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The Christmas story is a reminder of the precarious nature of life. The risky journey to Bethlehem, the birth in primitive circumstances, the dangers from Herod and the flight to Egypt. At any point, something could have gone wrong and the Christ child might have died or have not been born at all. What if instead of returning by a different route, the Wise Men had gone back to Herod and told him where to find the Christ child? Herod would have sent his soldiers to the stable and Christ would have been killed as a baby. God took an amazing risk by sending his Son into an unpredictable and dangerous world.
We have been reminded over this past year of just how precarious life is today and how vulnerable we are as human beings. The Coronavirus has demonstrated that fact all too clearly.
This will be a Christmas like no other. When we celebrated it last year with our church being full at the Family Service with the Nativity Play and at the Candlelit Service, none of us could have imagined that next Christmas Nativity Plays would be out, no carols could be sung and the church would be limited to 50 people attending, all wearing masks. We never imagined that anything could take away all that. Nor did we imagine that something would happen which meant we couldn’t hug, shake hands, sit close together and sing in praise to God.
Life is indeed fragile. And into a fragile world God sent a tiny child, born into a world of unpredictability, instability and uncertainty. In so doing, God is telling us that nothing, not even death, can separate us from His love.
Christmas celebrations will be different, but we will still celebrate. Amidst the horrors of a global pandemic, we need to hear the Christmas message all the more. The message is a simple one, but it is breath-taking in its significance and power. It says that even in the darkest moments God is with us.
I hope that, despite the restrictions, you are able to enjoy Christmas and still be able to celebrate its true meaning.
Happy Christmas to you all.
For many years now, Miss Dayer Colburn has been our organiser in collecting used postage stamps for the charity Kidney Care UK.
Lately, the number of used stamps has dried up a bit. Can you help?
Just collect some used stamps, place them in an envelope and put them through the church office door and Dayer will pass them on.
The Kirk Session met last night and agreed that we would seek to return to public worship next month. This very much depends on the situation regarding the Aberdeen lockdown and so these dates could be changed and the return to worship delayed.
Assuming it is possible, we agreed that our first service back will take place on Thursday September 10th at 10.30 am, with another week day service taking place on Thursday September 17th at the same time. We will then switch to Sunday worship every week, with the first service taking place on Sunday September 20th at 10.30 am
We estimate that the sanctuary can accommodate 45 people with social distancing measures in place, depending on how many people attend individually or in family groups. In light of this, we will be introducing a pre-registration booking system and details will be released later about how to register in advance.
The worship will be a normal service, other than the fact that there will not be any singing. It will be necessary to wear a face covering and keep 2 metres apart from those who are not in your family group and of course everyone is asked to observe the hand sanitising requirements. The church will be thoroughly cleaned before every service. Young Church will be in operation and all children and young people are welcome to come along.
The online worship services are planned to continue at least until the end of September.
Although it is now possible to resume public worship in our building, subject to strict conditions, we will not be doing so as yet. In line with the other Aberdeen West churches we are looking to mid August as a possible restarting time. The Kirk Session meets in early August and will make a decision then.
We have now started back worshipping in the church and, so far, everything has gone well.
We began with a couple of services on Thursdays and then moved to Sundays Our numbers have been below our maximum limit of 45, with the highest number attending being 35. The last thing we would wish to do is to turn people away and therefore the booking system is essential and has been working fine so far.
Personally, I found it quite an emotional experience being back in church for worship after such a long time and to be able to see some of you again was lovely. Of course, we cannot enjoy our fellowship in the usual way and the absence of singing is strange. But I have been showing video clips of hymn singing at worship services and this seems to have been appreciated.
I would like to thank all of the team who have worked hard to ensure that the church was ready for returning to worship. They have done an excellent job.
The services are being streamed live on our church Facebook page and you can then watch the recording on the page and there is also a link on our web site.
The Aberdeen West services will be continuing for the time being and I hope you enjoyed the recent Harvest Thanksgiving service, which included a clip of some of our Instant Neighbour volunteers on duty at the weekly drop off. It takes place every Monday from 11am – 12noon and 7.00pm – 7.30pm.
Remembrance Sunday will be very different this year. Given the restrictions on numbers, my thinking is that we will have perhaps just one or two representatives from the organisations which normally attend in large numbers. Unfortunately there will be no service at the War Memorial.
Please note that the church office will continue to be closed and so do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries. Please also get in touch if you have any pastoral needs or know of someone who does.
I hope that as we move into the winter, you will keep well as we continue to get through this challenging time together.
With all best wishes
What Can I Expect When I Return to Church?
We have outlined below how we shall have to operate to comply with the Church of Scotland regulations, which have been set out to conform with the Scottish Government requirements.
- A maximum of 45 people will be allowed in the church to ensure we maintain safe physical distancing. This number includes the minister, stewards, organist and projector operator. This figure may be less, it depends on how many people attend individually and in family groups.
- Due to the restriction on numbers in the church you will have to reserve a place for Sunday services. This can be done by telephoning the Church Office on 01224 735845 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday at 12 noon. If there is no place available for the next Sunday, you will be placed on the reservations list for the following Sunday. If there is no answer on the office phone, please leave a message.
- Names and contact numbers will be recorded and retained for 28 days for Test and Protect requirements. All data will be held in accordance with date protection laws and destroyed after the 28 day period.
