This last year has been like no other year, as I’m sure you will agree. It was a year when I hit a couple of personal milestones: I turned sixty in June and marked the 25th anniversary of my ordination in August. It was also a year where I lost the first of my siblings. As many of you will know, I am one of 14 children and it was very difficult that I was unable to attend my brother Joe’s funeral and have yet to visit his grave in Argyll.
I didn’t imagine that any of these things would be best remembered for occurring in the year when we were all locked up in our homes and out of our Church buildings. In our case it has been two homes of course. As a family we moved from the manse in Walter Street to the new manse in Conservation Place at the end of June. And as anyone will tell you, moving house is stressful enough with out it being in the middle of a pandemic. I can honestly say, though, that this has been the most wonderful move for all of us. We are now in a community surrounded by the families that our kids attend school with and they are never away from the door. Our boys have blossomed here and Sabah and I have made new friends, as has our dog Shayla who loves meeting up with Floss and Helen Sleith for regular walks.
We have also taken the opportunity to share our faith: hosting an outdoor Christmas Carol sing-a-long from our driveway on Christmas Eve which was attended by people from all over the estate, and further afield, all socially distanced! The result of this has been that a number of neighbours have offered their help when we set up the foodbank and develop other ideas for the community. What an amazing six months!
I’m sure each of you will have your own story to tell of what has happened in your family life and circumstances. It may be that you too have moved home or suffered the loss of a family member, a job or simply your confidence. We all long for those days to return when we can gather in our group activities: such as The Guild, Fellowship, Crafty Crew, and Sharing Circle. But the question we have to ask ourselves is: Whether what we have been doing in Church has really served God’s kingdom and how it has related to the community around us. And whether we are simply looking forward to getting back into the Church buildings in order that we can do the things we have always done or whether this is our greatest opportunity to do things differently for the benefit of those whom we have been called to love and to serve.
Now, I know what many of you will be thinking: that’s Terry harping on about change again and you would be right. But I believe that what I have been saying to you over the last five and a half years has never been more true. We need to change or wither on the vine. And that is as true for our Church at the national and regional level as it is for us at the local.
The latest edition of The COMPASS magazine will outline for you some of the challenges and opportunities we face. I hope you will find it helpful as well as informative as you consider how you can apply what you have learned from this experience to your life and faith over these next days, weeks, months and years to come.
Your brother in Christ, Terry
‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!’
The COMPASS – January 2021