AMAZING GRACE – 6th February 2021
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
THOUGHTS ON ADVENT – 1st December 2020
Today is the first day of December, the last month of the year. Today also marks the opening of the first day of Advent Calendars of various kinds. Very often today of a chocolately variety!
But what exactly is Advent? I have to say that as a student in training for the ministry some years ago, I found it sometimes difficult to adjust to what were for me alien concepts such as ‘the Christian year’, which I had never heard of before. As a typical Lewis lad dropped into the life and work of a large city centre Congregation in the heart of Aberdeen, I struggled with some of the things I had to do, and as much from sheer unfamiliarity as anything. On one particular Sunday morning, I was asked to lead the worship and preach, whilst the minister sat in the Congregation to observe how things went. I stood confidently at the front and welcomed everyone as I envisaged he would have and said “Good morning and welcome to worship at Holburn Central Parish Church on this the first Sunday of Advent”. The Congregation burst into hysterics! Somewhat taken aback I tried to compose myself and tried again “Good morning and welcome to worship on this the first Sunday in Advent” again even more hysterics. The problem was it wasn’t Advent, it was the end of March! An elder bellowed at me as only an Aberdonian can ‘IT’S LENT! ‘.
Terms like Advent and Lent may have been new to me then, but when stripped away of all human additions, Advent helps us focus on Jesus coming to our world, as Lent is supposed to help us prepare for Jesus crucifixion and suffering for us.
Advent may be thought of as the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day, but of much more significance is the fact that it represents the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. As John 1:14 puts it so wonderfully
‘And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth’.
John 1:14 (NIV-UK)
The word used to describe this miraculous event is INCARNATION. God was becoming human and taking human flesh.
The implications of this are awesome, and even more so when we think exactly why He became flesh – became human. God was keeping His promises to humanity. The promises that he would send His Deliverer, His Messiah or Saviour, to set people free. The prophecy given by Isaiah of Jerusalem 600 years before was being fulfilled.
‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned. ‘
Isaiah 9:2 ( NIV- UK)
Later on in his prophecy, Isaiah goes on to say in chapter 61 reminds us so powerfully, God was sending His own Spirit-filled, anointed Deliverer who would preach good news to the poor, who would bind up the brokenhearted, who would proclaim freedom to the captives, who would give release from darkness for prisoners, who would announce the year of the Lord’s favour, who would bestow on His people a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
He was sending His Son, Jesus the Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He has come as the Light of the World, the Light from which darkness flees. He has come, God’s promise was kept, God’s master plan was put into action, a plan that would be completed the day the Son of God would bow his head in death on a Roman Cross and declare triumphantly with His last breath “It is finished”.
JOY COMES IN THE MORNING A reflection for Thanksgiving 26th November 2020
‘Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.’Psalm 30:5
What do we have to be thankful for on Thanksgiving day? What could we possibly have reason to be thankful for in this ‘Annus Horribilis’, in this horrible year when everything seems to have gone wrong. A year that will long be remembered for all the wrong reasons has been made more challenging still with personal sadness for various people. For many, the loss of loved ones, the loss of health, the loss of the familiar, the loss of employment, the loss of personal confidence, the loss of faith even, have made this year notorious and difficult.
There are very few of us who will review 2020 in our life’s journal as anything other than a year best forgotten. Yet are we without hope? Have we no reason for thankfulness to God?
Psalm 30 is known as a song for thankfulness for answered prayer and is entitled as a song composed for the dedication of the house of God or the Temple. This Psalm expresses so well a wonderful truth that God does hear His people when they pray. The Psalmist rejoices that God has listened to His prayer and brought him healing. He rejoices that against all odds, God has given him life and hope once again. In verse 5 we read ‘Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning’.
For many reading these words, this has been a difficult and challenging year. For some of you, this year has been like the dark night of the soul. A time when God seems so far away, and you have been left to traverse the dark valley all alone. A time when friends are few, doubts are many, and there are no answers to the desperate cries of your heart.
In that dark valley, the reality is that there often is tears and sorrow. The Psalmist is right, weeping may endure for a night, and I do not doubt that many have known some dark, awful nights in this year that has passed. Illness, pain, grief, isolation and many other things besides have made this year seem like a long and unending night. But are any of these things more powerful than the love of God for you? The Apostle Paul was right when he triumphantly proclaimed that nothing can separate us from the love of God. ( Romans 8:39).
In one of the lesser-known of his Chronicles of Narnia books ‘ The horse and his boy’, CS Lewis describes how Shasta the runaway slave has to spend the night near a foreboding place called the tombs of the ancient kings. It is a gloomy, strange and frightening place. However, in that place of darkness and fear, he is comforted by a friendly cat, that stays with him during the night. At various points in the night, marauding jackals draw near to him but are chased away by a large and powerful lion. Only later in his journey is Shasta made aware that the friendly cat and the ferocious lion are one and the same. During his long lonely night of darkness and at other times, Shasta the runway slave has had Aslan the great lion, symbolic of Jesus with him all the time.
David, the Psalmist, puts it so well in his best-known Psalm;
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.PSALM 24:4
No matter how dark and challenging this year has been, we do have a reason for thanksgiving. God has promised never to leave nor forsake us, even if other people do. He has promised not to leave us comfortless or alone even when we are unaware of it.
Joy comes with the morning. Even on this dark Thanksgiving day, the birds sang in chorus to announce the day is coming! There is nothing that can stop the day dawning. Even during the darkest of spiritual nights, let us be comforted that joy comes with the morning, and with the promises God has given. Did the day ever dawn so bright and more joyful than the morning that Mary Magdalene met the risen Jesus in the garden? Real joy comes with the morning because He has risen!
On the last occasion I saw a dear saint from Harris, on her death bed, she whispered to me ” This too shall pass”. What a great perspective to have that in the light of all Jesus has done for us, the trials of life are but ” light and momentary troubles ( which are) achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”.(2 Corinthians 4:17)
The Psalmist knows that no matter what comes his way, joy comes with the morning and the Psalm ends in verses 11-12 with effusive praise of God, that his mourning is turned into dancing.
I love the way these verses are expressed in the Gaelic Psalter.
“Mo bhròn gu dannsa chaochail thu, is m’aodach saic faraon Do sgaoil thu dhìom, is chrioslaich mi le aoibhneas air gach taobh: Mo ghlòir gun seinneadh dhutsa cliù, gun idir bhith na tosd: A Dhia mo Thighearn, bheir mi dhut mòr-bhuidheachas am feasd.“.Salm 30:11-12
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. Psalms 30:11-12
More than a Memorial
A reflection for Remembrance – 7th November 2020
In the book of Joshua chapter 4, in the Old Testament, God commanded Joshua to have memorial stones set up that would serve to remind the Children of Israel of how God had helped them cross the river Jordan and enter the promised land. At their first encampment in the promised land at Gilgal Joshua had the stones set up, and we read in Joshua 4:21-22
‘ And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean? Then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’.Joshua 4:21-22
The memorial stones were set up to be a permanent reminder to the people, of God’s provision for them. The God who had led and guided them out of Egypt and fought for them in the wilderness was taking them into the land of their inheritance.
