New Sermon Series ” Blessed”

New Sermon Series on the Beatitudes

Mount of Beatitudes, seen from Capernaum

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated, His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

Matthew 5:1-2

Last Sunday morning, we began a new sermon series entitled “Blessed,” looking at the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5. The Beatitudes is the name commonly given to the first part of what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. 

I hope to set the scene for this new sermon series and Bible study
at our midweek prayer meeting tonight by looking more closely at what the Sermon on the Mount in general and the Beatitudes specifically are about and what they have to say to us today.

I have always believed the prayer meeting should be a meeting of those who wish to pray. In the year ahead we hope that others will come and join us, as we have many reasons to pray and many to pray for in the time ahead. I have also felt that a preacher-led Bible Study lecture should not dominate the prayer meeting, but that our priority should be corporate and private prayer. That will certainly not change, and in the year ahead, we hope that more will join us to pray, and a cordial invitation is given to all to join us on Wednesday evenings at 7.30 PM.

Over time we have looked at several books, passages, topics, and themes in scripture in the prayer meeting that addresses various issues in Christian life. These have included for example;
the need for prayer, repentance and to seek the Lord, the need for obedience, the need for holiness, the need for grace, the need for humility, the need for forgiveness, the need for tears even. But in the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus Christ combines this heavenly inspired teaching with challenging practical application of these truths to all listeners and readers then and now. The Sermon on the Mount calls us to a radical lifestyle that is shaped by God’s Word and guided by God, the Holy Spirit. What we might say to be the rule and reign of God in the hearts & lives of His people.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Matthew 5:13-14

As we read Matthew chapters 5-7, we see what real Christian character is. In essence, what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It isn’t just another supplementary law code or rule book. This Sermon takes us beyond Old Testament Law and our good works. It is a thoroughgoing examination of what it means to be a Christian. In carefully rereading these chapters, we have to confess that none of us is ever able to say that we have reached the summit of this Mount!

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33

My prayer is that as we look at Beatitudes, and the Sermon on the Mount, that we will let God the Holy Spirit challenge us and change us to His glory.

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It was with a profound sense of sadness and loss that many people in Harris and much further afield learned of the passing of Dr John Hay of Miavaig Uig, Isle of Lewis, on Sunday, the 9th of May. His passing leaves a huge void in the lives of his family, his daughters and grandchildren upon whom he doted, but also the wider community of Uig and Bernera, who mourn with them.
These words are in no way an official tribute, but simply my own very fond recollections of someone who, as a GP, as a Christian, as a preacher and as a friend, had a great impact upon the lives of many people, my own included.

His own family have described him as a legend, and that was undoubtedly true. John’s infectious zest for life, combined with a heart of love for all, endeared him to everyone who knew him. We are thankful for having known this rare soul who lived life to the full and was loved by all as a neighbour, friend and elder statesman of the church and community.

The people of Uig and Bernera knew him primarily as our dearly beloved GP as well as a frequent and very popular lay preacher. Growing up in Bernera in the 70s and 80s, I looked forward immensely to the nights when Dr Hay was taking the evening service in the church in Breaclete. For young and old alike, it was so refreshing to hear a preacher so interesting and easy to listen to, but yet with such profound and practical insight into the scriptures. Over the years, he was a familiar and popular preacher in many pulpits throughout the islands, including here in Tarbert.

Uig district with Suainabhal and Mealaisbhal from Beinn Breacleit Bernera

John also fulfilled a very important role in the Presbytery of Lewis as ministries convenor and was particularly interested in helping and supporting students training for the ministry. None of us who were candidates for the ministry at that time can ever forget his warm-hearted support and words of counsel and wisdom to us during the years of our training.

The personal debt that I and I know many others owe to John and to his late wife Faye is incalculable. When I was eight years old, my father suffered a heart attack in the family home. One of the enduring images my mother recalled from that time was Dr Hay on his knees by my father’s bed, in earnest prayer for him. As a couple, John and Faye continued to encourage and be an inspiration to all who encountered them in any walk of life.
John leaves an enduring legacy for his family and friends as well as a deep void in the lives of all who knew him. To his daughters Peggy,Marion, Janet, Kirsty and Joy, their own husbands and the grandchildren who John loved so dearly, we extend our heartfelt and prayerful condolences.


‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing. ‘

2 Timothy 4:7-8
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Gaelic Service Sunday evening 25th April

Our next Gaelic service is scheduled for this coming Sunday evening 25th April, at 6 PM, to which everyone is cordially invited.
The service will be live-streamed using Zoom and YouTube from the church in Tarbert and will consist of Gaelic singings, prayers and sermon.
We would be delighted to have you share in fellowship with us at this Gaelic service. The online Gaelic services have been consistently very well attended over the last year, and we look forward to your company and fellowship if you can make it on Sunday evening.
If you wish to join this meeting, please click on the following link to take you to the service through your Zoom app or browser extension. Please note that this service will be closely monitored by our team of co-hosts to ensure the safety of all attending and for the security of the meeting. The service will also be streamed on YouTubeLive.

