New Laigh Kirk Advent Newsletter December 2020
An Advent Message from the Minister
Hello I hope this Advent Newsletter finds you well. We have been living in fearful times enduring constraints to our social lives bringing isolation. Yet this pandemic and the fear, dread, and anxiety it has induced has not occurred in isolation. Our world, at times, feels dark and lonely, and this despite the many positive news stories that exist but rarely get attention. No one doubts that COVID-19 is one of the most dire threats the world has ever faced. And yet, amidst the confusion and anxiety, there are ever stronger signs of hope and solidarity, a sense of, and desire for, togetherness. It is this spirit of togetherness that gives us hope. In this time of crisis, we are all neighbours in the world. Thankfully, this shared sense of responsibility has seen people and communities come together in ways that we have not seen for some time. The examples are everywhere and this gives us hope for a better way of living when this pandemic is over. Advent is a season of Hope. It reminds us not only of the birth of Christ and the hope we find in that event. It also reminds us that we live between times, between the beginning and the end, between the first coming and the second coming of Jesus. Christ is coming! Let creation from its groans and labour cease! Come, O blessed Prince of peace. Advent helps us to pause, take a breath, and prepare, not only our homes and church, but our hearts and minds for what is about to come. Advent can 2
be compared to the hush that falls over the crowd, just as the conductor takes his baton, raises it in the air, and pauses for that oh-so brief moment before the symphony pulses with glorious music. It’s that last minute check of costume and make-up before the actress takes the stage and the curtain is raised. The audience and actors all pause and wait, wondering with anticipation what the future holds. Observing Christmas without Advent is like celebrating Easter without passing through Lent and Good Friday–it’s possible, but the meaning can get lost so easily because our hearts and minds aren’t fully prepared. In days to come the mountain where the Temple stands will be the highest one of all, towering above all the hills. Many nations will come streaming to it, ³ and their people will say, “Let us go up the hill of the Lord, to the Temple of Israel's God. He will teach us what he wants us to do; we will walk in the paths he has chosen. For the Lord's teaching comes from Jerusalem; from Zion he speaks to his people.” ⁴ He will settle disputes among great nations. They will hammer their swords into ploughs and their spears into pruning knives. Nations will never again go to war, never prepare for battle again. ⁵ Now, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light which the Lord gives us! Isaiah 2:2-5 We read these prophetic words of Isaiah in the context of way the world is dealing with coronavirus, conflict, struggles, and hate. Even peaceful days feel ominous and secure places unsafe. It isn’t hard then to imagine how the people of Israel must have felt over the centuries in the face of threat, destruction, and exile by one empire after another.
Still, they held on to their trust in the promises of God. They held on to the hope that empowers. It's a message we need to hear because there are so many conflicting messages that confuse and interfere with our sense of well being and our understanding of faith. We forget who we are and where we gain our strength. You’ll recall the story of George Bailey from "It's A Wonderful Life?" played by Jimmy Stewart. A great Christmas movie old fashioned in its delivery yet modern in addressing common issues. It's a parable about faithfulness, family and responsibility. But mostly it's a parable about hope and God's intervention in our lives. George is a man that everybody loves, he's selfless and easy going and gives of himself again and again, but a crisis comes up in his life, and sitting in a bar he offers up a prayer of despair. He admits he's not a praying man but he asks God to intervene and show him what to do. George's guardian angel Clarence Odbody, intervenes and through showing George what life would have been like without him in the town and in his family and relationships. It gives him a renewed sense of hope, and with that hope comes a new lease of life. One of the reasons this movie is a classic is because it touches on one basic truth of life; that each one of us, no matter how apparently insignificant, has the opportunity to make a difference. It shows that the measure of our humanity has nothing to do with power, position or possessions, but how we live our lives on a day-to-day basis. The film highlights that each one of us, being born for a purpose, cannot be a failure. Yet we also relate to the disappointment that George expresses, when we feel deprived of opportunities or we sense we somehow never reached our potential. Jesus Christ, the Son of God says to us “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness”. This Life is ‘Wonderful’ because it enables us to reach our potential. 4
Such a promise seems alien to the troubled, broken lives that surround us. Lives where disappointment and shattered ideals wear us down. A world where many people have come to exist with numbed and neutral expectations. For all of us, Christmas can be a time where our eyes are opened to the value and purpose we have where we live and work and relate to those around us. Here we can see what God has to offer us in this world and the next and realise the purpose for which we were created to enjoy God’s ‘wonderful’ life for us. If we really lived our faith in the coming of Christ, we would seek to express hope in all our interactions, we would invite others into a hope-filled way of living, and we would live the kind of life that demonstrates what we believe the world will one day be. We are in the waiting time, and you know that a loving God does not want conflict and despair or pain and sorrow to continue. Don’t lose hope. Instead, in this waiting time give yourselves up to Christ and the Hope he offers this Advent season. There is a wonderful life for us all. Stay hopeful, helpful and healthy God bless you all this Advent and Christmas Season
East Ayrshire Churches Homelessness Action Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3 Who would have imagined at the beginning of the year that we’d be still under so many restrictions, all these months since COVID entered our vocabulary. A year like no other, a year that has brought worry and sadness to many. But it’s also been a year of hope, of people slowing down, looking out for each other, taking the time to keep in touch and care for each other, a time for renewed appreciation of our wonderful world, the love of friends and family. A time to appreciate that, as we read throughout our Bible, God will guide us through whatever we face, the joys and the sorrows, and He will never leave us. In March we at EACHa were happily enjoying our Community Friends dropins in the hall, looking forward to Easter and summer days. Of course we had to suspend our drop-ins, but we soon found other ways to help the people we would normally support. We had no idea how this would grow, or even last more than a few weeks. We’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of our NLK friends who have helped to make sure that our new ventures would be so successful. Our aim at EACHa is faith in action, showing God’s love for every single human being in kindness, respect and in practical ways. Each person matters.
