Forian – to go, to journey; to set out

In October 2015 I was ‘set apart’ as a Reader in the Church of Scotland. During my training I was involved in ministry in several churches where I gained a broad range of experience leading services, organising worship, running Bible studies, visiting schools and doing pastoral care.  Readers are usually attached to a charge, working regularly with one congregation but they can also engage in chaplaincy work or act as a locum during vacancies.

Earlier this year I approached Fiona Mathison, the chair of the Ministry Committee for Edinburgh Presbytery, to seek her advice as to how I could consolidate and build on the experience I had gained during my training. She suggested one option was to be attached to a church for a period of time. She approached the Reverend Dr Karen Campbell, the Minister at Marchmont/St Giles, and she agreed to take me for ten hours a week for four months. Since I started in May I have been involved in the Sunday morning services, the Thursday Mother and Toddler group, pastoral visiting, leading the Bible study and taking services at St Raphaels’ Care Home. I’ve also provided Pulpit Supply at St Michael’s Slateford and Carrick Knowe Parish Church. The experience has given me the opportunity to see how different churches approach things, especially the Sunday morning service. Karen Campbell has been very encouraging, and I appreciate all the advice and support she has given me as I seek the Lord’s will as to what my next step should be.

Kate Jackson

Film Night

These nights are held on the second Tuesday of the month in the Falconer Hall. We begin at 7.00pm with tea/coffee to get settled for the film which commences at 7.15pm; there is no charge for the evening event and you can bring a friend, or as many friends as you like. If you have any suggestions for a film, talk to Sandy or Marie Sneddon, December is still to be decided!

The August film is:
Tuesday 14th August, Gran Torino
Gran Torino is a 2008 American drama film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Christopher Carley, Bee Vang and Ahney Her. This was Eastwood’s first starring role since 2004’s Million Dollar Baby. The film features a large Hmong American cast, as well as one of Eastwood’s younger sons, Scott. Eastwood’s oldest son, Kyle, provided the score. Gran Torino opened via a limited theatrical release in North America on December 12, 2008, and later to a worldwide release on January 9, 2009. Set in Detroit, Michigan, it is the first mainstream American film to feature Hmong Americans. Many Lao Hmong war refugees resettled in the U.S. following the communist takeover of Laos in 1975.

COMING SOON: 
11th September, God’s not Dead (2014)

God’s Not Dead is a 2014 American Christian drama film directed by Harold Cronk, it was released theatrically on March 21, 2014. Written by Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, and based on Rice Broocks’ book God’s Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty, it received mostly negative reviews, but grossed over $62 million on a $2 million budget.

The Plot:
Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), an evangelical college student, enrolls in a philosophy class taught by Professor Jeffrey Radisson (Kevin Sorbo), an atheist, who demands his students sign a declaration that “God is dead” to pass. Josh is the only student who refuses to sign. Radisson requires Josh to debate the topic with him but agrees to let the class members decide the winner. Josh’s girlfriend Kara (Cassidy Gifford) demands Josh either sign the statement “God is dead” or drop Radisson’s class, because standing up to Radisson will jeopardize their academic future. Kara breaks up with Josh for insisting on confessing his belief in God. Radisson gives Josh twenty minutes at the end of the first three lecture sessions to argue that God exists…. Come and see how Josh gets on!

August Message

Dear friends,
These past few weeks have been some of the hottest on record. We have been baking as a country. Either you will have loved the weather and enjoyed being outdoors, or you have struggled with the excessive heat and retreated indoors. We as a family have been enjoying the weather. We have opened our lounge doors and gained a whole new room to the house as we have let the outside in. Andrew and Maria have particularly enjoyed playing with water pistols and running through the sprinkler to cool off.

Yet there is cost to all this heat isn’t there? As lovely as it is, it is far from normal for us as a nation and certainly not this far north in Scotland. Humanity is having an effect on the planet and we are not taking care of it, as seen in our recent heatwave.

