Rector’s Letter – December 2022

St James the Less Penicuik and St Mungo West Linton

Scottish Episcopal Churches


The Rectory

23 Broomhill Road


EH26 9EE

01968 678254

07950 607574


30th November 2022


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,


Rector’s letter for December,


St Andrew’s Day -the last day of November and we are also now in the first week of Advent. Andrew was probably born between 5 and 10 AD and was the brother of Simon Peter. Interestingly, his name is of Greek origin, not Hebrew or Aramaic. For someone born in the lands close to the sea of Galilee, that seems quite strange. We know (from Matthew and Mark’s gospels) that the brothers were fisherman, and when called by Jesus the phrase used was to call them to ’be fishers of men’ or in more recent translations, ‘fishers of people’. John’s gospel informs us that Andrew and his brother were disciples of John the Baptist before Jesus called them to follow him. When we read Matthew’s account (chapter 4, verses 18-22) of Jesus’ call, we read that “Immediately they left their nets and followed Him”. Without hesitation they saw something in this man called Yeshua (translates from the Aramaic as ‘He who saves’) that we know by his Greek name of Jesus. As we enter this season of Advent, a season of anticipation, may we also see something in the vulnerable baby, born to a young woman who also said ‘yes’ without hesitation, that we can also favourably respond with our whole heart and being.


In preparing for my sermon for Advent Sunday I was drawn to reflect on Psalm 122 – the psalm in the Lectionary for Advent Sunday in Year A of our three-year cycle of readings. Not as well known or as frequently recited as its famous ‘neighbour’, Psalm 121. I was particularly struck by the last two lines of the psalm.

8 For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.


What particularly stayed with me were the phrases, ‘Peace be within you’, and ‘I will seek your good’. There seems to me to be so much more in saying ‘peace be within you’ as opposed to ‘peace be with you’. And as a way of expressing the new commandment given to us by Jesus; ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, could it be surpassed by stating that ‘I will seek your good’?


During Advent, in anticipation of meeting our Lord and Saviour, both once again and for the first time, when we celebrate His birth, I invite you reflect on those two phrases, and consider how they help us respond to the birth of our Saviour. What does it mean to say, ‘peace be within you’ and ‘I will seek your good’?


Advent! A New Liturgical Year

On Advent Sunday we moved into Year A in our three-year liturgical cycle, in which Matthew’s gospel provides many of our gospel readings. You may wish to find time to read it through as your own personal preparation for the new liturgical year.

Another Biblical exercise worthy of consideration in Advent is to read one chapter of Luke’s gospel every day from 1st to 24th December.


RIP Barney Hunter, Cath Heriot and Jean Wright

In this month we have lost three lovely people who are now at rest with the Lord. Barney died on 15th November and his funeral is tomorrow, 1st December, at 11 am. Our prayers are with Maran, Berenice, Tim and Janine.

Jean Wright’s daughter, Cath Heriot, died on 26th November. Cath was a regular at St James for many years, and I first knew her when my eldest daughter and Cath’s daughter, Jane, were at school together. Her funeral will be at Mortonhall Crematorium on 14th December at 11.00 am. Our prayers are with Mike, Cath’s husband, Jane and Donald their children, and the wider family.

And sadly, Jean Wright died earlier this morning (30th November). I spent a short while with her on Monday, prayed for her and anointed her with oil. Our prayers are with Jane’s family, including Isabel and Helen her sisters, and the wider family.

Rest Eternal grant unto them, O Lord,

and let light perpetual shine upon them.


Two Advent Courses


Roles Reversed

We shall be offering an advent course that will follow on after the Wednesday 12.30 pm service at St James the Less. The course will be on 30th Nov, 7th, 14th and 21st Dec. It will be led by Joy Middleton. Join Joy for some interesting conversations, over tea and coffee. Please feel free to bring some sandwiches or something else to eat for lunch.


People of Bethlehem in Scripture – Provincial course
To Christians, Bethlehem is best known as the birthplace of Jesus, and perhaps secondly as the hometown of David, the founder of the royal dynasty from which he was descended. Bethlehem occurs very much earlier in the Bible, and in the first two occurrences the central characters are women. Their stories also concern issues relevant to Christian faith and life, not least during the season of Advent.
The Reverend Canon Dr Nicholas Taylor, Convenor of the SEC Liturgy Committee and a biblical scholar, will be joined by members of the Church from across Scotland, with varied experience of Christian life and witness in the Middle East, in presenting a series of four studies based on the figures of Rachel, Ruth, David, and Jesus. Sessions will be delivered via Zoom on the Wednesday evenings of Advent (30 November, 7, 14, 21 December), and will include questions for discussion and points for prayer. There will also be a concluding reflection, drawing together the threads of the four studies, on the Wednesday after Epiphany (11 January). All will be welcome to participate, and a recording of the presentation will be available for use at other times. Sessions will begin at 7.30 pm.
To receive the Zoom link for sessions, or if you have any enquiries, please contact Nicholas Taylor or Jan Benvie 