Almost immediately the lockdown began we started to give out food parcels outside the church, and this has been very much appreciated. We give out around 25 a week, each parcel with enough food for a couple of days. We know most of the folks who come along, and itâ€™s good to have a chat and find out how everyone is getting on.
We asked for advice from the homeless services as to what else we could do to help people in need. They suggested we provide radios, for people to get essential information during the lockdown. Not everyone has tablets or smart phones, or even TVs. Then it was suggested that we supply cleaning packs for people moving from temporary accommodation to a tenancy. EACHa never does anything by halves, so we launched our new project, Friendly Fresh Start. Definitely ambitious, but well, weâ€™re not doing much else these days! As far as we can, we provide essential household items or clothing to people referred to us by support staff. This can be cleaning packs, bedding, toiletries, crockery and pots and pans or even a kettle. What must it be like to move into your flat with not even the means to make a cup of tea? We have had requests for clothing for a woman who only had flip flops for her feet, and for a man who had no socks. We were asked for a microwave for a man who had 7
no cooker and was having to buy takeaways. This man didn’t even have a plate. We have realised that no-one else provides this service, and we aim to continue it once we are back to ‘normal.’ We have been blessed with the kindness of so many good people. Our Guild members, this year ‘going the extra mile’ are making up cleaning packs for us. Galston Guild and Women’s Group have decided to do the same. Asda phoned us to offer some cleaning products. It turned out to be a full trolley! Our good friend Charles Sim seems to know everybody, and brings us food from some of his contacts in exchange for our surplus food or toiletries. Church members bring us food and toiletries every Monday morning, or have given us cash to buy what we need. Complete strangers have read about us in the Standard or on Facebook and have brought us donations – and have told their friends! We miss the drop-ins, we miss all our wonderful volunteers. We have something very special at EACHa. Staff, volunteers, friends – we are all one big family. What a party we’ll have when we’re together again! Christmas is round the corner. We usually look forward to our Community Friends party, but we will still bring Christmas love and cheer to the folks who come along to the church on Wednesdays. I expect we will be very busy on Christmas week! We plan to have our children’s gift appeal once more this year. If you can, please bring a gift to the church during Doors Open days. You can do this any time from late November onwards, but certainly by 12th December. Gifts should be wrapped, and labelled age and boy or girl. We have been asked this year to particularly think of babies, and older teenagers. Every gift you bring will be treasured by a young person this Christmas. Heartfelt thanks to every one of you who supports us in any way. We wish you all a healthy, peaceful, and joyful Christmas. 8
Pastoral Care News A message from the Pastoral Care Group If you had asked in January, “What does the Pastoral Care Group do?”, we would have said that we visit our church members in care homes and older members who appreciate a friendly chat in their own homes. We would have added that we invite this circle of New Laigh Kirk friends to events such as Silver Sunday afternoon services, followed by tea, and organise a Mystery Drive in the summer – followed by tea, of course. The highlight of our activities has always been a pantomime outing – followed by a Christmas tea in the church halls. You will gather from this that we eat a lot of cakes – but at the heart of our activities is friendship and ensuring that members of New Laigh Kirk don’t feel forgotten. Suddenly, at the end of March 2020 everything changed. Lockdown rules meant that virtually all our usual activities came to a halt. Nevertheless, with many people being in isolation with no visitors, the need to keep in touch was greater than ever. Overnight, the Pastoral Care Group had to re-invent itself and come up with a new way of working. Each PCG volunteer has kept in touch with people whom they would normally visit by phone calls, cheerful cards and letters, and in some cases doorstep visits. Special occasions have 9
been marked by sending cards made by some of our artistic volunteers, while volunteers with green fingers have deposited garden produce on doorsteps. We have marked the passing of some church members by standing respectfully as funeral corteges have passed by en route to funerals which we would normally have attended. By May we realised that the corona virus was going to be with us for a long time. We would not be gathering for worship in our church any time soon. New measures had to be introduced. The Pastoral Care Group began delivering and redistributing DVD recordings of church services to people who could not view them online. It then emerged that some people did not have DVD players. Our Treasurer came to the rescue by sourcing a grant to buy this equipment, which the Pastoral Care Group has distributed. This has been a blessing to some people who have not been able to visit our church for years.
