Genesis 25: 19-end; Psalm 119: 105-112; Romans 8: 1-11
Gospel: Matthew 13: 1-9, 25, 18-23
A sower went out to sow
“A sower went out to sow: (Matthew 13:3). Who is the sower? God? Yes. Jesus? Yes. Those are the usual answers and they are certainly not wrong. God is always sowing God’s life in ours. Genesis 1:26 tells us that we are created in the image of God and according to God’s likeness. The kingdom of God is within you St Luke tells us in Luke 17:21. In today’s Epistle St Paul says “The Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:9, 11). Normally, in a few minutes we would hear Jesus’ words “ Take, eat. This is my Body, which is given for you,” and “Drink this all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Our prayers are often a request or desire for the ‘divine sower’ to spread some seed. Our thanksgivings are recognition of God’s sowing in our own lives. There are thousands of ways in which God, in and through Jesus, shares God’s self with us, sows God’s life in us. So the answer is Yes, God and Jesus are the sowers of seed.
Announcement by the Scottish Government
No doubt most of you will have heard the announcement by the Scottish Government, that Places of Worship were being allowed to open for formal gatherings with effect from the 15th of July. The previous advice was given as the 23rd of July, and the Advisory Group of the Scottish Episcopal Church had intended to issue revised guidance on Phase 3 of the Scottish Government Route Map out of lockdown following the corona virus pandemic. However, the Group had expected that the Scottish Government would announce a limit on attendance at services of worship within church buildings. The Group understands that a limit on numbers remains the intention of the Scottish Government, but the actual figure will not be confirmed until next week. In light of that development, the Advisory Group will defer publication of revised SEC guidance until after the attendance limit is announced. The Advisory Group is aware of the demand for clarity over Friday’s announcement by the Scottish Government that the easing of restrictions on worship has been brought forward to 15 July, and will make a further announcement as soon as the necessary information is made available to it.
St Mary’s Vestry
On the subject of the above, St Mary’s Vestry has been liaising regularly over the past weeks in an effort to prepare for re-opening and I can assure you that there is much to be considered and done. I would like to thank Mrs Anne Farquhar our Sacristan and Server, who has been attending the Church periodically, to attend to cleaning. As we look forward to gathering together again after such an extended period apart, I have to be realistic in how this will happen. There are certain criteria that must be complied with as we risk assess the opening of St Mary’s. This risk assessment must be in place and ratified by Bishop Anne before we open the doors. Of course, many of you will be aware of the restrictions that will need to be observed as we meet, and this is glaringly obvious when I have to consider numbers attending. As stated above, we await further advice regarding the maximum allowed to gather at any one time in Church, but I ask every one of you to consider the following questions. Will you be rushing back to Church when the green light is given to do so? Will your return to Church buildings be more reticent? Will you wait until even more restrictions have been lifted before you even consider it? I imagine that these, in my opinion, are the main concerns that are foremost in everyone’s thoughts. I would then ask you now to consider letting me know what your future intentions may be. My reason for asking this is practical more than personal. I need to gauge and estimate how many people I could expect to turn up for our first (and other) worship services once we progress as the maximum numbers allowed may well restrict how many I can allow in. In order to avoid any friction in the future, I would be grateful to hear your thoughts and intentions. Please feel free to contact me on the details below at your earliest convenience. This, unfortunately, is only a fraction of the many considerations that need to be observed as we journey towards the ‘New Normal’. What I would add is that I intend to live stream, if possible, our services once we are up and running.
Pro- Cathedral of the Diocese
I continue to liaise and pray regularly with The Very Rev’d Isaac Poobalan, Provost of St Andrew’s Cathedral Church, as we discuss and plan for the 27th of September as St Mary’s takes on the role of Pro- Cathedral of this Diocese. These meetings are really important as we work to develop our personal and professional relationship and to plan how best to provide for both congregations as we prepare for the future.
Some of you continue to send me cheques/envelopes for your weekly giving donations. I would encourage others who may be saving their envelopes up until a full return to normal Sunday services, to consider making a direct payment into St Mary’s Church bank account. I can provide the necessary details if you contact me on the details below. If that method is not suitable and you would still like to contribute your envelopes, or make a donation, again, just contact me and I can make alternative arrangements to pick it up. Your continued support is so very much appreciated in these trying times.
Our ‘Zoom Breakfast’ continues on Sunday at 10 am and I look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible. Should you wish to join us, please contact me on the details below and I shall let you have all of the access details you will require. The reasons why I don’t publish those details on this document are twofold; (a) This document is put onto the Face book social Website which is accessible by anyone, anywhere, (b) We can negate the possibility of anyone who would join us for more nefarious reasons.
‘May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.’
(John O’Donohue, from ‘Benedictus: A Book of Blessings’ )
Fr Terry Taggart