Message from the Manse
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Jesus and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. (Luke 23:55ff)
This Easter time is for most of us going to be like no other that we’ve ever experienced, because for the first time our churches are going to be closed on the most joyous time in the Christian calendar. We’re not going to be able to gather together to welcome Jesus our Lord as he entered into Jerusalem greeted as he was by such a vast crowd. We’re not going to be able, as a congregation, to feel ourselves a part of that crowd as we sing our songs of praise to him. And on Easter Sunday we’re not going to be able to rejoice together as we declare: ‘Christ the Lord is risen today!’ and ‘Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son!’
We’re not going to be able to share our Easter joy with one another through hand shake or hug and neither will we be able to share it with our individual families as we spend a happy time around the dinner table ... and no doubt on Sunday 12th April the pain of separation which we’re feeling at the moment is going to be particularly acute. And not only will that be the case for us who are Christians, because of course Easter has become a special family holiday time for those who have little thought for its true meaning. And just maybe not being able to do what they are used to doing at Easter will cause some to wonder about what they’re really missing.
Shut in at Easter ... and yet wasn’t that the situation too for those first disciples of Jesus on that first Easter weekend? Surely the women who Luke tells us about would have loved to have gone along to the tomb with their spices on that Sabbath day following the crucifixion, but they weren’t able to; they had to stay at home. And the Apostles who gathered together behind locked doors, John tells us out of fear, would surely have rather have been anywhere else; but there they were.
So in a sense perhaps it might actually be possible for us to experience Easter this year, shut away as we’ll be, in a more authentic way than ever before. There’ll be those feelings of wanting to be there amongst our Christian family sharing together in the presence of our Lord and not being able to; there’ll be those feelings of uncertainty as to what the future holds for each of us; there’ll be our concerns and fears for our family and friends. But at the same time we’ll have an advantage over those women waiting the end of the Sabbath, and those Apostles waiting they knew not what, because we know for certain that the one who was crucified, died and was buried has risen in triumph from the grave, so that we who call him Lord are now with, and in Him, alive to God..
The reality is that we might for a time be physically shut in, but just as the enclosed tomb couldn’t hold in our Lord and Saviour nearly two thousand years ago so our closed doors today aren’t going to be able to keep us from experiencing anew the joy, wonder, and assurance of the fact that Jesus Christ is risen ... he is risen indeed!
May you each have an especially happy, blessed, and Christ filled Easter.
With every blessing,
We were sad to hear of the peaceful passing of Anne Roxburgh on Sunday 22nd March. Anne, who was an Elder at Ebenezer, served faithfully for many years as a missionary nurse in Nigeria though in recent times had been confined to her room in South Park Retirement Home. Because of the current situation her family have decided to have a private cremation and burial of ashes, although it is intended that there will be a Thanksgiving Service for her life, in the Church, once it is safe for this to happen.
Gone to be with her Lord
Mrs Annabelle Christie (Nan)
Heroes of the faith Jack Robertson
The Christmas heroine was Anne Roxburgh who sadly passed away recently. Little did I know that I was writing a form of her epitaph.
Our hero for Easter is another woman of faith who took the Gospel in its fullness to Nigeria.
Born in Aberdeen in 1848 she moved to Dundee when 10 years old. By the age of 14 she was working 12 hours a day in a city mill. She grasped what education she could through night school and reading when going back and forward to work.
A committed Christian she became involved in youth work and, inspired by David Livingstone's work applied to work as a missionary in Africa. She subsequently sailed for Calabar, South East Nigeria, in "the white man's grave".
Best known for her work in saving 1876 twins she also became the first woman magistrate in the British Empire. It is recorded that at one meeting"she got up and boxed the ears of a chief because he kept interrupting after being warned to be quiet - much to the amusement of the other chiefs".
A devoted Bible reader she had noted against one of St Paul's less charitable comments about a woman: "Na! Na! Paul laddie. This will no' do". No wonder one of her colleagues described her as "a whirlwind and an earthquake and a fire and a still small voice all in one".
Who was She?
Leith Basics Bank George Banks
Earlier this year Edinburgh produced statistics for 2019 showing that month on month referrals were up on those in 2018. In the first quarter of 2019 they were up by 50%. The referrals come mostly from social work organisations and one of these, 'Y People' have recently had a member of their staff coming along to the food bank where they are able to help the clients solve some of their problems. The statistics show that Leith Basics Bank deal with more clients than the other Basics Banks in the city and have more referrals from the Scottish Welfare Fund.