Contemplative Prayer at St Mungo’s: Wednesday Lunchtime

The Contemplative Prayer sessions held at St Mungo’s are on Wednesday lunchtimes at 12.30 pm. Many thanks to Ben Haynes for organising and leading these sessions. They are a time to be still and come into the presence of God, using some different styles, such as centring prayer, Christian meditation following the World Community of Christian Meditation model of John Main, and Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. It would be lovely to see you, so you can experience the richness of this form of Christian prayer too.


Young People at St Mungo’s

We held the second of a new monthly activity for young people on Sunday 27th November. Feedback was good and I hope the numbers attending will slowly grow. The next event will be on Sunday 22nd January. Please pray for this initiative and encourage and young people you know to come along.


Young People at St James the Less

I have requested help in running activities for a small group of young people to meet during the church service, at least twice a month. An email was sent out in October, and already I have had some positive responses. If you are interested in helping, please get in contact with me.


Ministry in Care and Nursing Homes

Cowan Court, Penicuik: We have been part of a rota with the other Penicuik churches, visiting Cowan Court on a Sunday afternoon for the last year. We visit Cowan Court about once every 5 or 6 weeks.

Aaron House, Penicuik: We are part of a new rota with the other Penicuik churches, visiting Aaron House on a Wednesday afternoon at 2pm. As with Cowan Court we will visit once every 5 or 6 weeks. Our first visit was on 23rd November, and it was lovely to spend time with residents, including Agnes Thorburn who is settling in very well.

Whim Hall, Lamancha: We have started visiting Whim Hall in September and our pattern of visits is on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month.


If you are interested in supporting this rewarding ministry by being part of the visiting teams then please let me know. Normally three of us attend each time, so we can support and guide people through the service and have a chat afterwards with whoever attends. We use the Liturgy for Reserved Sacrament and sing a few well-known hymns. Your prayers are welcome for this increased activity in and for members of our local communities.


Faith Development for all

We hold our weekly Bible study at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, online, for up to an hour and a half. We have recently completed our study of 1 Peter. In the New Year we shall be taking a different and experimental approach for the first six weeks. We shall look at Gospel readings each week; not from the Revised Common Lectionary but from ‘The Women’s Lectionary’. Details for each week are given in the monthly listing for January.

We are a mixed group that comes together, often including some folk from much further afield than Penicuik and West Linton. We come together with the common aim of exploring the texts, understanding their context, and just as importantly, exploring how it speaks to us and how it informs us today. We enjoy exploring our different understandings and learning from each other. Please do join us, we are always happy to include more people.


Monday Study Night: ‘Church and Kingdom’.

We shall be following the ‘Church and Kingdom’ Pilgrim course starting on 9th January. You don’t need to have the course booklet to join us, but most people like to have a copy. You can download an epub version of the booklet if you don’t want a booklet cluttering up your bookcase, and it is a bit cheaper. (search for Pilgrim Course ‘Church and Kingdom’ on the Church house Publishing shop website. ). The epub versions of the booklets are £4.99. If you wish to receive the booklet, please let me know by 10th December. The booklet cost is £5.99.

If you have ideas for what we can study on a Monday evening, please let me know.


Faith Development ‘Faith Books’

When we have a fifth Monday in the month, I lead a discussion at 7.30 pm about a book as a way of introducing people to different authors which may pique an interest to read more of their work (or not!). In looking for new or used books, I have often used I am sure there are other search sites that will help people find the above books. Our first book for the year has chapters written by mainly ‘twenty-something’ Christians, mostly studying for their doctorates (many at New College) or otherwise engaged in ministry in a variety of settings. I met many of the contributors on Iona in August this year. It is a good way to engage with what young active Christians have to say, even if you don’t like or agree with all their viewpoints.

The books for 2023 are:

30th January: Young, Woke and Christian: Words from a Missing Generation, (editor) Victoria Turner.

