Rector’s Letter for Ocotber 2022
St James the Less Penicuik and St Mungo West Linton
Scottish Episcopal Churches
23 Broomhill Road
29th September 2022
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Rector’s letter for October,
Our liturgical season of creation commenced on the first Sunday in September and culminates on this coming Sunday, 2nd October, with our Harvest Festival services. This is a chance to give thanks for God’s creation and the harvest safely gathered in.
This year more than any year, we can look at our world and wonder how those whose land has been damaged through climate change can celebrate any sort of harvest. The recent Hurricane Fiona led a trail of devastation through Puerto Rico, and although downgraded as it headed north, it caused considerable devastation to the Canadian Atlantic coast islands. In the last few days Super Typhoon Noru caused considerable damage and loss of life in the Philippines, and even downgraded to a typhoon, gusts of upto 240kph/150 mph and flooding were experienced in the most populous region, Luzon, where over 55 million people live. Earlier in the month floods in Pakistan left many thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. And today, Hurricane Ian has caused power blackouts across Cuba and has led to destruction and flooding in south-west Florida, with further storm surges to come.
So, as we complete our season of Creation for another year, and celebrate the harvest, I am sure we will all do so with thanks, but also with a resolve to do what we can to reduce our impact on the environment and be forever mindful of our carbon footprint. These recent events show that those who carbon footprint is the lowest are predominantly the most adversely affected by climate change.
Our season of Creation has also seen another sort of harvest and gathering in. Our late Queen died peacefully, befittingly in the home she loved, Balmoral, at the age of 96, after 70 years as our monarch. Much has been said about her life, and how it was shaped by her faith, about her dedication to service and to her family. During those 70 years there has been so much change in the world and in our own society, much of it for the better. Our prayers of thanksgiving for the late Queen will no doubt continue as we pray for Charles III, that he too may serve with the same steadfastness and dedication as his mother. The funeral was a time of reflection for many people, and I, Iike many others I suspect, reflected on our own mother’s life, and made the funeral service all the more poignant. My mother was born the year before the Queen and died a year before her and lived through the same social changes.
On 1st October 2019 I drove down the A92 from Aberdeen and moved into the Rectory in Penicuik. On 9th October the service of institution was held in St James the Less. In hindsight I feel most fortunate that I commenced my ministry six months before COVID lockdown. Several colleagues who moved during the following 2 years have found it much harder to settle into their new charges. On that October night we sang many hymns that meant and continue to mean so much to me: Gather Us In; A Touching Place; Seek Ye First The Kingdom of God; Jesus Calls Us Here To Meet Him; Be Still for the Presence of the Lord; Nada Te Turbe; How Great thou Art; and finally, as we went through to the hall, we sang Sizohamba naye, We will Walk With God. The readings I chose were: Micah 6.6-8; Philippians 2.1-11; and Matthew 25.31-40.
The hymns and readings all pointed to my concern to work for justice and peace, wholeness and reconciliation, and a care for God’s beautiful creation. It pointed to exploring a Christian response to the challenges of our times, within the Anglican tradition of worship. This was how I understood and continue to understand my calling as a priest; to walk alongside others and help their faith develop and grow and not just be a personal relationship with God, but a faith that informs our prayers and our actions to show God’s love to others in our communities. The celebration of Holy Communion is for me, an essential aspect of both our worship and our common desire to be partners with Christ in bringing glimpses of His kingdom to earth, to our local communities and to our neighbours across the world. I believe our worship should nourish us and challenge us to go out to serve the world.
Over these last three years I know I have not got everything right, and lockdown has had an impact on building the sort of constructive relationships I would have hoped to have developed. We may yet have a winter where COVID infection rates rise, but with the booster vaccine being given out, I hope we do not have to re-enter any sort of restrictive protocols.
