Rector’s Letter – April 2024

St James the Less Penicuik and St Mungo West Linton

Scottish Episcopal Churches


The Rectory

23 Broomhill Road


EH26 9EE

01968 678254

07950 607574


27th March 2024


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,


Rector’s letter for April 2024


Personal Notes


I am finalising this letter and sending it out in the middle of Holy Week. The two-week period of Passion-tide which started on the fifth Sunday of Lent, denotes a marked change in mood, as Jesus turns and faces Jerusalem. Jesus knows this will be his final visit to the city and in showing himself to be the Son of God and Prince of Peace, not a warrior king type of leader, he will disappoint many and cause those in authority to be anxious about their status and power. This mixture of reactions will lead to his passion and death.


As I have said before, experiencing the celebratory joy of Palm Sunday and then anticipating the resurrection on Easter Day diminishes the exuberant and transformational power of the resurrection. Travelling with Christ to the cross during Holy Week, through his interactions in Bethany, in the streets, in the Temple with money-changers and with livestock merchants, in the Temple with religious leaders, with his disciples in the upper room and the events of Good Friday, help us experience and comprehend just a small part of what it means to love and hold true to God’s mission. The readings and liturgy takes us to the dark of Maundy Thursday evening, with the altar stripped, and church symbolically bare of Christ’s presence. The simplicity of the Chapel of Repose speaks volumes to me, as it displays the reserved sacrament, lit with a few small candles. The silence, the sense of everything stripped away, the message of Psalm 22 echoing in our minds. It is through experiencing these things that the shouts of “Alleluia!” can be so joyfully sung afresh on Easter Day.

During Lent we have been following the Diocesan Lent Course on the emotions of Jesus. The section for Holy Week will be available for people to use for reflection in the second hour of our Good Friday services.  The first hour will be reflecting on Sieger Koder’s Stations of the Cross. There is so much in each of the paintings.

Also, during Lent I have been reading a couple of books about forgiveness. This is in advance of a retreat I am leading for the Mothers’ Union in April on the theme of forgiveness. The topic is a challenging one and the reading has been very useful. And of course, Jesus’ final acts of forgiveness were from the cross, as he says “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34), and to one of the thieves on the cross who said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:  42-43). He said this to thief who knew he was guilty and was no doubt afraid of judgement. And yet, Jesus forgave him and reassured him of his place in heaven. A brand-new book published tomorrow, called ‘Unforgiveable? Exploring the Limits of Forgiveness’ by Sue Crosfield’s son-in-law, Stephen Cherry, will arrive too late to greatly impact my retreat talks, but will be my personal reading on the retreat. I might have to adjust some of my talks on the fly!

I have also found a little time to start reading the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book for 2024, by Selina Stone, called ‘Tarry Awhile: Wisdom from Black Spirituality for People of Faith’. The title comes from Matthew 26:38 (KJV). In more modern translations ‘tarry awhile’ is replaced with ‘stay here’ (NIV) or ‘remain here’ (NRSV). The theme of staying with the Lord, tarrying awhile, is to enable us to be open to a genuine encounter with God. Tarrying also gives us an opportunity to rest and be restored in God’s loving arms. I hope during Lent you may have fond time to do that, and to encourage you to find ways to do that in the future.

On Monday I helped at an assembly at Cornbank St James Primary School and on Thursday I shall be helping out with an Easter service for pupils of West Linton Primary School. It is great to engage with children and talk about more than Easter bunnies and Easter eggs, although these subjects aren’t ignored.

On 6th March I attended the licencing of Revd Gillian Hitchen as the new priest at St Matthew’s Roslin (aka Rosslyn Chapel). It was nice to gather with other clergy and welcome in a new priest to the diocese. At least the upkeep of the church is not a responsibility of the Vestry at Roslin, although there is less flexibility about when they can hold services.

News and new things happening


Easter Day – Sunday 31st March

A reminder that the clocks go forward an hour at 2 am on Sunday 31st March. So, getting up for the dawn service on Broomhill, which starts at 6.30 am will feel an awful lot like 5.30 am. Please don’t let this deter you. There will be bacon rolls afterwards and plenty of tea and coffee. The main Eucharistic services to celebrate the Resurrection will be at the usual time of 10.30 am.


The Big Day – Saturday 11th May

Each year there is a diocesan event, held at the Cathedral. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Let Us Pray’.  The idea of the day is for us to pray together as a Diocese and enable people to encounter a range of prayer practices.  As well as prayer and worship altogether, there will be a mix of workshops, alongside individual prayer ‘stations’. If the weather is good, there will be some activities outside in the ground of the cathedral.

