St James the Less Penicuik and St Mungo West Linton
Scottish Episcopal Churches
23 Broomhill Road
30th December 2023
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Rector’s letter for January 2024
If you have struggled to get up in the mornings this last week, you are not alone. Although the solstice was on 22nd, the latest sunrise was only yesterday, 29th December (2 minutes later than 22nd), but at least the sunset today is now a whole seven minutes later than they were on 22nd December. So overall, light is slowly returning to the northern hemisphere.
Today is the 6th day of Christmas, so it is still fine to wish people a happy Christmas, even if they look at you a bit weirdly. It may just be a chance to engage in a conversation, about the Christian season of Christmas which ends on the Feast of the Epiphany, when we are told the magi visited the baby Jesus. This is a key event, the revelation of Jesus as saviour to people outside of the Jewish faith and outside of the recognised lands inhabited by the Jews.
On the 23rd December, the Rev Dr. Munther Isaac led a service from his church in Bethlehem. I was rather busy at the time, so didn’t watch it until after Christmas. His homily, at about 50 minutes into the service, is worth listening to. You can watch is on YouTube, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB6OFKqi0-M&t=2993s
Sadly, the ongoing violence and killings in Gaza continues, including the deaths of over 130 UNWRA workers, thousands of children and women. At the Lessons and Carols service at St James on 17th December I gave a short address (available on https://stjamesthelesspenicuik.org/worship/sermons/ ) and spoke about this horrendous situation. I recited a prayer, that I feel is important to repeat it below today.
Prayer by Archbishop Hosam Naoum Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem
O God of all justice and peace
we cry out to you in the midst of the pain and trauma
of violence and fear which prevails in the Holy Land.
Be with those who need you in these days of suffering;
we pray for people of all faiths – Jews, Muslims and Christians and for all people of the land.
While we pray to you, O Lord, for an end to violence and the establishment of peace,
we also call for you to bring justice and equity to the peoples.
Guide us into your kingdom
where all people are treated with dignity and honour as your children
for, to all of us, you are our Heavenly Father.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Especially in the Christmas season, when we celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace, what does peace look like for us? At certain times peace does not mean for us to remain mute and peaceful, but in order for there to be peace, we need to speak out, and be willing to break the silence and call for justice and equity for all people. Peace does start with each one of us, seeking peace with all our neighbours, but not by always being quiet.
On 6th January, I am helping out at a Diocesan Youth event at Old St Paul’s church and will be offering a service in the style of Taizé as part of their activities, at their request. It is good to know that Taizé services remain popular with many young people.
News and new things happening
New Year, New Services and Quiet Days
Yes, the coming of the New Year is a time to take stock and plan for the year ahead. Last year I ran an occasional Sunday early evening service in the style of Taizé at St Mungo’s. These received some good feedback, so this year I am planning to make this a more regular monthly service on the 4th Sunday of each month, at the slightly earlier time of 5pm. I shall also offer a similar service in the style of Taizé at 5pm on the 3rd Sunday of each month at St James the Less.
Also, it is the intention to hold more ‘quiet days’ on a Saturday at both churches during this coming year. They will normally run from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm. Please feel free to drop in for as long as you wish, to make use of the space and the materials as you wish. The first quiet day will be on 27th January, Holocaust Memorial Day, and will focus on the theme of holocaust and genocide, with prayers for peace and a chance to rejuvenate the peace pole in the garden at St James’. The second quiet day will be a pre-Lent Quiet Day at St Mungo’s on Saturday 10th February.
The St James AGM was on Advent Sunday, 3rd December. The St Mungo’s AGM will be held on 14th January. Please can all written reports of activities be submitted to Ian Kerry by 2nd January.
Board Games Afternoon – 4th January at St Mungo’s.
Starting at 2pm you are invited to come along to the undercroft and choose from a selection of games (Monopoly, Scrabble, Qwirkle, Backgammon, Draughts, Chess, and a range of card games such as Cribbage and Rummy) and enjoy an afternoon of games and conversation. Do come along and invite friends and neighbours. And if you have any left-over Christmas cake, mince pies or chocolates, please do consider bringing them along to share.
Faith Development for All – 7.30 pm Monday Evenings online
From Monday 15th January we shall use Margaret Silf’s book, ‘Landmarks: An Ignatian Journey’ (Published by Darton, Longman, Todd, ISBN 9780232522549) as our guide, and work our way through it. There are plenty of second-hand copies available. I use www.bookfinder.com to find second-hand books, using the ISBN number as the easiest way to search for the book I want.
Faith Development for All – Tuesday Afternoons online
We hold our weekly Bible study at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, online, for up to an hour and a half. We shall try something new from January. We shall alternate week by week between:
- Discussing and reflecting on the previous Sunday’s scripture readings and the sermon (a traditional Bible Study, engaging our head probably more than our heart), and
- Using the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina to experience the scriptures in a different way. We listen to the scripture, often more than once, read by different voices, and we then contemplate in a time of silence what word or phrase speaks to each one of us, and then, if we wish, we share it with others in the group with no explanation. We then listen to the scripture again and ponder on why that word or phrase means something to me today and why I connected with it. There is an opportunity to share your reflections if you wish, but equally remaining silent is fine. We may read the passage through once more before we finish with a prayer where we ask what Christ is calling us to do, or perhaps stop doing, in response to this spiritual exercise, and seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance so we can carry into the rest of the week what God is asking of us. This a much more heart-led session than a normal Bible study. For more information on Lectio Divina see https://www.anglicancommunion.org/media/253799/1-What-is-Lectio-Divina.pdf
In Other News…
I had a lovely Christmas with my family joining me and Misty in the Rectory. The time went by in a flash, and it didn’t seem very long before it was time for them to depart. I seem to have been living off the leftovers for many a day now. I did also manage to get some ‘me time’ to finish reading Simon Sebag Montefiore’s book, ‘The Biography of Jerusalem’. I also added three more books to my ‘to be read’ book pile thanks to some thoughtful and generous presents, so in net terms I am two more to the good!
Having committed to walk 260 km of el Camino del Norte from the French/ Spanish border on the Atlantic coast at Irun, through the Pais Vasco (Basque Country) I am now thinking about how to get fit to meet the challenge of this quite hilly route. Misty isn’t up to walking more than 1.5 miles, so I will have to get out for some longer distance walks without her. I am hoping the weather is kind enough to make the preparatory walking enjoyable, although most days, no matter what the weather, once out and walking it is just fine.
I continue to wish you a happy Christmas and also to wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Yer when it comes.
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 31st December.
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 6th December, and with an additional visit on 13th at 2pm to sing carols.
Whim Hall, Lamancha: We visit Whim Hall Care Centre on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. Our next visit is on 14th December.
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 precious 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 commence reading and discussing Margaret Silf’s ‘Landmarks: An Ignatian Journey’.
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 www.bookfinder.com I am sure there are other search sites that will help people find the books on our reading list.
In 2024 we shall be discussing:
29th January: ‘The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’ Birth’ by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, (published by SPCK, ISBN 978-0-281-06004-7)
29th April: ‘An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture’ by Peter Block, Walter Brueggemann and John McKnight, (published by Wiley, ISBN978-1-119-19472-9)
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, 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.
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 4th February 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 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. If you wish to make a donation by cheque, please make out the cheque to ‘St James Episcopal Church Penicuik’.
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. http://penicuikchurchestogether.org.uk/ I continue to meet with Revd Dr Tony Foley to discuss joint services and matters of mutual interest.
Diocesan and Provincial Activities
I haven’t had any meetings except for the Clergy Conference mentioned earlier.
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