29th May: Unapologetic: Why Despite Everything, Christianity can still make Surprising Emotional Sense, by Francis Spufford

31st July: Your God is Too Small, by J B Phillips

30th October: God of Surprises, by Gerard Hughes


Mid-week evening services on Zoom

Our services on a Wednesday evening at 7.30 pm follow the regular pattern of services set out below. The monthly pattern is:

  • 1st Wed of the month: Healing service (if you wish someone or a situation to be prayed for send an email to me or Marion Mather)
  • 2nd Wed of the month: Christian Meditation (a time to settle, a short line of scripture, 15 minutes of silence, and a closing prayer).
  • 3rd Wed of the month: Iona Abbey evening service liturgy
  • 4th Wed of the month: service in the style of Taizé

At 9pm every Wednesday evening we hold the service of Compline. Please do join us for this short service of calm and settling prayers before sleep.

Continuing our Mission: Leading Your Church Into Growth Prayer

Each weekday morning, we pray for growth in our church. If you are not able to join us online for Morning Prayer at 9 am, can I encourage you to pray this once a day. The prayer is given below.

God of Mission, who alone brings growth to your Church,

send your Holy Spirit to give:

vision to our planning, wisdom to our actions, and power to our witness.

Help our church to grow:

in numbers, in spiritual commitment to you, and in service to our local

community, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Morning and Evening Prayer

We meet online Monday to Friday at 9.00 am and at 5.30 pm. It is a good way to start and end our day, coming together for worship, with daily readings including the psalms; a good rhythm for worship in the Anglican tradition of saying the Daily Offices.

If you wish to access the Daily Office liturgy with the daily scripture readings, go to the Provincial Website, and place your cursor on the ‘Spirituality’ heading. A submenu appears and you can select the appropriate Daily Office from the right-hand side of the page.


In Touch Magazine for St James the Less and St Mungo’s

In Touch has just been circulated to all on email and is going out in paper format to those who do not have email. The cost of a paper copy is £2 for an A4 version, and about £1.50 for an A5 version. We print a very limited number of paper copies to keep out costs down, and to reduce our consumption of paper. If you receive an email version but would also like a paper copy, please let Sue Owen know and we invite you to make a suitable donation (preferably by bank transfer rather than in cash) to cover the cost. The deadline for content to be submitted for the next issue is 5th February 2023. I would like to encourage you to submit something for inclusion in the magazine, a poem, a review of a book or a film, an article on a subject of interest? If you wish to submit an article, please send them to

Financial giving to St James the Less or to St Mungo’s

If you are able, can I ask you to prayerfully consider setting up a recurring monthly payment to the church via on-line banking, to contribute financially on a regular basis. Details of the bank accounts are given below for each of the churches.

St James the Less:

Monthly donation by bank transfer (include your name in the reference line when setting this up – only the Treasurer knows the name of the donor). Bank details are: St James Episcopal Church Penicuik, acct no 17117264, sort code 80-22-60.

St Mungo:

Monthly donation by bank transfer (include your name in the reference line when setting this up – only the Treasurer knows the name of the donor). Bank details are: St Mungo’s Vestry, acct no 00817851, sort code 80-09-39.

Regular Weekday Services

Morning and Evening Prayer and the Wednesday evening services are online using Zoom. Sharing the Daily Offices each weekday with others is a wonderful way of connecting, praying, and praising together with a natural rhythm of the week. It is also one of the few times we can hear the psalms being read more than just a few verses at a time. Please do consider joining us at 9 am and or 5.30 pm for about half an hour, whenever you are able.

Ecumenical Relations and Community Involvement Work

The Penicuik Ministers continue to meet every month in the Storehouse for a chat. Revd Dr Tony Foley (Church of Scotland West Tweeddale churches) and I met recently. Once a month the Penicuik Churches Together (PCT) has a joint Sunday evening service. We held the annual ‘Lest We Forget’ service in the Sacred Heart church on the evening of Remembrance Sunday (13th November). On the evening of Advent Sunday the PCT service was held at St James. On a Sunday when St James acts as host of PCT services our usual schedule will be adapted so that members can attend the PCT service. The schedule detailing where the services are each month is on the PCT website.

The EH26 Resilience Group continues to meet occasionally. It remains a good way to connect in with the needs of our community and support how those needs are met. I am also still attending the Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership ‘Care for People Planning Group’ Zoom meetings, and both the Afghan Resettlement Programme meetings and Ukrainian Refugee scheme meetings.

I attend the West Linton and District Sustainable Group and the discussions are always worthwhile, and it is good to see so many people in the area concerned about the environment and the climate emergency.

The Christmas lights have now been formally switched on in both West Linton and Penicuik, and I was able to attend both events. I did like the alpacas outside the Storehouse in Penicuik, as well as the pipe bands at both events.

