A church minister couldn’t face his flock one Sunday morning and phoned in a ‘sicky’! He threw his golf clubs into his car boot and headed to a course where no one would recognise him. His swing found new freedom and, down-wind at the 9th, launched an enormous drive, which bounced into the hole, a hole-in-one albatross! Rev W.A.S.V Jolly bounded down the fairway praising God for this new experience of Sunday worship, when God’s ‘still small voice’ came, “Aye, and who can you tell?”
A former moderator ‘fessed to missing St Giles’ GA Sunday service to attend a prominent independent church, intrigued to witness worship in such a high-profile setting, where the website says, ‘we welcome 100’s of people from different age groups, cultures and backgrounds to our Sunday gatherings.’ Alas, there were about 40 people present, almost no kids or teens, and despite standing out like a stooky, no one spoke to oor man.
The grass was certainly greener on the side I opted for on GA Sunday, cycling down to the borders & back, looking out for signs of God’s Kingdom. The drivers were courteous, fellow cyclists waved to me, coos & sheep were intrigued by this Fullarton Over Sixty in Licra (FOSIL); the trees clapped their hands, hills skipped to the beat of God’s Praise, and the wind behind on the Lang Whang (A70) back from Carnwath to Edinburgh was awesome. I was encouraged by Penicuik Trinity Community Church’s banners & signs and visited them on-line once back.
I totally get why people prefer to worship God outdoors and dodge meeting with God’s People on Sundays. Church and people can be so disappointing! No one missed me last Sunday, but I really do miss folk who choose not to worship with us some Sundays.
There was plenty to depress about the General Assembly in our severe management of decline and obvious lack of young people, but there was also respect, humour & hope as our moderator pointed us to Christ and commissioners called us to prayer. We jointly declared friendship with the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and a £20+ million fund was set up to aid us in planting 100 new worshipping communities.
Much Comfort, Courage & Creativity are required as we journey forward. Comfort in the loss of congregations, buildings, and the way we’ve aye done things, etc. Courage to follow Jesus beyond our comfort zones to share the Grace, Mercy, Love, Hope, Healing and Good News of Jesus with our families, neighbours, colleagues, friends, lonely, lost, least & last. Creativity & imagination lit by the same Holy Spirit Who raised Jesus from death to life.
Once on our way back from the Assembly we saw a radiant rainbow reminding of God’s covenant promise to Noah and all humanity that he would never wash this world completely again. George Matheson’s hymn, written in the grief and loss of his beloved fiancé who left him due to his failing eyesight, also came to mind. What comfort, courage & creativity God gave that dear man in his hymn and description of God’s unconditional Love: ‘Oh love that wilt not let me go’ – Verse 3:
“Oh joy that seekest me through pain I cannot close my heart to thee
I trace the rainbow through the rain And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.”