Rector’s Letter – from March 2019 Magazine

Dear friends,

I especially enjoy visiting my mother in Wales in late January or early February as it means that I get to experience the coming of Spring twice. In Cardiganshire, daffodils and crocus are already starting to appear the gardens, catkins and pussywillow in the hedgerows, early lambs in the fields. Now that I have returned to Scotland I can look forward to seeing them appear here in a few weeks time – signs of new life, a promise of warmer weather and lighter, longer days. It was good to have a break, to have time on the long train journeys to think and read and pray, to spend precious time with family and friends, to be refreshed.

We will soon be entering into the season of Lent when we are invited to have a break of forty days, to slow down, to take time to think and read and pray and to spend precious time in the company of God in order to be refreshed. Lent is not meant to be a miserable time. It is not a time to brood over our sin or to wallow in guilt and it isn’t a time either to eagerly set about on a course of self-improvement. It is not about choosing to give up something or do something extra for God. It is a time to simply follow in the footsteps of Jesus as he sets out once more into the wilderness, a time to be still, waiting and watching to see what God is doing in our lives, in our church and in our community and how we can join in.

One of the books I enjoyed dipping into during my recent journeys to and from Wales was Dancing in the Desert by Sally Foster-Fulton who was Associate Minister at Dunblane Cathedral and is now Head of Christian Aid Scotland. It is a collection of reflections, meditations, prayers, activities and liturgies for Lent published by the Iona Community. Her poem, ‘Doorway to the Desert’ is my prayer as we approach Lent:

Your breath moved over the waters of chaos:
blew life into stillness at the birth of the world.
Your heartbeat sings through the waters of each birth
and the wildness of the cosmos
and the wonder of insight.

Our feet stand at the doorway to the desert…
we hold our breath,
our hearts skip a beat
and we take a first faltering step
into insight.

As Lent begins,
our hope is that we are able to wait with you in this time,
before you walk into the wilderness
and the work you came for begins.

I hope that we will all make the journey together this year, starting on Ash Wednesday when we receive the cross of ash and hear the words, ‘Remember that you are but dust, and to dust you shall return’ – a brutal yet beautiful reminder of our humanity and our mortality, but a reminder also that our God who is Love is always with us and has the power to transform our lives so that we can start afresh in his service. This year, in addition to the traditional service at 7:30pm there will be an informal, interactive event at 3:30pm when people of all ages can enter into Lent at their own pace.

I look forward to seeing you there and to travelling with you towards Easter.

With love,