I hope you are well.
We are now in, what is known in the church as” The Kingdom Season” essentially that means the four Sundays leading up to Advent.
We had a good service, lovely hymns but some of us were challenged by the Rutter setting! Gordon promises we will have it again soon so we can work at it.
Notices for next week
Tuesday 10am Prayer Group in the Garden Room.
Thursday Holy Communion 10am followed by coffee in Friendship House
Readings for next Sunday – Remembrance Day Psalm 46 Micah 4:1-4 John 15:12-17
Further news from the diocese and church can be found on the St Andrews website. Click on the link below.
3rd Sunday before Advent 2021 St Andrew’s Milngavie
Pilgrimage was the theme at this year’s clergy conference in Stranraer. Consequently, we spent much time out and about exploring the joys of Galloway, a fairly remote and very beautiful place. Part of our itinerary was visiting St Ninian’s cave at Whithorn reminding us of those early Christians who came to bring the Good News of Christ to our shores.
In the context of pilgrimage, we also considered the concept of exile. Those times when we are obliged to go to places against our will. This could be through work, illness, relationships, family pressure or simply a time of emotional unrest and uncertainty.
In exile it is natural to dream of returning home. However, as life is a journey, while we may return home in a physical sense, we will have moved on in an emotional and spiritual sense and so therefore “home” will not be quite the same because we are not quite the same people – life’s experiences always evolve our souls.
This week we have seen world leaders fly into Glasgow for the climate summit as we all consider how we can move away from actions which pollute the environment to a greener and more sustainable future. In a sense climate change is calling us on a specific journey which may feel a bit like an exile as we are encouraged to adopt new ways of living and discard old habits.
Our readings today all speak of pilgrimage, of embracing change and new circumstances.
In the OT Jonah is called by God to save the people of Ninevah. At first, he refuses but then after spending an uncomfortable few days in the belly of a whale he agrees to go to Ninevah to warn the people of God’s wrath, and as a result they change their ways.
In the letter to The Hebrews, we hear of Christ entering heaven to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. So, we think of his pilgrimage form his earthly ministry to crucifixion and then divine resurrection.
In the Gospel reading from Mark, as John the Baptist’s work comes to an end, Jesus’ ministry is beginning. “The time is fulfilled….” Jesus says and as he walks by the Sea of Galilee, he carries a sense of divine destiny and calls certain fishermen to “follow” him in his mission. Since the sea of Galilee was well known for its fish, these fishermen probably had a decent family business, yet Simon and Andrew were prepared to abandon it to follow Jesus. Meanwhile James and John respond in a similar way, leaving their “father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men”. For them Jesus represents a cause for which it is worth disrupting both business and family.
What was it then, that Jesus was calling these new disciples to do? They were to join Jesus in calling others into the Kingdom of God. It would be an evangelistic role, drawing women and men to Christ and his Kingdom in a way that firmly established the faith and the church, enabling it to hold fast and develop over the next 2000 years.
While those fishermen were called to a unique foundational ministry, we are called to continue that ministry. But we shouldn’t be surprised if God calls us into an area that we never imagined: Serving church in some new capacity within and beyond our own church walls.
No matter what the challenge may be, the question is how we will respond. The first disciples had to leave their families and businesses. We must make decisions over family commitments, our time and probably other factors as well.
One thing we can be sure of is that the fisherman of Galilee would have been amazed at where their decision took them in later years, and although some of them had a very tough death they certainly had exciting and eventful lives, in a way they could never had anticipated.
God is a God of surprises, our lives are a pilgrimage of surprises, we travel through times of joy and adversity, places of exile and Eden, all the while our souls develop and evolve, the Holy Spirit moving within in us guiding and inspiring us and most importantly leading us to our ultimate destination – the Kingdom of God.