At our Harvest thanksgiving on 28 September we’ll continue to think, not only about our nation but about our world, as we celebrate harvest. There will be an opportunity to give to support the work of TEAR Fund and we shall hear a bit about their continuing relief and development work across the world. The big Band will lead our worship this Sunday.

What’s Communion About?

Unsure what’s going on when we celebrate Communion? Unclear if there’s any difference between Communion, the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist? Uncertain what you’re meant to do – or whether you’re allowed to do any of it?

If so, you’ll want to come along to our apres-service time on 28 September in the Lounge, right after The Morning Service until about 12.45. We’ll be thinking together about Communion and why it’s such a central part of our faith and church life.

Don’t forget to bring a coffee through from the large hall on your way!

Post-Referendum Sunday

The Moderator of the General Assembly, Rt Rev John Chalmers, is encouraging congregations all across Scotland to make reconciliation a key theme on the first Sunday after the Referendum.

We’re planning to do that, and welcome anyone in our community who feels that a communal act of reconciliation would be helpful, to join us at worship on 21st September at 10.30.

We may be joined by some local politicians, and we’ll certainly pray for political leaders whatever the outcome of the vote.

Prayers for the Referendum

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To support your preparations for Thursday’s referendum vote, these prayers were first published by the Church of Scotland in Life and Work and by the Kirk’s Mission and Discipleship Council:

God be in our minds,
and in our reflecting;
God be in our vision,
and in our imagining;
God be in our gathering,
and in our listening;
God be in our relationships,
and in our discussing;
God be in our nation,
and in our deciding.
Rev Alison McDonald
Convener, Ecumenical Relations Committee

When you made me Lord,
you gave me the capacity to choose.
I live in a country, at a time in history
when I am given a vote.
Thank you for these privileges.
But sometimes I find choosing difficult.
To say ‘yes’ to one option,
means saying ‘no’ to the other.
It’s a huge responsibility,
and this one seems biggest of them all.
What if I change my mind?
What if I make a mistake?
The agony of indecision!
I feel like a flag in the wind.
I blow one way, then the other.
I ask for wisdom and direction.
Help me to choose well,
not just for me and my own
but for the whole nation. Amen.
Rev Neil Dougall
Convener, Ministries Council

God of all nations,
we thank you not only for democracy
but for the institutions of government;
that we have an opportunity
to make known our views about our nation’s future
and that there are many whose task
is to put policy decisions into practice.
We pray for those:
who police our streets and administer justice;
who care for health of mind and body;
who collect taxes and administer benefits;
who teach, or discover, research and write;
who advise, supervise, accredit and administer
in many government departments and agencies
in Scotland and the United Kingdom
whose lives may be affected by the referendum result.
We pray that you will give to them
wisdom, patience, dedication, resilience, integrity
and a deep desire to give their time and skills
fully and generously in the service of others;
in the name of Jesus
who gave his life for all. Amen.
Rev Grant Barclay
Convener, Council of Assembly

Lord of the nations
we pray for our land.
We give thanks for all we love about Scotland
as a place, and as a people
drawn from different nations and backgrounds
with different stories to tell,
gifts to offer,
and experiences to share.

As we approach the Referendum
we pray for what is best for every part
and for every person,
not just this generation
but for generations unborn.
We pray whatever way the vote goes,
and whatever consequences follow,
that we will find a way
to work together
for the Christian good of Scotland
in the years ahead. Amen
Rev Colin Sinclair
Convener, Mission and Discipleship Council

Lord, there are so many questions!
So many certainties
proclaimed in the face of uncertainty.
Only you can lead us when the way ahead
is shrouded in the mist of doubt.
We are impatient to have the answers-
Let us be content dealing with our ignorance.
We are swayed by claims and counter claims-
Let us trust in Your help to direct our choices.
We pray for reassurance about the best result-
Let us, instead, pray for courage to deal with the unknown.
Let us not look to others to give us their truths
but have the patience to search for our own meanings
Knowing that, whatever the future,
it is safe in your hands.
Kay Keith,
National Convener Church of Scotland Guild

