PASTORAL LETTER FOR OCTOBER 2020
It is reckoned that in Britain the average person spends six years of their life talking about the weather and even in these last six months, probably some of the strangest of our lives, the topic of the weather has not been far away. At the beginning of lockdown we marvelled at the longer hours of daylight, the unusually warm spring, then there were the days of sunshine during the summer months. We had that beautiful warm spell just last week, and now autumn is surely settling in. Bob Hope once described the British Climate as “eight months of winter and then four months of bad weather.” He wasn’t right about that in 2020, and for all that we’ve been through we’re thankful for that.
I wonder if the reason we talk about the weather so much is because it affects how we feel about ourselves. A sunny day gives us a spring in our step, a dark grey rainy afternoon, not so. Robert Louis Stevenson suffered most of his life from poor health. He was once asked what the secret of his cheerfulness was. He replied, “I have a maxim, make your own inside weather.”
Perhaps as Christians and perhaps as the season moves into the darker and colder months we should develop the capacity to make our own inside weather. Knowing that we are the beloved children of our Father in heaven, and knowing that through Jesus he will never leave us nor forsake us, we surely can weather the storms which are overtaking us at this time. There is no denying that life isn’t easy for all of us right now, and while we tried to remain so positive during the warmer months, it’s going to be more difficult in the next few months.
So maybe when you open your bedroom curtains some morning and see the rain pouring down the window in front of a dark sky, remember that you are a child of God, and you can make your own inside weather.
Yours in love,
Click Here to read the Minister's 'East Kilbride News' Message No 8 - Christian Aid
Click Here to read the Minister's 'East Kilbride News' Message No 7 - Dance in the Rain
Click Here to read the Minister's 'East Kilbride News' Message No 6 - Friends and Family
PASTORAL LETTER FOR MAY 2020
One of the things I have been asked to do during this strange period, is to write a piece every week for inclusion in the East Kilbride News. Over the weeks I have reflected on how things will change when this period is over, for I am convinced that we, as a society, will not simply return to things as they were.
One of the things which will undoubtedly change is our use of technology in communication. Even the
most technically challenged among us, and I include myself in that group, have become very quick learners, and with the help of the more expert folks around us, we’ve been producing our online services which have been so warmly received and watched and listened to by so many people. There is no doubt that when this period is over, we will need to continue to connect with people in this virtual way.
And the way we communicate with our friends and family is so different too. I’ve got a new grandson and have only seen him from a distance, but most days I’m getting a video or new photographs and so I’m probably seeing more of him that I would normally. Our physical isolation has convinced us even more of our need for each other. The next time we say to someone, “We should keep in touch” we should remember how easy it actually is. We’ve learned that distance is no object. My mother-in-law died during this time, and while it was only her children who attended her burial, the whole family, grandchildren and great grandchildren, arranged a virtual catch up in the evening where we raised a glass to Janet. And as people were leaving we said, “We need to do this more often.”
I also wonder if our value system will change when this period is over. The most valued people in our society right now are the people who are working in the NHS, the care sector and all the workers who are keeping things going. Few of these fall into the highest earners category, but I hope when we come out of this period, we don’t forget to value each other. Where would we be without delivery drivers and supermarket workers? Why are care staff paid so little?
One of the surprises I got recently was when my credit card statement came through the door. Not a surprise as in the post-Christmas surprise, but a surprise in how little I had spent. No meals out, no catching up with friends for a drink, and since I haven’t been doing the shopping, no picking up non- essential items as I wander around a supermarket. No events to justify (if I ever could) the buying of new clothes to wear. I’ve become very aware of how I spend my money, and while I am looking forward to meeting up with friends over a good meal out, I have realised how much good food at home can taste too.
But we surely will always remember the way people cared for each other. Who can fail to be moved by Captain Tom aged 99 who has raised over £27 million for the NHS, or for all the people out there doing things to raise money. And what about the acts of kindness seen everywhere? Neighbours looking out for each other, people pulling together, a real sense of communities coming together, I hope and pray that this will continue when we get back to whatever is going to become normal again.
But finally, when the next church history book is written about East Kilbride Old Parish Church, what will it say of the church in Spring/Summer 2020?
