Rector’s Letter April 2023

Dear friends,
The end of April 1986 was a life-changing time for me. It was when I experienced the services of Holy Week and Easter for the first time. I had stayed on in Cambridge for the holiday and went to church every day with a Catholic friend. We travelled the journey together from Palm Sunday to Easter Day experiencing the many different emotions stirred up by the liturgy and the readings, from the fresh hope of Palm Sunday, through the intimacy of Maundy Thursday and the darkness of Good Friday to the exuberant joy of the Easter Vigil.

I have travelled that journey every year since then and each time I feel that I’m drawn a little deeper into the mystery of our faith. I look forward this year to accompanying you on this journey whether you have been travelling it for many years or whether this your first time. I hope that it will be a blessing to us all.

We will start the Great Week on Palm Sunday by gathering together in the hall to remember and re-enact the story of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem before processing to the church singing and waving our palm crosses. While the children build their Easter gardens in the hall, the adults will listen and reflect on Matthew’s account of the Passion, the events of Christ’s last days, presented as a dramatized reading. In the evening, we will reflect further on the events of that day in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago and prepare ourselves for the rest of the week.
You are welcome to drop in to church to pray any time during the week. There will be materials to guide you or you can just to sit and pray in the tranquillity of the building.

On Wednesday evening, we are invited to Holy Trinity Church in Stirling for a performance of sacred music with Scripture readings and poetry. It will feature Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, a musical setting of a 13th-century hymn which portrays Mary’s suffering during the crucifixion of his son, written during the final weeks of the composer’s life.

On Maundy Thursday, there is an opportunity to gather in our cathedral in Perth in the morning for the Chrism Mass. During this eucharist, the Oil of Chrism (for Baptism) and the Oil of Healing are consecrated by the Bishop, and all ministers, both ordained and lay, re-affirm their promises and re-dedicate themselves to their calling. Back at St Mary’s, the service for Maundy Thursday will start at 7 p.m. with a commemoration of the Last Supper and an opportunity to wash each other’s feet as a sign of self-giving service. After receiving communion, the sanctuary will be stripped of all its decorations and then we stay, if we wish, to watch and pray in silence as we remember the time Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane.

On Good Friday afternoon, we will present ‘The Nail’ by Archbishop Stephen Cottrell. Key witnesses, including Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate and Mary Magdalene describe Christ’s crucifixion from their own point of view and consider the part they played in hammering the nails into his body. Each reflection will be accompanied by a Bible reading, a prayer, a hymn and a period of silence. You are welcome to drop in for part of the service or to stay for the three hours between noon and 3 p.m. In the morning, children of all ages are welcome to explore the Easter Trail together in the church grounds at 10 a.m. followed by hot cross buns in the Hall.

On the evening of Holy Saturday we come together again just before nightfall to start our Easter celebrations. From earliest times, Christians have gathered on this night to recall the story of God’s saving work, from Creation through to the death and resurrection of Jesus. We will then light our Easter candle in a new fire and bring the light of Christ into the darkened church, sharing it among us as we listen to the Exultet, the ancient hymn of triumph and rejoicing. Then we renew the promises made at our baptism and hear the Gospel proclaimed before sharing in the first Eucharist of Easter.

On Easter Morning will be a quiet, traditional communion service at 8.30 a.m. followed by a lively celebration for the whole congregation together with an Easter egg hunt for the children.

The following Sunday evening, we have an opportunity to attend another concert of sacred music, this time in our own church. Scotland’s newest specialist chamber choir, Ominum, will perform William Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices along with other works of the European Renaissance by Palestrina, Guerrero, and Tallis.

I hope that there is something to appeal to everyone amidst the services planned this year. I would urge you, however, not to skip from Palm Sunday to Easter Day but to take the journey one day at a time just as Jesus did.




Holy Week and Easter Services

You are welcome to join us for our services during Holy Week and Easter. For more information go to the Rector’s Letter for April


Wake up to Spring Quiet Afternoon

An opportunity to reflect on a new season …


Rector’s Letter March 2023

Dear friends,
Those who know me well will be aware that it is not natural for me to ‘go slow’. I walk quickly, I delight in multi-tasking, I read and write and think fast. It has taken me many years to learn to adjust to Davie’s leisurely pace when we go on walks, to focus on one thing at a time when helping my mother around the house, to discipline myself to think deeply as I read and write, and to still my mind and relax my body so that I don’t pray in a rush.

