Pastoral Letter

Easter 2021

Dear Friends,

I am grateful for the opportunity presented by this letter to extend to you my good wishes and to express my hope that you are coping okay as we continue to live through the pandemic.

The vaccination programme is being rolled out at a good pace and it certainly gives us cause to be positive and to believe that sooner rather than later, we will emerge from the restrictions that we have been living under for the last year.

I am, however, only too aware that for a number of you the future will be less bright due to the loss of a loved one, the onset of illness, and the lasting impact of a pandemic that has affected us in ways we may not fully appreciate for some time to come. You are very much in my thoughts and prayers.

The Scottish Government announced on 9th March that Church buildings can, if Covid-19 statistics continue to go in the right direction, reopen from 26th March though the maximum number permitted to attend services will initially be 50. Given this restriction, those of you who are able to remain at home and watch services online are encouraged to do so. That being said, I will also be pleased to see a number of you in the building! I am pleased to inform you that there will be an online service at 7pm each evening in Holy Week from Churches in the area, including St Ninians Old. Information about the services will appear on our website and Facebook page. For those who do not have access to the internet, CD’s of Sunday services are available. If you would like to receive CD’s on a regular basis, please contact me and I will pass your details to our Publicity team, who are doing a sterling job in making our services available in different formats. 

I would like to express my sincere thanks to you for your ongoing support for the Church at this challenging time. Your ‘giving’ has ensured that we have met our commitments, including the cost of major fabric work on the Church building, and it has encouraged me to have confidence that we will be able to face the challenges ahead as we return to a greater degree of normality. If you have not been able to support the Church financially and would like to do so, please contact me and I will be pleased to provide you with the relevant information.

Easter will be different as, like last year, we will miss the opportunity to gather in a large number to sing the great hymns that celebrate our Lord’s resurrection. But we will, in Church, and through online worship and services on television and the radio, be able to reflect once more on the wonderful truth at the heart of our faith, that God gave the world His own dear Son to suffer and to die, and that on the third day, He raised him to life again.

The Easter message is one that makes us who we are – people of hope who, in every circumstance, know that God’ love encompasses us and lifts us from despair; people of the way who believe that following Jesus is the way that leads to fulfilment and lasting joy; people of light who proclaim that the darkness even of death gives way to the light of life everlasting.

The pandemic has been and continues to be a challenge. Some have found their faith to be a source of strength, while others have questioned it in a way they never have before.

The faith of Jesus’ disciples was challenged as they witnessed the painful and unjust death of their friend, who in the end died in isolation. But Jesus didn’t admonish his friends’ very human lack of faith. He restored it with his victory of life over death.

It is my belief, based on the Easter message, that as we journey together through this unprecedented period in our lives, God travels with us, and is present in all our daily experiences, offering us hope, reminding us of the way and leading us to the light.

I acknowledge that believing things will improve when we’re in the midst of a trying situation can be difficult. The disciples, you recall, experienced this. They had trouble recognizing the resurrected Jesus after His crucifixion, such was the trauma they had lived through, but when they did recognise him, their lives were transformed and they went forward steadfast in faith and confident that nothing could separate them from God or His love as it is found in the risen Lord.
It is my prayer that whatever your situation and whatever cross you are having to carry, you will, like the first followers, know the joy and peace of Christ in your heart, and that encountering him afresh in his risen power, you will find yourself able to look forward and believe, as I do, that God’s good plans for us and the kingdom will be fulfilled, and all will ultimately be well.

Easter blessings,

Your Friend and Minister,

Gary J McIntyre