Monday, 25 April 2016

Fiddlers' Rally reminder: 6th May, Crawfordjohn

It's not too late to get your tickets....
Upper Clyde  Parish Church present a fiddlers' rally with:

The Caledonian Fiddle Orchestra


We're delighted to welcome back the CFO, who'll be performing in:

Crawfordjohn Hall on Friday 6th May at 7.30pm  

Tickets £10 each. Contact Janet 01864 504265

A light supper is included in the cost of the ticket.
There'll also be a bar on the night.

For more information on the Orchestra please see callyfiddleorchestra.co.uk

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Contacts, information, church notices


The minister will be on leave from: Mon 18 April - Wed 27 April. 

Pulpit and funeral cover: 

Sunday 24 April - we welcome back the Rev Rachel Dobie - formerly of Upper Tweeddale Parish.


Funeral cover will be provided by the Rev George Shand of the Tinto Parishes, who can be contacted on 01899 309400.

For any ongoing parish queries, please contact our Session Clerk Moira White
on 01659 74261
--------------------------------------------------

News, events, and general notices:

The Lunch Club will be held on Wednesday 27th, from 12.30 pm, in the Church hall. Join us for soup, a sweet, tea/ coffee, and a catch up with friends. The cost is £5. If you’ve not booked, please let Jenny Worthington know by Tuesday afternoon, for catering purposes.

Kirk Session is on Thursday 28th, 7pm in the Church Hall.

Singing group meets at 9.45 on Sunday 1 May, before worship - all are welcome to come along and have a wee practice of an easy to learn song for worship.

Creative crafters’ group: all are welcome to come along to stitch, sew, cut, glue, get creative, and have a good blether. We next meet on Tues 3 May, 7-9pm. Our current 'big project' in process is the creation of some long banners for the season of Advent. A potential 'side project' will be to knit woolly hats for sailors - which are much appreciated!

Church notices - volunteers: the minister is looking for volunteers who would read out the church notices before worship on Sunday mornings. Ideally, it would be great to have a team of 4-5 people, working on a rotational basis. Please let the Nikki know if you’d be willing to do this - and thanks for those who have already offered.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Come along to our Fiddlers' Rally...!

Upper Clyde  Parish Church present a fiddlers' rally with:

The Caledonian Fiddle Orchestra


We're delighted to welcome back the CFO, who'll be performing in:

Crawfordjohn Hall on Friday 6th May at 7.30pm  

Tickets £10 each. Contact Janet 01864 504265

A light supper is included in the cost of the ticket.
There'll also be a bar on the night.

For more information on the Orchestra please see callyfiddleorchestra.co.uk

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Contacts, information, church notices


The minister will be on leave from: Mon 18 April - Wed 27 April. 

Pulpit and funeral cover: 

Sunday 24 April - we welcome back the Rev Rachel Dobie - formerly of Upper Tweeddale Parish.


Funeral cover will be provided by the Rev George Shand of the Tinto Parishes, who can be contacted on 01899 309400.

For any ongoing parish queries, please contact our Session Clerk Moira White
on 01659 74261
--------------------------------------------------

News, events, and general notices:

Evening worship at 6.30, Sun. 24 April. We meet together in Wanlockhead Village Hall. See you there! Tea, coffee, juice, and edible refreshments after the service.

The Lunch Club will be held on Wednesday 27th, from 12.30 pm, in the Church hall. Join us for soup, a sweet, tea/ coffee, and a catch up with friends. The cost is £5. If you’ve not booked, please let Jenny Worthington know by Tuesday afternoon, for catering purposes.

Kirk Session is on Thursday 28th, 7pm in the Church Hall.

Singing group meets at 9.45 on Sunday 1 May, before worship - all are welcome to come along and have a wee practice of an easy to learn song for worship.

Creative crafters’ group: all are welcome to come along to stitch, sew, cut, glue, get creative, and have a good blether. We next meet on Tues 3 May, 7-9pm. Our current 'big project' in process is the creation of some long banners for the season of Advent. A potential 'side project' will be to knit woolly hats for sailors - which are much appreciated!

