Thought for the Month
The Church of Scotland Congregation took the difficult decision earlier in the year to stop services at St. Anne’s Church, Dowally and as you will see elsewhere in ‘The Bridge’ this will finally happen on October 8th.
A number of things led to the decision being made. Dowally has always been a small congregation (and getting smaller recently.) Most of those who attend drive in from elsewhere and are not from the Dowally area so when looking at maintenance and running costs we had to consider what purpose it was serving. Added to that, the proposals for the new A9 will take the dual carriageway right through the car park of the church and make access much more complicated. That would probably have taken the decision out of our hands so, all things considered, we decided to stop using the church now.
No one likes taking decisions like that and for many people it will be a sad day to see it close but we have to remember that the Christian faith has always been about moving – being on pilgrimage – and that nothing in this life is permanent. We are called to live in the Spirit and that means being on the move. This is not just about physical movement like a missionary heading off into some unknown place to serve but it is a state of mind, a spiritual state that learns to cling only to God and not to anything temporary.
The Bible testifies again and again to the pilgrim nature of faith. The people of Israel were on the move in the wilderness searching for the promised land but even when they settled in it, their physical journey may have been over but they still had to travel light in terms of the faith.
They had to move forward to what God wanted them to do and be. Jesus spoke of how ‘foxes have holes, birds have their nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ He said this to would be followers to say to them ‘are you prepared for the adventure that faith is because you cannot follow me and remain stuck in a rut?’ The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of ‘there being no lasting city but we are seekers after the city which is to come.’ It is all about movement, going forward and the journey of faith requires that we be ready to move forward to what God wants us to do.
The People of Israel lived in tents when in the wilderness and tents are for travelling people. Our Celtic forebears understood this well and when they set up their mission on the banks of the Tay on the site of the Cathedral, they built with wattle and daub, temporary materials, aware that when their task was done they had to move on. It is no surprise that a Celtic symbol of the Holy Spirit is the wild goose – faith can be a bit like a wild goose chase, you never quite know where you will end up! Nothing in this world is permanent and the Christian faith is not about bricks and mortar but about faith and people.
The trouble with journeys is that sometimes we can’t see where we are going and that is particularly true of the church just now in our part of the world. Big changes have taken place and we will have more to face, but the important thing is that we cling to Jesus and not to anything temporary of this world. We follow Jesus in the strength of his Spirit because he will always lead us to green pastures. God is always making things new – the question for us is are we ready to go with him on the journey?
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