Category Archives: News

News from and about St Mary’s, Aberfoyle

Easter Vigil Saturday 3rd April 2021

A new candle ready to be lit
The New Candle is Lit and prayed over

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, on this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus Christ passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer. For this is the passover of the Lord, in which through word and sarcament we share in the victory over death.

The Light of Christ Thanks be to God

New Rector Announcement

We are delighted to announce that the Reverend Jonathan (Jon) Connell has been appointed to serve as Rector of St Mary’s, Aberfoyle and St Andrew’s, Callander, from July 2021.

Jon has been Priest-in-Charge of the Pembroke Family of Churches in Bermuda since 2017. He and his family will be very welcome as they join us here in the Linkage.

Linkage Service Sunday 21st March

01877 330448

Lent 5   21st March 2021   “We wish to see Jesus.”

As we enter Passiontide, the stark reality of the Cross faces all who seek to encounter Jesus; but it is the only life-giving way.

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known,

and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

       Lord, have mercy.   Christ have mercy.    Lord have mercy.

Collect:   Almighty God, your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death.  Breathe upon us with the power of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ and serve you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

Reading:  Jeremiah 31:27-34
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord. 
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Gospel:   John 12:20-36
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 
Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 
Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 

Reflection:   
The ‘Greeks’ in today’s gospel wanted to see Jesus. They were not asking to join the disciples; they were not challenging claims about Jesus; they just wanted to meet him, experience what it was like to be in his presence.  They were curious about spiritual things and open to an encounter with the divine mystery.

Quite a lot of people today are like them and might describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’.  We need to ask ourselves whether our church services would help them to encounter Jesus. How can we create opportunities to do so?  We also need to ask whether we ourselves truly have this hunger to meet Jesus, to enter the mystery of his presence and be changed by it.

Jesus immediately faces the spiritual seekers and his disciples with the reality of who he is.  This is no soft guru promising a comforting ride into bliss.  His mission is to give himself so fully in love that he loses his life but opens the door to a whole new dimension of life lived in the presence of God. 

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  If anyone wishes to see Jesus, they must allow themselves to be lifted to the Cross, to the self-giving love of others that is the road to life. Such love has to be the starting point of our encounter with God.  When it fills the world, as the Lord in Jeremiah says, “they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest”.  

Prayers of intercession:

Loving and gracious God, we lift our prayers to you, knowing that you hear all our prayers, whether spoken or unspoken, for you know all that is on our hearts and minds. 

We hold before you the world and its anguish:  the peoples of Myanmar, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, remembering those in refugee camps, those in prison, those ill and hungry without hope of a better future.

God of all justice, bring the nations to work better together for the good of all.  May the Covid vaccine be distributed fairly;  may help be given where it is needed;  may we learn to respect and honour one another.

Sustain those who devote themselves to the wellbeing of others, and protect all in healthcare and social services, defence and security, education and community service.

Holy God, renew your Church as we follow your Son to the Cross and beyond.  Uphold Christians persecuted for their faith, especially in the Middle East, and those who feel disconnected from their congregations by current restrictions. May their closeness to Jesus sustain them.

O God, whose will it is that all should find salvation and come to know the truth: receive the prayers and petitions which we offer in faith and love; through him who gave proof of your purpose, and who sacrificed himself to win freedom for all the world, Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.

Confession:
God is love and we are God’s children. There is no room for fear in love.

We love because God loved us first. 
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,

and in what we have failed to do.   We are truly sorry.  
Forgive us our sins, and deliver us from the power of evil,

for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord. 
      God, who is both power and love, forgive us
      and free us from our sins, heal and strengthen us by his Spirit 
      and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving

Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Worship and praise belong to you, maker of light and darkness. 
Your wisdom draws beauty from chaos, brings a harvest out of sorrow and leads the exiles home. In Christ your Son enemies are reconciled, debts forgiven, and strangers made welcome.

Your Spirit frees us to live as sons and daughters in our Father’s house.

We who by Christ’s power follow the way of the Cross,

sharing the joy of his obedience, now offer you our praise,

with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven 
singing the hymn of your unending glory: 

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. 
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for Christ in whom the world is reconciled. Lifted on the Cross, his suffering and forgiveness spanned the gulf our sins had made.  Through that dark struggle death was swallowed up in victory, that life and light might reign.

