Bready Easter

(Before you read this get yourself a bit of bread)

Put your hand up if you attended a Sunday School (and if anybody can see you they are now wondering whyyou’ve just put your hand up). Not all, but many of us have attended Sunday school – some may have enjoyed it, others like me, may have found it rather boring and wishing I was somewhere!

I wonder if you have any mementos of those days – a bible, a hymn book, a certificate? I wonder if you remember anything you learnt? Or if you came by a different route into church – in your teens or as an adult what do you remember of what brought you to that point?

Maybe it all seems a bit long ago, perhaps it has lost its edge – if so then you’re in good company with thedisciples on the road to Emmaus. They sort of knew their stuff, although they needed a little reminder to prompt their memories about Moses and the prophets? Their world had been turned upside down and it maybe it felt as though God has gone missing at the time when God was needed most. Today questions such as, where is God at this time of Corona Virus, and ‘why’ put us alongside those sad disciples as they walk away from Jerusalem. We know suffering is part of our world, our history – consider the Psalms or Job. The death of Jesus on the cross stands as a reminder that God enters into our world of suffering: “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” asks the stranger.

In Christ, God participates in the suffering of all, of the world. It is the only answer, it is an answer of “I amwith you…” wherever you find yourself, in whatever situation.

On the road to Emmaus the stranger encourages the disciples to remember what they have learnt over all these years. We are encouraged to think about what we’ve heard not just in Sunday school but week by week at church. Remember all of that but that is not the end of the story. It’s simply the beginning, a trellis upon which faith can grow. The living faith comes when the disciples “recognise” Christ in the stranger. The stories, their learning comes to life in the new life they encounter.

We are being led/encouraged/prompted to recognise the risen Christ, the living Spirit, in our lives and the life of the world. With the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the moment of recognition came when they sat together to eat, when bread was broken. At the moment we cannot meet together to eat. In some sense, perhaps it feels that we are the broken body of Christ. But we remember that it is in the breaking apart that Christ comes to meet us. In the sadness, in the brokenness we remember what we have learnt and let the Spirit draw us into connection with the living presence of Christ.

Find some space and take some time to do this (pause as you go along): If you do have something from Sunday school or when you became a church member, place it alongside you as a reminder of all that you have learnt. Then, I invite you to take your piece of bread. Hold the bread in your hands. [PAUSE] Give thanks to God remembering the farmers, the bakers, the delivery drivers, the shop workers, your neighbours. [PAUSE] Break the bread and in doing so remember the suffering of the body of Christ, the brokenness in our lives, our communities, our world. Remember the work of charities like All We Canworking with some of the world’s poorest people so that they can put bread on the table. [PAUSE] Now eat the bread. The brokenness is part of us but in this we encounter the presence of risen Christ dwelling within bringing peace and joy. [PAUSE]

The Lord has risen indeed.
Keep going dear friends. Peace be with you. With love, Nick

Message from Nick Baker 18 April 2020

Clootie Easter

Some of you may recall that a few months back I came second in a competition run by the V&A in Dundee to name their souvenir toy coo. I still think I should have won but that is just overwhelming arrogance on my part – Lord have mercy! The name I had chosen was “Clootie”. My reasoning was that a coo has a bit of a dumpling look to it, its hide can look like strips of cloth and it was very much a local name.

Interestingly the spellchecker on my computer is underlining Clootie in red telling me I have misspelt the word – Scots clearly hasn’t made it as a language for word processors. Word processors are ever keen to please and offer alternative suggestions for my clear incompetence. The first suggestion it offers as an alternative to “clootie” is “clothe” which isn’t a bad guess. A clothed dumpling is a fairlyaccurate representation of a clootie dumpling. The clootie being the strip of cloth that is wrapped around the pudding.