I think it will say that during that time, the church became mobilised as the people of God caring for each other in Christ’s name. I think it will tell of the people who did the practical things, collecting prescriptions and shopping, and also of the quiet phone calls to people feeling isolated. It will tell of the people in our own community and all over the world, who have stumbled upon our services on line and appreciated our words. It will tell of the networks which continued throughout the congregation upholding each other in prayer. It will say that although the church building was closed, the church was being the body of Christ here on earth, as it always has been and always will continue to be.
Yours in love, Anne Paton
Click Here to read the Minister's 'East Kilbride News' Message No 5 - True Value
Click Here to read the Minister's 'East Kilbride News' Message No 4 - New Technology...
Click Here to read the Minister's 'East Kilbride News' Message No 3 - Holy Week...
PASTORAL LETTER FROM APRIL EKO
How are you? These are unprecedented times we’re living in, and I hope you’re keeping safe. I hope you’re managing to be able to eat, and get your supply of any medicines you might need. I’m like many of us, in a vulnerable group, so it’s extra important that we keep ourselves in isolation.
On a positive note, if this crisis had to come at any time, it has surely come at the best time of the year, as we’re in the season of Spring. Can you imagine how much worse this would have been if we were in Autumn and the nights were getting darker and the days colder? I hope from your confine- ment you’re able to see some green space, and maybe a daffodil or crocus or two. The wonder of nature is that these wee plants can survive the hardest of winters, then bloom again in the Spring.
Easter is approaching, and the message of the cross is similar to that of nature. Jesus went through the darkest of days and rose victorious on Easter morning. We are in dark days at the moment, unprecedented times, but we have the assurance that God is with us, and that he is always making things new.
When this period of isolation is over (we don’t know when that will be, but it will at some point be over) I hope we can look back and see that during this time, so many positive things happened. Please keep safe, please look after one another, and know that God is with us.
Yours in love, Anne Paton
Click Here to read the Minister's 'East Kilbride News' Message No 2 - after the clocks changed...
Click Here to read the Minister's first 'East Kilbride News' Message - after the pandemic hit...
Video Message from the Minister ( 27th March 2020)
(Note: You may need to 'Tap to unmute' ie put the volume on).
Click Here to hear the video message from our Minister, Rev. Anne Paton, recorded on 27th March 2020.
Video message from the Minister (19th March 2020)
Click Here to hear the video message from our Minister, Rev. Anne Paton, recorded on 19th March 2020.
PASTORAL LETTER FROM MARCH EKO
I wonder if you’ve seen the film “Chocolat,” it is is based on the book of the same name. The film tells the story of a small French town during Lent. Everyone is trying hard to avoid rich foods but what should open at the same time? A chocolate shop! It is agony to walk past the shop with its velvety chocolate smells. Yet, I wonder if you can't help but think that the townsfolk had missed the point (especially when one of the most self-righteous characters breaks into the shop and gorges on the chocolates inside.)
I don’t think that Lent is about that kind of ‘self-denial.' There is very little value in simply giving up stuff! Giving up stuff for Lent, as the rest of the New Testament reminds us, does not really achieve anything.
Lent was originally established for new Christians, those who experienced a call. They were to spend forty days and forty nights preparing for their baptism. If at the end they still wanted to follow Jesus, then on Easter Eve they would be baptised as the sun was rising in the east, signalling the new day, the new era, inaugurated because of the Resurrection. I am sure it had a powerful significance for them, to have prepared for their vocation as Christians the same way that Jesus prepared for his vocation as the Messiah: forty days of introspection and self-examination.
But later the Church used the forty days as a time of renewal for those who were already Christians, because at a certain point everyone in the empire became a Christian, everyone was baptised as infants. So the time of Lent was used as a time of renewal and recommitment to the Christian life, examining our lives in light of the one we are supposed to follow.
So as we approach this Lenten season, take time to prepare for Easter in whatever meaningful way you please, but be intentional, so that we can be better people as we celebrate the resurrection together on Easter Sunday.