Tarbert Church of Scotland is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Gaelic Service Sunday 25th April Zoom Meeting
Time: Apr 25, 2021 06:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 832 6489 4161
Passcode: 900237

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Church re-opening Sunday 18th April

As we intimated this morning, we hope to start in-person services in the church a week today at 11 AM Sunday 18th April.

We are looking forward to getting back together to worship, so please get in touch and let us know as soon as possible if you would like to come to church by dropping a line to with your name and contact details and the names of any others of whom you are aware and who may wish to go to church.

By the middle of the week, we will be back in touch to let you know what happens next and send you some important information regarding our returning to in-person worship.

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A Time to Mourn

The Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

For us as a Nation and as Commonwealth, now is a time to weep and mourn. The passing of Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, the beloved husband of our Queen for seventy-three years, and Consort of our reigning Sovereign for over sixty years is in many ways the end of an era. Many if not most of us have never known anyone else other than the Queen reigning on the throne of the Commonwealth and Nation, and for the entire duration of her reign, Prince Philip has been by her side as her strength and stay as the Queen herself expressed it so well. 

The Queen and Prince Philip were practically married for a lifetime and lived through times of tumultuous change. They were married in 1947, just as the world was beginning to recover from World War 2, and were together as a solid and united team to lead the Nation and the Commonwealth through many a crisis over the years and into the twenty-first century. During that time, fourteen British Prime Ministers have served, and the Queen and the Prince have met twelve United States Presidents. For many, they have as a couple been a constant source of inspiration and strength in a sea of turmoil and change. Their marriage remained stable and strong and an example of commitment and love to the end. 

In her mourning, we lift our Queen to the love and grace of God and pray that the grief she knows may be assuaged by the comforting presence of the Saviour, who she knows and professes so radiantly. 

In the Bible, the apostle Paul encourages us to pray for our leaders. 

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. “

1 Timothy 2:1-2 .

Now more than ever before, it is necessary for us to put this into practice. Tomorrow morning as we reflect on these verses, may we remember that, Now is time for us to mourn with our Queen and support her Majesty with our prayers.

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As many will be aware, this morning would normally have been the Sunday morning of the Tarbert Communion season. We would look forward to this service and the opportunity of sitting together in fellowship to celebrate or observe the sacrament of the Lord’s supper.
Sadly because of the current situation, we cannot gather as we would wish. Although some churches have celebrated “ virtual” communion, it is felt that this is lacking in many ways as we cannot be gathered together to commemorate the sacrament.
We invite you, though, to join us for our morning service today, which will focus as Communion services always should on the sufferings and death of our blessed Saviour Jesus for us. It is hoped that rather than remind us of what we are lacking and missing, the service will focus us on the reason for everything the Lord’s Supper speaks of, the love of God for us in Jesus Christ.
As today is also Mother’s day, this too will be reflected in the service.
A brief order for today is attached below, along with the hymn numbers for those who may wish to sing in their own homes. If you wish to join us via Zoom, please get in touch for the link. The service can also be viewed online on our Youtube channel

  • Opening Praise Psalm 118:15-26 “ In dwellings of the righteous”
  • Prayer
  • All-age talk for Mother’s day
  • Scripture Reading John 19: 23-27
  • “ O sacred head sore wounded “ sung by Fernando Ortega ( No. 107 revised hymnary, No. 253 CH3, No.520 Mission Praise).
  • Sermon “ “Behold your mother!”’
  • Closing Praise “ According to thy gracious word “ ( No.313 Revised hymnary, No. 585 CH3)
  • Prayer and benediction

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Philip Yancey, the award-winning American Christian author, wrote a fascinating and challenging book entitled ‘ What’s so amazing about grace?’, probably with John Newton’s hymn of that name in mind. So what is so amazing about grace and what in fact is it? Without doubt, grace is one of the most distinctive words in our Christian vocabulary and yet probably one of the least understood. Some words of course defy concise definitions and grace is one of them, simply because the wealth of the entire revelation of God in Christ is enshrined in it. Many attempts have been made to define grace but perhaps we could say that grace is the spontaneous love and boundless mercy of God freely expressed toward those who are entirely undeserving of it. It is love for the unlovely, love at its most generous.

Although the word grace is found frequently in the New Testament, especially in Paul’s letters, Jesus, who was full of grace, himself never analysed or defined grace and almost never used the word. Instead, he communicated and demonstrated its power through stories we know as parables, most notably that of the Prodigal Son. I rather think that the real prodigal in that story was the father, who was as prodigal with his love and forgiveness as the wayward son was in the misuse of his money, honour and self-respect. Either way, the parable is a wonderful commentary on the amazing grace of God.

