My, doesn’t time fly? Holy Week and Easter almost seem a distant memory but it’s worth remembering, before moving on, that they are the reason that the church exists. Everything we are as a church, and everything we do, is as a result of the events of that one weekend in the life of our Lord. At the end of this month, on Sunday 31st May, the Christian church celebrates the feast of Pentecost when the promised Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem, and so the church was born.
Sunday 31st May, the Day of Pentecost, is also the day when we will celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion at services in the Parish Church at 11am and 6.30pm. We usually celebrate Communion on the first Sunday in June but have other plans for that day, as you may have heard! The 11am service replaces our two usual weekly services at 10.15 and 11.45, while at the 6.30pm service, non-alcohol wine will be used.
Before then, though, May is rather a busy month in the life of the congregation
Yesterday, Sunday 10th May, there was a gathering of the five Church of Scotland congregations in Cumbernauld. Faced with the challenge of creating a joint plan for the future, this was the first “staging post” (to use an expression of Peter Neilson, our mission enabler) and the turnout of members from Cumbernauld Old was impressive. At this first meeting, we learned a bit more about each of the five congregations and discussed our common challenges. These will be reviewed by the Steering Group, further activity will take place over the summer and the next “staging post” gathering is scheduled for September.
We are now into Christian Aid Week. Over the next few days, until Saturday 16th May, volunteer collectors from our congregation will join others across the UK and Ireland delivering envelopes, visiting houses and asking for donations. Should an authorised collector call at your house, please give them a warm welcome and a generous response (preferably with a Gift-Aid signature).
On Thursday 14th May our Boys’ Brigade company hold their Annual Display in the Forge Community Centre starting at 7.00pm. Please come along and show your support.
On Sunday 17th May, the Scottish Bible Society are having a celebration of their 200th Anniversary at St. Mungo’s Parish Church at 2.30pm. The entertainment will be provided by the Kilsyth Praise Group and tickets, priced at £2 include tea or coffee. All proceeds to the SBS’s current Brazil Project.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland meets in Edinburgh from Thursday 21st to Wednesday 27th May. Due to space constraints, not all congregations can send ‘commissioners’ (as they are called) so a rota system operates within presbyteries. This year Cumbernauld Old has the opportunity to send two commissioners, and our minister and one of our elders will be travelling through to Edinburgh for each day’s debates and discussions. You can keep up with everything that’s happening at the General Assembly through the Church of Scotland’s dedicated web pages.
And so into June, and our 350th Anniversary weekend.
The action all starts off with our annual Garden Fete on Saturday 6th June in the Manse grounds. Doors open at 1.30pm with the official opening at 2pm by Rev. Alan Sorensen, presenter of Radio Clyde’s “Down to Earth” programme.
Then on Sunday 7th June we have a special joint 350th Anniversary Worship Service in the Parish Church at 11am and led by Very Rev. David Lunan, the current Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. By the time he reaches Cumbernauld, his term of office will have ended, but Immediate Past Moderator of the General Assembly, etc. doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily! Following our worship service we will have our 350th Birthday Party in the Manse Grounds. Invitations will be on their way in the near future.
For several weeks now, we have been inviting members to send us a Birthday Card and we are glad to report that quite a few have been received. We have also been asking those who can to send us a donation of one penny for each year of the church’s 350 years (i.e. a gift of £3.50). That appeal has also been very well supported. There is still time to send us a card (and a donation if you wish) – just hand it to any office-bearer or hand it in to the church any Sunday. The cards will be displayed in church at our Anniversary Service and the money raised will be shared between the cost of a specially-commissioned pulpit fall and the mission work of the church.
News of the Garden Fete and our 350th Anniversary plans is contained in the May 2009 edition of the church newsletter, available for delivery to members shortly but already available online from our church’s website.
With the General Assembly on the near horizon, a few of the kirk’s councils are issuing summaries of their reports in newsletter form. I have provided links to a few of them here (courtesy of the Falkirk Presbytery website). In addition, though, the regular bulletins continue to be published and I am delighted to pass them on.
First up is the May edition of the kirk’s Good News magazine. Among the articles in the seven-page newsletter is a call for the church to face up to the reality of HIV/AIDS, news of a march (with a difference) through the streets of Larkhall, and thoughts on love from the Moderator, Rev. David Lunan.
The Mission & Discipleship Council’s enews for May 2009 contains details of more than 30 events, resources and websites to explore. Among the events listed is a conference on ‘Emerging Church’ – building a church for the 21st century – Fresh Horizons, which (it says) is a conference for ‘third-agers’ and how they may be used in ministry and mission; and information about Open Farm Sunday. I also liked the materials produced by Scripture Union for children about to enter primary school and for young people making the transition from primary to secondary education.
The kirk’s Church & Society Council has produced a short newsletter to coincide with the General Assembly, as has the Committee on Ecumenical Relations. Both can be downloaded from the Falkirk Presbytery website.
A recent World Mission Council news update highlighted the forthcoming World Week of action for peace for Israel and Palestine. The news article reads: World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, 4-10 June 2009, is intended to generate joint church action for a just peace. Churches in 20 countries have already sent news of their plans to the conveners, the World Council of Churches (WCC). A Palestinian community organisation is offering a way for many more countries to join – by sending peace prayers to Bethlehem.
People and parishes around the world are invited to send peace prayers to Bethlehem. A church-related community organisation there will share the prayers for worldwide use online during World Week and to be read aloud locally at the Wall, near settlements, and in Palestinian parishes and schools including in Gaza.
The WCC-led week of action is in its fourth year. Participants are invited to pray, educate and advocate, inspired by the theme “It’s time for Palestine”. A prayer offered by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem has been sent to more than 120 countries, along with invitations to join World Week. For 2009 participants are encouraged to focus on Israeli settlements in occupied territory. Links to the topic as well as a message, prayers and liturgies for the week are available on the WCC website.
Oh, and did I mention this was Christian Aid Week? Just a reminder that their website will take online donations, just in case no-one comes to your door or you don’t get a chance to return your red envelope or you can’t make it to church next Sunday.
The director of Christian Aid, Dr Daleep Mukarji will preach in Glasgow Cathedral on Sunday 17th May at 6.30pm as the Cathedral hosts a service reflecting on the work of Christian Aid. There is more about this service on the Ekklesia website.