During the Pandemic many of us discovered the joys of slow living. Some people made meals from scratch for the first time and baked bread, they discovered gardening and took up sewing, knitting or painting, they explored the countryside around them by foot or bicycle and spent quality time with their neighbours. I benefited greatly from my daily hour in the church grounds working with my hands in the soil, from walks with friends and from celebration meals and film nights with my family. It has been so easy to slip back into our old ways and forget all that we learnt during those months of enforced leisure.

I have found that in our spiritual lives, it’s easy to let our minds race ahead instead of keeping pace with God. But when we do so we often fail to pay attention to the still, small voice guiding and encouraging us. The liturgy of the Season of Lent is designed to help us to slow down. It’s simplicity and its choice of readings from Scripture enables us to focus on Jesus and to accompany him on his journey from the wilderness to the cross and beyond.

Because of the way my mind works, I have found reading this year’s Gospel for Lent and Easter particularly difficult. The words of John’s Gospel are so accessible and familiar that it’s tempting for me to swiftly skim the surface of any passage and to think that I know what it says. I have always known that I was missing out on a feast. I was aware that John’s themes, woven through the text like threads in a tapestry, require a lifetime’s exploration. St. Augustine wrote that this Gospel is shallow enough for a child not to drown, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim in it. Until recently, however, I just couldn’t get the hang of reading John.

It was as I listened to Professor David Ford at our Clergy Conference last month that I realised that I needed to approach the book in a different way. He had spent two decades writing a commentary on John and many more years immersing himself in the text, prayerfully reading and re-reading its verses, a few at a time. I have started to do the same during my morning quiet time, letting myself be drawn to a particular word or phrase or story and dwelling on it, allowing the rest of my day or my week to be infused by it. The idea of ‘eating’ Scripture is used by the author of the Book of Revelation and by a number of the prophets before him to express the way we can take in God’s Word so that it will nurture us and get metabolized into action and prayer. I am already noticing the effect that my feeding on John’s Gospel is having on my daily life …
Some of you may have already discovered this approach to reading the Bible, but if you haven’t, I would urge you to give it a go this Lent. Copies of John’s Gospel are available for you at the back of church. Members of the Ministry Team will also put together a list of commentaries and some audio books which you might like to choose from to accompany your reading and we would be delighted to give you advice or chat with you about your experience.

Our early morning and night services on a Sunday are intended to be quiet times when we can make space to still our minds and open them to God. If you are not already a regular, you are welcome to come and experience a more reflective way of worshipping and of engaging with Scripture during Lent. We will also hold another Seasonal Quiet Afternoon on March 25th which will gently encourage us to wake up to Spring, exploring signs of new life in nature and within us in the presence of God’s Spirit.

In the meantime, please pray with me for the ministry and mission of our church and especially for those who are preparing for baptism and for the affirmation of their baptism promises.
With love,

Lent Services

You are welcome to join us as we travel through the season of Lent.

Service of Worship and Reflections on Worship

On Sunday 19th February at 8 p.m., we look forward to an evening of Modern Worship and reflections on worship with Rebecca and Dan Curtis and singer, Sally Homoncik.


Journey to Lent

What are Street Pastors?

Come and find out about Street Pastors at Night Service this Sunday, 15th January at 8 p.m.


Living the Questions 2023

This year, we’re embarking upon a new adventure.

From January we’ll be offering Living the Questions as a safe space to explore the Christian faith without pressure or presumptions. Together, we’ll dwell in the mysteries of life and faith, and share our journeys of unknowing, assisted by video input from leading teachers and theologians to inspire our conversations.

The first meeting will be an orientation session: a taster and introduction as to what may lie ahead. This will run from 7.30-8.30pm on Tuesday 31st January in St Mary’s Hall with tea, coffee, and cake, provided. Thereafter, meetings will be held on alternate Tuesday evenings, starting with a simple supper before moving into discussion of the materials. Themes in the first few sessions include journeying, taking the bible seriously, and stories of creation. There is no charge, though contributions to supper are welcomed.