The Ministry Team

We continue to meet monthly to plan for the coming months; planning services and faith development activities as well as exploring other aspects of what is offered to the congregations and to our local communities.


As our calendar year comes to an end, and we also come to our AGM season (Sunday 4th December at St James and Sunday 8th January at St Mungo’s), I would like to place on record my grateful thanks to Peter, Neville, Chris and Joy for their support in leading services, preaching and celebrating communion, and running faith development sessions. I would also like to thank all who volunteer their time to serve on our vestries, who provide music to enhance our worship, who support who clean the churches, who maintain the buildings and grounds, who provide and display the flowers, and provide refreshments. It takes a community to ensure our services run well. What can you offer to help our churches run and meet the needs of our community?

In Other News…

The Diocesan Clergy conference took place from 7th to 10th November. The theme was ‘Holy Attention’, with sessions led by Very Revd Frances Ward. I had met her a few years ago when she was Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Some of her presentations were based on seven pieces of artwork by Stanley Spencer based on Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. He intended to produce an artwork for each of the 40 days, but completed six and did not finish the seventh. In the ‘Christ in the Wilderness’ series Jesus is depicted as quite heavy and ‘chunky’, and the sleeves of his garment are wide and open.  If you want to have a look at them the website link below will give you all his religious art.!#filterName:Genre_religious-painting,resultType:masonry

Following the retreat, I spent two and a half days at Minsteracres Retreat Centre, just off the A68, south of the River Tyne, for an Iona Community plenary meeting where we explored the theology and practical aspects of retrofitting buildings to make them well insulated and energy efficient. An interesting set of discussions and some great worship too. The weekend included some lovely singing, led by John Bell, who is retiring shortly from being an employee of the Iona Community. He will leave a big hole.


Nick Bowry



We have a regular pattern of services. Details of these are set out below. You can access them by computer, tablet or smart phone, as well as by phoning in from your house phone to the numbers given below.


Morning Prayer at 9 am, and Evening Prayer at 5.30 pm, Monday to Friday. (Zoom only)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 628 956 1588

Password: 040775

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+442034815240,,6289561588#,,#,040775# United Kingdom

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St Mungo, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.

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Meeting ID: 934 1719 0423

Passcode: 062021

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St James the Less, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.

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Meeting ID: 920 0219 7798  Password: 040775

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Wednesday Evening Services at 7.30 pm (not July or August) (Zoom only)

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Meeting ID: 963 0384 1875 Password: 040775

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Wednesday Evening Compline at 9 pm (all year) (Zoom only)

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Meeting ID: 953 4545 7224 Password: 040775

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Church life continues in a variety of forms online. Several groups and sessions have been set up. Details of the existing groups and sessions being run are given below.

‘Monday Evening Studies’ at 7.30 pm (Zoom only)

This is a series of studies and discussions, open to all who wish to join us, including anyone you wish to invite – they don’t have to be a member of St James the Less or St Mungo’s. We take a break in July and August.

All of these sessions will use the following link.

Topic: Monday Evening Studies

Meeting ID: 976 7040 6222        Passcode: 202101

One tap mobile

+442039017895,,97670406222#,,,,,,0#,,202101# United Kingdom

+442080806591,,97670406222#,,,,,,0#,,202101# United Kingdom


5th Monday Evenings at 7.30 pm

‘Faith Books’

When we have a fifth Monday there will be a discussion about a book of Nick’s choice, in a series called ‘Faith Books’. The next 5th Monday is on Monday 30th January: ‘Young, Woke and Christian: Words from a Missing Generation’ (editor) Victoria Turner.


The other books for 2023 are:

29th May: Unapologetic: Why Despite Everything, Christianity can still make Surprising Emotional Sense, by Francis Spufford

31st July: Your God is Too Small, by J B Phillips

30th October: God of Surprises, by Gerard Hughes

If people wish to read these books but don’t wish to buy them, I am happy to lend them out. Get in contact with me if you wish to borrow a book.

These sessions are suitable for people at any stage of their faith journey; from those enquiring to those with many years in the faith.



Weekly Bible Study

Tuesdays at 2pm

This is a chance to discover and explore the Bible through reflection and discussion. Join us whenever you can. We are currently studying the Book of 1 Peter. Why don’t you join us to explore the texts, understand their context, and just as importantly, explore how they speak to us and how they inform us today.

Meeting ID: 925 1096 2481

Password: 040775


St Mungo’s House Group

Thursdays at 7.30 pm

Contact Markie Woodifield for further information.


Monthly Book Group

The fourth Monday of each month at 2 pm

Contact Angela Sibley for further information.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 669 139 189 Passcode: 040775