Church notices - volunteers: the minister is looking for volunteers who would read out the church notices before worship on Sunday mornings. Ideally, it would be great to have a team of 4-5 people, working on a rotational basis. Please let the Nikki know if you’d be willing to do this - and thanks for those who have already offered.

Friday, 15 April 2016

'When I leave the world behind' - Anna Syme, 1930-2016

A little later today, we'll be saying our farewells to Anna -
accordionist-extraordinaire, much-loved aunt, godmother, friend
and beloved child of God.
Found tucked away in her accordion case was a verse to the song
'When I leave the world behind' - which I'll be using
after the final part of Anna's leave-taking, at Leadhills Cemetery -
it's almost as if it were her way of saying goodbye to us:
I leave the sunshine to the flowers
I leave the springtime to the trees
And to the old folk I leave a memory
Of a baby upon their knees
I leave the nighttime to the dreamers
I leave the songbird to the blind
I leave the moon above to those in love
When I leave the world behind
When I leave the world behind

Rest well, Anna, you will be missed.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Fiddlers' Rally with the Caledonian Fiddle Orchestra

Upper Clyde  Parish Church present a fiddlers' rally with:

The Caledonian Fiddle Orchestra


We're delighted to welcome back the CFO, who'll be performing in:

Crawfordjohn Hall on Friday 6th May at 7.30pm  

Tickets £8 each. Contact Janet 01864 504265

A light supper is included in the cost of the ticket.
There'll also be a bar on the night.

For more information on the Orchestra please see callyfiddleorchestra.co.uk

Monday, 11 April 2016

Sermon, Sunday 10 April: 'Will you come and follow me?'

1st READING: Ps 30
2nd READING: Rev 5:11-14
3rd READING: John 21:1-19

SERMON ‘Will you come and follow me?’
Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts
be acceptable in your sight, O God our strength and our redeemer, amen.

Will you come and follow me 
if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know 
and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? 
Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you 
and you in me?

It was the adventure of a lifetime –
a bunch of folk,
a band of brothers and sisters
all disciples;
all following a most extraordinary man.
They wandered the countryside
wondered at miracles
and pondered the wise words of the Rabbi:
their teacher,
their friend.
They’d invested their time,
They’d given up their jobs,
They’d built up their hopes…
But all too soon
the exhilarating adventure had come to a horrifying end.
Fearlessness turned to fearfulness;
Hope turned to despair;
Joy turned to unutterable sorrow
as they watched the one they had loved
and followed ...die.

It was the adventure of a lifetime,
but it had cost Jesus his life
and it had broken their hearts
as well as their spirit.
It was not long after the Rabbi’s death
when strange things began to happen:
the women reported an empty grave;
And then, inexplicably, unexpectedly,
he had appeared amongst them –
passing into their midst in a house
whose doors had been locked.
He uttered words of peace and blessing.
He talked of the Holy Spirit.
He showed them the marks
on his hands and his side.
A week later, in the same house,
with the same locked doors,
he appeared again –
more words of peace,
and a conversation with Thomas.
Were they just imagining things
in the midst of their grief?
Was it possible that the adventure of a lifetime,
which seemed at an end, still had some life left in it?

Perhaps they didn't know what to think.
Or what to believe…
Which is entirely reasonable given
something impossible
Something unthinkable
might actually…
be …
possible
and might actually have happened.

It was the adventure of a lifetime –
they had followed their friend, the rabbi
and they had been left reeling
in the wake of what had happened.
And so, confused and numb,
emotionally and psychologically shattered,
they found comfort in the old, familiar patterns…
they did what they knew how to do…
they went fishing,
but, they found no fish.
And then, bathed in the purple-pink
of an early morning sky,
he appeared on the shore,
it was the third time he’d appeared since his death.
He told them where to find fish…
and in the finding of the fish,
they found him,
they found themselves,
they found again the call to follow…
to follow the rabbi who had overcome death
and who stood amongst them cooking fish –
because even the boldest adventurers
need to be fed and nourished for the journey.
He said ‘follow me’…
Will you leave yourself behind 
if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind 
and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare 
should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer 
in you and you in me?
He said ‘follow me’
And for the rest of their lives… they did.