The psalmist wrote:
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Psalm 24:1

I sometimes wonder how well we look after His creation. We just have to go for a walk in our own neighbourhood and we will find crisp packets, cigarette boxes, cans, paper and who knows what else. Head to the beach and see what has been washed up! Or how about the provoking images from Blue Planet recently that showed us the devastation in our oceans caused by humanity? How are we following Jesus’ commandment to:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37
i
f we don’t take care of His creation and respect all that He gave us? Dropping our litter and ignoring His creation is not loving Him. To love God with all our heart calls us to witness against the destruction of God’s good creation. This planet is not ours, but as the Psalmist writes it is our loving Fathers. We are left to care for it. I know that we can’t stop climate change tomorrow, nor can we change the whole world, however we can change our own little worlds. Why not when we go out for a walk on the beach, along the canal to the shops or even on our way to church, pick up just three pieces of litter? If we all did that, can you imagine the impact we could have especially if three of our friends joined us? As you do it know that you are loving God and caring for His creation with your whole heart! In doing so we will be turning our hearts towards God as we care for His creation and remind ourselves and those around us that:

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Psalm 24:1

With every blessing,
Iain

Film Club

These nights are held on the second Tuesday of the month in the Falconer Hall. We begin at 7.00pm with tea/coffee to get settled for the film which commences at 7.15pm; there is no charge for the evening event and you can bring a friend, or as many friends as you like. If you have any suggestions for a film, talk to Sandy or Marie Sneddon, December is still to be decided!


COMING SOON: 
Tuesday 14th August, Gran Torino

Gran Torino is a 2008 American drama film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Christopher Carley, Bee Vang and Ahney Her. This was Eastwood’s first starring role since 2004’s Million Dollar Baby. The film features a large Hmong American cast, as well as one of Eastwood’s younger sons, Scott. Eastwood’s oldest son, Kyle, provided the score. Gran Torino opened via a limited theatrical release in North America on December 12, 2008, and later to a worldwide release on January 9, 2009. Set in Detroit, Michigan, it is the first mainstream American film to feature Hmong Americans. Many Lao Hmong war refugees resettled in the U.S. following the communist takeover of Laos in 1975.

FUTHER OUT:
11th September, God is not Dead (2014)
9th October, War Room
13th November, Journey’s End
11th December, TBC
8th January 2019, 2001 A Space Odyssey – 50th Anniversary

Community Event

On Sunday 26th August, at 4pm, we are having a community event at Liberton Northfield Church. There will be food, including a barbecue, and a chance to relax and talk to people in the community who do not usually come to church. This will be followed by a “Songs of Praise Service” at 6pm.
Everyone is most welcome to come.

Loving the Not-So-Easily Lovable 

Loving the Not-So-Easily Lovable
Editor’s note: On reading the below article I was reminded of two sermons by Robin Taylor on Love and Unforgiveness and its destructive force.

I have just returned from listening to a sermon on “Grace”.  Oh my goodness! – how hard it is to rationalise ‘this mystical gift’ against ‘justice’ and the way so many of us are led to think today.

I thought immediately of my own lack of grace – of any ‘mystical gift’ having been bestowed upon me within the specific realms of loving a particular neighbour who lives very close by to where I do.  I know I should love her, no matter what.  But I find it so incredibly hard to love someone who chooses continually to view the world in a negative light; who remembers wrong-doings with far greater clarity and a vengeance – the unfortunate incidents which have occurred in her life.  She is one who clings onto them ‘lest ye forget’, and when you wave and say ‘Hello!’ to her on a sunny Saturday afternoon, she merely ‘looks through you’ with a blank expression, though I know she has heard me.

The poor old woman is acknowledgeably a genetic wreck, having smoked her way into deep ‘old age’ long before her time, but also assisted by unfortunate genes which leave her looking far older than a woman 15 years her senior.  I am certain that if she allowed herself to see a wee bit more ‘sunshine’ – that is, positivity – looking for the good in life, lifting herself up by reaching up as high as she could to pluck even one tiny ray from that great, generous, yellow ball in the sky – her heart would become instantly warmed; her appearance would soften and – of this I am absolutely certain – she would banish the loneliness that her disposition encourages.  Other neighbours and beyond would seek more willingly to share time with her, listening to stories of her varied life which has really been touched by many blessings….. reaching back to her strong and healthy youth, which, by a large degree, she threw away.  She may even venture to offer you a cup of tea when you pop in to visit her, whilst she sips at her own…..

Mabel is not an isolated case.  There are lots of people out there who are not so easy to love.  They close themselves off and shut the world out.  It is difficult to approach them without feeling somewhat of an intruder in their dark, blurred and lonely lives that often have been self-created through a bad attitude towards accepting the very Gift of Life, even if it is not entirely bursting with vitality.  I am certain that the opportunity nevertheless exists.

I think of my beautiful friend Jesamine, who, at 94, is a true example of ‘grace’.  She is a quiet woman, an essential lady, of very ordinary means, possessing a quality that immediately attracts respect.  She has lived a useful, fruitful life, embracing simplicity, and gratitude for what has been given to her.  Her family adore her; she attracts people to her because of her gentle approach.  You could even imagine her peeping up from under her sunhat to shade her eyes from that brilliant sunshine that finds its way into her heart.  We sing together when I visit her – favourite old hymns that she has chosen – she has a sweet voice – and we pray together.  I take her fragile hand, gnarled with age….a hand that has done a lifetime’s work of every nature (….if only hands could talk!).

