1st February 2022,
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Rector’s letter for February
January hasn’t seemed so long this year from my perspective. I am not sure why, maybe the lack of snow and at least some sunny days?
On the 1st of February we celebrate St Brigid’s (or St Bride’s in Ireland) Day. She is joint patron saint of Ireland with St Patrick but doesn’t have the same attention or celebrations as St Patrick has on 17th March. On the 2nd February we encounter the Christian festival of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, also known as Candlemas. 2nd February is also the halfway point between the Winter solstice and the Spring Equinox, also know as Imbolc in the Celtic calendar and was seen as the start of Spring, somewhat optimistically, if you ask me. However, the length of daylight increases by over four minutes a day in early February, and by 6th February we shall have 9 hours of daylight each day. Imbolc and St Brigid’s Day were linked together, and in Ireland it would have been a day of what is formally called ‘weather divination’. If a badger was seen it was assumed winter was not over. The source of this goes back into ancient mythology, where the power that controlled winter wanted a clear sunny day to gather in more kindling and timber to see out the rest of the winter weather. So, logic had it that if it was an overcast day, it must mean that winter was ending! This got translated into North American folklore to become Groundhog Day.
Candlemas/the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple was and remains an important festival in the Christian calendar. Based on Luke 2:22-40, where Mary presents herself in the Temple forty days are childbirth for the ritual act of cleansing before being readmitted to the Temple, as required by Jewish Law (see Leviticus 12), Mary enters the Temple with Jesus ands is met by Simeon and Anna. It is one of my favourite stories, describing the unfaltering faithfulness of Simeon. 2nd February marks the end of the Christmas-Epiphany season, and when Christmas decorations are taken down, if they weren’t taken down on the 12th night. Traditionally, people brought candles into church to be blessed and then used in their homes as a symbol of Jesus Christ, light of the world.
If you wish to bring a candle or candles into church on Sunday 6th February, for our Candlemas service, they will be blessed for you to take home, for the light of Christ to shine out from your house.
These are slowly being eased. We are now able to offer Holy Communion in both kinds, albeit by dipping the wafer into the wine in the chalice and placing it in the communicant’s hands. Those who prefer to just receive the wafer should indicate this when coming forward for communion. We are also now permitted to offer refreshments after church on a Sunday, a welcome opportunity to share some time together in fellowship once again.
Learning New Worship Songs at St Mungo’s
On Sunday 30th January Chris and Brian Shaw led the second of what may hopefully become a regular event. We learnt some new songs and sang a few that many of us knew. Watch out for further dates to learn some new songs.
Mission to Seafarers
David Graham-Service will be preaching at St Mungo’s on Sunday 6th February, and Tim Tunley will preaching at St James the Less on 20th February. This will be a chance to learn more about the Mission to Seafarers and for retiring collections to be made for this important work. In the past two years we have come to appreciate more than ever the importance of the work of seafarers bringing food and goods by ship to the UK.
Bishop John at St Mungo’s on Sunday 16th January
St Kentigern/Mungo’s Day was on 13th January. Bishop John came to St Mungo’s for our patronal festival and preached and celebrated communion with us. Bishop John also blessed the new website for St Mungo’s, a first time he had been asked to do such a thing! Unfortunately, COVID restrictions meant we couldn’t gather in the undercroft afterwards for refreshments, but the weather was bright and sunny, so we did spend some time in the garden chatting, and a few pictures were taken.
Platinum Jubilee Celebrations
At both churches we are considering how best to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee. Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd June are additional public holidays, and Sunday 5th June we will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost as well. If you have any ideas or wish to be involved in planning and helping with events please get in touch with me.
We hold our weekly Bible study at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, online. Our Bible Study of the Book of Genesis chapters 12-28, is in its final three sessions, finishing on 15th February. We shall then start a study of the Book of Hebrews. 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?
