ORMISTON PARISH CHURCH
June 2020 Special Edition
There’s a story about a king who once offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many tried and the king examined them all. But there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.
The first was of a lake; calm, flat and still, with serene mountains reflected on its surface. Overhead, an occasional white cloud floated in an azure sky - a picture of perfect tranquillity.
The other had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above, dark and angry clouds lashed rain and lightning split the sky. A roaring waterfall foamed its way down a rocky face. Initially surprised, when the king looked closer he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing from a crevice. In the heart of the bush a bird had built its nest. And there, surrounded with the rush of raging water, sat the mother on her eggs... in perfect peace
The king chose the second of the two, "because," he explained, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace, true peace, means calmness of heart in the midst of these things”.
The Biblical word for peace is the Hebrew word ‘shalom’. It’s a very rich word, which conveys far more than our Anglo-Saxon equivalent. Greater and deeper than a mere cessation of external conflicts, it penetrates and establishes the souls of men and women. And it includes blessing, wholeness, health, fulfilment, relational harmony, completeness. Described as “peace that passes understanding”, it’s a peace which doesn’t always make sense; available even in the extremities of life’s trials. So, when all is chaos and we’d expect to feel extreme disquiet; nevertheless our inner disposition can be strangely calm and confident.
Principally, of course, it is ‘God’s peace’; and thus not something we can conjure up out of ourselves. It is imparted to us as gift, bequeathed from above, from the heart of God, and brought to us in Christ, the Prince of Peace. Normally when we think of gifts we make a distinction between the giver and the gift. But this is different. The peace of God in Christ cannot be separated from him as a person. Jesus is himself our peace. We receive his peace as we receive and welcome him.
Peace amidst the storm belongs to the trusting experience of being at peace with God. And it includes a profound awareness that he is with us; loving, forgiving, sustaining – near, not far away. As we turn to him simply and humbly, with honest and open hearts, we discover peace as the privilege of all who come to him.
“May the ‘Lord of Peace’ himself give you peace at all time and in every way. The Lord be with you all.” [2 Thessalonians 3:16]
Funerals & Thanksgiving Celebrations
As people will know, there have been huge constraints on how and where services may take place, with numbers in attendance having to be restricted to a maximum of ten. Depending on a reduction in rate of virus transmission, we are hopeful that some of this will begin to gradually ease over the next few weeks – although inevitably there will still be certain regulations in place. We are aware that a number of bereaved families have indicated a desire for a more public celebration of the person’s life at a later date.
The church will be available for people wishing to do so and anyone wanting to ask about this should contact the minister. It has also been our custom to have a Memorial Service towards the end of each year, where people can remember and honour their loved ones. Some may find this a more suitable context in which to do things, and we remain open to the possibility of the Memorial Service taking a slightly different format, depending on the various needs and circumstances we are aware of at the time.
Since Easter we have continued with weekly devotions at 10.30am each Sunday. Those with access by mobile or computer have connected online, while others have joined by making a local call and listening over the phone. Please consider joining in if you haven’t already. Details are on the church website or by ringing one of the elders. Recent communications from Government and the Church of Scotland about the opening of buildings for public worship mean that our current pattern for Sunday mornings will need to remain for some time yet
The Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:22-27)
Christians across the country sang an ancient blessing over the UK at the start of May. Called The UK Blessing, over 3 million have since viewed it on YouTube. God originally gave it to the priests of Israel, with a command to bless the people in these words:
The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious unto you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
To unpack this and put it in other words:
The Lord prosper and enrich you, making you fruitful, keeping watch and preserving you, guarding you as his own;
The Lord lighten up your life with the radiance of his beaming face and the brightening of his eyes, showing you kindness and generous good favour;
The Lord look upon you with delight and smiling good pleasure, putting you at peace, soundly establishing your welfare in complete wholeness.
Church life has continued as much as possible over recent weeks. The Kirk Session and Congregational Board have had online meetings.
Monday prayers and both Bible study groups are continuing online.
The Tuesday morning group (now meeting Tuesday afternoons) and the Youth Group and some of the Guild have been doing the same. It’s been a huge learning experience for everyone and all credit is due to each person who has ventured into this new territory.
We’re delighted with the interest shown in the Try Praying initiative, intended to encourage people who don’t regard themselves as religious to start praying. Free booklets continue to be uplifted from a box on the church railings.
There has also been a great response to appeals for the local Foodbank, especially from the wider community. Please get in touch using the contact form if you’ve something to donate.
An online Food Hygiene course is now freely available.
Plans are afoot to create a rainbow display on the church gates with knitted or crocheted flowers, according to the same pattern as for the Remembrance poppy display.