She is an essentially quiet woman, similar to Mabel, but she is in no way brooding: she believes that Life is far too short to cling to the adverse elements that will inevitably beset every life well-lived.  As soon as I arrive to visit her, her hospitable nature is at the fore: she offers me a cup of tea and insists on preparing it herself, even though she has difficulty moving without the aid of her ‘walker’, and only has 40% vision in one eye, the other now totally blind.  I have no doubt that the sun finds its way into her heart almost every day of the year – even when it’s snowing outside, and there may be fewer folk for her to welcome in, even for just a couple of hours.  I love Jesamine.  Her memory will live in my heart forever.  She is easy to love.

But one of the BIG challenges of life is learning to love someone like Mabel, which we are really commanded to do:

Going into a home, no matter what its condition – or what it may smell of; doing a bit of homebaking, wrapping it carefully and tying it up with a fresh piece of ribbon, or pretty cellophane that you may have saved from a bouquet of flowers which you bought, or were given; taking a magazine you know she will enjoy, if she is still able to read……. even if she casts it to one side; or taking left-over balls of wool which you may have, knowing she is a knitter and could possibly make use of them.  Offering to wash her windows.  And, the inevitable but always welcome, taking her a bowl of homemade soup – it must be homemade, even if it is from all your leftover vegies from the week!

You could even offer to put the kettle on, and share a cuppa with her – now that would be a first!….

Love – like ‘Grace’ –  is something that one can only define by the way it moves unseen, and touches people’s lives by its profound effect.  Loving the seemingly ‘unlovable’ is something we need to keep in the forefront of our minds, on a daily basis.  We don’t have to move in and live with that person, much less try to convert them.  But I do believe we are called to see them as another one of God’s essential creations, and however hard it may be to love them, just one small deed of kindness towards them – putting self behind for just an hour or two here and there – will help to keep the world turning around in the right direction.

Kathleen Munroe

Community Event. 

Community Event.
We are planning to hold a community event at Liberton Northfield Church on Sunday 26th August – probably a barbecue followed by a ‘Songs of Praise’ service to which the community will be invited.

On the three Sunday evenings prior to this, that is, on the first three Sunday evenings in August, at 6.30pm, we intend to have Community Encounter visits similar to the last two years, when we would go around the parish distributing leaflets inviting people to come to this event.

On Sunday 29th July at 6.30pm we will meet to pray for this event and talk about what we will do.

It would be good to have a good number of people from the congregation coming to this, to welcome and talk to people in the community. Anyone interested in helping with the barbecue/setting up, please see Alasdair Mcleod.

Trailblazer Leader Meeting

Trailblazer Leader Meeting
Tuesday 24th July at 7.30pm at Jenny’s house (27 Ellangowan Terrace)

If you think being a Leader or a Helper at Trailblazers is something you would be interested in, then we would love to hear from you.  The more people willing to help, the bigger opportunity for the Trailblazer team to attend services.  Whether it’s once a month, twice a month or even once every six weeks, every little helps.  If you would like to chat about it more, then I would love to hear from you, my email is: jenthomasi@yahoo.co.uk or my mobile number is 07894056216.

We hope you all have a great summer whether it is a stay vacation or an adventure further afield.

God Bless
Jenny Thomasi and all the Trailblazer Leaders

Note on Claverhouse Conversation, 16th June 2018

Note on Claverhouse Conversation, 16th June 2018
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” Philippians (2, 3-5)

On Saturday 16 June, we had a “Claverhouse Conversation with Ourselves”. About 40 of us mingled over breakfast and got to know each other a bit better, which many of us really appreciated. We chatted in pairs and at tables, finding ways to open up about our feelings, and many points of view were expressed. Some were positive and hopeful about the future. Others were frustrated, sad, hurt and uncertain – and concerned about the survival of the congregation at Liberton Northfield. There was a lot of honesty about differences and even perceived divisions within the congregation. There were some who needed the traditional hymns and structure; others preferred the more modern songs and flexibility.
Some wanted the congregation to move on, to change. Others wished we could return to how it had been before. There were feelings both of disconnection and of welcome. A real mixture. Some expressed their sense of guilt (“what if I had done more?”) and loss of energy and, at the same time, others felt excited about the future, sensing God being with us in the journey.
Many of us felt relief to be talking about these things, and there a strong desire to learn as a congregation from what had happened in the months before. Perhaps above all we recognised the importance of communicating with each other, fellowship, love and support for each other, of mixing, and acknowledging our diversity and the need for tolerance of different opinions, styles and interpretations. We could see light at the end of what seemed, for some, a rather dark tunnel.
We noted the forthcoming 150th anniversary of Liberton Northfield, taking place in 2019, and the relevance of the words with which the meeting opened: “There is no us and them, only us”. “We have so much more in common than ever divides us”. Others appreciated the words: “We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing.”
It seemed that kindness was the key: “Any good that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to a fellow human being, let me do it now, let me not defer or neglect it. I may not pass this way again.”