More recently, I have learnt of the existence of Clootie wells such as the well at Munlochy on the Black Isle. The well is dedicated to Saint Curetán (or Boniface) – a Pictish Bishop (c.690-710). Curetán arrived from Rome, sailing up the River Tay to Invergowrie where he built a church before later heading North to the Black Isle. Amongst other things Curetán is linked with the healing of children through prayer. Perhaps this is why the well is dedicated in his honour – the tradition of wells/springs being a place of healing is an ancient one as the Samaritan woman at the well would testify. The Well at Munlochy is surrounded by trees with bits of cloth (clooties) hanging off them as a symbol of healing. In our Christian tradition the Turin Shroud is often a focus of pilgrimage which, if nothing else, serves as a reminder of the discarded grave clothes at the resurrection.

As the Easter story unfolds in John’s telling of the gospel (Jn 20:19-31), the disciples are still hiding away, and Jesus surprises them. But more than this Jesus makes good on his three promises to share with the disciples: Peace (Jn 14.27); Joy (Jn 15.11; 16.22); and the Spirit (Jn14.16). We also encounter Thomas who foolishly (like many of us) says (like Victor Meldrew), ‘I don’t believe it’.

Christ, the gospel encourages us to let go (or like Mary in the garden not to hold on to) the earthly Jesus but to breathe in the risen Christ. To experience this not as a historical story but a living reality in our lives.

I wonder then, if a bit like the grave clothes, we can put some things to one side and welcome the gifts of peace, joy and the Spirit. The Clootie wells are a sign of hope and healing. I invite you to find a bit of cloth, and, holding on to the cloth offer a prayer for healing (which could be of someone you know, or giving thanks for the healers in our society, of for healing in the face of the global pandemic or healing for ourselves or all of the above or something completely different). Having prayed your prayer, if you have a tree in the garden tie it on to that so that others might see it. If you don’t haveaccess to a garden, tie something to a pot plant and put it in a window (if anybody asks tell them it’sa bonsai clootie!). These clooties will form signs of healing and hope in our communities offering a sign of blessing for those who pass by and serving as a reminder for us of the peace and joy in the Spirit. And who knows, I may even get over not having won the V&A competition!

If you can, take a photo and email it to me and I shall collate them and send it round. May the Peace and Joy of the risen Christ dwell within you.

With love & prayer Nick

 

Call to Prayer 19 April 2020

Prayer @ 7pm

As we find ourselves living through a renewed phase of Lockdown, we see in the Gospel of John (20: 19-23) that, in part, the experience of the disciples, even on the day of Resurrection, was one in which they found themselves locked in and behind closed doors.

Their experience of Lockdown was interrupted by the presence of Jesus as he came and stood among them. He speaks into the depths of their fears and anxieties: ‘Peace be with you.’ We hear these words and know that they speak to us. We listen again for what he will say and discover that Jesus simply repeats himself: ‘Peace be with you.’ As we still ourselves, we hear those words of peace spoken and sense that they are spoken to us and to all who long to hear a word that heals and reassures: ‘Peace be with you.’

We pray:

Living God, speak into the depths of our experience,
Speak the word that stills our fears
And calms our anxieties:
‘Peace be with you.’

Speak your word to the lonely and to the broken,
To the bereaved and to those whose world has crumbled:
‘Peace be with you.’

 

Faithful God, speak to us behind locked doors
As we remember others, who risk their own safety,
In order to serve others:
Peace be with them.

Carers and nurses, doctors and ambulance drivers,
Delivery drivers and shop assistants:
Peace be with them.

God who inspires Hope, speak to us in the present
And speak to us of the future,
For though the doors are locked, in time they shall be open:
Peace shall be renewed.

For those who lead the life of our Nation: Our Queen Elizabeth,
First Minister and Prime Minister, and all who shape our common life,
For us all: Peace shall be renewed.

God whose name is love and whose gift is love,
Open our hearts to know you and to love you,
To love you and to love our neighbour
And as we do, to hear again: ‘Peace be with you.’

As we come to the end of our own strength
May we find our strength in you and hear again:
‘Peace be with you.’

Signed by:

  • Rev. Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
  • Donald G. MacDonald, Moderator, Free Church of Scotland