If you would like more information or to let us know your intention to come to the orientation session, please contact Nerys or Rachael.

Christmas Services

Christmas Eve Christingle

Christmas Carol Service

Advent at St Mary’s

PEACE (December 4th) 8.30am Traditional Communion 10.30am Sung Eucharist and Young Church 8pm The Forgotten Women - Celebrating the Women who made the first Christmas possible, part of #16Days; JOY (December 11th) 8.30am Traditional Communion 10.30 am Sung Eucharist and Young Church 8pm Reflections on Walking the Camino; LOVE (December 18th) 8.30am Traditional Communion 10.30am Service for All Ages 4pm Christmas Carol Service followed by mince pies and mulled wine. PLUS Monday 5th December, 3.30pm – Advent Labyrinth for Families in church hall.

Winter Quiet Afternoon

Rector’s Letter, December 2022

Dear friends,

I am writing this letter in the midst of preparing to travel to Wales to visit my mother who will be 90 in the spring. I am looking forward to a few days spent at a different pace, enjoying unhurried, lovingly-prepared meals, leisurely walks, meandering conversation, afternoon naps and early nights. If it happens, it will be a great start to the season of Advent, the season when we’re called to slow down in order to wait watchfully for the coming of Christ. As you prepare for Christmas this year, I hope that you will be able to make time for Advent and to join your church family on our journey together.

Our Season of Remembrance came to an end with the celebration of Christ the King and Rachael’s memorable image of the Church as a ‘rowboat society’, facing backwards as we move forwards. As we enter this new season, I hope that we will take up the challenge to look over our shoulders to where we are going. In order to do so, we need to slacken the pace so that we can catch glimpses of the One who is our destination.

In our services there will be plenty of opportunity for reflection, as we sing our Advent and Christmas carols and explore the writings of Isaiah and Matthew. At Night Church we’ll journey with the forgotten women of the Bible and on the pilgrimage route to Compostela. As the Posada makes its way from household to household, there will be opportunities for young and old to spend time getting to know each other better. Please pray for the families who will be introduced to the practice of labyrinth walking at our after-school Advent event and for all the pupils who will take part in the inter-church Christmas Journey initiative.

As we prepare for our Christmas celebrations, we will continue to walk alongside those who are finding life a struggle. During the Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence, we have an opportunity to remind ourselves and others of the need to eliminate violence against women and girls. We are invited to join with the United Nations campaign to ‘Orange the world!’ and to contribute to the Mothers’ Union collections for Women’s Aid and the Family Help Hub at Cornton Vale Women’s Prison. Through our Christmas Appeal, we can once more support the wonderful work Aberlour, Scotland’s Children’s Charity, is doing to keep families together and provide emergency funds for those in crisis. Our Quiet Service for those who find the Christmas festivities difficult falls this year on 21st December, the longest night. If you know of anyone who has had a hard year for whatever reason, please let them know about this service, or, even better, offer to bring them.

In January we are offering a Quiet Afternoon to reflect on ‘A journey through Winter’ using art or poetry, an indoor labyrinth or a walk outside, There is also an invitation for you to explore in a safe environment those faith questions you have always wanted to ask but have been afraid to voice. The Living the Questions course is based on the premise that faith is not a destination but a journey. An ecumenical team of facilitators is preparing to accompany you.

Our young people will also have an opportunity in the New Year to go deeper in their understanding of their faith and of being part of the Church with Rachael as their guide. Bishop Ian has been invited to join us at Pentecost for a special service of celebration where candidates of any age are invited to affirm the promises made at baptism and renew their dedication to participate fully as part of the Church within the Episcopal tradition. Any adult who hasn’t been confirmed or who has come to St Mary’s from another denomination and wishes to explore the possibility of expressing their commitment in this way, is welcome to speak with me about it.

As you discern your path towards Christ this Advent, I invite you to use the simple prayer of Thomas Merton:

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.


with love to you all,