Rector’s Letter

A Happy New Year to you all! Since this is the first magazine of 2024, I assume that it is not too late to use this greeting. I hope that it is not too late either to encourage you to make one more New Year’s resolution and to join me in seeking to try new things this year. I read an article recently claiming that trying new things can transform our lives for the better. It can help us discover our strengths and weaknesses, overcome our fears, build our confidence, boost our creativity and grow as people.

Here at St Mary’s we aim to offer a variety of Sunday services. If you have been attending the morning services regularly for a number of years, the liturgy will be comfortingly familiar. We also seek to provide services that are different and new, particularly at Night Church. We hope that these might teach us new ways of approaching prayer and worship and challenge us to think afresh about our faith and the way we live it out.

This month at Night Church, Ruth Burgess will lead us in a celebration of the ancient festival of Candlemas, Iain Goring, inspired by the author Richard Foster, will reflect on spiritual disciplines, and Kate Sainsbury will share with us a year in the life of the Appletree Community which she has founded to support her son Louis. This month also, we will mark the beginning of Lent with services in the morning and the evening of Ash Wednesday, 14th February. If you haven’t observed Lent before, what about coming to one of these or to the whole church service on the first Sunday of the season to find out more?

You are also invited to come together to mark Shrove Tuesday with pancake events in the church hall on the afternoon or evening of 13th February. These will be the first in a series of social events to which you are encouraged to invite relatives, friends or neighbours. Please consider who you might ask to come with you either to the afternoon gathering or to the supper – details below.

The Gospel we’ll be using in our eucharistic services during 2024 is the Gospel of Mark, the earliest and probably the most puzzling of the four Gospels. It is also the shortest, possibly designed to be read aloud in one sitting of a church community. Some of you have already agreed to meet this month to read the whole of this Gospel together. It is not too late to sign up for a morning, afternoon or evening session in the Rectory or in someone’s home. Hearing the Gospel in this new way can be a powerful experience. It may lead to further gatherings to look in detail at various aspects of Mark and explore its themes. We’ll have to wait and see!

At St Mary’s we also offer opportunities to meet regularly in groups during the week to discuss and pray together and get to know each other. If you would like to find out about the Monday Gathering, the Men’s Group, the Young Adults Group, the Prayer Group, Sensible Shoes and The Chosen, please get in touch with the organisers, some of whose contact details are at the back of the magazine, or with me. A new home group will soon be launched which will hopefully bring together Christians from different churches in Dunblane to pray and learn together and provide support for one another. This may be the new thing for you to try this year! If so, I urge you to come to the introductory meeting or failing that, to contact Martin or Jill Wisher to find out more.

Meeting to worship and to work for good causes along with members of other local churches has always been an important part of the life of St Mary’s. This year, it’s our turn to host the World Day of Prayer in Dunblane. If you haven’t attended this service before, what about coming along to join in the world-wide wave of prayer and to hear a powerful message from the Christian women of Palestine?

St Mary’s is also part of the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, a group of about 50 churches under the authority of Bishop Ian Paton. During the year there will be opportunities to meet with members of our sister churches for services and for other activities like the walks detailed below, organised by our Pilgrim Pastor, Duncan Weaver, along the Fife Pilgrim Way.

This month also, there will be a special Diocesan Evensong to welcome Bishop Marinez of Amazonia and celebrate our new link with her diocese in Brazil. This will be a great opportunity for some of you to visit our cathedral in Perth for the first time and to find out about what may turn out to be an exciting new project for our church.

In the meantime, please consider what other new things we could offer this year to build up our church community and strengthen our links with the wider world. I would be delighted to hear from you!
with love,