Monday Study Night: ‘Expecting Christ’, and ‘The Meaning of Jesus’
Joy is leading sessions using the York Course ‘Expecting Jesus’. Originally this was planned for four Monday evenings, but as those attending have enjoyed and engaged with it, it has been decided to run it for a few weeks longer, to enable all to contribute and get the most from the material.
We shall delay to a later date the sessions we had planned, to explore in more detail parts of ‘The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions’ by Marcus Borg and Tom Wright, the book we discussed on 31st January.
Monday Study Night in Lent: ‘Journey to the Empty Tomb’
Starting on 7th March, for our Lent study, Peter Woodifield will be leading sessions based on Paula Gooder’s book. You don’t need to have the book to join in with these sessions.
Faith Development ‘Faith Books’
When we have a fifth Monday in the month I lead a discussion at 7.00 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!).
The next 5th Monday is on 30th May 2022. The book to be discussed ‘Generous Justice, How God’s Grace Makes Us Just’, by Timothy Keller. The books for the rest of 2022 are listed below. That should leave plenty of time to get the books or borrow them from someone (including me) or from the library.
- Monday 29th August 2022: ‘In The Shelter: Finding a Home in the World’, by Patrick O’ Tuama
- Monday 31st October 2022: ‘Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi’, by Ami-Jill Levine.
In looking for new or used books, I have often used www.bookfinder.com I am sure there are other search sites that will help people find the above books.
Diocesan Pilgrimage Conference – Saturday 26 February 2022 – an in-person and online conference at Holy Trinity, Haddington, from 10am to 3pm, called,
‘To be a pilgrim: a day to explore ideas, history and spirituality of pilgrimage’.
With Donald Smith – Scottish Storytelling Centre and author of Pilgrim Guide to Scotland.
and Canon Peter Doll, Canon Librarian and Vice Dean of Norwich Cathedral, who has been involved in re-establishing pilgrim routes in East Anglia.
Welcome from 9.15; programme begins with worship at 10am. Zoom meeting will be open 10-1.30pm (to hear the speakers)
This day will be a day of discussion, exploration and togetherness. This is event is free, but booking in advance is essential (whether you will attend in person or on Zoom)
Please Register here
Diocesan Big Walk to Net Zero – On Saturday 28th May people will walk from various starting points in the Diocese to St Mary’s cathedral. There is a ‘Big Walk’ starting from Roslin – a distance of about 8 miles. It would be good if we had representation from both congregations. Let me know if you are interested in joining the Big Walk. Lunch will be available in the cathedral and then there will some sessions, led by the interests of those attending, on issues relating to how the church can work towards net zero carbon emissions.
Mid-week Services on Zoom
Our services on a Wednesday evening at 7.30 pm follow the regular pattern of services set out below. They are all on Zoom.
- 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
If you would be interested in helping with these services, please let me know.
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. This service continues throughout August.
There is no further update on the resettlement programme. The first two families have been settling in well, considering the massive adjustments they have had to make. One of the families lives in Penicuik.
Continuing our Mission: Inviting Someone to ‘Come to Church’
As mentioned before, I would like to encourage you to invite a neighbour or someone from within our communities to join us for a service or one of our group sessions. It could not be easier to invite someone you know locally to join us at a one of our Zoom-based services, or to join us in person in church. You can send them an email if you want or pass them the Zoom meeting information. If you invite them to attend an online Sunday service, then do please give them a copy of the liturgy. Let me know their name, so we know to admit them to the service from the virtual waiting room.
In these times, when people may well be considering their life’s purpose and meaning, an invitation to attend a church service or to join a group may be well received.
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.
Maintaining Contact – Email, Social media, YouTube, Zoom, In Touch.
If you receive this as a physical letter through the post but you have an email address, please can you send an email to me, so I can add it to our contact records. In that way you will get more frequent communications and reduce our postage costs.
