Weekly Newsletter - 21st May 2020
Thursday 21st May is Ascension Day, marking the end of Jesus’ earthly days - forty days beyond Easter; ten days before Pentecost. Archbishop Desmond Tutu once reminded an Ascension Day congregation that worship, “...however beautiful an echo of heaven, is not there to lead us away from earth.” He drew attention to the question put to the disciples on the original Ascension Day: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven?” The task(s) of love lie here before us.
The story of Jesus’ departure/ascension into heaven is paradoxically the doorway to the promise, that from now on, we can trust in and enjoy his abiding presence. For the ascended Christ, there is now no place he cannot accompany us. Yet, there is an absence. Paula Gooder, a contemporary theologian concludes, this absence is a vital ingredient in our call to mission.
She gives an example from her own experience of congregational life. She moved from a church where there was a great deal of congregational involvement to a church where there was very little. At the new church they begged her to teach the Sunday school. She blanched. Sunday school was not her forte – but they were desperate, really, really desperate. She agreed. As she suspected, she wasn’t particularly good. What mattered was she gave it a go. Another member of the congregation noticed that she was struggling; she offered some help. “We discovered that together we made a rather good team. None of this would have happened however, without the desperation of absence.” (Gooder, This Risen Existence p96-98)
Rather than looking up, waiting for something to happen, or harking back to how it used to be, the Disciples are called to walk the way of Jesus now. As we seek, in the words of the new Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, to reimagine church in the light of Covid-19, may we have the courage to live, knowing the presence of God, and the commitment to live, knowing his absence. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven?”
May your spirit be raised this Ascensiontide.
St Columba’s, Pont Street, 21st May 2020
The Church Office is currently staffed from home. Office Hours 9am to 4pm.
Contact details remain;
Tel: 020 7584 2321
Twitter: @LondonKirk Pastoral Emergency Number (out of office hours): 07591926271
Live Streaming of Worship – Sunday 24th May 2020, 11am
The live stream service continues this Sunday at 11am. Music begins from 10.50am. The service can be watched via the church website, https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/livestream at 11am. The services from Holy Week are also available via the website. To access the live stream from the homepage (front page) click the Menu button in the top right-hand side of the page and scroll down and click on “Live Stream”. This will bring up the live stream to the church. The act of worship of approximately 50 minutes, includes include prayers, a sermon and music. (Note: This will not be public worship that everyone can attend, but an offering of prayer and praise, on behalf of us all.) The words for the hymns will be on the website.
NEW Dial into Sunday Service.
If you are aware of church members or friends who do not have access to internet please inform them that they can now phone into join the Sunday service. No visuals clearly, but at least they can hear the service. Those interested should follow: Step 1: At 10.40am call phone number 0203 051 2874. Step 2: You will be prompted to enter a meeting ID. Please type (using your telephone keypad) 253 958 1316# Step 3: You will then be asked for a participant number - simply press the #. Step 4: Enjoy the service! You will hear Ben's organ music from 10.50am.
Poetry & Silent Prayer for Sundays
For some years now a small group of church members have met on the second Sunday of each month, between 10.15-10.30am, in the London Scottish Regimental Chapel. Primarily, this monthly gathering has been the opportunity to pray for the life and ministry of St Columba’s. Each year, during Advent and Lent, the meetings expand and change somewhat. Prayer is encouraged by a short piece of scripture, a poem and then a time of silent prayer. During lockdown, those who would normally gather in the London Scottish Chapel have been encouraged to maintain a pattern of praying at their usual Sunday time. Praying with others, especially when keeping silence, is definitely easier when done with companions! The group would now like to make the resources they receive each week available to a wider audience, via the newsletter and the website. So, starting this week the prayers and poem for Silent Prayer are at the end of the newsletter, and will also appear on the Live Stream page of the website. We hope this will encourage people to find time and space for some precious quiet prayer and offer prayers for the ongoing life of our congregations and nations.
