From The Manse Autumn 2020

Dear Friends,

What a year this has turned out to be.

No one could have anticipated that in March the country would go into lockdown and that in September as I write this, there would be talk of a possible second lockdown or at least further restrictions.

I am only too aware that many have and continue to struggle throughout this difficult time. There are those whose mental health has been affected due to the lack of daily interaction with others. Many have lost their job or live in fear of losing it. And families have had to miss getting together and celebrating important milestones like birthdays, graduations and anniversaries.

For me, it has taken some time to adjust to not being able to visit people the way I have been accustomed to. Though I have endeavoured to keep in touch through phone calls, cards and letters, nothing compares with seeing people face to face and spending time together.

Within our own congregation and parish, a number of good members and friends have passed away. I know that families have missed the support that would normally be shown by the congregation and community at a time of bereavement but I believe they have been upheld through acts of kindness and prayers which have assured them that they are being remembered.

The Kirk Session has not been able to meet in person but we have met through Zoom and the work of the church has continued unabated. A group of elders were appointed to prepare for the reopening of our buildings. The task was a considerable one as numerous risk assessments had to be prepared and policy documents drawn up to ensure that we comply with requirements set by the Scottish Government and the Church of Scotland. The group is to be thanked for rising to the challenge and successfully completing the task.

The reopening of our buildings (Church and Parish Halls) on the 20th of September was a significant occasion though services will continue to be different for some time as numbers able to attend are limited, face coverings have to be worn and singing is not permitted. How blessed we are to have such a fine organist in Tony Baldwin. His playing, Sunday by Sunday, lifts our spirits and enriches our services. The Kirk Session has agreed that, given the considerable number of people who joined us online throughout the time our buildings were closed from all corners of the world, services from the Church will continue to be broadcast on our website and Facebook page and also on YouTube. Equipment to livestream the services has been ordered and will be installed, we hope, in late October. Again, we are grateful to our Publicity team for all that they have done and continue to do in this important area of our outreach.

At harvest time encouragement was given to the congregation to support WaterAid and shortly we will launch the Blythswood Care Christmas Shoebox Appeal 2020. Information about the appeal will be given on the website, Facebook page and by intimation on a Sunday.

We are now heading into the autumn which can be a lovely season as the leaves on the trees change colour and we enjoy the produce of the land. And then it will be winter and though we do not know how things will be with regard to the pandemic, the rhythm of the Church year will continue and as we journey from Harvest to Remembrance then onto Advent and Christmas, we can be certain that God journeys with us and it is my hope that this knowledge will be both a comfort and a source of strength.

Recently I came across these words;

‘God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow or sunshine without rain. But he did promise strength for the day and light for the way.’

I believe these words contain a great truth. So much can happen in this life that is beyond our ability to understand or explain but we have the testimony of the scriptures and of faithful people down through the years who have shared their experience of knowing God’s presence even in the darkest of times.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you think I could be of help to you. I will be pleased to hear from you.

Be assured of my prayers and very best wishes,

Your Friend and Minister,

Gary J McIntyre