Dear Friends

The name Peter Drucker may be familiar to you if you are a student of business or economics. To put it simply, his books made a big impact by the fresh way he looked at things. His writings include Managing for Results, The New Society and The Effective Executive. For over a generation he taught in the leading universities of America but his writings were well known in Europe and further afield.

He once wrote: “Progress is obtained only by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems. When you solve problems, all you do is guarantee a return to normalcy.” It is a statement worth pondering. Most of us spend most of our time solving problems, and in so doing, we think we are making progress. In actual fact, merely solving a problem only returns us to the status quo. The same is true of every human endeavour. We spend most of our time solving problems and wondering why we don’t make any progress.

It is no less true when we come into the church. The biggest part of our energy is spent solving problems, putting out fires and sticking our finger in the dyke to hold back the onrushing water. Problem-solving is important, even crucial, but it is not progress. Progress comes only when you exploit opportunities.

This month we will celebrate both Ascension Day (on a Thursday so often overlooked!) and Pentecost. This is when God started to do things differently. Christ’s return to glory, the gift of the Spirit and the birth of the Church would unleash a movement that turned the world upside down. Although its roots were in the past, and it drew from its rich heritage and history in the Old Testament, new ways of working had to be devised almost from day to day. It was not always an easy ride and there was no masterplan to follow. However, the early church had a clear vision of the way ahead.  They knew what needed to be done and simply got on and tried to do it, building up experience and insight as they went. God raised key leaders and the people gladly followed.
May God help us to see the opportunities around us and to have the courage and the faith to seize the moment believing that God will be with us as we go forward in Christ’s name and in the Spirit’s strength and wisdom.

Rev Colin Sinclair, Interim Moderator

Heart and Soul – Message from Rev Bryan Kerr

Minister, Greyfriars Parish Church, Lanark
Dear colleague,
I would like to invite you and members of your congregation to Heart and Soul 2018, taking place on Sunday 20 May from 12:30 – 6pm, Princes Street Gardens. We hope and pray that this eighth annual event will again be a true celebration of the Church within the centre of our capital city. For the first time, as part of the Year of Young People, we are also hosting a free youth event in the Gardens on Saturday 19 May from 7-9pm.


Visitors will notice significant changes to the event in 2018. As well as reflections and ideas from organisations and congregations of the Kirk on the theme of ‘Peace be with you!’, those who attend will experience a change to the layout of the park. Instead of tents lining the avenues, several meandering paths into new villages have been created to draw visitors into the tents, away from the avenues. Great care has been taken to ensure that all the villages are accessible for those with mobility issues.


We would like to encourage you to invite Sunday Schools and families to join us at our new Family Stage where we will be hosting a giant picnic with Fischy music, games, stories and lots of fun from 12:30 – 3pm. As the theme of the event is ‘Peace be with you!’ we are encouraging everyone to … ‘Bring Your Piece’ and join us at the picnic.


The youth event on Saturday evening will be something very special. We are working in collaboration with Powerpoint Scotland and have invited the Christian EDM group LZ7, to play for an event which aims to attract up to 1,000 young people for a mix of live music, enthusiastic & exciting worship and fellowship.


In another ‘first’ for this year’s event we are hosting the “In Conversation” tent. It will feature a timetable of interesting talks with contributions from Sally Magnusson; Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood OBE with Louise MacDonald (Young Scot); Ross Greer MSP with Very Rev Dr Derek Browning and Robin Downie; Anna Magnusson with Rev Dr Margaret Forrester; and Scots in Great War London Group. Church Elder and BBC’s Hugh Pym will host “In Conversation”.


Add in to all of that over 60 congregation and exhibitors sharing their work and ministry, a packed Main Stage programme of bands and drama, Peace @ St. Cuthbert’s Church, a massed worship service at 5pm in the Ross Bandstand and thousands of people to meet and talk to we hope and pray that there is truly something for everyone at Heart and Soul.


I would invite you to share this information with your congregation, children’s leaders, youth leaders and any others you feel might be interested. If you feel able, it would be wonderful if you were able to share some of the information of the event in your weekly sheets, or congregational emails.


