As we approach Easter this year it is like no other approach
to Easter in living memory. Church Services have been cancelled and there will
be no services during Holy Week, no early morning services on Easter Sunday morning,
like the ones on Bigholm Hill just outside Beith or on the beach at Whiting
Bay. Both services I have attended. These early morning services are held in
quiet places, and the peace that we feel makes us all think of why we celebrate
Easter, the resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus had been betrayed by one of his
disciples, Judas, and he must have been apprehensive of what was to come when
found guilty of a set up crime and nailed to the cross. What joy we now know on
Easter Sunday when the women found the stone was rolled away and the tomb
empty, Jesus was no longer there. But at the time, did the women have a feeling
of fear, just as we all have a feeling of fear at this time of the Coronavirus?
Everyone is now to isolate to try to beat this virus. For my wife and I there
will be no trip over to Arran, where we usually celebrate Easter, no hugs from
family and grandchildren, hugs that are so needed when things get difficult.
The time ahead will be difficult and uncertain for each and every one of us, we
may have fears when illness strikes, when jobs are lost, like the fear the
women had when they found the empty tomb.
However, when this emergency is over
we will all be able to celebrate with our families and friends and receive the
hugs we miss so dearly especially from our grandchildren.
I hope and pray that you will all be
able on Easter Sunday to take time to think of the Easter story, the story that
Jesus is alive and like God is with us all in good times and sad times.
May God’s blessings be with you all and your families at this
On Sunday 15th March members were delighted to
welcome Jim and Elizabeth Maxwell back to the church where they were married 40
Before moving to Kilmarnock Jim and Elizabeth were active
members of the congregation. Both were serving elders in St. Cuthbert’s Church
and for many years they were heavily involved with our 1st Saltcoats
Boys Brigade Company where Jim was captain.
In light of the ever-changing situation, some of the church groups have taken the decision to suspend meetings for now. These are the Boy’s Brigade, Men’s Group and Guild. Other groups are reviewing their positions. The Presbytery meeting scheduled for Tuesday 17 March (Three Towns Mission Meeting) has been postponed.
Other changes which will come into effect next Sunday. Collection plates will not be passed around during the service but will be left at the door for your offerings as you come in to the church. You will also be asked to collect a hymn book and intimation sheet as you come in to minimise the number of people handling them. Our kitchen is already maintained to the highest standard but from next Sunday only individually wrapped cakes and biscuits will be available.
A small team is being put together as an emergency committee to deal with the changing requirements precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts are being made to obtain hand sanitiser for use at the doors and as a supplement to hand-washing.
If you are unable to come into the service, please know that you are in our thoughts. It would be great if you joined an online service on a Sunday. HERE IS A LINK to various Church of Scotland online services. Not listed but also available is West Kilbride Parish Church or the totally online Church of Scotland community at Sanctuary First.
Next week (22 March) will be a Family Service including a Baptism . There will be a meeting for both Board and Session after the service.
We continued reading about the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian Martyr, in Acts and our first introduction to Saul, who approved the killing. There was considerable and understandable distress amongst Christ’s followers as persecution escalated and they dispersed across the region. Saul we bent on destroying the church, pulling people from their own homes and imprisoning them.
The believers who fled took the Good News with them and rather than the message becoming suppressed, the faith expanded.
Philip, who like Stephen was one of the originally appointed deacons, became more missional and preached in Sumeria, which had become a safe refuge for fleeing Christians, where there was a good relationship between them and the Samaritans. This was possibly helped by the earlier experiences they had with Christ (see John 4: 4-42).