The Big Weekend: Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th May: Installation of the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland & Online Heart & Soul 2020
Congratulations to those involved in the events of last weekend. Special mention in dispatches to St Columba’s elders, Susan and Hugh Pym, and St Columba’s member, Revd Andrew Anderson. If you missed the broadcasts you can still enjoy them on catch-up, via the Church of Scotland website.
As the planners of Heart & Soul commented before the event, “these are difficult times for many in our Church and communities. We hope and pray that ‘Heart and Soul’ might be a place where people can see that the Church of Scotland is still active, still open and providing hope for our nation.” They proved that beyond a shadow of doubt.
Maintaining Community and Supporting Each Other
Everybody can play a part in maintaining contact with others via telephone, e-mail or letter, especially those who are particularly vulnerable. Our Elders are encouraged to make contact with those in their districts, and church members are welcome to contact the church office to request a contact from their elder or the Minister.
“We Are Church”
Every organisation and household is affected by the current economic and social disruption. While we are unable to meet for worship and cannot allow groups to hire and meet in our facilities, we have to maintain the building and meet ongoing, significant financial commitments for the wider Church of Scotland. Please consider your offerings to the ongoing work of St Columba’s.
If you would like to give a one-time gift to St Columba’s you can do this easily through our online giving platform [Online Donation]. The currency automatically defaults to USD but you can use the drop-down arrow to select GBP.
*Please note that there is no need to pay the administration cost that Just Giving ask for. It does not benefit the church in any way. (Using the drop-down menu choose 0%).
If you would like to give a weekly, monthly or quarterly gift, the most efficient way of doing this is setting up a standing order to the church. The Church Office can send you a Congregational Offerings standing order form to fill in, which you can return to the church (we will post to your bank).
Alternatively, if it is easier to set the standing order up directly with your bank, please use the following details:
Account - St Columba’s Church of Scotland No. 2 A/C
Sort code – 16 00 42
Account number – 00264741
Offerings to St Andrew’s, Newcastle can be made via:
Account - Church of Scotland
Sort code - 40-34-18
Account number - 11310747
St Columba’s Book Club
My St Columba’s Friend
During this pandemic the St Columba’s Sunday School team have been sending out a Families’ Newsletter to our younger members of the congregation. This week we have asked them to think about writing letters (a great activity for them to practice their writing and spelling skills).
We are asking if members of the congregation would like to become a pen friend and have a letter sent by one of our younger folk (expect letters and pictures). If you would like to write back to them, even better; post is always nice when you are young.
POETRY & SILENT PRAYER FOR EASTERTIDE ST COLUMBA’S, PONT STREET 24th May 2020, EASTER VII - ASCENSION
Take time to find a comfortable place to sit. A candle or a vase of flowers, or an object can be a helpful object for focus. Be aware of your body and breath. Silence - a meeting place where I am looking for God’s love and He is looking for mine.
I weave a silence on to
my lips I weave a silence into my mind I
weave a silence within my heart I close my
ears to distractions I close my eyes to
attractions I close my heart to temptations
Calm me as You stilled the storm Still me,
keep me from harm Let all the tumult within
me cease Enfold me, Beloved, in your
peace. (THE EDGE OF GLORY by David Adam)
SCRIPTURE: PSALM 68:32-35
Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; sing praises to the Lord, Selah O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens; listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; and whose power is in the skies. Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; he gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
A sonnet for Ascension Day, Malcolm Guite
We saw his light break through the cloud of glory Whilst we
were rooted still in time and place As earth became a
part of Heaven’s story And heaven opened to his
human face. We saw him go and yet we were not
parted He took us with him to the heart of things The
heart that broke for all the broken-hearted Is whole and
Heaven-centred now, and sings, Sings in the strength
that rises out of weakness, Sings through the clouds
that veil him from our sight, Whilst we ourselves
become his clouds of witness And sing the waning
darkness into light, His light in us, and ours in him
concealed, Which all creation waits to see revealed .
TIME OF SILENCE (Try 4-8 minutes initially)
Almighty Father, in your great mercy you made glad the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord. Give us such knowledge of his presence with us that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life, and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Word of Life, heal, forgive,
comfort, bless. Be still, be glad, and be at
peace. The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!
Happy Easter! Hallelujah! Amen.