Rector’s Letter – September 2016

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers – the moon and the stars you set in place – what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” Psalm 8.3-4 (NLT)

Dear folks,

Who doesn’t like colour and light? That’s one reason why ecclesial buildings are so beautiful with brilliant sunshine splashing vibrant colours through stained glass onto beautiful stone architecture, moving around and lighting different features and corners as the day goes by.

I recall being given a Kaleidoscope as a birthday gift when I was a boy. Perhaps you had one too? It was exciting to look through the eyepiece and feel as if you had entered into a world of patterns and colours and light. Then I was shown to turn the end of it while looking through, and the patterns changed and changed, never once repeating the past.

As an adult I became interested in astronomical telescopes and star-gazing. The thrill of astronomical telescopes is that they transport us beyond the constraints of our world and allow us to venture into a universe that is beyond comprehension and filled with vivid colour and celestial beauty. We see amazing deep space objects such as nebulae, exploding stars, galaxies, and planets, brought near by this wonderfully simple piece of technology.

As I look forward through the lens of faith into the future of St Mary’s Church, I see beautiful patterns of worship, vivid colours of a vibrant and diverse community, bathed in and aglow with divine light.

Once every few months I look at the St Mary’s Church Profile document that was sent to me when I first enquired about coming to you. It was foundational in my process of discernment because it painted a picture of St Mary’s, set out who you were looking for, and how you hoped that person would lead. It was a picture of colour and of light. Page 3 is where the profile gets into that, talking first about the desired attributes of the new Rector, and then reveals some of your hopes of what their ministry at St Mary’s will include…

  • Continuing to build a diverse community into an integrated family whose members value each other’s gifts and differences.
  • Helping to develop our worship in diverse forms which will express and enhance a sense of oneness in nurturing and nourishing our faith together.
  • Developing lay ministry by moving beyond delegation to empowerment – becoming a community which ministers rather than a community which waits to be ministered to.
  • Supporting and developing ministry with children and young adults.
  • Promoting outreach to young families moving to Dunblane and to those who are already here.
  • Inspiring confident and sensitive evangelism, developing an openness to God, one another, and the community.
  • Reaching out in mission and service to the wider community in partnership with other churches.
  • Working with the congregation to develop a vision for the future, based on a prayerful discernment of God’s purpose for St Mary’s.

There may be diversity of opinion as to what degree they are being fulfilled but I’m pleased that we can see several of these things happening or in the process of emerging. I don’t see the list as exhaustive, nor restrictive so there are things I have brought that weren’t there, but it is entirely consistent with my understanding of the ministry of the priest and pastor and finds resonance in my heart. That’s why I applied for the post. Further, I think I was appointed because this church was ready for new direction, vision, and all that those things will bring.

I aim to continue to lead you to reach for all that together we prayerfully discern that God has planned for St Mary’s, not so I can put it on my CV, but that you can become all that God has planned for you to be, and be effective and blessed.

Assuming that the basic competences are present to whatever degree (I know my own shortcomings!), I think the most important requirements of any church leader/pastor/priest is that they have a sincere and open love for God, for the flock they are called to shepherd, and for those outside the fold, in that order. It has to begin with love for God, the model and depth of which will determine how deeply and selflessly we can love and lead others. I hope that above all else you can see that threefold love in me as I continue to serve you as faithfully as I am able.

But without focus the patterns in the kaleidoscope would be a blur. Without focus the view through the telescope is indistinguishable. Without focus, our vision for St Mary’s is incomprehensible. Let’s pray for greater focus that the patterns and colours that emerge will be beautiful to behold, and irresistible to all who observe them.