For more information I would encourage you to visit our website

Christmas Services 2017 – all welcome

Sunday 10thDecember 11.00am Gift Service
3.00pm Carols at Tressilian
Sunday 17thDecember 11.00am Nativity Service
6.30pm Carols by Candlelight
Sunday 24thDecember 11.00am Family Service
11.00pm Watchnight Service
Monday 25thDecember 10.30am Christmas Day Family Service

Claverhouse Conversation with John Chalmers

For our next Claverhouse Conversation we welcome the Very Rev John Chalmers, former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

John will talk not only about his time in leadership in the church, the people he has met and the future of religion, but also his other life-changing experiences such as the dreadful injuries sustained by his son JJ as a marine in Afghanistan – and the impact on John and his family.

John is a great story-teller and wise observer of how the church is faring in the modern world. Not to be missed!

Great food from 9am and fellowship to be enjoyed. All welcome, regardless of where you come from and what you believe.

Date: 17 June
Time: 9-11am
Place: Liberton Northfield Church, 280 Gilmerton Road, EH16 5UR
Cost: recommended donation of £5, but don’t let that stop you coming along.
RSVP by text to 07479985075, or email

Why Didn’t We Have This Conversation A Year Ago?

Do you ever find yourself saying, “Why Didn’t We Have This Conversation A Year Ago”?
Or maybe you can’t bring yourself to have the conversation and the relationship slips away.

If you say “Yes” to any of the following questions, maybe this event is for you.
• Have you got someone you find it difficult to talk to?
• Do you worry about offending people and avoid raising important matters?
• Have you ever felt hurt or angry and unable to say so?
• Is there a difficult family situation which needs talking about?
• Or a neighbour you haven’t spoken to for years?

We all experience strained relationships from time to time, so we invite you to join us on Saturday 27th May for breakfast and some coaching from John Sturrock about having better conversations in those difficult situations.

John spends his professional life helping people deal with tough conflicts and unresolved disputes. He will lead us through this workshop with plenty of practical, real-life tips- and a few stories too.

Date: 27 May
Time: 9-11am
Place: Liberton Northfield Church, 280 Gilmerton Road, EH16 5UR
Cost: recommended donation of £5, but don’t let that stop you coming along.
RSVP in the comments, or email

An introduction to Tenebrae

The Tenebrae service which we participate in this evening has been celebrated since early in the 4th century. Tenebrae is a Latin word and it means either darkness or shadows. It speaks of the shadows which closed in on Jesus as the evening passed into night, and the new day brought death on the cross, deserted by his followers. The lighted candles are used as symbols of the disciples who were with Jesus. The darkness and shadows represent the darkness that covered the earth when Jesus died.
The evening starts with a cup of tea and fellowship, catching up on the news and sharing a joke.
The reason we do this is that this is exactly how things started on the night Jesus was betrayed. He went into the Upper Room with his disciples where they sat and ate dinner, enjoying being together, enjoying each other’s company.
In this atmosphere of fellowship, as they sat around the dinner table, Jesus instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion.
After he served Holy Communion to his disciples, Jesus stripped off his outer garments and took a bowl of water and washed his disciples’ feet. You may well feel anxious about having someone wash your feet this evening, even in the Upper Room Peter felt anxious, but remember what Jesus said to Him, “Unless I wash your feet you can have no part of me”.
As we allow our feet to be washed, we are surrendering to being a part of the body of Christ.
After he had washed his disciples’ feet, Judas left and Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane.
After the foot washing, we will light the candles on the table and turn out all the lights. As the readers read to us the biblical record of that night, they will extinguish the candles in front of them to symbolise the advancing darkness, the encroaching shadows that overcame Jesus, due to the increasing hatred of his enemies, the collapse of loyalty among his disciples, and the looming shadow of suffering and death.
At last the central candle, which is known as the Christ Candle and symbolises the life of Jesus, will also be extinguished. This symbolises the death of Jesus. It is the moment of truth for us as we contemplate Jesus’ death for our salvation. It is a time when we face our own need for repentance and renewal.
In the darkness we will listen to a solo woman sing, and we remember that it was the women who cared for Jesus who were the last to leave as he was laid in the tomb of one of his followers, all alone.
After a brief pause the Christ candle will be lit again in prophetic hope of the coming Easter dawn.
After it is relit, we will leave the church in silence and sombreness.


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.



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.