Letter from the Rector

Dear friends,
I wonder how and with whom you intend to celebrate Christmas 2021? We have more freedom to choose what to do this year but the experiences of the last twenty two months have caused many of us to re-evaluate and re-prioritise. Time spent visiting or receiving family members and friends will be more precious to us, live music, drama and sport will be a special treat, and I hope that the opportunity to worship together in church will also be high on our agenda. We, at St Mary’s, are intending to offer a range of Advent and Christmas services, some of them old favourites and others more recent additions to our calendar. I hope that there will be something to appeal to everyone. Mindful of the fact that some will find the Christmas festivities difficult, we will also hold a Quiet Service on the Sunday evening before Christmas. There will be no carol singing, just time to reflect, recall, regroup in the peaceful, prayerful atmosphere of the church. If you know of anyone who has had a particularly hard year for whatever reason, please let them know about this service, or even better, offer to bring them, and pray that those who come will find the space and hope which the Christmas story offers.
During the year, we have learnt of the appeal of outdoor worship, especially to families with children and young people. We will, therefore, be building an Advent Spiral on the Rectory Lawn as part of the Families Service on 12th December, and inviting folk of all ages to come together after dark during the rest of the month to take turns to prayerfully walk the path marked by evergreen boughs carrying a lantern to light from a central candle. For more information, please contact Liz Owen on events@stmarysdunblane.org. There will also be an opportunity for children of all ages and their families to come to church for the Christingle Service at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and also to join with the rest of the congregation for the Eucharist on the second and fourth Sundays of Advent as well as on Christmas morning.
For those who enjoy singing, we will be offering three carol services. The first will be an Advent Carol Service with poems and prayers at 8 p.m. on Sunday, 28th November. The second will be a Christmas Carol Service at 4 p.m. on 19th December for which you are invited to contribute suggestions of carols, poems and readings. Then on 9th January, we will be involved in a Joint Epiphany Carol Service at Holy Trinity Church in Stirling at 6.30 p.m.
At each of our services, there will be an opportunity to contribute towards our Christmas Appeal for Aberlour Childcare Trust. Information about the recent work of the charity and its special relationship to the Scottish Episcopal Church is to be found in this issue of the magazine along with an invitation to support Women’s Aid in Stirling and to get involved in Mothers’ Union’s Christmas Gift Appeal for women in Cornton Vale Prison.
After the sad losses of the last two months, I have some joyful events to look forward to before Christmas. Please pray for Ben and Stefanie and Laura and Gareth whose weddings I’ll be celebrating at Cromlix House Chapel and also for Ian and Kirsty Hamilton who will be affirming their vows before family and friends. I also look forward to being involved in ‘The Christmas Journey’, an ecumenical event for Primary 7 pupils in Dunblane, exploring the story of the first Christmas in a multimedia, hands-on and thought-provoking way.
I would appreciate your prayers for these events and also for my new role as Interim Pastor for St Saviour’s Church, Bridge of Allan who are currently without a Rector. This additional responsibility will only occasionally take me away from you on Sundays as it mostly involves supporting the Vestry and helping the Ministry Team to provide pastoral care to the congregation. Please pray for them and also for our Vestry as they work together to develop the Church Hall and the new website and to implement some of the ideas contained in our Environmental Action Plan. Please consider offering practical support for any of these projects if you are able. Many hands make light work!
Whatever form your Christmas celebrations will take this year, I hope that you will make space for the Christ child and make time during the weeks of Advent to prepare for his coming once more to our world and into our hearts. May this Advent and Christmas be a time of joy and blessing for you and your loved ones.
With love,