At the Lambeth conference this last July, the Archbishop of Canterbury said it was important for the church (i.e. the people) to be involved with God; to be doing God’s work of concern, to find ways to enact God’s desire for righteousness, through care for the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the prisoner and the stranger in the land. God’s work is political with a small ‘p’. Jesus came to show us what God’s preferences were; to show love for ourselves and our neighbour, seeking to fundamentally change how society worked, what it valued and how it dealt with those with the least.
I am thankful for the support of so many people in both congregations, and all those who facilitate worship, faith development and our missional work.
I look forward to working, worshipping, and ministering with you as we go forward into my fourth year. I hope we can walk together in faith, each on our own unique journey of faith, worshipping and living in ways that pleases God.
Peter Woodifield, Associate Priest
Peter has now completed his three-year curacy, the culmination of six years since his commenced his formal studies with the Scottish Episcopal Institute. Over the summer the necessary paperwork was completed by me, Peter and Bishop John, and Bishop John duly authorised the completion of Peter’s curacy and agreed with my proposal that Peter’s title should now be ‘Associate Priest’. A celebration was held at St James the Less to mark this milestone on 25th September, and one will be held at St Mungo’s on 2nd October.
Pauline King and John Ford RIP
In the last few weeks we have sadly lost two long time members of our congregations. Pauline king’s funeral was held yesterday (28th September) led most ably by Neville, who had known her for a long time. Her eulogy will appear in the November issue of In Touch.
John Ford’s funeral will be held in Burnham Market, Norfolk, at 2pm on 7th October, where he will be buried beside his wife, Joy. This was his wish. I had a wonderful hour with John in hospital the week before he died; we shared holy communion, and I anointed him with oil and said the last rites. He was at peace and ready to go home to our Lord.
I am sure we all extend out sympathies to both families and hold them in our prayers.
Creationtide Psalm Writing Workshop
A small group gathered on 17th September to reflect on the issues of the climate emergency; to explore the big difficult things, the things we can do that if done by many others starts to make a positive impact, and those things that will really make significant steps towards net zero, which are regional, national and international level actions. We then explored the different types of psalms (lament, praise, injustice, faith and trust, God’s justice, gratitude, pleading for help, etc.) and sat prayerfully and reflectively to write an ‘eco-psalm’ to an imaginary six-year-old, perhaps a grandchild, niece/nephew, Godchild, or a friend’s child. You may well see some of the output from this workshop in the next issue of In Touch. If you wish to do this exercise on your own then please do so. The workshop was a good way to explore the issues and offer a response in the form of a psalm.
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
At its last meeting the Vestry approved a new monthly activity for young people, to be held on a Sunday afternoon. To begin with this will be once a month, commencing on 30th October, although in the long run it will normally be on a 4th Sunday afternoon. A communication has gone out to families associated with St Mungo’s, including several families who wanted to be kept in touch with occasional and special events. It will also be more widely publicised. A range of activities will be offered, and some food will be provided. No formal name has been given to this Sunday afternoon gathering, I am hoping the young people may come up with some sensible suggestions. It is hoped that supervision for this group will come from amongst the parents, but as I start to get responses, I may put out a request for help. Please pray for this initiative.
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 the last few days, 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 commencing on 12th October. As with Aaron House, we will visit once every 5 or 6 weeks.
Whim Hall, Lamancha: We have recently started visiting Whim Hall 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.
A New Liturgical Year
On Advent Sunday – two months from now, on 27th November – we will move into Year A in our three-year liturgical cycle. Matthew’s gospel provides many of our gospel readings in Year A, so you may wish to find time to read it through as your own personal preparation for the new liturgical year. Matthew’s gospel is the longest of the four gospels, so it will take you longer than reading Mark’s, that’s for sure.
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 are currently studying the Book of Joshua. 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: The Eucharist
We are currently exploring the Eucharist, using the Pilgrim course booklet. 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 ‘The Eucharist’ on the Church house Publishing shop website. https://chbookshop.hymnsam.co.uk/ ).
