Another Living with Loss Meeting

Another opportunity for those struggling with the loss of a loved one to receive support next Saturday afternoon at St Mary’s Church Hall. If you can’t make it or would prefer to speak one-to-one please contact our coordinator.

 

Commemoration of Lilias Graham 13th August

Living with Loss Drop-In

The Living with Loss group at St Mary’s invites you to a drop in session in the Meeting Room of our Hall on Saturday 8th July from 2pm until 3.30 pm.
Come and have a cup of tea and a piece of cake with us, meet some of our team and find out what we can offer to help you. Everyone is welcome and you can bring a family member or a friend with you.
Get in touch with us if you would like to talk to someone or require further information.

Quiet Afternoon

Please get in touch with Nerys at rector@stmarysdunblane.org  if you would like to join us for an afternoon of quiet reflection in and around St Mary’s Church Hall.

 

Materials for Worship on the Fourth Sunday of Easter: Good Shepherd Sunday

Modern day shepherd in barn with lambs feeding one from a bottle as the others look on

photo by Claire Jeannerat

In recent times, the farmers of Great Britain have had a lot of bad press. Many would have us believe that British farms are, in the majority, characterised by huge, faceless, production line style agriculture. However, many farmers are still carrying on their craft in the traditional way, not so far removed from the farmers and shepherds in Jesus’ time.

Like those in first century Palestine, I know of a number of shepherds and shepherdesses who live at close proximity with their flock at certain times of the year. For one it’s important that she’s in her caravan in the fields during lambing time, so that she can be on hand to help twenty-four seven. For another, during the summer months when they are on the mountain plateaus, he lives in his shepherd’s hut on the hillside to keep a close watch. That same shepherd leads his 300 or so sheep on a 40 mile trek every year to reach the summer pastures, not pushing and harassing from the back but leading from the front with the sheep following the one whom they know and trust.

These types of farmers know their sheep. They know their lineage, their genetics and their issue, through generations. They know those who are prone to ailments or difficult births, where they’re hefted, who are the escape artists, the risk-takers, and the slowcoaches.

They too, despite what some sections of the media would have us believe, want their livestock to have an abundant life.

Jesus describes himself here as the gate who allows the shepherd and the sheep to come and go. A few verses on, he’ll say that he is shepherd, whom he has said “calls the sheep by name and leads them out”, “goes ahead of them”, and who “they follow because they know his voice”.

The sheep know the shepherd, they listen to the shepherd, and they follow the shepherd.

I would suggest that that is vocation. To know, listen to, and follow God.

Our realisation of our vocation relies on our knowing God. Knowing God’s loving character, compassionate nature, desire for justice and the redemption of all things. It also relies on knowing who we are in God – what character and desires God has created within us. And both of these are active knowing’s: they involve effort, energy, the giving of time and attention. Vocation relies on knowing God.

The next part of vocation is listening. We do a lot of listening not with our ears. Relying on video and telephone calls through the pandemic made us really aware of how much we rely on our other senses to interpret and understand people in conversation. We rely on our eyes, our sense of touch, and our intuition, when we converse with other people. Which is good because I have never audibly heard the voice of God! But I do know that by watching the world around me, listening to and weighing what is said by others, along with reading the Bible, and even sitting in the silence of prayer, somehow, I hear God. I hear God in those nudges to the conscience, those convictions of the heart, those fleeting thoughts that come as if from nowhere. God is speaking all the time, and the sheep are those who listen.

And finally: following. When you know God and who you are in him; when you’ve listened and heard the promptings and suggestions; the only option left is to follow. Sometimes that’s a tiny step, sometimes it’s a giant leap. In either case, you know that you are stepping into the loving arms of a Good Shepherd, of the one who came that we may have life and have it abundantly.

Vocations come in all shapes and sizes. Really the possibilities are endless. In the church they can look like a calling to licensed or ordained ministry, to lending your expertise on a board or committee at provincial and diocesan level, to being part of the stewards, coffee, or intercessions rotas. Buildings and gardens need management and tending, outreach initiatives need instigators and sustainers, children and young people need mentors and guides, everything needs people of prayer to underpin and gird it. We all have vocations to things outside of church too: to our families or our neighbourhoods; to jobs or voluntary roles; to a particular way of running a business. Vocations can change, stop, and start anew. You can have more than one!

Whatever it may be: know God and who God says you are. Listen, actively and intentionally. If God is speaking, it’s time to follow. Living in step with God like this is the way to abundant life.

Sheep with spring lambs

Christ is the gate who opens the way.

God is the good shepherd who calls us by name.

And the Lord is our Shepherd. We shall not want. He makes us lie down in green pastures. He leads us beside still waters. He restores our soul. He leads us in right paths for his namesake. And even though we walk through the darkest valleys we need fear no evil. For God is with us to comfort and anoint. To offer the way to life that is abundant.

 

Dunblane Eco Fest 2023

Plenty of activities for all ages as well as information on a wide range of environmental and energy-saving topics, food and fun!

 

Concert Cancelled

Night Church as usual at 8 p.m. next Sunday evening as the concert has been cancelled.

 

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.

Blessings,

Nerys

 

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,
Nerys

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.