Let me share a story which illustrates powerfully what grace means. A father tells how, once, in the middle of the night he found his broken-hearted wife kneeling beside their son’s bed, stroking his hair. The lad lay there fully clothed, having once again come home in a drunken stupor. “What on earth are you doing?”, the father asked. Looking up, his wife said, through her tears “He won’t let me do this when he is awake.” Though her son constantly spurned her loving actions, she kept on loving him. That surely is grace in action.

The supreme example of God’s grace of course is in the salvation of sinners. According to the scriptures, man’s only hope of salvation is in the grace of God which He offers to needy sinners as a gift. The world can do many things but it cannot offer grace. This is the Church’s privilege however, to offer the gospel of God’s saving grace to a world that thirsts for grace in ways it does not even recognise. John Newton wrote eloquently of such a grace that saved a wretch like him. No wonder his great hymn “Amazing Grace” found its way into the Top Ten charts two hundred years after its composition and is still being sung with gratitude by so many all over a world in which there is so much un-grace.

A composer sometimes adds ‘grace notes’ to his composition, and a singer to his song. Though not essential to the melody, they add a flourish whose presence would be missed. Similarly, the grace of God in our hearts can add a sweetness and loveliness to our faith and witness which will make them attractive to the world and point them to Christ, the fountain of all true grace. May He enable us, by His Amazing Grace, so to do.

Rev Donald John Morrison

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Our next Gaelic service is scheduled for this coming Sunday evening 31st January at 6PM. The service will be lead by Rev Donald John Morrison , with various precentors and readers taking part.
More detailed information will be given in further posts.
The service will be live-streamed using Zoom from the church in Tarbert and will consist of Gaelic singings, prayers and sermon.

We would be delighted to have you share in fellowship with us at this Gaelic service.If you wish to join this meeting, please click on the following link to take you to the service through your Zoom app or browser extension. The service will also be streamed on YouTubeLive .

Join Zoom Meeting…
Meeting ID: 824 4952 7409
Passcode: 086699

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Before Christmas last year, we received permission from the Presbytery of Uist to reopen the church, having been shut for most of 2020. We planned to reopen the church in Tarbert for an initial service on Sunday morning 17th January. The Kirk Session and the Management Committee had met to discuss this after Christmas and agreed to hold an in-person service in Tarbert on Sunday 17th January.

However, as we are all painfully aware, the national situation concerning the new COVID variant has deteriorated markedly since then. After a bit of discussion this morning, ( Saturday 9th January), the Kirk Session now think it would be unwise to go ahead and reopen the church next Sunday. Given how the national picture is looking just now, we feel it might be right for us to wait a while until the situation caused by the alarming surge in the new variant cases improves. The feeling was that we shouldn’t now open on Sunday 17th January, but it is felt appropriate that we offer the use of the church for funerals or weddings if requested by a family.

We realise that this will be disappointing to some. Still, we hope that everyone will understand that given the gravity of the situation facing the country, we feel that it is prudent and wise to postpone reopening of the church until a later date. Our Zoom meetings will not be affected by this in any way and will continue during this difficult time. We are thankful that we can do what we have been doing for the last few months in worshipping God together in our own homes because of Zoom.

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Happy New Year

The New Year letter this year is being posted on the website a bit later than usual. This letter is also being posted physically to the entire congregation, and hence we did not feel it was right to post the letter on the website until it had arrived via Royal Mail to people’s homes. Undertaking a mailshot of the congregation is an extremely onerous task, hence the reason we haven’t undertaken too many mail-shots during the past year. Our grateful thanks are due to Karen, Agnes, Christine and others who printed, collated, labelled, enveloped and arranged postage for all these letters.


Dear friends,
Bliadhna Mhath Ùr dhuibh uile! A happy New year to you all. I wish you all God’s richest blessings for the New Year.
This year has been like no other and has been in every way a most challenging and difficult time. 2020 will be remembered by most of us as the year when everything changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
In my letter to the Congregation in December 2019 I said ; 
“The year ahead may be challenging for us personally and as a Congregation and Community in any number of different ways, but we must never leave God out of the picture. The dark times should not fool us into thinking that God is indifferent or uncaring towards His children. In every circumstance, our God can keep us and enable us to prevail.” Well, that was certainly no exaggeration, and I suppose in the light of everything that has happened in 2020, indeed, prophetic too!  

