Rector’s Letter – September 2020

Dear friends,

By the time you read this we will have met for worship in the church for the first time since March 15th. I don’t know what it will be like to stand at the front and see a scattered, diminished congregation wearing face masks, unable to sing or share the peace or have communion. What I do know is that our Lord who has been with us during the last five months, sustaining and encouraging us, comforting and guiding us, will be present. Our organist David has chosen a perfect hymn to start our worship which reminds us that wherever we meet, however small our gathering, Christ will be near, ready to listen to our prayers and to support us:

Jesus, where’er thy people meet,
there they behold thy mercy-seat;
where’er they seek thee thou art found,
and every place is hallowed ground…

But what about those of you who are not ready to return to the building yet? I hope that by means of the Material for Worship and the livestreaming of the morning service, you will continue to feel connected with your church family and will also sense God’s presence with you in your home as you pray.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me in the weeks to come with your thoughts on how we could perhaps improve the services and the livestreaming. Vestry members have worked very hard to get us to this point when we can safely meet to worship but I’m sure that we will need to make adjustments and seek answers to difficulties we haven’t anticipated. Your help in this would be greatly appreciated.

I would like to assure you that as soon as it is possible for every member of the congregation who wishes to receive communion to do so, we will revert to Eucharistic services. At Area Council last week, Bishop Ian was hopeful that the Scottish Government can be persuaded to allow Home Communions in the near future. In the meantime, I would commend Vestry’s approach which is to see this time as a period of experimenting with different kinds of services and an opportunity for outreach. The Night Service is already attracting new members to St Mary’s as has the Gatherings for Prayer.

It would have been very easy for us to have become inward-looking during Lockdown, concerned only with our own difficulties as a congregation and a local community. I have been delighted to receive from you items for the newsletter about charities and organisations serving people whose lives have been affected in a much more drastic way than ours by the virus and the economic difficulties it has caused. In order to further encourage our outward-looking attitude, this month we will be joining with the world’s 2.2 billion Christians to mark the Season of Creation. The pandemic has awoken many of us to the urgent need to heal our relationships with the natural world and with each other. The Season of Creation is intended as a time to repent, repair and rejoice together. It will culminate in a Harvest Celebration on October 4th, the Feast of St Francis. Please look out for information which will be sent to you during the month and if you are able, visit for prayer resources, dates of on-line services and webinars from all over the world and ideas for campaigns to support and activities to do at home.

Thank you for your prayers and many kindnesses which have sustained me during this strange time. I know also that you are praying for one another and for your friends and neighbours. Please be assured of my prayers for you and for Dunblane.

With love to you all,