Rector’s Letter – from March Magazine

Dear friends,

Since settling in the Rectory, the Co-op has become my local shop and I enjoy popping in a few times a week. It is one of the few shops in Dunblane that stocks a range of Fair Trade goods, including bananas not wrapped in plastic! The staff are very friendly and keen to make sure that the store contributes to the life of the community in a meaningful way. They are ready to donate prizes for local events and David who runs their Facebook page has several times posted news from St Mary’s. I was taken aback, however, to find during my first visit after Christmas, the area around the checkout awash with hot-cross buns and chocolate eggs. On our high streets, Easter has taken over not only Lent but the first three months of the year. It is ironic that historically the idea of giving up things for Lent comes more from secular culture than the church, from a time when food stocks would shrink in early spring forcing people to adjust their diets. In the Early Church, Lent was a time to prepare for baptism, for the whole community to reflect along with the candidates on what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. This year in our Sunday services we will read stories from John’s Gospel of Jesus’ encounters with Nicodemus, a Samaritan woman, a man born blind and his friends from Bethany, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They raise questions about taking risks, seeing past outward appearances, embracing a bigger world and living hopefully in the face of death. If all we do during the next few weeks is to consider prayerfully what it means to live in the way of Christ in light of these four passages, we will have a rich Lent.

This year our Maundy Thursday service will be a traditional eucharist and on Good Friday there will be something different and new. We’re going to be using an innovative liturgy by the newly appointed Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell. In The Nail, key witnesses describe Christ’s crucifixion from their points of view. Each character considers the part he or she played in hammering the nails into Jesus. We will learn how the Roman centurion was just following orders, and how Pontius Pilate merely obeyed the wishes of the majority. By vividly expanding these stories and others, Stephen Cottrell invites us to ask ourselves if we would have behaved any differently in those situations. These challenging monologues will be sandwiched together with silence, hymns, readings and prayer. The service is designed to appeal to adults of all ages and backgrounds – a great opportunity to invite friends and relatives who don’t usually come to church. We will need six people to take the parts of the characters as well as a number of readers, singers and those ready to lead prayers. There will be an opportunity to borrow copies of The Nail and meet beforehand to prepare for the service. Please get in touch if you would like to be involved.

In the meantime, have a blessed Lent.

With love,