Before he was given up to suffering and death, recalling the night of Israel’s release, the night in which the sons of Egypt died, your Chosen One, himself the First-Born, freely offered his life.

At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying:  “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”
We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages, 
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:  Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

Jesus, Lamb of God, have mercy on us.        
Jesus, bearer of our sins, have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world, grant us peace.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.                                

Closing prayer: Christ crucified draw us to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with us all, this day and for evermore.  Amen

In 1886, a young American singer called Peter Bilhorn asked his minister for words to set to music.  This hymn was the result, and Bilhorn invented a portable pump organ to use in the evangelism he undertook on the streets and in prisons.
Hear the hymn sung at 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-EZ_JpHFf0

I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me;
how he left the realms of glory for the cross on Calvary:
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me,
sing it with his saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost, but Jesus found me, found the sheep that went astray,
raised me up and gently led me back into the narrow way.  
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me,
sing it with his saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.

He will keep me till the river rolls its waters at my feet;
then He’ll bear me safely over, where the loved ones I shall meet.
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me,
sing it with his saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.

Closing prayer: 
May the Lord who brought us all to birth, strengthen us for daily life.  May the Lord who provides for all our needs sustain us day by day.  May the Lord whose steadfast love is for all, send us out to live and work for others. 

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with us and remain with us always.    Amen.

As we return to churches on Palm Sunday we give very grateful thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden for providing us with services over the last months and for guiding and supporting us through these difficult times.

Remember that you are Dust and to Dust you shall return. – Ash Wednesday 17th February 2021

Remember that you are dust and to Dust you shall return – Ash Wednesday 17th February 2021


Much of the Christian year is about turning and returning; facing and looking difficulties in the eyes – and passing through to something greater and better and more meaningful.  I am not saying that this is without pain, but it is certainly with a destination address which can never tarnish and can never be taken away from us….even though it seems at times as though torments are never ending.
And all of this is also about love – in its deepest and most meaningful form – away from the romance and the flowers; and into that deeper more meaningful thing which comes with years and time and more than a little understanding.  And that love which comes with knowing and still choosing to reach in and to love; to be constant and to be present – in this world and the next.
Just as when we lose someone whom we love very dearly from the physicality of this world, we never actually lose them; so God walks with us wherever we may go and whatever we may encounter.  
We are part of one great and beautiful and cyclical creation – ever changing, ever growing, ever living – in multiple forms so that it can never quite be grasped or held or pinned down to full description and comprehension.  Rather like the love of God itself – ever present and ever evolving; constantly holding us, even when we feel darkness and distance – with us always – even until the end of time.  
And this is why our actions affect and bring about effect to each and every one of us – we are part of the whole thing of the butterfly flapping its wings at the Equator – we are integral.  
And, in the love which is shown to us in the love of God, we have (even when the going is so, so difficult, and so many things feel alien and painful) the strength to keep going, through this world without fear, and never being alone.
So, as we move through the worldly, beautiful love of St. Valentine and orientate ourselves this Ash Wednesday towards the love which knows each and every atom of us throughout eternity; let us remember that whilst this mortal life is fleeting; it is rooted and bounded by a love which will never leave us, and holds us beyond death into a new and everlasting kingdom.  
As we prepare to keep a good Lent, let us remind ourselves that ultimately all will be gathered in by Creator God who loves all of creation throughout all time.  All we have to do is be faithful to the guardianship of creation – and all living things in this world.
Hugs for Valentine’s Day, and Blessings for the Lenten period to come.

Linkage service Epiphany 6 14th February 2021

Linkage Service Epiphany 6 14th February 2021

01877 330448

The Transfiguration     14th February 2021

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this: 
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love 
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, 
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, 
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.    Amen.

Collect:   Almighty God, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross, give us faith to perceive his glory, that being strengthened by his grace we may be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reading:  2 Kings 2:1-12
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.’ But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I know; keep silent.’ Elijah said to him, ‘Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?’ And he answered, ‘Yes, I know; be silent.’  
Then Elijah said to him, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.  
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.’ Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ He responded, ‘You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.’ As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two.

Gospel:   Mark 9:2-9
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 
Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Reflection:   
The Magi … Simeon in the Temple …  John the Baptist at the Jordan … and now Peter, James and John on the mountaintop.  They see light and are amazed; is the Transfiguration the best epiphany of all?