The words: “When you don’t know what to do, do the kindest thing” were a good way to end our morning, as we said the Grace together and gave thanks for the opportunity to spend time in this way.
John Sturrock

Session are grateful to John Sturrock for facilitating this Conversation and look forward to working with everyone in the congregation to build on this over the coming months. The feelings noted in John’s reflection above may well resonate with those of you who weren’t able to attend, and there may be other thoughts to consider also. Session invite you all to spend some time this summer reflecting and praying about the feelings expressed at the Conversation. Session anticipate holding an event in the autumn to take this further forward.
Rev Gordon Kennedy – Interim Moderator
Margaret Padfield – Session Clerk”

For your diaries

For your diaries
Saturday 11th August – Back to school event: 11.30-1.30pm
Sunday 19th August – Back to school family service: 11.00-12.15pm

Film Club

These nights are held on the second Tuesday of the month in the Falconer Hall. We begin at 7.00pm with tea/coffee to get settled for the film which commences at 7.15pm; there is no charge for the evening event and you can bring a friend, or as many friends as you like. If you have any suggestions for a film, talk to Sandy or Marie Sneddon, December is still to be decided!

The July film is:
Tuesday 10th July, Terms of Endearment  (PG)
Terms of Endearment is a 1983 American comedy-drama film adapted from Larry McMurtry‘s 1975 novel, directed, written, and produced by James L. Brooks and starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow. The film covers 30 years of the relationship between Aurora Greenway (MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Winger).

Dear new friends,

Dear new friends,

It is a wonderful blessing to be able to join your family here at Liberton Northfield. These past weeks, as many of you will know, have been eventful in our household as we welcomed three more children into our family. On 30th May we welcomed Lily, Richard and William into the world. They join Maria (2) and Andrew (4.5) to give us 5 beautiful and adventurous children under 5. We have become that family that everyone talks about!

 

So, who are we? Well, Celeste and I have been married 6 years this year. We met in Amsterdam where I worked for 8 years. After a couple of years in Amsterdam we moved to Edinburgh.  Celeste is a full-time mother and I am in my last year of studies at New College. I have finished all my placements and this year have the time to concentrate on my dissertation.

One of the great things we have found about parenthood is the amazing books that we get to read to our children every day. At the moment one of the favourite bedtime stories is called ‘You are Special’ by Max Lucado. The story follows the life of the small wooden people called the Wemmicks who put golden star stickers and grey dot stickers on each other all day long. Those who are talented, beautiful and liked get golden star stickers while those who struggle to find the right words, are chipped or looking a little worn get grey dots. Punchinello is a sad Wemmick as he receives grey dots all day long and he believes something must be really wrong with him. However, eventually he finds himself at the carpenter’s workshop and while debating whether to go in, the carpenter calls out his name and he is shocked that the carpenter would know HIS name. It is there that Punchinello is encouraged to see himself as special. He learns that the carpenter isn’t concerned with what other Wemmicks think and neither should he be.

Jesus reminds us in the Gospels time and time again that he came for all, he ate with those who society rejected and his disciples were ordinary men, not learned scholars. Throughout the Bible, God uses the unexpected in society and like the carpenter in the story he sees past all that the world finds important to see us for who we really are. We are told in Ephesians:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ.” Ephesians 2:10

We are ALL Gods handiwork, not all of us are called to be artists or teachers or scientists but we are all created by our loving Father and he doesn’t make mistakes. We all have a part to play, we need to turn our focus away from the world and start believing that we are not mistakes, rather we are masterpieces created by an awesome God who loves each and every one of us.

We look forward to our time with you and the adventure that God has for all of us.

With every Blessing,
Iain

Let us Build a House: A Visit to Nepal

Let us Build a House: A Visit to Nepal

In April 2018 I was part of a group of 18 people from congregations throughout Scotland who visited our partner organisation, the United Mission to Nepal (UMN) to see life in communities affected by the 2015 earthquake and how they are responding and rebuilding their lives and their communities.