Information is available at


Patronal Festival – St James the Less – Sunday 5th May

Bishop John will be coming to St James the Less to confirm Isobel Crease and to share with us in the celebration of our Patronal Festival. Do please come along. It would be a good excuse to invite friends and neighbours to join us. And there will be cake afterwards, of course.


St James’ Daffodil Tea – 6th April

The annual Daffodil Tea fundraising event for St James will be held in Penicuik Trinity Community Church’s hall, from 10 am to noon on Saturday 6th April. If you are willing to help out, please contact Marion Mather. Otherwise, I hope to see you there enjoying the event.


In Other News…

You may have seen that the fence in the Rectory garden was well and truly blown over by the gales in January. Quotes are coming in to replace the fence.

The air source heat pumps installed in St Mungo’s have proved to be very effective. Their use is being monitored as we learn more about how to optimise their use based on the outside temperature. One good aspect of the system is that it is controlled from an App and we can remotely see what the temperature is in the undercroft and church and turn the heating on and off and adjust the target temperature. We have a some folk from St Andrew’s Church, St Andrews Fife, coming to look at the system the week after Easter, to consider if it would be an appropriate system for them.

I have been trying to increase the distances I walk each day, to get a bit fitter before I head to walk the Basque section of el camino del Norte. Luckily, Misty’s increased dosage of tablets for her joints means she is now capable of doing three miles without complaint on a regular basis, and this last week managed four miles. I need to be doing more than that each day in preparation if I hope to manage 16 miles a day on the camino.

Nick Bowry

Regular Activities


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. Our next visit is on 10th March.

Aaron House, Penicuik: We are part of a 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 next visit is on 28th February.

Whim Hall, Lamancha: We visit Whim Hall Care Centre on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. Our next visit is on 14th March.

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 a simplified form of 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 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.

We shall alternate each week between a study of the previous Sunday’s sermon and lectionary readings and in the other week using Lectio Divina to explore scripture from the previous Sunday.


Monday Study Night

In January we commenced reading and discussing Margaret Silf’s ‘Landmarks: An Ignatian Journey’. We shall be discussing chapter 8 on 8th April, when we resume after Easter.


Faith Development ‘Faith Books’

When we have a fifth Monday in the month, we hold 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 books on our reading list.

The books we shall be discussing are:

29th April: ‘An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture’ by Peter Block, Walter Brueggemann and John McKnight, (published by Wiley, ISBN 978-1-119-19472-9)

29th July: ‘Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World’, by Henri Nouwen (published by Crossroad Pub Co., ISBN978-0-8245-1986-5)

30th Sept: ‘Grounded: Finding God in the World, a Spiritual Revolution’, by Diana Butler Bass (published by Harper One, ISBN 978-0-06-232856-4)


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.

I circulated the Daily Intercessions booklet we use by email on 26th February. If you would  like a paper copy, please let me know.


Mid-week evening services on Zoom

On the first Wednesday of each month, at 7.30 pm, we hold a service of Prayers for healing online. If you wish someone or a situation to be prayed for, send an email to me or Marion Mather.

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.


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

In Touch is circulated to all on email and is issued 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 May 2024. 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. If you wish to make a donation by cheque, please make out the cheque to ‘St James Episcopal Church Penicuik’.

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.

Ecumenical Relations and Community Involvement Work

The Penicuik Ministers continue to meet every month in the Storehouse for a chat. Once a month the Penicuik Churches Together (PCT) has a joint Sunday evening service. The schedule detailing where the services are each month is on the PCT website.   I continue to meet with Revd Dr Tony Foley to discuss joint services and matters of mutual interest.


Diocesan and Provincial Activities

The Diocesan Chrism Mass was held in the cathedral on Monday 25th March, where clergy, deacons and lay readers renew their vows.


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.


Zoom Links for Services


We have a regular pattern of services. Details of these are set out below. You can access them using the Zoom links.


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


St Mungo, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 934 1719 0423        Passcode: 062021

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

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 920 0219 7798        Passcode: 040775


1st Wednesday Evening Service at 7.30 pm (not July or August) (Zoom only)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 963 0384 1875        Password: 040775


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

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 953 4545 7224        Password: 040775


Zoom Links for Activities

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

Meeting ID: 976 7040 6222        Passcode: 202101

Use this link for Monday Evening Studies and the ‘Faith Book’ discussions.


Weekly Bible Study: Tuesdays at 2pm (Zoom only)

Meeting ID: 925 1096 2481        Passcode: 040775


Monthly Book Group: The fourth Monday of each month at 2 pm

Contact Angela Sibley for further information.

Meeting ID: 669 139 189             Passcode: 040775