“Bedazzled and blurting” is how one commentator described the disciples. Peter tried to say something about the dazzling white clothes of Jesus, and the prophets appearing on either side of him.  But they did not really understand and were scared out of their wits.

An extraordinary, wondrous and moving experience may make us speechless:  how can we put it into words?  What – on earth – should we say about it?   But we may also be dumb because we do not yet really grasp the deep meaning of our experience.

St Jerome said of Peter on the mountain, “Even though you see Jesus transfigured, nevertheless, because Christ has not yet suffered for you, you are still unable to know the truth.”  We have to experience the depth of Jesus’ love if we are to grasp the truth that he is Son of God.

Jesus was aware that the Passion lay ahead for him, but God was already revealing a little of the glory of the Resurrection, the great act of power that transfigured evil, suffering and death into the triumph of love.  With assurance of that in our hearts, and knowing God’s love for us, we can come down the mountain and bring Christ’s hope into this troubled world.

Prayers:  
Almighty God, at the Transfiguration you showed Jesus in glory and gave his disciples a glimpse of his risen life.  Help us to glimpse your heavenly kingdom and a vision of how your son, Jesus, can transfigure our lives and the life of the world.  

Creator God, as we pray for your world, give us the spirit of love for all people whatever their race or creed and give the same spirit of acceptance to all world leaders that through their common endeavour, freedom, peace and prosperity may increase throughout the world.

Loving God, with the grace of your Holy Spirit, comfort all who are in sorrow, need, sickness or adversity.  Have mercy on those to whom death draws near.  Give consolation to those in sorrow or mourning and as you take them into your tender care help may they be strengthened by the power of your love.

Lord, hear us as we bring before you the people and problems that are most on our minds …

Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Amen

The Great Thanksgiving:
             Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
              for it is right to give our thanks and praise.
              Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; 
              Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established 
the earth; you sustain in being all that is.

In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might 
for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth 
in a creation restored by love.

As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.       
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power 
you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and 
set your people free to be his Body in the world.
On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.” 

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages, 
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.    

Prayer:   Holy God, we see your glory in the face of your Son, Jesus Christ.  May we reflect his life in word and deed, that all the world may know his power to change and save, to the glory of your name. Amen  

A hymn of faith and trust in God: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdBkEJurR4

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me and I with thee Lord;
be thou my great Father and I thy true son;
be thou in me dwelling and I with thee one.

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armour, be thou my true light;
thou my soul’s shelter,  thou my strong tower:
raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

High King of heaven, thou heaven’s bright sun;
O grant my its joys after victory is won;
great heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

St Mary’s Sunday Service Epiphany 5 for 7th February 2021

St Mary’s Sunday Service Epiphany 5 for 7th February 2021

    Epiphany 5  7th February 2021

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this: 
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love 
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, 
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, 
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.    Amen.

Collect:   Merciful Lord, grant to your faithful people pardon and peace, that we may be cleansed from all our sins and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Reading:  Isaiah 40:21-31
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?  Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes to the heavens and see:Who created these? He who brings out their starry host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’?  
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for he Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Gospel:   Mark 1:29-39
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Reflection:   
Jesus was often found in people’s homes, eating, talking, bringing new life.  Today we have an intimate picture of Peter’s home on the Sabbath – a kind of ‘Sunday lunch’, the centre of the week.  But all was not well as the men returned from synagogue.

Peter’s mother-in-law was sick.  Now dependent on Peter’s fishing and her daughter’s goodwill, was she worried that Peter would leave them in the lurch as he followed Jesus?  Would she be too frail to help out?

Peter’s wife must have been torn between her mother and her husband.  How were both of them to feel fulfilled, and how was she to flourish? Peter’s loyalties would have been divided between his family responsibilities and his new vocation as a ‘fisher of people’.

Relationships can become strained when we fear we will lose our sense of who we are and who we might be. Jesus must have felt the deeper currents of unease when he entered Peter’s house; he knew that real healing of the situation as well as the woman was needed.

Peter’s mother-in-law was enabled to serve – her worth was restored.
Maybe the conversation over the Sabbath meal turned to what following Jesus would mean, and perhaps Peter’s wife was reassured and even inspired.  We hear that she accompanied Peter on his mission trips in due course as a ‘believing wife’.  (1 Cor.9:5)

Healing relationships involves noticing the giftedness of those around us, blessing them, enabling them to bear fruit, without worrying about our own position too much.  Like Peter’s mother-in-law, let’s begin to serve one another, lifting each other up in hope and trust.