But the adventure continues:
For we follow in the footsteps
of all those followers
who followed the resurrected Lord of life
down through the centuries.
All of us the imperfect saints of God –
who sometimes get it hideously wrong,
but who also, sometimes,
in those shining moments of Spirit-filled insight,
get it gloriously right as well.
We follow the one who,
as the writer of the book of Revelation states,
is more awesome than we can ever begin to fully comprehend
and who is worthy to receive power, honour, riches, wisdom, might...
the one who is so amazing and so utterly wonderful
that the only response that the multitudes in heaven can make
is to fall down and worship, and rejoice,
and sing songs of praise.

We follow the one who is clothed in majesty,
Who is seated on the throne of heaven…
And who,
in love for us,
left all of that and became one of us.
Who, through his earthly life, demonstrated love and compassion.
Who championed the oppressed and the marginalised,
the widow and the orphan and cried out against injustice…
who called us to follow him
asking…                                                                                          
Will you let the blinded see 
if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free 
and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean 
and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

The adventure of a lifetime -
the adventure of our lifetime -
as followers of Jesus
involves great moments of joy
but also great moments of sorrow…
There’s a bit of a bizarre myth that sometimes accompanies being a Christian –
It goes like this:
‘Give your life to Jesus and you’ll have 
no more worries, no more problems’
It’s a bit of a ‘happy ever after’ fairytale version of what
living the Christian life is all about –
And it’s just that: a fairy-tale… the great ‘Christian myth’,
because more often than not,
following Jesus makes life a little more difficult:
following Jesus makes us rethink the way we live our lives as we negotiate
the various ethical twists and turns that crop up.

That’s the bad news, in one sense…
But the good news is:
When the difficult times come,
and they have,
and they will;
when we cry out in anguish
or scream in rage at what might be happening in our lives,
or in the lives of those we love,
or in the life of the world…
the one who lived among us, as one of us…
still   hears   us.
We are not alone.
And we are loved utterly.
We are given the tools and the strength
to keep going on this, our adventure of a lifetime -
to keep following the one who asks:
Will you love the "you" you hide 
if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside 
and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found 
to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound 
in you and you in me?

The adventure of a lifetime continues
and we are called to follow the one who reshapes us…
and who asks us to ‘reshape the world around’.
He has given us the model, the way to follow:
As he cried out against injustice
we are to raise our voices whenever and wherever we see injustice.
We are to be a voice for those made voiceless
from bullying systems of power that crush the vulnerable underfoot;
We are to stand with those who have been pushed to the side.
The work of following,
the work of proclaiming the gospel,
is to feed those who hunger in body and in spirit;
is to clothe the naked;
is to visit the prisoner –
those behind bars of a correctional institution…
And those who are behind the locked doors
of nursing homes imprisoned by failing memory.
It is to weep with those who weep
and rejoice with those who are joyful.

The call to follow is relational –
it is about compassion and caring and community.
It is a call of liberation –
a call to divest ourselves and our world
of all that dehumanises and degrades…
to rehumanise and reshape
the bent and bruised and broken ones
in the power of the Spirit,
in the power of resurrected love…
because we follow the one who was fully human,
fully alive,
and who has shown us new life,
new ways of being,
and who fills us with new hope:
the hope of resurrection here and now –
every morning when we wake to a new day,
and for all eternity.

As Jesus stood by the shore cooking fish
and calling the disciples to follow him…
He calls us still, to follow him
and as we respond,
as we follow like the disciples did,
we’ll discover that we are on the greatest adventure of all.
Let’s pray:
 Lord your summons echoes true 
when you but call our name.
Let us turn and follow you 
and never be the same.
In Your company we'll go 
where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus we'll move and live and grow 
in you and you in us.
AMEN.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Sunday preview: barbies on the beach...

John 21:1-19 -
Resurrection appearances continue, this time by
the Galilean Sea. The disciples have gone fishin'.
and Jesus invites them to a beach barbecue...

[possibly the perfect text for an Australian minister to preach...!!]

Join us as we continue with our resurrection stories:
UCPC in Abington, 10.30am.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Guild News - 'Going to pot': Stackyard, Moniave outing


The next Guild outing will be to The Stackyard at Moniave.