For many reading these words, this has been a difficult and challenging year. This year has been for some of us like the soul’s dark night. A time when God seems so far away, and we have been left to traverse the dark valley all alone. When friends are few, doubts are many, and there are no answers to the heart’s desperate cries. To make matters worse, God is silent, and the heavens seem shut fast in our faces. But is God far away, in these dark moments? Or is he, in fact, nearer than we can imagine, as the God who is “near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit”. ( Psalm 34:18). Although we do not know what lies ahead of us in this year, let us remain confident in the God who promises in every circumstance never to leave us nor forsake us.
2020 will also be remembered by many of us as the year when we lost loved ones, and we may feel their loss more acutely at this time than at any other. Memories and reminiscences come flooding back of the empty place in our homes at this time of year. In the sorrow and sadness of grief, we continue to remember prayerfully all who have been bereaved in the past year. May we all know this year, God as our eternal refuge, and underneath us the everlasting arms of the Saviour to uphold and to bless.

Shortly before Christmas, we received permission from the Presbytery of Uist to resume services in the church. The Kirk Session have agreed that our first few meetings will be tentative first steps in seeing how we can adjust to the many challenges that lie ahead. The Kirk Session and Committee of Management met on Tuesday evening 29th December. We agreed that our first in-person worship service would be on Sunday morning 17th January at 11 am. At present only fifty persons are permitted to attend worship, and those who wish to attend a service will have to register in advance by either email or telephone. We will also now be permitted to hold funeral services in the church, which will be limited to twenty persons in total. However, it is hoped to boost this number by offering connection to Zoom during funeral services. The services will be stewarded by a rota made up from the elders and the Committee of Management.

Services will be very different and in a form that will be strange for all of us. For this reason, I am appealing just now for people to help out with running the services and other activities in the church. Some of you may remember that in March 2019 I mentioned in the morning intimations that it took ideally a total of eighteen people to run a regular morning service in Tarbert, and at the very least a minimum of twelve people to keep things going. Since then, due to COVID, we have been working with far fewer. I should like to take this opportunity to thank and mention those who have done a massive amount of work behind the scenes.

I am truly indebted to my co-hosts on Zoom and YouTube Live, Karen Macrae, Campbell Macrae and Kenny Macleod. They have enabled the work to grow and expand by being available to host meetings and take much of the strain off my shoulders in running meetings. Calum Mackay has spent much of the summer refurbishing the old vestry, and our grateful thanks go to him for the many hours indeed days spent in the joinery work, making that part of the building fit for purpose once again. Karen has also spent many days during the initial lockdown in the spring and summer, working hard in the church grounds, making a noticeable difference around the church. My thanks for all who have worked so hard over the of last year. To build resilience into the congregation’s work in the future in what will be a new and challenging year, we need more volunteers to help in various ways. Churches have always relied on willing voluntary help, and never more so than now. If anyone thinks they can help in any way, please speak to any of the Elders or Management Comittee of the Congregation. 

Many have asked about how donations and offerings can be made to the congregation, during this time when we are not using the building. Those who donate by Weekly freewill offering envelopes can hand these to Mrs Christine Macaskill at Tarbert Post Office. Full details of other methods of donation via Standing order or on-line may be found on the Congregations website at

Without any shadow of a doubt, the past year has been a momentous and challenging year for many of us, but in faith, we look forward to all that God has in store in 2021. At present, the world’s condition seems to be a literal fulfilment of what God said through Habakkuk “Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told‘. (Habakkuk 1:5 NIV). Despite everything though, it is my prayer that we should all look to the future in faith, walking by faith and not by sight and trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and not leaning upon our own understanding in 2021.

With every good wish for the New Year, and the blessings of Christ to you all,

Ian Murdo Macdonald

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Gaelic Service Sunday Evening 27th December

Gaelic Service Sunday Evening 27th December

We will round off our worship services in 2020 with a Gaelic service at 6 PM tomorrow.
Gaelic has always been a vital part of the Western Isles’ spiritual and cultural heritage. We all miss not meeting for our traditional Gaelic service on the evening of the Lord’s day. So tomorrow night once again, we will be hosting a Gaelic service of worship live from Harris.
The service will be live-streamed using Zoom from the church in Tarbert and will consist of Gaelic singings, prayers and sermon. Short introductions and sermon points at various times will be in English. Although several pre-recorded Gaelic services have been uploaded to the website, we are now live-streaming for the second time a Gaelic service, and we hope as many as can join us for worship. The service was also be Livestreamed on YouTubeLive
The reading for tomorrow night is taken from the Song of Solomon, chapter 2.

  • The proposed order for tomorrow’s service is ;
  • Salm 65: 1-2 ‘Tha ann a Sion Feitheam ort moladh a Dhè gun dith ‘
  • Urnaigh
  • Salm 102 : 16-18 ‘ Nuair a thogar Sion suas le Dia “
  • Leughadh Dan Sholamh 2
  • Salm 25: 4-5 “Foillsich do shlighe dhomh a Dhe “
  • Searmon “Guth mo Ghraidh ! “
  • Salm 72: 17-19 “ Bidh ainm-san buan gu suthainn sìor’
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