These stones were more than a mere memorial. They were to serve as a permanent reminder to the supernatural power and help of God. Think of the background to this account. A nation of runaway slaves evaded Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and escaped. They had journeyed over forty years in a hostile wilderness but were miraculously sustained and supplied with all that they needed. They were opposed continuously and harassed by marauders but were now entering the place promised to them long before. The stones were more than a memorial. These Stones were saying in effect ” We didn’t do this alone”. The stones are in memory of God’s help and provision for them.
I love Psalm 124 ( 2nd version – especially to the tune “Old 124th”)
1 Now Israel may say, and that truly,
if that the Lord had not our cause maintained;
if that the Lord had not our right sustained,
when cruel men against us furiously
rose up in wrath, to make of us their prey;
4 Even as a bird out of the fowler’s snare
escapes away, so is our soul set free:
broke are their nets, and thus escapèd we.
Therefore our help is in the Lord’s great Name,
who heaven and earth by his great power did frame.”Metrical Psalm 124 ( 2nd version )
When we are asked what do our war memorials and services of Remembrance mean to us? What will our answer be?
When we are asked what do our war memorials and services of Remembrance mean to us? What will our answer be? Over this weekend, the community and the nation will remember the suffering and loss of many lives in not only two world wars but also in all wars. The present situation means that our gathering at the War Memorial on Main street Tarbert will be much more muted and sparse than usual.
There are 176 names on the Harris war memorial. Each name representing a son, brother, husband neighbour or friend, tragically taken away in their youth. The appalling loss the Western Isles suffered still continue to shock many years later. The number of names on the various memorials pays tribute to the heavy price these islands paid. My grateful thanks to my friend and colleague Rev Alen McCulloch North Uist for gathering much of the data.
- Berneray & North Uist 201
- Benbecula: 57
- South Uist & Eriskay: 177
- Barra & Vatersay: 125
- Harris 176
- Lewis 1151
It is hard for us to envisage how different our communities and islands would be had these young ( mostly men) survived, and had families themselves and continued to stay rooted to the islands of their birth. It is however fruitless to ask these questions, they have gone and our islands are the poorer for that.
On another memorial far away from these shores are written words that are now closely associated with Armistice and Remembrance.
‘When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today’.The Kohima Epitaph
These famous words are attributed to Major John Etty-Leal and are engraved on the Kohima War Memorial to commemorate the men of the British 2nd Division who fell in the Battle of Kohima in North East India against the Japanese in 1944.
These words tell of a generation of young men and women who not only at Kohima but in other theatres of war, gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today. The names on the war memorial on Main street Tarbert have their stories to tell as do all the other memorial stones set up in the island and elsewhere. They speak of those who gave their lives from our communities and villages in the cause of freedom. These memorials are not there to venerate or worship anyone but serve as poignant reminders of the heavy price our islands paid in the wars. The loss of so many young lives so keenly felt by their families was a loss shared by a community and wider world which was deprived of the individual and collective vigour, intellect, talent and energy of these young people.
These stones pay silent witness to a young generation’s love of their country and the cause of freedom. But these stones have more than this to say. When our children ask us ‘what do these stones mean?’ what will we tell them? Will we tell them that if God had not intervened in providence, we would have lost the war, and the cause of evil would have triumphed. Will we tell them that without God’s mercy our whole way of life would have perished long ago. These stones are more than Memorials. They are silent reminders testifying as Samuel’s Ebenezer or ‘stone of help’ was long ago, to remind us all that it was God who helped us.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”1 Samuel 7:12 NKJV
A Tribute to Bill Kenyon 31st August 2020
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 7.30pm
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.
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!
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.
Ministers New Year Letter 2020
Bliadhna Math Ùr dhuibh Uile,
A happy New Year to you all.
I take this opportunity to write my customary New Year letter which goes out on the first Sunday of the New year. I simply want to wish you all God’s richest blessings for the year that lies ahead of us. I hope and pray that everyone had a happy and blessed Christmas time and that it might be in faith and confidence in God that we look forward to a new decade beginning in 2020. This year I am happy to be writing in similar terms to the congregation of Manish Scarista of which I am Interim Moderator during their period of vacancy.
Although New Year is now past, we are still very much in the grip of winter. It is the darkest, coldest and bleakest time of the year. No wonder then that many of us look forward with anticipation to longer days and the approach of spring. If we struggle with the cold and long hours of darkness here in Harris then spare a thought for the poor people of the town of Utqiaġvik (formerly known as the city of Barrow) in Alaska. Utqiaġvik lies on the North coast of Alaska. It is over two hours flight from Anchorage, Alaska’s biggest city, and is actually situated inside the Artic circle. Due to its location this small town of less than 5000 people saw the sun set on 18th November 2019 and will not see the sun rise over the horizon again until 23rd January 2020. Over two months of perpetual darkness makes even winter days in Harris seem bearable in comparison. The turn of the year often brings a renewed sense of optimism as the days get longer and indeed, since Christmas, there is even now a discernible difference in the length of the day.
One of the best known promises given by God through the prophet Isaiah, is found in the familiar words of Isaiah 9:2 “ The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone”.
We often make reference to this great passage regarding the promise of the coming Christ at Christmas time but it is, I believe, a passage and a promise that is appropriate all year. As the people of Utqiaġvik living in the Polar night of Alaska look forward with anticipation to the return of the sun over the horizon , so the people of God looked forward to the fulfilment of Isaiah’s promise in Jesus our Saviour.
The New Year is a time for us all to start again with God and with each other, and embrace the truly God given opportunities that he will give us in 2020. Speaking personally I believe it is an opportunity that must not be squandered. Despite the challenges this may bring, the good news is that God is always there to help!
Scott Hubbard editor at Desiring God expresses it so well “ As we sit on the edge of a new year, we are hemmed in by the faithfulness of God. Behind us are his wondrous deeds. Before us are his merciful plans. Both of them are marvellous and more than can be told. With such a God behind us and before us, we need not allow the past to swallow us, nor the future to worry us. The past and the future belong to him — and most importantly, so do we.” These are truly wise and encouraging words. We do not know what lies ahead of us in this coming year yet, in faith, we can trust in the God who holds the future in His hand. I know that for many reading these words the past year may have brought bereavement, sadness, disappointment or pain. Yet none of these things diminish God’s love for us and my prayer is that, in this coming year, God may give to each of His struggling children precious tokens of His love.
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 beguile us into thinking that God is indifferent or uncaring towards His children. In every circumstance our God is able to keep us and enable us to prevail. At this time may we all know throughout this year the truth of the words of Jesus Christ
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
In this New Year may we all walk in the Light of God’s love and Grace.
With every good wish for the New Year, and the blessings of Christ to you all,
Ian Murdo Macdonald
Sunday School Family Service 2019
The theme for all the Advent services has been ‘the coming King’, and today once again we looked at the Christmas message as told in the Bible, and especially the joy and hope that the birth of the Lord Jesus brought to our world. We were glad to have the Sunday school taking part in the service by leading the prayers and doing the readings at the service, and it was a real blessing for us to have them and the creche join us for this special service.