Yours in love, Anne Paton
PASTORAL LETTER FROM FEBRUARY EKO
We are at a time of change in our church. Jim Ballantyne has stepped down as Session Clerk, and Alistair Walker has agreed to take on that role. We thank Jim for his time, and when we reflect on how well he held the church together during the absence of the minister, we are truly grateful. We look forward to what Alistair will bring.
Alice Beaton our church secretary has also stepped down, and we are excited as to what a new secretary will bring, although we haven’t included line dancing skills in our job description, we will miss you Alice.
Helen Stevenson has also stepped down as Kirk Life convener and we are lucky that Ken Ross has taken over that role. Thank you Helen. No pressure, Ken, but I don’t think you’ll ever be called the “blond bombshell.” Just be yourself.
Imagine Charlie Brown and Lucy are on a cruise ship. Lucy says: "Charlie Brown, you see those folks up there? They have their deck chairs facing the front of the ship. They are futurists, the long-range planners, looking at what's ahead because they want to be ready." Then you see those folks back there, they have their deck chairs facing the stern of the ship...They are the introspective crowd. They are interested in history and what we can learn from where we have been. And those folks over there...they have their deck chairs facing the side of the ship...they don't care where they are going. They don't care where they've been...they are only interested in the now. They want to sit on their deckchairs and celebrate today and everything about it." Then Lucy asks the penetrating question, "Now Charlie Brown, I just want to ask you one question. On the ship of life, which way is your deck chair facing?" Is your deck chair facing forward, looking ahead, or is your deck chair facing back, looking back over where you’ve been, or is your deck chair facing the side, only interested in today and what today’s going to bring?
Charlie Brown thinks about it for a minute then responds: "For goodness sake, Lucy, I'm still trying to figure out how to put my deckchair up!
Ecclesiastes 3 says, “For everything there is a time and a season.” Let’s get our deckchairs up and arrange them at the front of the ship, and look forward to what lies ahead.
Yours in love, Anne Paton
PASTORAL LETTER FROM JANUARY EKO
I trust you've made your New Year's resolutions. I think in the past the usual resolutions were to lose weight, to eat healthier and to exercise more. This year I’m going down a different path and aiming to be “greener” in the way I live my life. In the run up to Christmas I was involved in a number of schools’ events for primary 6 age children, and at the end of the event, they were to write their hopes for Christmas. As always there were hopes about families being reunited and they were heart-breaking, but I was astounded by how many of our children are passionate about our environment, and the future of our world. So, this New Year, I’m going to be greener, recycle more and avoid single use plastics as much as I can.
Resolutions are good, especially if there are changes we need to make in our lives, and I believe we all need to take environmental issues seriously. I love the old story about one poor guy who phoned his girlfriend and got the following recording: "I am not available right now, but thank you for caring enough to call. I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep. If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes."
It's good to make changes, for the most part. As we are often reminded by our critics, our spouses, our children, or our friends, none of us is perfect. In fact, some of us might have some deep regrets about the way we've lived our lives. New Year, is in some ways, only another day, and yet at the heart of our Christian faith is the fact that every new day is a new start with God. What has happened in the past is gone, we are forgiven all our faults and can begin again with a clean slate.
I wish you all a happy and blessed New Year. Anne Paton
PASTORAL LETTER FOR DECEMBER EKO (FROM FIONA ANDERSON)
It seems a bit premature writing ‘Seasons Greetings’ in the middle of November, but by the time this goes to print and reaches you at the beginning of next month the greeting will be well and truly apt….so I do wish you ‘Seasons Greetings’.
I have been with EKOP for almost three months now; a quarter of my allotted time…. how quickly has that passed? They say ‘time flies by when you’re having fun’…. and I certainly am enjoying my time worshiping with you folks and I really appreciate the welcome that I’ve received. For those of you who have been wondering what I’ve been up to behind the scenes, I thought I’d use this opportunity to tell you, so here goes: as well as seeing me ‘in action’ on a Sunday, I have accompanied Rev Anne to a funeral, a wedding, and we shared a lovely home visit with baby Heidi and her parents prior to Heidi’s baptism a few weeks ago. I have also been to a couple of Kirk Session meetings; I have conducted the worship element at two Messy Church events; I met with Rev Anne and Organist Colin to arrange the Sunday hymns and music from October to the end of the Calendar year; I’ve been to a couple of Presbytery meetings, where I serve on the Finance & Stewardship Committee and I’ve spent a couple of Saturdays on training days that I volunteered to go on, namely, Godly Play and Autism in the Church. I also regularly meet with Rev Anne and I am grateful to her for the experience, wisdom, and encouragement she shares with me. Additionally, I am also currently undertaking a module with Highland Theological College on the subject of Preaching, which runs through to the middle of December, and I have signed up to take another one after Christmas, on the subject of Chaplaincy. I am confident that both of these courses will help me going forward in my ministry, wherever that may be.