- We are asking that you please wear a face mask or face covering in the church – this is mandatory.
- You will be required to sanitise your hands before entering and on leaving the church.
- You may have to queue along the front of the church, maintaining physical distancing before being invited to enter.
- The doors will be remaining open until the service starts to reduce touch points.
- You will be shown to your seat to ensure physical distancing and all seats will have been sanitised before the service.
- Please remain in your allocated seat and, at the end of the service, please remain seated until a steward indicates you may leave
- There will be no singing.
- All bibles and hymn books have been removed from the chairs.
- A collection plate will be available at the door as you enter.
- There will be no teas/coffees following the service.
The large Communion Table in Peterculter Church was 100 years old in April.
It was originally the Communion Table at St Peter’s Church and it bears the inscription:
“This Communion table is dedicated to the glory of God, and in loving remembrance of Alice Margaret, wife of Captain Holland, C.B., R.N., daughter of Theodore and Margaret B Crombie of Culter – 18th April 1920”.
Callum Stuart, from the Heritage Trust, recently undertook some research into the background to this inscription. Alice Margaret Crombie married Captain (later to be Rear-Admiral) Hubert Henry Holland on 14th February 1912. Daughters- Joan Kathleen Holland was born on 6th December 1912; Joycelyn Maud Holland was born 27th July 1917. A third daughter, Alice Margaret Holland arrived on 15th November 1918. Her mother, Alice Margaret Holland, died on 30th November 1918, just 2 weeks later. The obvious conclusion would be that this was as a result of childbirth – in fact Alice was a victim of the Spanish Flu which according to her death certificate she had been suffering with for 16 days. The communion table and chair were presented, by the Crombie’s of Culter, to remember her untimely death.
When Theodore Crombie died in 1922, the Rev. James L Thomson said:
“We think today especially of his great interest and help towards the work of the Church of Christ. He was a devoted member of the West Parish Church, Aberdeen, of which he was for many years an elder. We also know how interested he has been in this church, contributing generously to the organ fund, while he further greatly improved the church by the alterations carried out in the choir seating, and in the gift of the beautifully carved oak Communion table and chair in memory of his beloved daughter. We think, too, on the very special interest which in these days of feebleness he took in the erection and equipment of the new Recreation Hall.”
The Recreation Hall mentioned above is now the Village Hall.
Alice Margaret was engaged in 1939 and is pictured in the Society Pages- but the marriage does not seem to have taken place- instead she eventually married Philip Alexander Clement Bridgewater (1910-1979). He had a previous marriage to Ursula Vanda Maud Vivian, Countess of Glasgow. She was a decoder for SOE during the war in Italy, it stands for the Special Operations Executive
Alice, as you can see in the photograph below, lived to get her telegram from the Queen and died on 3 April 2019 in Tavistock, Devon.
John Ferguson attempts to answer the question, Is Christianity boring? read more…
I am writing to let you know that this Sunday’s online worship will be a bit different.
Congregations across Scotland will be joining together for a special Pentecost service. The Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, will be hosting the service which will include worship, prayers, music, a sermon, Bible readings, and will close with the Moderator’s wife Mrs Elaine Fair singing The Blessing. The Moderator is encouraging congregations and people of faith across Scotland, and beyond, to join together in worship as a whole church. Watch on the Church of Scotland Facebook page or on the Church of Scotland website at 10.00 am
At 10.30 am on the Aberdeen West Churches YouTube channel, we will have a service of worship from the local ministers for Pentecost.
From 11.00 am, a service to mark the union of the Union of the Presbyteries of Aberdeen and Shetland will be held and will be accessible via the following YouTube link https://youtu.be/XqKRyv-YkTU and also, from the Aberdeen Presbytery Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/aberdeenpresbytery/ The celebration will feature a virtual choir and orchestra leading “Hail Thee, Festival Day!” and “O Breath of Life” with input from the new Moderator of the United Presbytery, the Rev Hutton Steel and from the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair. The official Union of the two Presbyteries will take effect as of Monday 1st June 2020 and a service of Union will be held at a time when members of the united Presbyteries can meet together in person to share this important event.
Finally, from 12noon, there will be a special Pentecost online event called ‘Pentecost Not in the Park’, which will be a fun time for people of all ages on the Aberdeen West Churches YouTube channel.
I hope you can dip in and out of this, but all of the services will remain online for viewing at any time.
Please take the opportunity to have a look at the display in the extension window which Young Church has undertaken for Pentecost. Many thanks to the staff for doing this. There is a positivtree on the window (see attached) and you are invited to add to the tree this week with a note of something good you’ve done or had happen to you recently in these challenging times. Spread the positivity!
Can I also say a big thank you to everyone who has put FWO envelopes through the offcie door, taken out Standing Orders and given extra donations. This is greatly appreciated at this time of financial uncertainty. Thanks also to the many people donating to Instant Neighbour on Mondays from 11.00 am to 12 noon. The response from the village has been amazing.
It will still be quite some time before worship and activities can resume in the building and, when things do begin again, we will be phasing it in under certain conditions. I would envisage that it will be a good bit later in the year, but of course there is no predicting this given the unprecedented nature of this situation.
I do hope you are well and coping with the challenging times we are all living in.
With every blessing