A New Website for St Mungo’s
The St Mungo website has been redesigned and new content has been created. The website went live on St Mungo’s Day, 13th January. The website address is slightly different. It is now www.stmungoswestlinton.org
Please do have a look at it. It now holds the sermon texts from each of the recent Sunday services.
If you would like to help maintain the website; checking that the content is up to date, supporting the uploading of sermons etc., please let me know, Training can be given. I can assure you it isn’t very complex, as I learnt how to do it fairly quickly. Maybe one of our younger members would like to support the church by helping with this?
You will hopefully be aware that we have our very own YouTube channel. If you search for ‘St James and St Mungo’, you will find a number of videos. It includes the playlists for our services, so you can go back and listen to the hymns at a later date. Please do visit it and subscribe to it. With 100 subscriptions we get a formal channel name rather than an anonymous url link below. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuxnmfrlY0Xl2KRduLummsg
In Touch Magazine for St James the Less and St Mungo’s
The deadline for content to be submitted for the next issue is 6th February 2022. 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 email@example.com
Financial giving to St James the Less or to St Mungo’s
Church finances are feeling the effects of the lockdown, as the amounts normally collected in the offertory plate are obviously not currently being collected. 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.
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.
Praying the Daily Offices
In the Daily Offices prayer booklet circulated in July 2020 there are specific prayers for each day of the month. I recommend these to you, as an aid to your prayer life. A revised version will be emailed out in the next few weeks.
Morning and Evening Prayer and the Wednesday evening services continue to be 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 in 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 on Zoom for coffee and chat and supportive prayers on a roughly monthly basis.
Once a month the Penicuik Churches Together (PCT) has a joint Sunday evening service. On that Sunday our usual schedule will be adapted so that members can attend the PCT service.
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 the Afghan Resettlement Programme meetings.
The Ministry Team
We meet on a monthly basis 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.
In Other News…
I still haven’t managed to get out for a long walk, my plans most recently were thwarted by the stormy weather last weekend. I certainly need to plan for some serious exercise to improve my fitness ahead of the Camino Ingles pilgrimage in May. The flights and accommodation are booked, and I am praying that no new COVID restrictions come into force that will force us to cancel the trip. I must get back to my Spanish lesson podcasts. It is a worry how quickly I can forget what I am not using on a frequent basis.
Plans for my trip to Washington DC have been shelved. The logistics were just not working out. It would have been a long way to go, for a very short amount of time with my daughters. It does help salve my conscience about my carbon footprint though.
In February I shall be heading down to Bury St Edmunds for a few days and I will use the train journeys as an opportunity to do some theological reading. Diana Butler Bass’ book, ‘Christianity After Religion’ is earmarked for that trip.
We have settled into a regular pattern of services. Details of these are set out below. You can access them by computer, table 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.
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Meeting ID: 628 956 1588
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St Mungo, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.
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St James the Less, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.
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Sunday Evening Services at 6.30 pm
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Wednesday Evening Services at 7.30 pm
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Wednesday Evening Compline at 9 pm
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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 7.00 pm
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.
All of these sessions will use the following link.
Topic: Monday Evening Studies
Meeting ID: 976 7040 6222 Passcode: 202101
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5th Monday Evenings at 7.00 pm
When we have a fifth Monday there will be a discussion about a book of Nick’s choice, in a series called ‘Faith Books’. Nick has intentionally chosen authors whose style of writing is quite different from each other. Some books are classics, some a more modern authors.
The next 5th Monday is on 30th May 2022, when we shall discuss ‘Generous Justice, How God’s Grace Makes Us Just’, by Timothy Keller.
The list for the remainder of 2022 is:
Monday 29th August 2022: ‘In The Shelter: Finding a Home in the World’, by Patrick O’ Tuama
Monday 31st October 2022: ‘Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi’, by Ami-Jill Levine.
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 Genesis chapters 12-28 and start studying Hebrews on 22nd February. 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
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.
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Meeting ID: 669 139 189 Passcode: 040775