Christmas Cards for the Housebound
The Sunday school and creche have been busy once again making Christmas cards . These unique cards have been specially made to bless the housebound and elderly of the congregation and will be delivered with the gift bags that will be made up by the ACTS group. A very special thanks from all of us to Karen Macdonald for all her help and generosity once again this year. Karen’s craft skills have helped make some amazing cards , so thanks Karen once again.
Welcome to Kenny MacLeod to the Kirk Session.
The Kirk Session and Congregation of Tarbert Church of Scotland were delighted to welcome a new elder to join the Kirk Session this morning. It was with a real sense of gratitude to God that the ordination of Kenneth Morrison Macleod ( Coinneach Noraidh) to the office of elder took place during this morning’s service. Kenny hails from Scalpay and brings to the Kirk Session a wealth of Christian, professional and community experience, insight and wisdom. We give thanks to God for him, and warmly welcome him to the Session and pray that it will an enriching experience and blessing to him in the years ahead.
Visit from Suresh & Roja of 2nd June 2019
We were blessed to have Suresh and Roja with us once again. They have inspired and challenged us once again, and we give thanks to God for the work of IVM. Here Roja is being presented with some letters from some of the Sunday school. The Sunday school sponsor a young girl called Meghana, and we were glad that they were able to learn of how she and her friends live in the IVM orphanage . The Sunday school each wrote short letters to Meghana that Suresh & Roja will bring back with them.
Stated Annual Meeting Wednesday 27th February 7.30pm in the Macrae Centre
The Stated Annual Meeting of the congregation will be held on Wednesday 27th February at 7.30pm in the MacRae Centre.
This is an opportunity for us to give thanks for God’s provision for us in the past year, and to acknowledge and give thanks for the hard work and devoted giving of many in the congregation over the past year.
At this meeting the accounts for 2018 will be presented by the Congregation’s Trustees for approval. In addition there will also be two or three other reports given of the work undertaken in various aspects of church life.
A cordial invitation is given to all members and adherents to attend this meeting
Youth Club Ice Skating
Our Youth Club enjoyed an ice skating trip to the Scaladale on Friday 1st February. The Centres indoor ice rink is great fun and a good time was had by all. Thanks to Kate at the Centre for her help and to Joan and Alex for accompanying our young folk. Youth Club meets on Fridays in the Macrae Centre (Church hall) from 7pm – 9.30pm for fun, activities and a time to meet up in a relaxed atmosphere. All teenagers are very welcome to come along. (Please note that there will be no Youth Club this coming weekend (8th) due to the school holidays, we will meet next on Friday 15th February)
30th December 2018
Dear friends ,
Bliadhna Mhath Ùr dhuibh uile nuair a thig i ! A happy New year to you all when it comes. I take this opportunity to write my customary New Year’s Day letter going out on the last Sunday of the old year, simply to wish you all God’s richest blessings for the New Year. I hope and pray that everyone had a happy and blessed Christmas time, and that it might be in faith and confidence in God that we look forward to 2019.
I admit that New Year is not my favourite time of the year. Admittedly there is opportunity for reflection and correction, and there is time for resolutions, but there is also the uncertainty of what the future holds. It is a time when many struggle, with loneliness, isolation, addiction and past regrets, and so I feel it is very important, more important than ever, that we look out for each other, and realise how much we need each other in such strange and uncertain times.
The coming year will certainly bring many challenges to us as a community as well as a nation, and so I believe it is imperative that we keep our perspective on God in all the coming storms and uncertainties of 2019. Brexit looms large in 2019 , as we as a nation meander chaotically towards leaving the European union on 29th March . However I take encouragement from the fact that God is still in control.
The year that has past has brought great change to our congregation and community, and it is only right that we acknowledge this. Several of you reading this letter have sad memories of bereavement and loss in your families over this year. My prayer for each and all of you is that God the Holy Spirit will bring great consolation to assuage the grief and fill the empty place in heart and home, and that 2019 will be a year of great comfort and blessing to you all.
In our islands at least, the end of this year has been dominated in many ways by thoughts of the centenary of the loss of HMY Iolaire on 1st January 1919. As we know 201 lives were lost on that dark night in our island’s history. It would be superfluous for me to add too much more to what has been said by many others in the past year. Numerous poignant and imaginative commemorations and tributes have been composed in music, song, sculpture, film and literature this year and have given expression to the often unspoken grief that emotionally paralysed the islands for decades.
And so it is with solemn remembrance we will meet at the war memorial on Main Street at 1.45 am on New Year’s Day to pay tribute to those from Harris and other places who perished on that terrible night. A warm invitation is given to all who can to attend this service, which will include the tolling of the church bell, and local pipers playing laments as well as the laying of wreaths .
Our customary new Year’s day service will also reflect upon the tragic loss of the Iolaire. One of the psalms we will sing on New Year’s day contains words from Psalm 77
These words are engraved on the Iolaire memorial at Holm, and seem to capture well the helplessness of humanity in the face of the hostile elements, but also the immutable, sovereignty of the God for whom the raging seas holds no fear. Psalm 77 is a psalm of consolation , and a testimony to the redemption of the God who walks on the waters( John 6:16).
Despite the harrowing years that followed, with many other challenges and disasters, our islands have survived, and through it all I believe that we should see the unseen hand of God in providence caring for our island in good times and in bad. It is only when we look back upon the times that have past that we can really see how God has been ‘ our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble” ( psalm 46:1). 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.
With every good wish for the New Year, and the blessings of Christ to you all,
Ian Murdo Macdonald
Christmas Praise Night
Sunday school Christmas Family Service
Our Christmas family service is to be held tomorrow Sunday 16th December at 11 AM, and a warm welcome is extended to you all to join us. The Sunday school will be taking part in the service this morning with the playing and singing of music as well as the reading of Bible stories. Our theme through the season of Advent is ‘Glimpses of Glory’, and this morning we will be looking at three places in the Old Testament where God gives His people wonderful prophetic glimpses of the coming Saviour.
Hope of the Coming King.
Our first talk looks at the heralding of the coming King in the words of Malachi
The wonderful words of Malachi practically at the end of the Old Testament, give notice that the coming of the Christ will be heralded by a messenger preparing the way for him, and in doing so reaffirming what Isaiah the prophet had announced many years before;
‘ A voice cries: make straight in the desert a highway for our God. “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; Isaiah 40:3
These words were initially fulfilled in the powerful ministry of John the Baptist the forerunner of the Lord Jesus. Malachi’s words were to be ultimately fulfilled when least expected when Jesus was presented at the temple by His parents. After a lifetime of watching and waiting old Simeon finally saw the fulfilment of God’s promise to him;
Hope in the city
Our second Talk is based on the familiar verse from Micah 5:2 that foretells that the coming King will come from Bethlehem.
