Tenebrae

Come join us on Maundy Thursday as we journey through the events of the night that Jesus was betrayed.

Come join us on Maundy Thursday as we journey through the events of the night that Jesus was betrayed.

February Newsletter

.facebook_1486122006204Dear friends

I have probably said it a hundred times and will possibly say it a few hundred times more: “I love being a parish minister”.

Perhaps the main reason that I love being a parish minister is that this incredibly privileged position means our focus is already beyond the walls of our church, beyond the care of those in the congregation. This means I am a de facto missionary sharing and proclaiming the reign of God in this place, and on all the earth. By the same token, we are a congregation of missionaries sharing God’s love with the parish entrusted to us.

We do this through sharing our lives with our neighbours. We also do so financially. From time to time I hear people saying, “We ought to support missionaries financially” and as a congregation of the Church of Scotland, we consistently do so.

Each year, as a congregation we contribute to the Mission and Ministry (M & M) Fund of the Church of Scotland, from which money is drawn to pay stipends to ministers not only in Scotland, but throughout the world. In addition to paying stipends and overheads, somewhere in the region of 14% of what congregations contribute to the M & M Fund is used directly for worldwide mission work. Through your contributions, we contribute and are part of the wider work of the church.

To be fair, Liberton Northfield’s contribution to the M & M fund is lower than what we draw from the fund, and so in reality we are being subsidised by other congregations who invest in us as the church’s missionaries to this parish.

Apart from supporting other people in mission, we are missionaries ourselves. As a parish church, we are entrusted with fulfilling the Mission of God to the people in our parish, and the broad Church of Scotland stands with us and give us support and resources to achieve that mission. We are not just here to get people to sign up to go to heaven when they die. We are called by God to help to bring heaven to earth in this life.

As a parish minister, I feel humbled by the opportunity to engage with the breadth of religious belief in the parish. We are a broad church. The majority of funerals I conduct are to families with no fixed connection to Christianity or the church. In the sombreness of a family’s living room, we share the weight of grief together. As a parish minister I am also available to minister and support people of other faiths, without trying to proselytise them.

There are everyday things we can do to share God’s love and make people’s lives a little easier. Every once in a while I get to put my neighbours’ wheelie bin away. It may seem silly, but I want them to see that they are loved by us as ambassadors for God to the world.

What I find beautifully fulfilling about being a parish minister is that I have the opportunity to join in worship with Christians from a very broad range of traditions. We do not exclude folk who have Christian beliefs different to our own personal beliefs. We have space for conservative Christians, but we do not define ourselves as conservative. We have space for liberal Christians, but we do not restrict ourselves to being liberal. We embrace people from Free Church, Baptist, Congregational, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Pentecostal, Charismatic and a range of other Christian traditions, and are richly blessed by that diversity.

As a broad, national church, we have an obligation to foster opportunities for all these voices to be heard and respected. Rather than trying to drown out all the voices that don’t sound like our voice, we are to adjust our voices so that other voices may be heard. Our maturity as a national church is possibly most noticeable in our ability not only to tolerate those with whom we differ, but to deliberately honour and love each other.

Thank you for being a vital part of this amazing church.

Mike

 

A Christmas Prayer

 

I don’t know why I kept the newsletter for 30th December 2007, but I do think this article’s message is timeless, just change the places mentioned in the ‘joy’ paragraph for the many places plagued by war, terror, famine and natural disasters in 2015.
At our Christmas Day Service (2007) the following thought was shared with us regarding what we wanted for Christmas, and as we prepare to start a New Year, it would be good to hold on to these thoughts.

What do I want for Christmas?
Lord, the list is endless; so many things I wish for, so much my heart cries out for.
Here is my list, Lord.

First is hope.
I want hope to be reborn in so many weary souls, in a community sunk in apathy. I want hope in the holding centres of Zimbabwe, in the terrorised refugee camps of Darfur, on the winter slopes of the shattered mountains of Pakistan, on the fear-stalked streets of Baghdad, in the forgotten famine of Niger, in all places of despair – I want hope.

Next on my list is joy.
It’s a scarce commodity, Lord, but I want it to bubble up from way beneath the depths of the anguish, pain and grief that shape the stories of so many lives. I want joy for children who never have had cause to celebrate, and joy for those grown old and lonely. In place of sadness, grief and mourning – I want joy.

And then there’s peace, the most sought after and perhaps the most elusive gift of all, peace that is the healing balm for broken hearts and troubled minds, peace for countries torn apart by civil strife, peace between nations, a decommissioning of minds and hearts, so bridges may be built and new communities based on trust, respect and friendship may herald the dawn of a new day for our world. I all places of discord – I want peace.

You ask me what I want for Christmas, Lord. I want hope and joy and peace, but most of all it’s love I want, love for myself, for others and for You. Without it, all other gifts are rendered impotent.

I pause in my requests and in the stillness hear a voice,
“Why do you ask for what already has been given?
For Love was born at Christmas, and is forever present in my world, but you must first receive it before you pass it on. It is a gift that grows by sharing.”

At last I understand – I no longer have a list, just one request.

‘All I want for Christmas, Lord, is YOU.’

