Jack’s Back Page for Sunday 12 December

Jack’s Back Page

The Lord be with you. And also, with you. I trust I continue to find everyone still in good health and heart.

Last Sunday I preached on the theme of Advent Preparation. This past week has all been about preparation. There was the usual preparation of all aspects of the Sunday service, as well as this Back Page column and the posters for the noticeboard.

Then there was a lot of preparation for last Tuesday night’s Presbytery meeting when I delivered my final speech as the Convener of the Strategy Planning Team, with various members of the court emailing me with questions to answer, as well as last minute appeals from my Team, for additional information or clarifications in my report to be presented in my speech.

Also I was preparing to be recorded for the George Watson’s Junior School Christmas Service. This year, they cannot gather in groups larger than fifty. So, fifteen children chosen to be readers came to the church last Friday to be videoed reading their poems or Bible passages. I was also videoed delivering my talk for the school. This will be edited into one film and each class will watch it in their classrooms on a screen.

After which there was preparation for our ecumenical Advent Reflection on 22 December, as I needed to research what Margaret Anderson and I have chosen as our theme, and also write the script.

But that was not all; I had to prepare for three interviews that the Kirk Session were holding to employ a potential candidate for the post as our Well-Being Director, which also took place last Friday.

In between, there were interesting interludes that required no preparation, such as a visit I made to the church last Wednesday in the company of the Chief Executive of the Church of Scotland, and the Head of Estates and Procurements who are investigating the viability of a church building in Edinburgh becoming the new Church of Scotland Offices.

I also attended the second Advent Reflection held in St Martin’s Episcopal Church last Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, I kept my eye on the news to see if the rise in cases of COVID in the Omicron variant would eventually lead to some restrictions being either tightened or restored. As the Kirk Session already made the decision not to hold our special Christmas services again this year, we can at least not have the disappointment of seeing them cancelled at the last moment.

But in terms of Advent preparation, the most personal is my daily prayer. Each day I use the same Advent liturgy from a book called Celtic Worship through the year by Ray Simpson. I chose an appropriate carol for each week to read each day. I read and reflect upon the Bible daily reading published at the end of this column. I also read a daily poem from the book Haphazard by Starlight by Janet Morley, and appreciate her insightful commentary upon it.

In the background plays the CD (old school) Her Music for Advent and Christmas by Margaret Rizza, while before me is a small table with on open Bible on which I place a treasured cross made from sticks (some of you may have seen it on the screen in an image we in church to introduce the Bible passages), and beside it, a small burning candle.

Each day I pray for the grace: for the gift of Christ to fill my heart and life. As I have said recently and repeatedly to the congregation, I believe the word of the Lord for this time is that we take seriously our Christian discipleship by diligently nurturing our faith, and so what I urge others to do, I also do myself.

So what preparations are others making in the short season of Advent? Are they family and work related, are they about organising for the Day to come, or has time been safeguarded for spiritual preparations? What others do in regards to the latter does not need to be similar to my own; But I do hope there is something being done to place hearts and minds into the presence of God, at this time when God is calling on us to seek God. Until next week…The Lord Bless You And Keep You.

Daily Readings for the week beginning 13 December.

Mon: Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17; Psalm 25:4-9; Matthew 21:23-27.

Tues: Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13; Psalm 34:2-3, 6-7, 16, 18-19, 23;

Matthew 21:28-32.

Wed: Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-26; Psalm 85:9-14; Luke 7:19-23.

Thurs: Isaiah 54:1-10; Psalm 30: 2,4-6, 11-13; Luke 7:24-30

Fri: Genesis 49:2, 8-10; Psalm 72:1-4, 7-8, 17; Matthew 1:1-17.

Sat: Jeremiah 23:5-8; Psalm 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19; Matthew 1:18-24.

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