At 11.55 on 25 April 2015 people in Nepal were getting on with their lives. In rural areas families were working in fields, in the towns and cities people were working and shopping. Many Christians were in church as that is the normal day for worship in the Himalayan country.

A minute later a devastating earthquake struck the centre of the country. The initial quake lasted 45 seconds. Buildings shook, walls cracked, thick dust rose from mountains, roads and bridges were destroyed.  In some areas almost every building was damaged or destroyed – thousands of houses, schools, and clinics reduced to rubble.

Nine thousand people died, another 22,000 were injured in the worst natural disaster in Nepal for over 80 years.

A month later Rev Ram Kumar Budhatokhi was a delegate at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. He spoke about how he was leading worship at a church in Kathmandu when the building started shaking and everyone fled in fear. Moved by Ram Kumar’s testimony the General Assembly instructed the World Mission Council to assist our partners in Nepal respond to the emergency.

Each of the Kirk’s 42 presbyteries was challenged to raise £500, the nominal cost of rebuilding a house. World Mission Council hoped to raise maybe £25-30,000. The response was overwhelming. Presbyteries and congregations responded with the largest ever amount of money ever raised for a single project, an astonishing £310,000.

The Church of Scotland was one of the founders of United Mission to Nepal (UMN) in 1954 and is still a partner. UMN quickly swung into action with a relief effort that delivered food, shelter and medical supplies to 12,000 families communities in Dhading District, about a three-hour drive from Kathmandu. UMN has worked there since 2005 so was already well known, even in the more remote parts of the district. During our visit we saw some of the amazing work being done by UMN and its local partners Prayas and HIMS.

After an orientation session with UMN staff in their Cluster Office eleven of us piled into 4 x 4 vehicles. It took four hours on dirt roads and river beds to travel 45 KM to Dundure where the road ended.

We adjusted our walking poles and set off for Kalangmarang, a small hillside village where we would spend our first night. We walked for four hours. A torrential downpour meant we couldn’t visit a drinking water scheme as the path would be too muddy and slippery. We were relieved to reach Kalangmarang just as it got dark as we had been walking up steep paths for most of the afternoon.

Next morning, we saw around the village – even that was hard going as the village was on the side of a steep hill so visiting the two new schools, drinking water scheme and church was tiring. We were introduced to Menja Tamang, a village elder who had donated land for the new Middle School. He was delighted with the smart new building, calling it “a palace” in comparison to the previous building which collapsed in the earthquake. We met a young woman whose leg was crushed when the church wall collapsed on her. She still hobbles around on crutches.

For four days we trekked up and down steep paths, several kilometres of them rebuilt by UMN and their local partner HIMS. We crossed the Mankhu River three times on rebuilt footbridges. We passed a rehabilitated micro hydro power plant that powered a sawmill and rice mills. The government of Nepal has asked UMN to rebuild 55 schools and we saw several buildings and classroom blocks, each built with an earthquake resistant designed. Each school also had a new latrine block to improve hygiene.

In villages we stayed in and passed through we saw more evidence of UMN’s work to improve the lives of the communities in north Dhading. New cash crops like cardamom had been introduced, each household was encouraged to build their own hygienic latrine, safe drinking water supplies had been installed – we always took the chance to fill up our water bottles when we passed a tap.

One highlight was the church service in Eve. There was a real sense of fellowship as we joined the local congregation in the rebuilt, if not quite finished church building. One of the ministers in our group, Stuart Duff, was asked to preach. We were asked to sing a song and we gave a rendition of Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart. Immediately we finished the congregation sang the same song in Nepali! Although we couldn’t understand each other very well we knew we shared the same faith and worshipped the same Lord.

Eve Church Service

Our accommodation on the trek was basic by Scottish standards. We slept on mats on the upper floors of houses, used outdoor Asian squat latrines, maybe managed a wash in cold water in the morning. We ate simple Nepali food – rice, lentils, vegetables – served to us by our hosts. We experienced a little of what life is like in isolated communities in Nepal. The trekking was arduous at times, some of the group struggled with the limited diet, but we were always aware of the immense privilege of being able to visit these communities.

Most of the places we visited are not even on the map. Yet in Kalangmarang, Tawal, and Ewe we saw churches and schools, families and farmers. We saw resilience and resourcefulness. We saw people rebuilding their lives and their communities. We saw United Mission to Nepal and HIMS using money sent from Scotland to train people, to rebuild infrastructure and communities.

The View North Towards Ganesh Himal
Sandy Sneddon