I need a barber! And a dentist! (Those who follow peeblesold.online will have noticed that I have lost a crown.) And a chiropodist, and someone who can operate on my mobile phone). Such are the ongoing frustrations of the coronavirus. On the positive side. I’ve used hardy any petrol, and I haven’t been to an ATM in ages.
Of course, these things are utterly trivial compared to the heartbreak, suffering and loss that COVID-19 has wreaked on our lives. I was pondering this morning. I was born and brought up in Dumfries, a busy traditional Scottish county and market town. The UK death toll from the virus has now exceeded the population of Dumfries. A whole town wiped out and more!
Some of the deaths have affected us even more closely and deeply. And when we take into account the many who have been ill and recovered, the majority of us will know folk who have had to fight the virus.
Add to all that the worries about jobs, unemployment, schools, the economy generally it is a heavy burden our society is having to deal with. What surprises most is the speed with which our ways of life have been comprehensively changed. We all wonder, I think, will the old ways return? Perhaps not all of them will. Perhaps some of them should not.
Which of us wholeheartedly embraces change? Very few. It’s part of the human condition to be wary of disturbance around us. And yet our survival as specks on the panorama of the universe depends on gradual restoration and transformation.
Our Scriptural record shows it. Jeremiah stood at the Temple gate and said: “Look for the ancient paths”! Restoration! The same prophet also warned the people not to think that by chanting “This is the temple of the Lord…the temple of the Lord….the temple of the Lord” that they would be saved. Transformation! That’s where we are. Perhaps where we have always been.
Finlay Macdonald, elsewhere in the magazine, will be saying something about the current thinking of the Church of Scotland – which had begun a process of deep self-examination when Covid-19 came along.
Here in the Old Parish and in Eddleston we are following the rules carefully. We do not want to put anyone in any kind of danger. So many things in our corporate life have been put on hold. In worship terms, we produce a new set of worship resources every week. What we are doing is fairly unique. We are not streaming a church service. But ministers, organist, and church members (oh, not forgetting the bell ringers!) are coming together to provide tools to bring worship into your own homes.
We recognise that not everyone has access to the internet. So now
you can listen to the material, too, by dialling 0113 467 8156. Anytime, 24/7. If you have a calls package from your telephone provider, this should be free. Otherwise you just pay your standard rate. The call will last approximately 20 minutes.
The choir continues to meet on a Thursday evening, courtesy of Zoom. I popped in to say hello, (online of course), and I can assure you that they are all in exuberant mood.
Pastoral contact has to be by phone. I’ve been phoning round folk, basically to introduce myself and to enquire how things are going for them. Thank you for so many hearty, warm welcomes. And look forward to the day when we can meet face to face.
Rev Pamela Strachan has been able to join the ministry team again after an enforced overstay in New Zealand. We are delighted to see her back, and she will be contributing to worship from time to time. She is now serving as Locum Minister in Upper Tweeddale, where she lives, but is able to offer us a day each week as part of the new arrangement. The ministry team has identified the fact that after the sore loss of Lorraine Mulholland the Eddleston Kirk folk will need support and pastoral accompaniment in particular ways, and to begin with at least Pamela will make that healing process the focus of her work. This is not to say
that either Finlay or I will not be available to Eddleston in our respective roles, but we are very grateful that Pamela brings her sensitivity and pastoral kindness to the folk there in this time of need.
Grace and peace to each one of you
Revd John R Smith