living upon, a vision of despair and utter bleakness? We’re not going to deny that there is truth in it, of course not, but we are going to affirm that the liturgy has the words of a greater truth, the light and love by which to live, the light to find God at work in the world and the love to join God there in the midst, in the flesh, helping God to love us and the world into glorious life for now and all eternity.
May I wish you all a wonderful celebration of the infant light of the world, a light the darkness can never extinguish, a light to live by however dark things seem, or as another part of our liturgy, Evening Prayer, has it: the only unfading light, glorious in all eternity.’
– See more at: http://church.scot/2015/12/04/bishop-gregors-christmas-message/#sthash.LTsVr9xg.dpuf
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and the terrible loss of life, the injuries and the climate of fear they have generated across the world, Robin, our Rector, wrote the following as his contribution for ‘Thought for Today’ in the Wednesday 18th November edition of the Dumfries Standard newspaper.
Robin is a regular contributor to this Wednesday column.
‘A bible reading (which had already been set) for the weekend’s services in St John’s, following the gun and bomb attacks in Paris, were remarkably relevant to the situation. It was from Mark’s Gospel chapter 13 v.1-8 and Jesus was advising his disciples in a context which had many similarities. It was a time of insurrection; people were being recruited by zealots to join in a war. Jesus’ strong word of caution was ‘Beware that no- one leads you astray. Then, as now, a big problem is the ease with such zealots can whip up such a degree of hatred of the other that men and women are led to carry out atrocities. A heartening response to the situation in Paris is not only the sympathy and active support offered to those who have suffered directly but also that support and understanding has been extended to groups who may be unjustly blamed. As Scottish Inter-Faith Week approaches next week, I hope it will enable communication of such wisdom.’