Prayers:  
O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom you chose us, before the foundation of the world, and destined us in love to be your own: help us to pray for all your children.

For the life of the world; that your peace may be known and may prevail:  For harmony and generosity between the nations, and an end to oppression and violence, especially in Russia and China.

For all who suffer injury, death or loss; that they may know the hope to which you call us:  For the sick and grieving; for the anxious and fearful; for the bored, lonely and frustrated, young and old.

For all who exercise rule and authority; that they may acknowledge your power: For politicians, scientists, business leaders, educators and judges, as they seek to rebuild society after the pandemic.

For the Church which is Christ’s body; that it may live for the praise of your glory:  For Ian our bishop and Keith, newly-elected bishop of Argyll and the Isles.  For those responding to a call to serve your church in lay and ordained ministry.

For those who are in our thoughts and hearts at this time, especially …

God, you exerted your strength and power when you raised Christ from the dead, putting everything in subjection beneath his feet: accept the prayers which we offer in his name for the world you have created and redeemed; through him in whom you have set forth the mystery of your will, to unite all things in heaven and on earth, your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Great Thanksgiving:
             Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
              for it is right to give our thanks and praise.
              Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; 
              Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established 
the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might 
for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth 
in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.       
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power 
you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and 
set your people free to be his Body in the world.
On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.” 

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages, 
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.    

Prayer:   Almighty God, by whose grace alone we are accepted and called into your service:  strengthen us by your Holy Spirit and make us worthy of our calling, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

This hymn was written by Timothy Rees, who was a chaplain in World War 1 and Bishop of Llandaff during the Depression, Hear it sung at:

God is love, let heaven adore him;  God is love, let earth rejoice;
let creation sing before him,  and exalt him with one voice.
He who laid the earth’s foundation, He who spread the heavens above,
He who breathes through all creation, He is love, eternal love.

God is love and he enfolding all the world in one embrace;
with unfailing grasp is holding every child of every race.
And when human hearts are breaking under sorrow’s iron rod,
Then they find the self-same aching deep within the heart of God.


God is love, and though with blindness sin afflicts each human soul,
God’s eternal loving-kindness holds and guides and keeps them whole.
Sin and death and hell shall never o’er us final triumph gain;
God is love, so love for ever o’er the universe must reign.

Letter of Thanks and grant funding 29th January 2021

Letter of Thanks and Grant Funding 29th January 2021

29th January 2021

The Vestry of St Mary’s Church – Aberfoyle

I am pleased to report that our application to the SEC Building Grants Fund for a grant of £20,000 towards our Rectory Renovation has been successful.  Our thanks go to Mark Seymour for preparing this application and for all his work on this project.

This gives me the opportunity to express how greatly indebted we are to Mark for his outstanding contribution to the life of St. Mary’s as a member of the Vestry for more than 22 years.  During this time he was Chairman for over 10 years, overseeing the major renovation of the Church building during this period, and Secretary for more than 5 years, designing and maintaining the Church website. He stepped in as Interim Chairman when Revd Canon Richard Grosse retired and with Peter Forrester (St. Andrew’s) has taken us through the discernment process to the point where interviews will soon be taking place for the appointment of a new Rector.

St. Mary’s is in a good place thanks to Mark’s diligence and devotion, and we are extremely grateful to him for all that he has done over all these years.

Yours sincerely,

Interim Chairman

On behalf of the Vestry

St Mary’s Sunday service for Epiphany 4 31st January 2021

We are very grateful to Revd Canon Alison Peden, our Interim Pastor, for providing us with this written service for you to follow since there is no service at St Mary’s this Sunday

Epiphany 4  31st  January 2021

‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?’

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.    Amen.

Collect:   O God, through our human frailty, we cannot stand firm:

give us strength and protection, that, with your help, we may overcome all difficulties; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Reading:  Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Moses said:     The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire any more, or we will die.’

The Lord said to me: ‘What they say is good.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.

Gospel:   Mark 1:21-28
They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ 
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, throwing him into convulsions and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

Reflection:  
It’s an ugly scene:  a hallowed synagogue thrown into confusion by a tormented man thrown into convulsions, at the mercy of forces beyond him, howling in despair.  The ICU wards that we see night after night on our screens are quieter but no less desperate.   Haggard doctors and nurses witness to the depths of suffering around them.

‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?’ cry the demons in the synagogue. How can God be where demons are wreaking havoc?  

Jeremiah prayed:  ‘Lord, you are in the midst of us, and we are called by your Name; do not forsake us, O Lord our God.’ (14:9)

The power and authority of Jesus of Nazareth rests in in his being in the midst of all our human experience, bringing the light of God’s presence to a dark world, from Incarnation to Resurrection.  Jesus lived out his message of God’s love, being tested by Satan in the desert, willing to drink the cup of suffering, unfaltering in confronting evil.

His answer to the demons shrieking ‘What have you to do with us?’
is ‘Everything!’   Some of the most powerful stories from hospitals have been those of relatives, nurses and chaplains sharing prayer and spiritual comfort with the very sick and dying.  God is not absent, but in the midst of us, in grief and hope and redemption.

But let’s remember that Jesus cast out the demon, for he was proclaiming the Kingdom, the rule and authority of God.  This story in Mark’s gospel is another Epiphany sign that Jesus is truly the Son of God who can transform our lives at the very heart of them, in our midst, if only we open ourselves to his healing light.

Prayers: 
God of every land and nation, you spoke your word and revealed your good news in Jesus Christ. We pray for our troubled world its peoples and their leaders.  May governments and their health authorities take the right steps for the good of the whole world. Help us all to understand that we must confront the pandemic together, wisely and generously.

Merciful God, be with those of us that need your restoration and healing. As we remember the way your son Jesus Christ cast out demons we remember today all those who feel trapped and helpless.  Extend your healing touch especially upon those affected by Covid-19:  those who are sick or in long-term recovery, the dying and their families and friends.

Loving God, sustain our relationships and give strength to those whose family life is difficult just now.  Help parents struggling with home schooling or lack of money and draw together those experiencing friction and frustration.  Calm the anxious and comfort the lonely;  give us a sense of community and responsibility for each other.

Holy God, lead your people in ways of prayer and discipleship that will build your Kingdom.  Give us the vision to see the new paths you are opening for us and the fresh opportunities to share your good news.  May we discern your Spirit moving among us and respond with courage and commitment.

Lord God, watch over our family and friends and all who need our prayers …   In all we do, may we walk ever more closely with you at our side, safe in the knowledge that your love and care know no bounds.   Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Amen

The Great Thanksgiving:
            Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
            for it is right to give him thanks and praise.
            Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
            Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, God our maker. Out of nothing, you called all worlds into being, and still you draw the universe to its fulfilment. Day and night celebrate your glory till time shall be no more. In Christ, your only-begotten Son, you have revealed yourself to the world. By the guiding of a star, you made him known to the nations as the son of David and king of Israel; that in following him, we might be led from darkness and into his marvellous light.
Filled with the Spirit, who descended upon your Son at his Baptism in the Jordan, we who are baptised in his name strive for his heavenly kingdom in whose radiance we are transfigured and the earth transformed.
As children of your redeeming purpose who celebrate the manifestation of your Son, we offer you our praise, with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven, singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father. In the Messiah you have come to us. Our hope is built on him in whom you are well pleased. Having been shown to the world as your beloved Son, he proclaimed the good news of your kingdom. The blind received their sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed,           and the captives set free. At his word, water became wine, the hungry were filled with bread,     and the dead were raised.
Before he was given up to suffering and death, desiring to complete the work for which he came into the world, at supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”
We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.   

Prayer:   The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord:  and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen

The author of this hymn, Rusty Edwards, is a Lutheran pastor in Atlanta. It sings of how Jesus is revealed as Saviour in his acts of power.
Hear it at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVXbISMGaUg

Praise the one who breaks the darkness with a liberating light.
Praise the one who frees the prisoners, turning blindness into sight.
Praise the one who preached the Gospel, healing every dread disease,
Calming storms and feeding thousands with the very bread of peace.

Praise the one who blessed the children with a strong yet gentle word.
Praise the one who drove out demons with a piercing two-edged sword.
Praise the one who brings cool water to the desert’s burning sand.
From this well comes living water, quenching thirst in every land.

Let us praise the Word incarnate: Christ who suffered in our place.
Jesus died and rose victorious that we may know God by grace.
Let us sing for joy and gladness, seeing what our God has done.
Let praise the true redeemer, praise the One who makes us one.