Bethlehem will always be inextricably linked with the Saviour’s birth. The familiar words of the traditional Carol “ O little town of Bethlehem’, are an annual reminder to us whenever we sing these words of the fulfilment of Micah’s words.
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
A place that could only be thought to be small, insignificant and of only passing interest had been given a wonderful accolade. From Bethlehem would come the great ruler who would rule God’s people , “ whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. “ . The staggering fact is that Jesus the Eternal Word , came to this earth and was born as the prophets had foretold in the Little town of Bethlehem.
Hope of the Nations
Our third talk is called Hope of the Nations
Our final talk asks the question, what or who is the hope of the nations of this world. History itself bears eloquent testimony to the fact that nation states, rulers, potentates, presidents, prime ministers and the powerful have come , gone and singularly failed to give hope and direction to the world.
Similarly many others who are looked up to, admired or even worshipped in the worlds of entertainment, media, politics and sport have similarly failed to live up to the expectation that so many have of them. 700 years before Jesus was born, the words of Isaiah chapter 9 gave God’s people much encouragement, and hope that the promised Messiah was coming. These words still encourage and inspire today, reminding us that those who walk in darkness have seen a great light.
The culmination of this hope is found only in a person, in a child. ” .. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; “
Glimpses of Glory Advent Series
In the church culture of the islands we are sometimes unfamiliar with much of what is known as the church year , and for many of us there may be confusion as to what exactly is meant by Advent. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. In English this could be understood as arrival or coming
The season of Advent is a good way for the church to focus on and anticipate the birth of Jesus Christ in the season leading up to Christmas. This year we are going to focus for the next three Sundays on the theme of “ Glimpses of Glory “, looking at some of the wonderful glimpses of God’s coming glory seen in the Old Testament .
On Sunday 9th December We look at two very different passages and people in Scripture, In the morning we focus on Balaam the pagan soothsayer who was hired to curse Israel by Balak the king of Moab. Balaam discovered that he could not curse those God has not cursed ( Num 23:8)
Balaam is forced to acknowledge that God will bless His people Israel, and no cursing or incantation of his would prevent this happening. The fourth and most dramatic of Balaam’s messages gives even this pagan “ medium” or “ channeler” pause for thought as he is compelled to utter this wonderful prophecy of the coming king of Israel.
In the evening we look at a great passage from the book of the prophet Isaiah , that seems to encapsulate the hope, rejoicing and thanksgiving that will characterise the coming of the Messiah. The whole passage is one of one of restoration, renewal and peace . God is going to restore the fortunes of His people so that they will know deliverance and release from their captivity .
During Advent, the church looks back with thanksgiving to the Lord’s Jesus Christ’s coming into this world, whilst at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when He returns.
Hope for the Suffering Church Praise Night
Lest we Forget
ARMISTICE DAY SERVICE
The Harris Community Armistice day service will be held at the Church on Saturday 10th November at 10.40 am. The Congregation are asked to please try and be seated in the church by 10.30 am. In this act of remembrance the community of Harris remember with solemn pride and gratitude those who fell in the service of King and Country in the two world wars. The war memorial on Main Street Tarbert lists the almost 200 names of those men from Harris who fell in these terrible conflicts, which scarred our community for most of the twentieth century. This year there is an added solemn poignancy to the occasion as we mark not only the centenary of the end of hostilities in Europe with the signing of the armistice on 11th November 1918, but also the tragic sinking of HMY Iolaire within sight of Stornoway harbour on New Year’s Day 1919. As a community we know that after remembrance has been forgotten for another year in other places, Lewis and Harris will still remember the sad tragedy that befell the island and claimed the lives of over 200 men on that darkest dawn of New Year’s Day 1919, 7 of whom were from Harris. At 11am on Saturday we will observe two minutes silence in the church to commemorate the end of hostilities. Additionally, with this year being the centenary of the end of World War 1, the Church bells will peal for a further two minutes. This is in line with a nationwide government request for church bells to be rung in remembrance of the Armistice. After the service we will process to the War Memorial on main street for the wreath laying by many community, service, school and youth organisations from Harris. On Sunday 11th November at 6am a short commemoration service will be held at the War Memorial on Main Street to mark the signing of the armistice at 06.00 hrs on 11th November 1918. A warm invitation is extended to all early birds to join us for this solemn act of remembrance. On Tuesday 1st January 2019 at 01.45 hrs A short commemorative service will be held at the Harris War Memorial for those lost in HMY Iolaire 1st January 1919.
September Communions Services
Visit of Korean Christians
We were blessed at our midweek prayer meeting to have Pastor Sangin Lee and seven young adults from the new church in Seoul South Korea sharing in worship and prayer with us.
The short clip above shows a small part of the time of prayer , led by Sangin and his translator Paul . Isaiah 56:7 (NIV) “7 these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. ” Our Prayer meeting this week was different in many ways. We met this evening on a Thursday night for the visit of our friends from Korea. They cooked delicious hot noodles for some of the young people and some of the rest of us too! Later on in the evening the meeting began with a time of worship in which the band led us in a short medley of songs “ The Lords my Shepherd“ ( Stuart Townend) “ Amazing Grace” “ My heart is filled with thankfulness “ “ In Christ alone “ Psalm 40 “ I waited for the Lord my God. The final song we sang together was this traditional Scottish psalm which was very appropriate for the evening as we came together to wait upon the Lord. Sangin shared from his heart about the work of the Holy Spirit and encouraging us to keep on praying for our church, our community, our nation and each other. He spoke movingly about the work of God not only in Korea, but also how God has blessed his ministry through the Holy Spirit through some real times of testing and trial. The short clip above shows a small part of the time of prayer , led by Sangin and his translator Paul . Although Sangin has good degree level English learned in Scotland, he spoke largely in Korean, ( which Paul translated for our benefit) as the service was being filmed and being streamed live to the church in Seoul, where others were watching and praying. The prayer time was conducted Korean style with all our friends from Seoul shouting out to the Lord simultaneously in spontaneous exuberant prayer. We are very thankful to God for those who have come from so far away and from so very different a culture and language to minister to us here in Harris. We were richly blessed by the presence of God so powerfully throughout the meeting , as well as the infectious joy and enthusiasm that the Koreans bring to their worship and prayer. They left us with many happy memories to journey on to Aberdeen. We are gateful to God for them all, and epsecially for coming so far to bless us here in Scotland. We are also most grateful to all those who who helped out with the hospitality , the praise and worship, the screens and the electronics and rearranging of the premises for the meeting. God bless you all.
Hitherto Hath the Lord helped us..