Leith Basics Bank was closed for one Wednesday in 2019, Christmas Day, but the week before we gave out food to 33 clients. Now do bear in mind that some clients have families. We reckon that nearly 2 years food went out in one day. That is quite staggering when you look at it like that; that's a lot of food! That's a lot of work for those in our food room! (Janis, Gina, Linda and Sandra make up the team in the food room - Linda and Sandra are from Duke Street URC and bring their donations week on week). As well as the four ladies in the Food Room, Robert makes sure that they have the shelves full from stock which he maintains elsewhere in the church.
During this period when Coronavirus is on everyone's lips we hear a lot about the 'front line' being in our NHS. I wouldn't want to argue with that, but spare a thought for the people who are keeping our Food Banks open, the folks in our supermarkets checking out our goods, the driver of the bus as well as others. We ho are faced with staying indoors are not impotent in all of this. Indeed we are most important, for those in the 'front line' need our prayerful support.
As we come to our Easter period, that pivotal event of Christianity, let us remind ourselves of the offer it gives us to continue our earthly journey with the living Christ.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today,
He walks with me and talks with me
along life's narrow way
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart
You ask me how I know he lives,
He lives, within my heart
Basics Bank Janis Cantlay
Like everything else the Basics Bank has been greatly affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. We still have the same number of clients, if not more, but we are having to change the way we operate in order to comply with Government guidance.
I the past clients came in, sat at a table and had a cup of tea or coffee. Someone would talk to them about their circumstances and then they would give them a list of available items for them to tick what they needed. Their bags would then be packed and they would leave - or stay if they fancied a chat.
Now the volunteers go into the church on Tuesday afternoons and pre-pack bags with set items for 1 person, 2 people, and families, trying always to keep 2 metres apart from each other! On Wednesday, food bank day, the clients are no longer allowed to come in to the church. They queue at the side of the church and into the car park (2 meters apart) and are then allowed to come to the back door (the Kitchen door) one at a time where they're given their bags of food.
We still get our fresh food from Cyrenians Fare Share, although we are having to wait for it to be delivered as they are no longer allowing people on their premises to collect. Like all other food banks we have been struggling to get tinned food and toiletries because of the panic buying and limits that supermarkets have had to put on the number of items that each person can buy. However Edinburgh City Mission are working on this and have been getting donations into a new collection point which are then distributed to the various Basic banks. Although we have run low on some things, we have always had food to give people, and we are grateful to God for this.
The names of 30 books of the Bible are in the following paragraphs. Can you find them?
This is a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman, in an airplane seat pocket, on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much, he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on this while fishing from his john-boat. Another friend studied it while playing his banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist, was so intrigued by it, she mentioned it in her newspaper column.
Another friend judges the job of solving this puzzle so involving, she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves, There will be some names that are easy to spot. That's a fact. Some people, however, will soon find themselves in a jam; especially sins the books' names are not necessarily capitalised.
Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister a minister or scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in this paragraph. During a recent fund raising event, which featured this puzzle, the Alpha-Delta-Phi lemonade booth set a new sales record.
The local paper, The Chronicle, surveyed over 200 patrons who reported that this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Humana humbly puts it: The books are all right here, in plain view, hidden from sight.
Those able to find all of them will hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation that may help is that books life Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. Also keep in mind, that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal.
A chipper attitude will help you compete really well against those who claim to know the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mad exodus. There really are 30 books of the Bible, lurking somewhere in this paragraph, just waiting to be found.
Sailors Society George Banks
The 'Cruise Ship Programme ' for 2020 is very much on hold as you would expect. Indeed I don't expect any cruise ships to arrive in Leith this year, and if they do arrive I wouldn't expect any of the ship's Captains to allow any unnecessary visitors. Holidays, whether that be flying off somewhere or going on a cruise are on the back burner. Mind you that hasn't stopped some companies from advertising their holidays for 2021. I guess their bookings have to be that far ahead!
There is, however, one person in Leith on the 'front line' and that is our Port Chaplain, Pauline Robertson who is still at work on a daily basis visiting crews of merchant ships up and down the Forth Estuary. It's a reminder, is it not, of the goods that come into our ports, keeping our supermarkets stocked so that we do not have to go without - even in a time of lockdown! At this time many of the seafarers will be anxious about loved ones at home, who are perhaps in countries where the virus has taken hold. A visit from the Port Chaplain can often allay their fears as she offers her support and prays with them for God's presence and peace to be with them in their concerns for family.
Again we in our isolation can be a force for good in our prayers for those who are still working for the benefit of us all.
All over the world God's Spirit is moving - not just this invisible virus.