(Prepared by Rev. Doctor Ruth Patterson OBE)
Ian Messer

Dear Friends

Last night I went to a Presbytery meeting in Edinburgh, and felt like a kid dazzled by all the lights. I love Christmas, the sights, the sounds, the smells. This year for the first time in my life, we will sing carols about snow and sleigh rides and it will actually be cold with the potential for real snow.

Last night I was deeply moved as I listened to a report about the first 50 refugees who have been welcomed to Edinburgh. The report said that about half of those people are children. I can only imagine the horror those poor people have experienced in their search for safety and a chance to live normal lives. We have provided them with homes, medical care and placed them in schools. It is planned that 50 more people will arrive in January.

Last night I was very proud, of you. I felt so honoured that you are my neighbours, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Jesus. I was so proud to live in a city where caring for refugees is not seen as a chore that needs to be accepted, but rather as a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of real people.

Last night as I listened to that report, I heard an echo of Jesus from Matthew 25 where He said that when we feed the hungry and clothe the poor, we are actually feeding and clothing Him. I know that acts of kindness such as these are not without difficulties, and that they come at quite a high price. Our human nature is to ask, “What is in this for us?” Perhaps the cost of this expression of love with no immediate promise of reward is precisely what makes it so fantastic.

This Christmas, may God bless you as you have opened your city to others in the true spirit of Christmas.

Grace and peace.
Mike

Gift Day Service 13th Dec

SUNDAY 13th December

As we have done for the last two years, for the Gilmerton Family Centre, gifts should be suitable for children and for Bethany its gifts suitable to adults.

Services in December

Date Service
6th December Advent services at 11am and 6.30pm
13th December Gift Day Service at 11am, Carol Service at Tressilian Gardens at 3.30pm
20th December Family Nativity Service at 11am, Carols by Candlelight Service at 6.30pm
25th December Christmas Day Family Service at 10.30am
27th December Family Service at 11am

SEECAT Awareness Evening

SEECAT is holding an Information Evening on Children and Families in South Edinburgh on Monday 26th October from 7 – 9pm.
This will be in Liberton Kirk Centre, Kirkgate, and there will be light refreshments. Bethany Christian Trust and Safe Families for Children Scotland will be facilitating the evening along with someone from the Edinburgh South Social Work Team.
Do come along to discuss together how our churches can work with the community to strengthen and support families in our local area.

FAREWELL MESSAGE TO LIBERTON NORTHFILED PARISH CHURCH

 

Grace to you and peace from God who is, who was and who is to come!

We thank the Holy Triune God whose sustaining presence has brought us this far and for which we must be grateful. Almost two years ago on January 12th 2014, I began my ministry as Locum Minister here in Liberton Northfield Parish Church. In April 15th of the same year, Florence, Larry, Talitha-Zerah and Reuel-Gilead joined me, and on the 9th May 2014, Arielle was born. It is this family of six that you have had amongst you for almost two years and whom you have greatly supported and encouraged.

As we leave you for other assignments and following the appointment of Mike Taylor to full time ministry in the parish, I am aware of the mixed feelings that are in our heart as a family and possibly in the hearts of some parishioners! We have had a great time of ministry among you and so it is difficult for my family and I to say goodbye to you despite the compelling circumstances because of which we must go! I lack appropriate words to thank you for the love, kindness and support you have shown to us during these twenty-one months. Your love, constant love and lavish hospitality toward us has been extraordinary and we wonder how especially our children would cope without the friends and family they have now become so used to at Liberton Northfield Church. Through our shared worship and ministry I have had the privilege to experience God’s love, and the presence of the Risen Saviour in our midst. I have seen the Holy Spirit made manifest as we have prayed and studied the word of God together, Sunday by Sunday and I have been blessed to be able to visit some of you in your homes, baptise a new child, and to conduct funerals of those we have loved. For all these opportunities I thank God who gives us the strength and I thank you all for ministering with me and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am especially grateful to all of you who have visited, sent my family and I notes, cards, gifts in kind and cash-sometimes anonymously and e-mails. Many of you have been thanking God for having us and have affirmed my ministry on many occasions. All these have been of tremendous encouragement to us in this task of proclaiming God’s word in a new and different geo-cultural context. Your expressions of kindness and gestures of love mean more to me than you can ever imagine. Please know that we love you, our family will always love this church and will miss you terribly. Some of you have asked how you might be in touch with us. I can be reached at amosbongadu@gmail.com.

As we now separate, I wish to ask your forgiveness for any mistakes I might have made during my time here at Liberton Church and that may have caused any problems. I will always remain grateful for the ways my ministerial gifts have been acknowledged among you, and will forever carry with me all that I have learned and experienced, all of the love which in the end, is what needs to be remembered most here after.

I think the best way you can honour my brief ministry amongst you is to remain faithful to the revealed word of God through Jesus Christ, to support this parish and the new minister-Mike Taylor. It is my sincere prayer that the Liberton Northfield Parish Church will remain a citadel of God’s dwelling, a beacon of hope for the dispossessed of society and a jewel in the midst of gold. Therefore be strong and of good courage and be the church that is truly alive for ‘…I am confident that the one who began the good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 1:3-6).

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us now and forever more.

Yours in the service of the Kingdom,

Peace,

Rev. Amos Bongadu Chewachong.

02/09/2015