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,