Monday Study Night: The Bible
We shall commence the next course booklet, looking at the Bible, on 17th October. If you wish a copy of the booklet please let me know by 4th October so copies can be ordered and distributed. The booklet costs £5.99. Alternatively, the epub version of the booklet can be bought from the link above, for £4.99.
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 final discussion for 2002 will be on Monday 31st October. The book we shall be discussing is, ‘Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi’, by Ami-Jill Levine.
It is an interesting read, as it explores parables from a Jewish context, and provides some different approaches and understanding of the parables. I am happy to lend my copy out now if anyone wants to borrow it.
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.
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.
A while ago someone asked me where we access the Daily Offices liturgy. If you wish to access it, go to the Provincial Website, www.scotland.anglican.org 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
The deadline for content to be submitted for the next issue is 6th November 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
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.
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. We meet face to face in the Storehouse for a chat. Revd Dr Tony Foley (Church of Scotland West Tweeddale churches) and I continue to meet as required.
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 schedule detailing where the services are each month is on the PCT website. http://penicuikchurchestogether.org.uk/
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 Ministry Team
We continue to 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 have finally got round to booking a holiday. I have decided on a trip to visit Barcelona and Madrid. Madrid is a city I have been through a few times but I have never actually spent time there. I – perhaps foolishly – have decided to do this trip by train. An over 60’s Interrail ticket seemed the cheapest way (not anywhere near as cheap as an air fare) and includes the UK as well as the continental portions of the journeys. It means a short stay in Paris en route, then a TGV direct to Barcelona in only 6.5 hours, less than Aberdeen to London by train. Barcelona to Madrid is also by high-speed train (Spanish Railways AVE train). So long as there isn’t a UK train strike on the day I head off to London and Paris, all should be well… I will let you know how it goes, in due course.
I am off to Iona this weekend – a long way to go for a weekend, I hear you say. Yes, it is. The journey there and back is through some beautiful scenery and is quite healing for the soul. Cal Mac Ferries have withdrawn a storm warning for my days of travel, so I should make it across and also back. I have a weekend of meetings in my capacity as a Director of the Iona Community. We are staying in the MacLeod Centre, which is the main item on our agenda for the weekend. It is a ‘tired’ building and in need of a complete refurbishment and possibly some additional space added. It also needs what in technical terms is called a ‘deep retrofit’ to make it thermally insulated to the best standard. Outside the MacLeod Centre is a marvellous stone carving, called ‘The Fallen Christ’. It is well worth searching out if you go to Iona. I will have to walk past the Iona Community’s Welcome Centre every time I go for meals in the Abbey Refectory and to the Abbey services. I suspect I will go inside and just possibly find a few more books to buy.
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
One tap mobile
+442034815240,,6289561588#,,#,040775# United Kingdom
+442080806591,,6289561588#,,#,040775# United Kingdom
St Mungo, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 934 1719 0423
One tap mobile
+442039017895,,93417190423#,,,,*062021# The United Kingdom
+442080806591,,93417190423#,,,,*062021# The United Kingdom
St James the Less, Holy Communion at 10.30 am on Sunday.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 920 0219 7798 Password: 040775
One tap mobile
+441314601196,,92002197798#,,#,040775# United Kingdom
+442034815237,,92002197798#,,#,040775# United Kingdom
Wednesday Evening Services at 7.30 pm (not July or August) (Zoom only)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 963 0384 1875 Password: 040775
One tap mobile
+442080806591,,96303841875#,,1#,040775# United Kingdom
+442080806592,,96303841875#,,1#,040775# United Kingdom
Wednesday Evening Compline at 9 pm (all year) (Zoom only)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 953 4545 7224 Password: 040775
One tap mobile
+442080806592,,95345457224#,,1#,040775# United Kingdom
+443300885830,,95345457224#,,1#,040775# United Kingdom
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 (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 7.00 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’. The next 5th Monday is on 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 shall be studying the Book of Joshua starting on 6th September. 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.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 669 139 189 Passcode: 040775