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”1 Samuel 7:12 (NIV)
Today is the last Sunday that Wilf and Pat Urquhart are going to be with us. As a congregation we have been blessed by their ministry in many different ways over the past few weeks, and they leave us with many good memories. During the summer months the congregation has been well served by the pulpit ministry and faithful pastoral endeavours of two exemplary ministry couples, the Rev Donald Angus and Mrs Rachel Maclennan and Mr Wilf and Mrs Pat Urquhart. We thank them warmly for all that they have done whilst with us here in Tarbert, and we pray that being in Harris during the summer will have been a blessing to themselves as well. Over the course of the last year, I am sure that I am not the only one who has seen the Sovereign hand of God in so much of what has happened in the Congregation. When I was first made aware of the fact that I would require major surgery at the end of last year, one of the most pressing challenges faced by the Kirk Session was how pulpit and pastoral cover would be undertaken. One of the concerns that both the Session and I had was to seek to avoid piecemeal and ad hoc preaching ministry during my absence, and so we took the decision early on for the good of the congregation, that locum cover would be much preferable to having different pulpit supply at each service. We felt that there was no substitute for having consistent pulpit supply and pastoral cover during these weeks, and so we were delighted to have been able to obtain the services of three excellent locum preachers during this lengthy absence. The term locum actually means “ holding the place”, and so I should like to also personally thank John Murdo, Donald Angus and Wilf who have so admirably taken my place during my times in hospital and recovery. In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel raised an Ebenezer or Stone of Help, as a constant reminder to the children of Israel of the goodness of God towards them by way of provision and protection amongst other things. And certainly we have seen along the course of the past year several Ebenezer’s or significant markers that have shown that hitherto the Lord has helped us. Truly we as a congregation can do the same, and we give our thanks to the God who has provided for us all so wonderfully over the past year. In the first instance God undertook for us last autumn in providing the Rev John Murdo Nicolson as locum in the congregation over the winter months. When John Murdo’s commitment here came to an end at the beginning of March, I was partly recovered from the first operation, and able to undertake a phased return. By the time the second procedure came on the horizon, in God’s wonderful timing both Mr Maclennan and Mr Urquhart were free to undertake cover over the last seven weeks of the summer. The Congregation have not only appreciated, but also greatly benefitted from having consistent preaching and ministry from both these highly experienced and popular men of God. I should also like to record my own gratitude to you as a congregation for your practical resolve to keep things as normal as possible during this time. To that end I should like to thank all those who sought to ensure that as far as possible the work and witness of the congregation continued as before. I should like to thank especially the Rev Donald John who has once again borne the burden and heat of the day as Session Clerk in making the administrative arrangements for the locums to come and liaising with the central and local church agencies in this regard. In addition I should like to thank all the elders and Management Committee for keeping the congregation running smoothly. I’d like to thank Campbell for running the prayer course over the Summer months, and we pray that this will bear fruit in the lives of those who came along. We continue to be indebted to all who work so hard at making the praise nights such a wonderful blessing to all who come. We are as a congregation particularly indebted to Pam and David for giving their home “ An Caladh” for the use of the locums during the summer., For this we are truly thankful to God, and pray that Pam and David would be richly blessed for their sacrificial generosity to the congregation. I continue to be humbled by your prayers and good wishes, but also humbled by the sheer grace of the God who does all things well. My time in hospital and recovery from surgery has shown me the wonderful asset we have in this nation in the NHS, and I am so thankful to God for all that has been done for me in both Inverness and Stornoway. As I said at the beginning of this journey I was going into the unknown in a way, as I had never been sick or in hospital in my life before. I didn’t even feel sick the day I walked into Raigmore hospital last November! However I have hopefully come out of hospital with a new awareness and appreciation of hospitals and the vital work they do. This year has also made me aware of the reality of being in hospital and hope that this experience will help me be more empathetic towards the sick whether in hospital or at home. Occupying a hospital bed for the first time was an insightful experience, and gives one a clearer picture than anything that could be taught in college or through pastoral experience of what it means to be sick or suffering. During the last few months I have thought much about the time ahead, and so in God’s will, purpose and timing I hope to come back into the work with hopefully a new impetus and appetite for the ministry and also with an awareness of the urgency for the word of God to be preached and lived not only here in Tarbert but throughout the nation. Ian Murdo Macdonald
Our young folk ahead of them taking the lead in our Summer Family Service.
Year of Young People and Sunday School Summer Family ServiceThis year has been designated by both the Scottish Government and the Church of Scotland as The Year of Young People. To celebrate this we are delighted that many of our young people will be involved in leading and participating in this morning’s service.
The Year of Young People gives the church an opportunity to give thanks to God for the gifts, talents and presence of young people in all our services. We are very happy to see some of our young people lead and take part in all aspects of our worship at Sunday morning’s service 24th June. The service starts at 11 am, and there will be a time of prayer before the service in the Macrae centre ( Church hall), for those who can come. Today marks the end of the Sunday school session, and so we thank everyone involved in the Sunday school for their hard work and commitment over the course of the year. Summer Sunday school will start next Sunday morning 1st July , and will run during the morning services. This year the children will be watching DVDs about heroes of the faith like Eric Liddell and Corrie ten Boom. All school age young people are very welcome)
Praise Night 17th June 2018
Rev DA MacRae Archive Launch
We at Tarbert Church of Scotland are delighted to announce the online launch of the Rev Donald A Macrae archive. An archive of sermons of our esteemed former minister who served Harris faithfully for 32 years. We sincerely hope and pray that these sermons will be a delight and blessing to all who listen to them, as they assuredly were to all who heard them preached by Mr MacRae from the pulpit all these years ago. The archive can be found on this site by clicking on the tab “Rev Donald A MacRae” or following this link Rev Donald A MacRae Archive
Praise Night 20th May 2018
Rend Collective Trip
A great time was had by all this week as the Youth Club travelled to Inverness to hear Christian Folk band Rend Collective. It was an early (4am) start on Thursday morning for us as we made our way to Stornoway to catch the first ferry to Ullapool. It was a beautiful day as we made our way across the Minch and we arrived in Inverness just in time for an afternoon of shopping. The doors opened in the Ironworks venue at 6:30pm and we got ourselves a great spot right up at the front near the stage. The band were supported by Guvna B, an urban contemporary gospel rap artist who got the crowd on their feet. The Rend Collective then took to the stage and certainly did not disappoint singing songs from their new album “Good News” as well as many of their earlier hits. The Band put in a great performance with lots of energy, light, dry ice and even a bubble machine. It was lovely to see some familiar faces from other churches across the Highlands & Islands too. After the event we made our way to our accommodation at the Inverness Youth Hostel for some snacks and then bed. It was another early start on Friday morning and after a quick costa coffee run we were on our way back to Ullapool. A few snoozes were had on the ferry after a full CalMac breakfast and we made it back to Tarbert safe and sound at around 2:30pm. Thanks to all who made this trip possible for our youth club, the congregations, the ACTS Group the Kirk Session, CalMac Ferries, The Scalpay Minibus Committee and the leaders who went along on the trip. Below are a few pictures from our trip.
Rend Collective Concert Inverness
On Thursday evening 17th May the Youth Club will be going to see and hear the well known Christian band Rend Collective at the Ironworks Inverness as part of the Collective’s nationwide ” Good news” tour. The youth club and the leaders have been looking forward to this for some time, and we hope and pray that it will be a great night, and will be enjoyed by all. Our timetable is roughly as follows;
- Thursday 17th May minibus will leave the TI car park at 5am for 7.30am ferry from Stornoway
- Thursday night will be spent at the Youth Hostel in Inverness and the young people will be accompanied to the Rend Collective concert in the Ironworks .