Thanks be to God.
Managers Report Spring 2020
This report is really just an update of things that have happened before the current isolation we find ourselves in, as we all know due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Towards the end of January, the central heating boilers were serviced. It was necessary to have work done on the small boiler that serves the kitchen and rooms etc. The two main boilers which we were aware have problems (if spare parts are required), these however passed the service without a problem at this time. We have however decided to obtain quotations for the replacement of all three boilers. To date, we have received a quote from Scottish Gas but are still trying to obtain another two quotations, which at the moment is not successful. There will be more information on this when we receive quotations and are able to hold managers’ meetings again.
During the very wet and windy weather in February the roof area above the toilets at the car park end of the building lost roofing felt which also took tiles with it. We have had a temporary repair on this carried out but to have proper repairs the roofing contractor has asked that the council planning department be contacted to ensure there is no restriction on tiles that can be used. This can affect what a contractor can offer when quoting for re-instatement of damage. We will also require another two quotations. None of this however can happen until we receive the planning department report, which again is a slow process at present.
I am sure you all know the saying “it never rains but it pours” and it certainly has, as I also received word that water was coming in at the manse in the area above the dining room/living room. We have had a roofing contractor on site regarding this problem and all necessary work has now been completed. Both the temporary repair at the church and the repair at the manse have been paid for on receipt of invoices.
Finally, some good news following our A.G.M. The Treasurer, as she does every year, submitted accounts to the Church Offices and OSCR, the charity regulator as normal. I am now able to inform you that these accounts have been inspected and approved by OSCR and I wish to thank our Treasurer on the tremendous work she carries out on our behalf in keeping our finance in order. Words cannot express our gratitude for the service she carries out on our behalf and never more so in these difficult times.
Preses W Sutherland
Some of us stay at the cross,
some of us wait at the tomb,
Quickened and raised with Christ
yet lingering still in the gloom.
Some of us 'bide at the Passover feast
with Pentecost all unknown,
The triumphs of grace in the heavenly place
that our Lord has made His own.
If the Christ who died had stopped at the cross,
His work had been incomplete.
If the Christ who was buried had stayed in the tomb,
He had only known defeat,
But the way of the cross never stops at the cross
and the way of the tomb leads on
To victorious grace in the heavenly place
where the risen Lord has gone.
Annie Johnson Flint.
Call to Prayer John Fulton
Last Sunday, thousands of Christians across Scotland and the rest of the UK answered the call to pray at the same time in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following the overwhelming response the Call to a National Day of Prayer received last Sunday, we invite you to continue to pray at 7pm on Sundays. Further, we invite you to pray each Sunday at this time over the weeks to come.
We pray in solidarity with many others across Britain and Ireland and in solidarity with those across the world who face the challenge that the Covid-19 pandemic brings. We offer a prayer at this time:
In these times it is good to be able to join with countless others in the UK and around the world as we come to God in prayer – bringing to him our struggles, our fears, our concerns as we pray for all for whom this is a very challenging time.
To encourage us in this below is a ‘Call to Prayer’ which invites us all to continue to take time to pray at 7 pm on Sunday evenings – and to light a candle if we feel that’s appropriate.
The Psalms are always so helpful and particularly in our current circumstances. The opening verse of Ps 22 was quoted by Jesus on the cross – ‘My God, my God why have you abandoned me..?’ – and there are folk feeling that way at present and yet after speaking of his struggles, the psalmist can go on to say ‘But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.’ How we all need to know His strength as we put our trust in Him!
Joint prayer from Christians in Scotland:
We turn to you, our Father, for we need your help.
Lord Jesus, as you have promised, be with us, whatever lies ahead,
Strengthen us, Holy Spirit, as we face this together.
We pray for our world and our country,
as coronavirus threatens our lives and our livelihood, leaving many in lockdown,
while key workers continue, despite the risk.
We pray for government leaders at Westminster and Holyrood,
responding to medical and scientific advice,
making tough decisions for the wellbeing of all.
We pray for all who serve on the frontline in the NHS and in social care;
facing increasing numbers, overstretched resources
and distressing human need.
Bless those who are ill, those who are alone and afraid,
those exhausted looking after their family, those worried for the vulnerable,
those fearful for their finances, those shut in to their fears.
Thank you for those who have returned from retirement to help,
or joined the volunteer army.
Thank you for those working:
to manufacture needed resources,
to find a vaccine,
to keep in contact with the isolated,
to encourage others at this time.
Have mercy on us, O Lord.
Give us faith, hope and love and hear our prayers,
in Jesus' name. Amen.