One of the things you may not know is that I have been given a congregational support group. The purpose of this is two-fold: to both give me feedback on how I’m doing from a congregational perspective, (as opposed to a ministerial perspective which I receive from Rev Anne), but also to give me encouragement, which is really valuable. I have not asked for their permission to name them so I won’t, but I am grateful to them for their input so far, so thank you.
I love December in church. I love singing Carols and I love all the Christmas services, so I am really excited to be worshipping with you over the Christmas period, especially to hear the choir on December 1st, the Silver Band on December 15th, and the week in between, December 8th, I get the opportunity to conduct the sermon. Messy Church is also hosting another event on Sunday 1st December, so please encourage any young folks you know to come along and get into the Christmas Spirit at our Christmas themed Messy Church.
I’m going to be bold and pose you all with a challenge! Are you up for a challenge? Think Advent Calendar with a difference! I would like to encourage you to look out your Bibles and go straight to the New Testament Book of Luke. Luke’s Gospel has 24 chapters. Therefore, if you commit to the
challenge to read one chapter of Luke’s Gospel each day from December 1st right up to Christmas Eve on 24th December, you will have read the full account of the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour….and hopefully this year you will be reminded that The Good News Story of Christmas, will be the best story you will ever hear.
I want to leave you with a poem that I found on the internet, so herein lies challenge number 2…..
When the carols have been stilled;
When the star-topped tree is taken down;
When family and friends have all gone home;
When we have all returned to our regular routines,
Then the true work of Christmas begins:
To welcome the refugee;
To heal a broken planet;
To feed the hungry;
To build walls of trust and not fear;
To share our gifts;
To seek justice and peace;
And to take Christ’s light into the world, for everyone to see.
With every good wish, Fiona
PASTORAL LETTER FROM NOVEMBER EKO
Last year, being the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, many churches put on a display of poppies. Our own church participated in this. Over the last year however, so many people were touched by the poppy display that they have knitted or crocheted poppies to be included this year. We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response. We are also planning to include in our service, the silhouettes of the “unknown soldiers” to remind us of the awful cost of war.
During the years there has been talk about whether Remembrance Day is a thing of the past, and talk of how relevant it is to people today, but it strikes me that this response of people making poppies is just a small sign of how much the day means to people. The number of folks who gather at the War Memorial to observe the silence has not decreased during the years. It’s important that we remember in our own way.
Every night in the town of Ypres in Belgium, a crowd gathers at 8pm beneath the Menin Gate to remember in their way and to observe the ceremony of the Last Post. It is a simple, but profound way to remember all those who gave their lives during the First World War. Inscribed on the gate are the names of thousands of soldiers killed, and with no known grave.
There can surely be no more graphic reminder of the awful cost of war. This poem sums it up:
All at once fell silent as the clock came round to eight,
and a poignant tribute sounded beneath the Menin Gate.
And as the bugles faded till their sound was heard no more,
we saw then all too clearly the dreadful face of war.
Instead of names around us there were young men in their prime,
a tragic generation cut down before their time.
We heard their cries of anguish, we felt their searing pain,
and we understood more clearly this must never be again.
Unless we come together, until we learn to share,
until we love more widely and think in ways more fair,
then the last post will be sounded in the future just the same,
but the thousands who it heralds will all have died in vain.
On 10th November we will remember all those who have lost their lives in conflicts, we will remember all who suffer because of conflicts, and we remember all whose lives will never be the same again because of conflicts. Let us also remember the one who died on a cross to put an end to death and misery, the one who said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Yours in love, Anne Paton