It all began with one pot...
Come along and enjoy the great exhibition of ceramic preserve pots that have been gathered and collected together by Gordon Stewart. 
From one pot, there are now over 3 000, with a huge range of styles and from different time periods. The collection includes:
Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper, Noritake, Wemyss, Wedgewood, and Royal Doulton. Whether Oriental, floral, contemporary or abstract, there's something here for everyone.




Please note that there's been a change of date: 
we are now going on Thurs 9 June.  
You can sign up for this event on the list provided 
in the vestibule of the church 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Sermon, Sunday 3 April: 'Closed doors'

1st READING: Rev 1:4-8
2nd READING: John 20:19-31

SERMON
Let’s pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations
of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O
Lord, our strength and our Redeemer.     Amen.

I almost feel that I should have prayed:
‘For what I’m about to inflict upon you, may the Lord, and you, have mercy’...
and so we begin:
Knock Knock! 
Who’s there? 
Mikey. 
Mikey who? 
Mikey won’t fit in this door!

... oh, there’s more:
Knock knock!
who's there?
Luke
Luke who?
Luke through the peephole and find out! 

Knock knock!
who's there?
Mark
Mark who?
Mark my words, yuh better open this door

I promise – this is the last one:
Knock Knock! 
Who’s there? 
Eileen. 
Eileen who? 
Eileene’d on the door and broke it!

You’ll be glad to know that’s all I've got on the subject
of knock knock jokes about doors!

G.K. Chesterton once wrote:
“Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.
Never forget that the devil fell by force of gravity. 
He who has the faith, has the fun.”

The Sunday immediately following Easter Sunday is often referred to
as ‘Holy Humour Sunday’.
In 15th century Bavaria, churches would cheerfully celebrate this day,
with priests deliberately including stories and jokes in their sermons
to try and get their congregations to laugh.
[as opposed to groan at bad 'knock knock' jokes?!.]
The day had a special name: Risus Paschalis – ‘God’s Joke’, or, the ‘Easter laugh’.
After worship, the faithful were encouraged to gather and play jokes on one another
and tell funny stories. All this was a way of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus:
the ultimate joke played by God upon Satan, by raising Jesus from the dead.
Whether it’s known as Holy humour Sunday, Bright Sunday, or Laughter Sunday,
this is a tradition that’s still carried on in various congregations around the world:
Holy humour, holy laughter –
is the gift of being able to take ourselves lightly,
for we live in the promise of the resurrection...
and so, we need not fear.

So it’s interesting to me, as I read our gospel text today,
that on that first day of resurrection, there’s not a lot of laughter –
rather, there’s a whole lot of fear.
We meet the disciples in the shadow of night,
cowering in an upper room hiding behind locked doors.
The room is fairly reeking with fear.
In the early hours of that same day,
Mary had rushed in to see them –
first, brimming with horror at the thought that
the body of Jesus might have been stolen;
then, a little later, bursting into that same room excitedly
exclaiming that she had seen the Lord.
Two disciples had been dispatched, and had confirmed the tomb was empty...
What did it mean?
Had Mary’s grief driven her mad?
So many questions...

Morning passed into afternoon,
and then to evening,
and still they stayed in the room, paralysed with fear –
doors closed and firmly bolted...
They all stayed, that is, bar one:
Thomas had gone off somewhere.
We are never told where he’d gone,
or what he was doing...
But whatever he was doing, wherever he’d gone,
he was markedly absent from that locked room
when Jesus somehow managed to turn up in their midst,
and meet with the other disciples.
And now, they, like Mary, had seen their Lord.

Jesus knows his friends well:
the signs are clear that these followers of his
are living in fear for their lives.
His choice of words is important.
Speaking to them, the very first words are words of peace:
‘peace be with you.’
He proves his identity by showing them the marks of nails on hands,
the mark of spear in the side –
....while death has been defeated, there are changes;
the scars of that victory remain.
Again, he bids them ‘peace’ and gives them a job to do –
as the Father has sent Jesus, now Jesus sends them to go into the world –
to speak words of forgiveness and love...
or, to choose against that course of action.
And he breathes on them:
this breathing upon them, so reminds me of what happens
in Genesis – the Creation – where God breathes life
into dust moulded into human form
and brings human life into being.
In the upper room, it’s as if Jesus is breathing life
back into the deflated disciples once more –
restoring them by the power of the Spirit
and through the miracle of his resurrection.