- Friday 18th May Return via Stornoway on the lunchtime ferry and young people should be collected from TI carpark at approximately 2pm
Rend Collective originate from Bangor Northern Ireland, and specialise in a blend of Christian folk rock music. Their song ‘ My Lighthouse’ is one of the enduringly popular songs at our praise nights.
Praise Night 22nd April 18
A REFLECTION FOR EASTER
I have long admired the writing style of Bill Lawson, the Northton based genealogist. Bill along with his late wife Chrissie have done much valuable genealogical research for island families, but also produced several detailed croft, village and island histories from the Seallam! visitor centre in Northton. One of the traits of Bill’s style in some of his writing is to imaginatively bestow certain human qualities to inanimate objects such as historical sites and buildings. Thus ancient historical sites are given ‘life, personality’ and ‘senses’ in order to bear witness to the unfolding events of sometimes turbulent passing centuries. Ancient places like the Carloway broch, and island churches such as those at Rodel and Aiginis are given a life of their own and are able to see and perceive the sometimes mundane, sometimes momentous, sometimes tragic life of these islands. These old stones witnessed the rise and fall of various clans and families, times of wars and rumours of wars, reformation, emigration, famine and terrible disease. If these old stones could speak what stories they would have to tell. The same would surely be true of our own church here in Tarbert. What stories these stones could tell of glorious past days, of generations of the people of Harris coming from all points of the compass to worship and praise God together as one united people. To tell of the anointed preaching of Christ with fervency and power. To tell of days of revival, of days of the Holy Spirit falling upon large gatherings here in Tarbert and other parts of Harris. If stones could speak what stories they would have to tell? What if still older stones could speak to tell of the events that unfolded at Passover in Jerusalem over two thousand years ago? What stories the ancient stones of the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives could tell? What stories the garden of Gethsemane could tell? That ancient rock known as the Rock of Agony where Jesus the Son of God knelt in prayer saying; “ My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”( Mathew 26:39). What stories the ancient stone pavement in the old city known in Aramaic as Gabbatha (John 19:13) would have to tell of when the Governor Pontius Pilate sat down to pronounce judgement on a prisoner called Jesus of Nazareth brought before him. These old walls would have witnessed all that happened there that morning, and echoed to Pilate finally say the words for which he is remembered still today “ ECCE HOMO” “ Behold the Man “ ( John 19:5). What stories the winding streets of the old city would have to tell of how this man Jesus “ went out , bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha” (John 19:17 ESV). These buildings witnessed the solemn procession from Pilate’s residence the Praetorium to the place of a Skull – Calvary. Whenever I read or sing the great words of Stuart Townend and Keith Getty’s hymn the Power of the Cross, I try to imagine what it would have been like to have been there and to witness “ Christ on the road to Calvary”. To witness what is surely for the Christian the key moment of all human history, when Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews carried His Cross to Calvary, to die in the place of you and me. The hymn paints for us the picture of what was happening not only physically but spiritually as Jesus went to the Cross, and died for us there. The gospels spare us much of the detail, and give really only a very edited censored picture of what happened that day, all the gospel writer’s say is “ And they crucified Him”. The apostle Paul describes that moment in this way “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NKJV) In the same passage Paul goes on to say “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.“ 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) What story would the stone that sealed the Tomb have to say? That unique stone that was witness to the power of God over death and the grave. In Wesley’s words that we’ll sing on Easter morning; “Vain the stone, the watch, the seal; Christ has burst the gates of hell. Death in vain forbids His rise; Christ has opened Paradise” The Angel acted as herald to those disciples who came on that Easter morning to declare “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay”. Matthew 28:5-6 Years before Jesus had prophesied that the great stones of the temple in Jerusalem would be thrown down (Mark 13:2). It is believed that Herod’s great temple had only been finally complete for four or five years when it was torn down by the Romans, stone by stone in AD 70. All that is left now is the crumbling foundation, known as the Western wall the holiest place in Judaism. It is only stone, it cannot speak, it cannot hear, it cannot save. A greater than the temple had come. Jesus Himself had prophetically spoken of this greater temple before “ Jesus answered them, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” … he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. ( John 2:19-22 ESV) If these stones could tell us their stories, what stories they would have to tell? But the fact is stones cannot speak ! Only people can tell of the great works of God. And if we don’t then Jesus warns what will happen “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:40) If we would keep quiet the very creation will “ sing the praise of him who died, of him who died upon the cross”. Buildings, despite their associations and history and the esteem and affection in which they are held, are just buildings. They are not going to last forever. They are buildings in which people have worshipped the One who no building could every contain. They cannot speak or see, they cannot save. So on this Easter morning we come instead to Jesus, the risen and exalted Saviour, who lives in the power of an endless life, and who alone can save. We come to the one the apostle Peter describes as “the Chief corner stone” ; 4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offence.” (1 Peter 2:4-8) A happy and blessed Easter to you all Ian Murdo Macdonald
March 2018 Communion Services
Stated Annual Meeting
Letter issued to the Congregation on Sunday 4th March 2018
Dear friends As I write this, much of the rest of the country is shivering and struggling to cope with ‘the Beast from the East’ as the polar vortex weather system which has hit the country hard this week has been called. Although it hasn’t been exactly warm here either, we have been spared the worst of this artic weather. At this time of year the trees may still be dormant and without leaf, but already there are signs of spring all around us, signs of the days getting longer, if not warmer and bulbs and daffodils appearing in the gardens. Spring brings signs of new life stirring. There continues to be signs of new life stirring in this congregation, and this week’s Stated Annual Meeting was an opportunity for us to take stock not only of the financial health of the congregation but to hopefully appreciate how much work is going on at many levels within the congregation. The Stated Annual Meeting saw the trustees of the Congregation present the accounts for 2017 to the congregation last Wednesday 28th February. Despite the challenging bitterly cold night, it was heartening as always to see a good number coming along to the S.A.M, and heartening too to see how well the congregation’s finances are. Despite the challenges and pressures that everyone is facing, and despite the reality of a depressed island economy, the giving of the congregation is more than commendable. As Angus Macsween our treasurer ably took us through last year’s accounts it surely became obvious how much we have to be thankful for as a Congregation. Our income for the year 2017 of £83,606 is very pleasing to the trustees, and compares favourably with that of many congregations of a similar (or even larger) size and circumstances. Despite the fact that we had a deficit of £14,537, with an expenditure of £98,143 for the year, as Angus explained that was largely due to the extensive works being undertaken in the past year on necessary projects such as the roof repairs and rendering of the church. I should like to take this opportunity on behalf of us all as a congregation to thank Angus most sincerely for his hard work and professionalism in looking after our finances so well throughout the year. This year the treasurer’s address was followed by three more addresses with regard to different aspects of the congregation’s work. Campbell Macrae on behalf of the Management Committee gave an overview of the extensive work that was being done by the Management committee with a special focus on the Fabric sub committee. The Fabric group have had a busy and productive