Presbytery Planning Review

presbytery-plan-newsletter-october-2010-2.pdf There are changes afoot as the Church of Scotland look to reduce the number of ministries – partially in response to a financial crisis.  Attached is a copy of a newsletter that Lanark Presbytery put out on the 31st October 2010.  Lanark Presbytery are to reduce by 4 their ministry posts.  This is not an easy thing to do and requires much preparation and prayer. The Area Meeting for Forth takes place on 17th November in the Small Hall at 7.30pm.  All who are interested in finding out what is happening and wants to contribute to discussions for the Forth, Carnwath and Carstairs Churches are welcome to come along.  Please read the newsletter – copies of which are available in Forth St Paul’s Church or any of the Lanark Presbytery churches.

Holy Communion at Forth St Pauls

This Sunday (10th October) we are celebrating the Sacrament of Holy Communion.   

At the Kirk Session meeting on Wednesday 6th October 2010, we discussed the Sacrament of Holy Communion.     

Dates – Agreed to continue with new date structure – second Sunday in the month.  January, Easter Sunday, May, August and October.  There will be an evening midweek Communion in December.   Monthly end of service communions for the other months are to be re-introduced in 2011, with fixed dates put in the diary by the Worship and Fellowship committee.   

How we do it? Seating – After discussion of coming forward during the hymn before communion and sitting up for the whole of the service in the chancel, the majority of elders and committee members voted in favour of sitting in the chancel area for the whole of the service.   Serving  – After discussing various models of serving communion the Session and committee members voted overwhelming for trying the following serving method.  It was agreed to continue this practice for the next year and then discuss whether it was helpful or not as it can take time to get used this method.  Everyone is served at the same time and eats and drinks at the same time.    Rather than serve the Session first and then the congregation, the bread will be served from the Table directly to the congregation and then to the Elders and Minister at the Table.  You are asked to hold it and then you are invited to wait for the Minister to give the signal to eat together.  The same will happen with the wine – everyone will drink from individual glasses.     If you have difficulty holding onto the bread or wine for a short time, then please feel free to take the elements as soon as you receive them.  We do not expect it to take long to serve every one.   

When do the elements leave the service?  Agreed during the hymn following communion and the elders return to the chancel area for the benediction.   

Children at Holy Communion –This has been remitted to the Children and Youth Committee to explore further with Sunday School teachers, and the minister, and perhaps look at developing a family communion service.  The Kirk Session agreed a number of years ago to allow children to participate in Communion but we have never followed up that decision. 

Some funnies from Ministry to Children website

Is the Devil Real?

Two boys were walking home from Sunday school after hearing a strong preaching on the devil. One said to the other, ‘What do you think about all this Satan stuff?’

The other boy replied, ‘Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out.

It’s probably just your Dad.’

Why do Brides Wear White?

Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered to her mother, “Why is the bride dressed in white?”

The mother replied, ‘Because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.’

The child thought about this for a moment then said, “So why is the groom wearing black?”

Running To Church

A little girl, dressed in her Sunday best, was running as fast as she could, trying not to be late for Bible class. As she ran she prayed, ‘Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late! Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late!’

While she was running and praying, she tripped on a curb and fell, getting her clothes dirty and tearing her dress. She got up, brushed herself off, and started running again!

As she ran she once again began to pray, ‘Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late…But please don’t shove me either!’

My Dad Makes Big Money

Three boys are in the school yard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, ‘My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50.’

The second boy says, ‘That’s nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on piece of paper,
he calls it a song, they give him $100.’

The third boy says, ‘I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon, and it takes eight people to collect all the money!’

The Holy Family

A Sunday School teacher asked her class why Joseph and Mary took Jesus with them to Jerusalem . A small child replied, ‘They couldn’t get a baby-sitter. ‘

Applying the 10 Commandments

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to ‘Honor thy father and thy mother,’ she asked, ‘Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?’

Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, ‘Thou shall not kill..’

Adam’s Ribs

At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam’s ribs.

Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and she said, ‘Johnny, what is the matter?’

Little Johnny responded, ‘I have pain in my side. I think I’m going to have a wife.’

The Status Quo

I wonder how you feel about change.  Some people find it really exciting and wonderful, to be embraced.  Others find it scary and unpredictable.  Others yet simply find it overwhelming as if someone has pulled the rug out from under their feet.  In some ways human beings haven’t really changed all that much and perhaps the author of Ecclesiastes is right when he writes there is nothing new under the sun.  Many of the challenges we face are the same as faced by previous generations.  True the tenor of the challenge might be different but the bottom line is often the same. 

For example over the generations we have debated and come to agreements on the place of slavery, race, children and women in church and society.  Now we are dealing with the question of sexuality (some might say – finally!).  At the root of all these changes have been how we treat the ‘other’ in our understanding of human relationships.  All of these debates have been held in the secular world as well as the religious world.  And none of these debates were without pain and hard work – and with much crossover between secular and religious for all Christians must have a foot in both worlds as Scripture says.    

Or what about money?  Scripture is full of quotes – Money is the root of all evil.  You can’t serve two masters – God and money.  Culture has long placed significance in wealth.  We publish rich lists and talk about what footballers and movie stars earn.  We moan about the bonuses of those in the financial world or the ridiculous profits of companies who take our money and rarely give back.  Within the Church we moan about money going into a black hole in the Head Office.  We hate the Stewardship Campaign or the tithing sermon that encourages us to give more realistically to God’s work.  However now the Church faces a significant shortfall in its funding.  We can’t afford all our ministers.  On one level – so what?  Very few organsiations have survived intact or flourished greatly in recent economic times.  People have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts and the Church is not immune.  But when the door of your church is one of the ones to be closed in order to save the Church as a whole – what then? 

There is a lot of change on the horizon within the hallowed walls of the National Church.  But is change such a bad thing? 

  • Imagine for a moment if Jesus had decided that it really wasn’t a good idea to annoy the Church set-up of the day. 
  • Imagine if he had backed down and said he would tone down his message and stop upsetting the apple cart. 
  • Imagine if he went with the status quo and ignored the outcast, the leper, the sick, the dying, the poor and so on. 
  • Imagine if he hadn’t trusted the man off the street with his message and had stuck to the educated elite. 
  • Imagine if he had turned his back on the cross because it was too difficult a path to travel.

Jesus broke new ground with his message.  He told everyone about God – men, women and children, Jew and Gentile.  No one was excluded.  He told them that God loved them and that God had a wonderful plan for all humanity.  He took away the special status of the religious elite and gave to all who would believe.  He taught us to pray to Abba Father – Daddy in our language.  He didn’t cut corners and he didn’t tailor his teachings to be socially acceptable.  He told the truth even when it was hard to hear.  But he showed great love and great compassion even to those in sin.  Think of the story of the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery.  He took time to teach fishermen and tax collectors his message and they became his voice after his ascension.  And most importantly he did not shy away from the cross – not just its pain and suffering but the utter disgrace it was to hang there.  Oh yes Jesus broke new ground – not destroying the old but building on it and changing it for the better. 

We may well be about to break new ground.  We won’t be destroying the old but we have to change it for the better.  And we might not immediately like where God is leading unless you find change exciting and exhilirating.  The months that lie ahead will be very telling about our faith and our understanding of God.  So remember that no matter what happens – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.  And God will always have the final word – I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. 

How do you deal with change? 

And will you pray for the Church of Scotland?