Sometime after this encounter, Thomas comes back to the upper room
and knows something has changed:
fear seems to have dispersed,
joy lights up the dark corners of that place.
And Thomas can’t quite believe it – can’t believe the word of his friends
who say that they, like Mary, have seen the Lord.
...And then, a whole week passes.

I have a hunch, given the disciples’ sighting of Jesus,
and Thomas’ refusal to believe them, that it wasn’t an easy week –
more like downright awkward.
But here’s a thing:
the rest of the disciples had seen Jesus and he had talked
of sending them into the world...
and yet a week later, they’re still there, in that upper room,
still with the door firmly closed and bolted,
still just sitting there, holding on to this appearance of Jesus.
For all that they may have been overjoyed to see him in that encounter,
they’re not going anywhere.
Thomas, at least, has an excuse.

And back to that room, comes Jesus, and this time, Thomas is present.
Again, the first words uttered by Jesus are words of peace:
‘peace be with you’,
words gently pushing aside the fear that still seems
to be present within the disciples’ midst.
Turning straight to Thomas,
Jesus challenges him with the very words Thomas had himself used –
of seeing the marks of nails, of the spear...
of touching them.
‘Come and see, come and touch’ says Jesus,
‘stop doubting and believe’.
Inviting his questions...
And, unlike the other disciples,
there’s almost the sound of a key turning the lock of Thomas’ heart,
of his imagination,
and of the window of his soul being opened
so that he sees Jesus for who he is:
‘My Lord...  and my God.’
There’s no shocked sucking in of breath from the rest of them in the room...
Jesus doesn't chastise him for blasphemy.
Rather, the title is accepted, acknowledged.
The deep truth of Jesus’ identity is finally understood by the one
who down through the centuries has been called ‘the doubter’.
I’d suggest that perhaps Thomas is better called ‘Thomas the faithful’.

There’s a saying that the opposite of faith is not doubt;
rather, that the opposite of faith is certainty.
Thomas is an encouragement to us all:
he reminds us that, if we say that we believe in a supernatural being
who created the heavens and established the earth...
and, that if, in faith, we believe that this same One became human -
to better understand us,
to better build a relationship with us...
then, this same God, who we worship is big enough, compassionate enough,
to cope with our questions in the midst of all this divine mystery.
Questions don’t display a lack of faith:
rather, they demonstrate a faith that actively seeks to understand God –
a living, and engaged faith.
At this point, this side of heaven, we see in part, and don’t have all the answers.
In faith, we put one foot in front of the other, and keep going...
and part of our faith experience might very well be to ask questions –
and asking questions is a valid, healthy, and natural response
to the ‘Creator of the vast cosmos’ who ‘not only knows we exist 
but cares deeply and passionately about our ups and downs, 
our hopes and dreams, and all the rest.’ [David Lose]

We work through our faith in different ways:
for some, faith comes easy;
for others, it’s more difficult.
For those like Thomas, there’s a need for something more personal and direct.
There are many ways of living in faith.
But never be afraid of asking questions:
‘because questions and wonder and doubt and even scepticism 
are signs of interest and curiosity...and these, quite often, 
are the soil in which vibrant faith is born.’ [David Lose]

Thomas comes to faith, because he first has the chance to voice
his doubt and questions, and then experiences Jesus for himself.
Through his questions, his doubts, the door of his heart is opened...
he sees, understands,
his faith is taken to a whole deeper level,
and moves him, shapes his life,
in a way that he could never have predicted.

Sometimes, we’re afraid to ask questions of God:
we hide behind closed doors,
or try to build walls of doctrinal certainty.
Our gospel passage today reminds us that faith works in
many different ways, and that God is quite amenable
to his people asking questions – for questions help us to learn and grow.
So, may this faith community be a place
where questions
and wondering
and exploring
are welcome as we journey and grow together in our love and knowledge of God.
Like Thomas, may we open the doors of our hearts, souls, and imaginations
and allow the breath of the Spirit to banish our fears,
and shape our faith, and move our lives in ways that we might never have predicted:
For, that’s what happens when we worship the living God,
the God of resurrection surprise:
the God who has the last laugh on death.
Amen.