We began to produce a monthly letter to lift the spirits of people whom we could not visit. This was initially delivered to the people who had a PCG visitor, but interest in it has increased and it is now delivered to over 70 church members. If you would like to receive these letters, DVDs or calls from PCG volunteers, please contact me at 01563-522108 and you can be added to our lists. If you would like to become a PCG volunteer, we’ll be delighted to have you on board. One day, our visits will resume and this is a great way of getting to know more of our church members. The gifts of time and friendship are precious and every PCG volunteer can confirm that they benefit as much from this service as do those whom they contact. Together we can all ensure that New Laigh Kirk is “a caring welcoming church at the heart of Kilmarnock reaching out to you”. With good wishes from the Pastoral Care Group. Barbara Graham
Christmas Christingle Candle As Christmas Day approaches, we reflect on the birth of Christ light of the world and why we celebrate the one who stands at the centre of Christmas and the hinge of history, on the door of a Bethlehem stable. The first Christingle service that we know of was a family occasion, just as ours is at New Laigh Kirk. It speaks simply of the light countless people have discovered in Christ across the years â€“ light he invites you to share. Jesus came into the world as a light into deep darkness. He came as a child, an infant. Led by a light, the shepherds and others came to his presence, and there saw reflected the very light of God. God with us. God's being one with us. And it is. The psalmist said 'You are the fountain of life; in your light we see light in turn.' From John's Gospel: 'The true light, able to illumine the lives of all, was coming into the world' And finally, the words of Jesus: 'I have come to bring light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me will not remain in darkness' (John 12:46). 12
As Christ light shines upon us: Candles themselves cannot pray. But they can help us to pray. In different ways they can accompany us through our lives, scented candles, birthday candles, memorial candles, Advent candles, Christingle candles. Each candle in some way is a reflection of that light which came into the darkness of our world in Bethlehem. It is the beginning of our way with Christ and of our call to life, to eternal life. May you discover more and more the meaning that light has in your life. For there is a candle in every soul Some brightly burning, some dark and cold There is a Spirit who brings a fire Ignites a candle and makes His home. Carry your candle, run to the darkness. Seek out the helpless, confused and torn, And hold out your candle for all to see it Take your candle, and go light your world.
Amy Community and Families Hello everyone! This has felt like an endless, challenging year. No other words are really needed to explain it really, but now, we're coming into a time that doesn't need to be filled with darkness, doesn't need to be filled with despair and doesn't need to be a daily dread. Instead, we're coming into the Christmas season and for the first time in a long time, we can all have a little something to look forward to. NLK has got you and your families covered for some festive, Christmas fun! For your little ones, weâ€™ll be running a Virtual Christmas Party on December 6th at 2pm, filled with fun games and activities that they can do from the comfort of their own home! For zoom details, just contact Amy; firstname.lastname@example.org. For some family fun fuelled entertainment, why not come along and join in with our Family Christmas Quiz!? All families are welcome to join in the zoom Christmas quiz on December 12th at 7pm. Zoom details will be available from Amy (see email above) and through our social media pages. Remember to register your team to Amy and get thinking about your team name!
