Letter from the Minister
We are living in challenging times – and that is without taking into account Brexit or rumours of a renewed call for Scottish independence. Critics have predicted the demise of the church for many years now – and despite that Christians continue to do what they have always done, worship, pray, witness and serve.
It is with delight that I write this letter. Soon, on Sunday January 27th, four young adults will profess their Christian faith and become members of our congregation. Ordinarily I do not make much of ‘membership’ as such. Quite a number of people worship with us on a Sunday or a Wednesday, take part in the activities in the church during the week, and receive the Bridge and are reading this letter, without being ‘full members’ of the church. Let me reassure you that membership status makes no difference to the welcome people receive or how much they can be involved.
However, it is still a delight when individuals take the step of faith, often confirming the baptism vows taken by their parents, and publicly profess their own Christian faith and become members of the church. It is certainly important because without a formal membership, the committed body of people who accept responsibility in faith to be part of the mission of the church, it is hard to see who could organise and run the congregation. This is not just a formal point. Confirmation and admission into membership have long been part of the lifelong exploration of faith of believers in our Reformed tradition. I hope you will be excited with me for Lucy, Sarah, Ruth and Alex for this step in their life’s journey.
Many people don’t realise that one of the great privileges of membership is the right to attend the annual meeting of the congregation. This will be held on March 24th at the end of the service to hear about the activities of the previous year. Many people think that it is not spiritual, only a time for business and deals with finances and buildings. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is about the life, direction and mission of the congregation.
We are not a social society or a club for like-minded people. We are a congregation, a part of Christ’s body. We are also an organisation and we do need to review our activities. But our annual review is not just the business of the accounts. Our review includes the reminder that we work together, that every contribution is important. That certainly includes finance, but just as vital are serving coffee, maintaining our buildings, making music, nurturing our young people, visiting the sick, praying for the church, supporting our neighbour by work or presence, and contributing to the wider community. We also need to encourage those who serve us, in the Kirk Session and the staff who work for us. Finally, our meeting also provides an opportunity to discuss the vision and priorities we will follow in the future.
The practical and spiritual service offered by Christians in churches, in organisations, at work and in their homes, is undoubtedly needed at a time when the political and economic scenes are stressed and divided. We are possibly heading for some dramatic changes. Few of us have national influence so we must pray for those who do. We are sons and daughters, parents and grandparents, colleagues, friends and neighbours. In these roles we can demonstrate the grace and love of God in our lives to the people we meet. We are God’s worshipping people, we honour him with our lives. It is not so much our piety but our faithful service, dependability, friendship and generosity which might make all the difference to the people who need our encouragement.