year, with much work being undertaken both inside and outside the church. Campbell explained how with the advice and help of the General Trustees (who ultimately own the buildings) several other projects will be progressed over the next two years. The trustees who visited Tarbert, Roger Dodd and Brian Waller were both very impressed with the condition of the fabric of the church and manse and gave us valuable advice and support. The Trustees have offered us retrospective and future financial assistance for these works, and have given valuable advice on necessary work to do with Health and Safety such as installing a gallery rail, other projects such as renewing the heating system and painting the exterior of the church, manse and precincts with high quality weather proof paint. Bobby Macleod spoke on behalf of the Worship Group to keep us up to speed on the progress with the band project. Much of the finances for the worship band project are now in place, and many thanks are due to all who contributed and have supported this venture. Much of the equipment has been purchased, and will hopefully enhance the worship of the church in various ways in the time ahead. Part of the project’s intentions is to improve the sound quality in the church, and in this respect new microphones , sound system and sound desk will be installed in the church in the next while. Karen Macrae then took us through an overview of the congregational website , highlighting how well used it has been , and the possibilities there are for the future development of the site. The proposals for further development may include, a history page outlining the history of not only the church but those associated with it, a giving page, where on-line visitors can give to the work of the congregation and a special project seeking to digitise and put on-line the sermons our late minister the Rev DA Macrae. It would not be possible for me, to mention individually the great contributions that so many have made to the life and work of the congregation over the past year. Last year, as always a great deal of dedicated hard work has been carried out by office-bearers, members and adherents of the congregation. Many of you have selflessly given of your time, talents and resources to the work of this congregation, and I wish to take this opportunity to thank you all most sincerely for all you have and continue to do. The remarkable thing is that this is done exclusively on a voluntary basis and so I think it is incumbent on myself and indeed all of us to really consider this and give due appreciation and thanks for all that continues to be done by so many in the congregation. It is amazing to see how much has been achieved over the past few years and it brings to mind the words of Nehemiah regarding the enthusiastic and dedicated Israelites re-building the wall of Jerusalem. ‘So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.’ Nehemiah 4:6) My recovery from major surgery has gone very well, and all the glory must go to God for this. I have constantly said that I could see God’s hand and purposes in this, and I certainly do. So I should like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support of us as a family and for your expressions of good wishes and offers of practical help, which have been a source of great comfort and strength to us. We are also very grateful for your prayers for me and for us as a family during this time. I am currently on a phased return to duties, but will have to go back to hospital some time in the future for a routine procedure. As previously, the Kirk Session and I will endeavour to ensure that there will be as little disruption as possible to to the life of the congregation, during this time. All this shows us how thankful we should be in everything. We thank God for His wonderful provision for us in the Rev John Murdo Nicolson, who gave outstanding service as locum minister in my absence, over these past few months. We continue to pray that John Murdo, Debbie and Sam will be truly blessed in their new ministry in the Presbytery of Lewis and in Martin’s memorial . I should also like to thank our interim moderator, the Rev Murdo Smith a faithful friend of the congregation who made long journeys from Shader to Tarbert to chair various meetings with customary efficiency and grace. We also thank as always the Rev Donald John and members of the Kirk Session for giving leadership and guidance during this time. A week today we will be meeting together at the Lord’s table, during our Communion services. As this is the last opportunity I will have before then, I would like to exhort anyone who is thinking of professing faith for the first time to do so. You will be warmly welcomed by all of us in the Kirk Session, and we will be delighted to see new faces sitting with us at the table. I have spoken about the service rendered by so many over the past year, but we have to remember that the greatest service we can render is to profess Jesus as our Lord and saviour . The words of the psalmist in psalm 116 which are traditionally sung at Communion sum up this service very well. What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, 14 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. With grateful thanks and every good wish to you all In Christ Ian Murdo Macdonald
Farewell to John Murdo
It was with a real mixture of emotions that we gathered as a congregation in the Macrae centre after the Sunday morning service today, to express our thanks to John Murdo for his great service to us as a congregation over the past four months. John Murdo started working here with us at the beginning of November last year, and truly we can say that from the beginning of this time, we have seen God’s hand in everything that has taken place. When it became clear to us as a Session in October that I was going to be hospitalised, it was agreed that in the interim it would be preferable for a locum minister be appointed. The first person I thought of was John Murdo. I met with John Murdo on the 6th October, and put this proposal to him. To our delight he agreed to come. John Murdo very quickly endeared himself to everyone here, as a preacher and as a man, and we will miss his cheerful, personable style of ministry very much. I have known John Murdo for over twenty years. We both trained at Aberdeen university in the nineties with John Murdo just coming to the end of his course as I was starting. As I alluded to this morning, many of the island boys seemed to cause no end of confusion in the university and the presbytery due to our very similar island names, with two John Murdos, two Ian (Iain) Murdos and three other plain Murdos. So we were known by the Students convenor of the Presbytery of Aberdeen simply as “the Murdos”! I was also very fortunate to spend a summer with John Murdo in the busy congregation of Strath and Sleat in South Skye twenty years ago this year, and I still recall that time with real fondness. It was a real privilege and blessing to renew that fellowship now, not only with John Murdo, but also with Debbie and Samuel. Over the course of the last few months John Murdo has faithfully ministered God’s word in this parish and has bravely negotiated the Clisham road from Stornoway every week in the depths of a Harris winter. However having just got back from Lethbridge Alberta, I suppose that Western Isles winter weather is a piece of cake in comparison. We are greatly indebted to John Murdo for answering the Macedonian call to “come over to Harris and help us” , and can truly say that the past few months have been a joy and blessing to us all. The large number who somehow managed to cram into the Macrae centre for the presentation, bears testimony to the love and regard that so many have here for John Murdo’s most acceptable ministry as locum in Tarbert, and he leaves us with many happy memories and our sincere best wishes for the future. We can give thanks to God also for John Murdo’s good news today, with the announcement of his appointment as both Missions adviser to the Presbytery of Lewis, and assistant minister at Martin’s memorial church. We look forward to hearing how things are going for John Murdo, Debbie and Sam in this new and exciting season of ministry just beginning, and assure them of the on-going prayers of the people of Tarbert Church of Scotland. “A‑nis gun tugadh Tighearna na sìthe e fhèin sìth dhuibhse a‑ghnàth air gach aon chor. Gu robh an Tighearna maille ribh uile.” 2 Tesalònianaich 3:16 (“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 NLT) Ian Murdo Macdonald – 25th February 2018
Christmas Gift for Sneha in India
The Sunday School children continue to sponsor a young girl in India, through India Village Ministries. Sneha is 9 years old and we were delighted to have a video recording of her wishing everyone a Happy Christmas, at our recent Christmas Carol service. We also sent a small Christmas gift to Sneha, along with one of our handmade cards. Pastor Suresh very kindly sent the photos below, one showing Sneha receiving her wrapped Christmas gift and the other wearing her new top.