On December 13th, NLK will be hosting our 9 Lesson and Carols service on our church website. Log on at 7pm and celebrate with some amazing carols to feed your Christmas Spirit. December 20th has a whole day of Christmas celebrations in store! At 11am, log on to our live streamed service to enjoy our Kingz Kidz in â€œA Midwife Crisisâ€?, in their rendition of the Nativity story, told like never before! At 7pm, we also have our Christingle service on our website. Join in and celebrate Christmas with us by belting out some of our favourite Christmas tunes! Remember to get your orange and sweeties at the ready! All these activities are the run up to the big shows; the Christmas Eve service will be streamed at 11:30pm on December 24th and of course, our Christmas Day service will be on our website at 11am. All are welcome to join in with our festive celebrations. Christmas won't be the same, but it will be something new. New hope for the future, new experiences that we'll laugh about one day, and new time to spend thanking God for all the good we do have. Christmas may be with your bubble, with your family or for some, Christmas may be on zoom. But we still have Christmas! And no virus, or anything else will take the joy and hope of Christmas from us. Yes, we'll have to adapt this year, but God's love can only radiate stronger this Christmas by how much we can all connect with one another in various ways. So, drop off baking, phone your friends, chat to neighbours over the fence, zoom your family, but most of all, hold on to hope this Christmas, for God's love will never leave us. Have a safe and happy Christmas! Amy.
Rachel - Youth Worker & Trekkers Hi everyone Lockdown has been a strange time for us all, but the Trekkers have been super adaptable in getting together in recent months. We still meet every Sunday on Zoom for chat, prayer and Bible study, but that’s not all! In small, COVID-allowable numbers some of us have gotten together for coffee in Costa almost weekly (featuring a special girls-only coffee date!) and met up twice for a special weekend event. Last month, we met in the park to do the “Kindness Rocks” project (decorating rocks with encouraging messages and leaving them for people to find) and this month, “Holy Mischief” (committing random acts of kindness in the town). I’m very proud to say that those two events were chosen because the Trekkers themselves had recognised how difficult times have been for everyone lately. They wanted to be a light in these dark times and give people a reason to smile. They’ve certainly been my reason to smile, and often! Here at New Laigh Kirk we have a group of incredible young people and it’s been my privilege to journey through this strange time with them. With new restrictions looming as I write this, the months ahead look uncertain. This can be particularly hard as we prepare for Christmas, a time of year when we are used to tradition. I pray that you will all find a light in this season and have a richly blessed Christmas. Rachel
New Laigh Kirk and Covid 19 As the current advice to stay home and keep safe continues, frustration and boredom does build up and it feels as if things are getting on top of us. For some the demands are too much to bear. And for most of us such moments are nearer than we might imagine. We may feel everything is under control, life running along smoothly, but it only takes one setback, one disappointment, to change our whole perspective. Please stay safe during these unusual days. Covid 19 is not going away the second wave is beginning to take hold. We pray for an end to be in sight, the weariness of it is dragging us down. If you are struggling: Do what helps you feel a sense of safety Get outside into fresh air if you are able to safely-- It feels good to take a walk and notice things around you. Stay in the present. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Call someone. Don’t wait to be called .Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. Pray for everyone. At the heart of our faith is the conviction that God is always there to support us, able to give us strength whatever we may face. And when we finally emerge from this crisis, perhaps we will see the whole of life in a new light. As soon as a date is available for returning to gathwrig again we’re going to celebrate!!! it will be publicised so please lookout for updates in the local press, on Facebook, Twitter and on the Church’s Website. http://www.nlk.church https://www.facebook.com/NewLaighKirk https://twitter.com/NLKkilmarnock NEW LAIGH KIRK Scottish Charity No.:SC031334
Minister: Rev. David S Cameron, 1 Holmes Farm Road, Kilmarnock (525416) Session Clerk: Mr Derek I’Anson Depute Clerk: Mrs Margaret Patterson Community and Families: Amy Tanner Youth Worker: Rachel Taylor
Session Clerk Thanks and Thoughts We are now around nine months into this pandemic and at last we see a positive chink of light ahead of us – perhaps timely, with the season of Advent and Christmas upon us. The Advent season of course offers us ample opportunities to embrace the spiritual practices of waiting, patience, hope and joy. We also continue to express our gratitude to David for the excellent and thoughtful services in our weekly live streaming. I would also like to thank the team of volunteers assisting in our Open Doors which during Advent will be open 12 – 2.00pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 7th – 24th December. We are also grateful to the Elders for their regular contact with members in their respective districts’. This is an extremely important roll in our pastoral care, particularly for members living on their own. Our appreciation also goes out to Douglas Bryson and young Andrew for their long stint over the past months at the sound desk and also to Jan Lamberton and Martin Sharp. Also to Craig for dealing with general church duties. Never in our wildest dreams would we have imagined being restricted in our movements for months on end and sadly these restrictions will be with us for some time to come. Nevertheless, instead of caving into the stress of the coronavirus, let us stop briefly during Advent, remembering some things are truly worth waiting for and perhaps importantly, in this crisis - is patience and hope then joy. ‘Don’t give up, keep going’. Derek I’Anson 18
Countdown to Christmas - Join in with these activities as we prepare for Christmas - remember the comfort and joy that Jesus brings to all