New Year Letter from the Minister 2017
Christmas Gifts Bag Special Delivery
Christmas Carol Service 2017
Christmas Meals 2017
The menus for our Ladies and Men’s Christmas meals this year, organised by the A.C.T.S group, are now available. The Ladies’ meal will take place on Thursday the 7th December and the Men’s meal on Tuesday 12th December. We would encourage as many as can to come along. Please feel free to invite friends, neighbours and workmates to come. The meals will be at the Harris Hotel and the cost will be £29. Menus should be returned to the church or to Alison by Sunday 26th November. If you need help with transport, please speak to Karen Macrae or indicate this on your menu when you return it. The menu can downloaded by clicking in this following link. Christmas Menu 2017
Praise Night 12th November 17
At our Prayer Meeting last night we took the opportunity to wish our dear friend Pam Sinclair well as she leaves us later this week to marry her fiancé David in Inverness. Pam is a much loved member of our Church family and a faithful attendee. Both her and her late Husband the Rev Tom Sinclair contributed greatly to the congregation over the years. Pam has promised to keep in touch and come back to visit us now and again and we wish both herself and David God’s richest blessing for the future.
Praise Group Practice Cancelled
In view of the visit this evening of a group of Christians from Korea , the Praise group practice due to be held this evening has now been cancelled. We look forward to meeting our friends from Korea and having fellowship with them. The management Committee meeting will go ahead as planned at 7 PM. 29th August 2017
The Week Ahead
The beginning of this week looks busy for us here in Tarbert.
Tomorrow the Sacrament of Baptism will be administered at our morning service as Febin and Maggie Christopher take solemn vows on behalf of their little daughter Evelyn Lucy. The Congregation rejoice with Febin, Maggie and Evelyn’s grandparents Alasdair and Katie MacLeod Meavaig (South) and Febin’s parents Joseph and Lucy in Kerala India, and assure them of our prayerful support at all times. The sacrament of Baptism is always a special occasion not only for the families and friends involved but for all the congregation. We will all stand for the vows and the sacrament as there is responsibility upon all of God’s people to pray for and support all parents and their children as they take their vows. Additionally the Sunday school will come back into the church at the end of the service in order to see Evelyn being baptised. Tomorrow morning we will be looking in Genesis 22 at Abraham as a wonderful example of a praying parent. Abraham prayed fervently for his son Isaac, and God answered his prayer on behalf of his son and himself. Abraham is a vital person to us in our understanding of Baptism as a sign of God’s on-going relationship with His people. God made a promise of lasting covenant relationship with Abraham in Genesis 15 and confirmed this later in Genesis 17 with the sign of circumcision. In the Presbyterian tradition we believe that the sacrament of baptism is a sign and a seal of that continuing covenant relationship between God and His people. Tomorrow morning the crèche is once again available in the vestry for pre-schoolers. If anyone has suitable toys or books for the crèche please speak to Fiona Macleod or if anyone is able to help out on the rota please speak to Agnes Morrison. In tomorrow evening’s service we will look at the story of Isaac and Rebecca and especially the searching question in Genesis 24:58 (NKJV)
“Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”
On Tuesday evening 29th August there are three meetings in the church. The Praise and Worship group will meet in the vestry between 7 and 9 , and The First Fruits Fellowship meet in the Macrae Meeting room at 7.30 PM. The Management Committee will meet in the Macrae centre on Tuesday evening at the slightly earlier time of 7 PM. The main reason for this is that a group of Korean Christians will briefly visit the church shortly after arriving on the evening ferry . They are coming specifically to pray for the work of God in this congregation, and will be journeying to Stornoway to similarly pray for the congregation of Martin’s Memorial. The group are led by Dr Sang In Lee from South Korea who studied with our minister at Aberdeen University where he received a doctorate in New Testament studies. Sang In was an assistant in one of the largest churches in Seol, and he now pastors a church in Seol with a vision for mission and outreach. The prayer meeting will be held in the Macrae centre on Wednesday evening at 7.30 PM as usual . 26th August 2017
ACTS Group Castle
The ACTS Group are running a café in the Tarbert Community Centre today from 10 AM to 4 PM, as a fund raiser for the worship band project. Soups, bacon rolls toasties, sandwiches and lovely home baking …hope to see you there. 4th August 2017
ACTS Group and Fabric Committee Update June 2017
Worship Band Project
- Form and develop a Worship Band
- Develop our Praise Nights and make them more regular
- Offer musical tuition as an option for the youth club
- Improve the quality of the audio output in Church
- Develop our website by having our worship events available online
- Use worship as a means to reach out and proclaim God’s Word in Harris
The project has been costed at £6000 and after a generous donation last week our total now stands at £2200 which is approx. 36% of our total. Fundraising efforts will continue throughout the summer months and we will keep you up to date with our progress.
ACTS Group Meeting Change of Date
Summer Family Service
On Sunday morning we meet together with the Sunday school to mark the end of this year’s Sunday school session with a special family service. The theme for the service will be ‘GREATER’ in which we will look in three short all-age talks at how the Bible teaches that Jesus is simply Greater in every respect than anything or anyone else. Talk 1 GREATER IN POWER Talk 2 GREATER IN LOVE Talk 3 GREATER THAN THE WORLD A warm invitation is given to everyone to join us at 11 am for this celebration of the work of the Sunday school. Please remember that during the Summer holidays we will be running a Summer Sunday club during the morning service for primary age young people. This year we will be using Scripture Union’s PYRAMID ROCK material, which is based on the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. After the young people’s talk each Sunday morning, the Summer Sunday club will meet in the Macrae centre to watch a DVD clip of the Joseph story and fill in the work book for the week. All young people including visitors very welcome each week. Gaidhlig Service Please note that as has been intimated over the past two weeks we will be going back into the church on Sunday evening 25th June for the Gaidhlig service at 6PM. It is in a way a good problem that the church hall is not big enough for the Gaidhlig service, especially when so many other areas are experiencing very small numbers at Gaidhlig services. Everyone is encouraged to try and sit together in the front centre section of the church sanctuary. Other areas downstairs of the church will be roped off during the evening Gaidhlig service from now on. Praise Night We will meet after the evening Gaidhlig service tomorrow night Sunday 25th June for a short and informal time of praise and worship in the Macrae centre at about 7.30 pm. Everyone is welcome to join us for some music and singing of praise songs old and new, traditional and contemporary.
PowerPoint Operators and Summer Sunday Club Meetings tonight.
Just a reminder to the PowerPoint operators that there is a meeting at 6 PM tonight in the church for the new PowerPoint operators to see how our system and screens work and to get a run down of the HymnQuest and SongProsoftware. Meeting is at 6 PM and will be led by Karen. At 8 PM there is a meeting in the Macrae Centre to discuss this year’s Summer Sunday club. This year we hope to run a Summer Sunday club during the morning service, we will basing this around Scripture Union’s Pyramid Rock material. We hope to make up a rota for the summer months tonight, so if you can’t make it please let Alison know. additionally if you would like to help out at Summer Sunday club, then please just speak to Alison .