I am aware that life is full of choices
And this is a big one!
I am conscious of the responsibility placed on me
to choose what is best
not just for myself
but for my neighbours
and for generations yet to come.
And I am so thankful that I have a choice-
unlike so many people around the world.
Whatever the outcome
may we together become a people
guided by Wisdom and Integrity
and motivated by Compassion
and a sense of Justice for all. Amen
Rev Iain Cunningham
Convener, World Mission Council

Well, what is it we’re supposed to do, God–
when we’re standing at a crossroads
or a bend in the road that we can’t quite see round?
What are we supposed to do–
when the door to tomorrow stands in front of us
waiting for us to open it?
Fingers wrapped around the handle, we just need to push a bit–
but exactly what’s on the other side?
Well, you are God–
you’re there and so wherever we walk,
your journeying spirit walks with us.
As we open the door on a new day, you’ll be there to greet us.
May we greet each other on the other side of today
with your same welcoming, loving, forgiving, fair
and adventurous spirit.
As we walk into tomorrow, hold us in your heart.
Rev Sally Foster-Fulton
Convener, Church and Society Counci

God, wha hae aye been
and wha bides eftir the warld is nae mair,
for us, your bairns,
in this land o mountain an o flood,
noo is the day; noo the hour
when we maun decide :
maybe aye; maybe no–
this Scotland; independent or in the union.
Rummlieguts; sweetie-wifies deave us
wi endless blether; tedisome haivers;
Fae the deep howe o your hairt, O God,
spak tae us your word o peace.
Let us see wi your ain een
a vision on your Scotland–
not small but biggit anew
on founds o justice; leal tae our Lord
an ettlin aye aifter the common-weal.
Guide us, o halie Speerit, tae tak tent
that as we pit oor cross,
it an the ruid o Christ may be as ain-
and so may the guid o awbody and the glory o your name
rise fae referendum result
and, semper reformanda,
we aa dwall for ever eftir in love thegither;
a nation aye your ain
till your kingdom come.
Rev Janet Mathieson
Convener, Assembly Arrangements Committee

Scotland’s Future

This week, Scotland’s people make one of the most significant decisions in generations. The Church of Scotland has remained neutral on the question as to whether Scotland should become an independent nation; but that doesn’t mean the Church, and Christian people, should not be very much involved in considering the issue.

We have been focusing our services from the end of August until the Referendum on aspects of the Scotland in which we want to live. That will be informed by Christian principles, for faith helps us each work towards the voting decision we will take by helping us see the larger picture.

You’ll not find in the Bible any specific and clear guidance about which way you should vote. What you will find are pictures, speeches and dreams about the kind of nation God’s people want to find themselves in, and commit themselves to work for.

What are some of these characteristics? They include compassion: those who are materially less well off are cared for. Respect matters: people are not oppressed because they do not have a strong voice. Business is to be carried out ethically. Strangers and foreigners are to be welcomed, protected and offered a place among the nation’s own people. The style of living – and worshipping – is held up to other peoples and nations as a light to guide them as to how they might live.


Whether Scotland is more likely to achieve these aspirations by becoming an independent nation or by remaining politically part of the United Kingdom is the question each of us has to answer. The larger vision for our nation is something we can all work towards in partnership. The Church of Scotland has encouraged people across our land to express their aspirations in Imagining Scotland’s Future and you can read and watch more at the Church of Scotland website. The word cloud here shows the values people considered were most important. What do you think? I encourage you to bring issues surrounding the Referendum prayerfully to God in the coming weeks, and to consider these hopes as you reflect on key issues.


It will also be important for the wholebpeoplenof Scotland to be sure they remain together,bat least as a nation and possibly still part of the Union, on Friday and beyond. There is likely to be considerable need for reconciliation in the weeks ahead. This is something the Church of Scotland has recognised for some time, founded on a recognition long before the votes are counted that whatever view we have, we belong in Scotland and to one another. Whatever the outcome, we are the people of Scotland; we owe it to one another not to lose that truth.


Scotland’s Future

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The people of Scotland have the historic privilege of deciding the place of this nation, whether that is within the Union or as an independent country. It’s not a preacher’s place to tell you what to vote. The Church of Scotland is neutral on the alternatives. Other than saying I think it is your Christian duty to vote, and to prepare seriously and prayerfully as you do, I do not wish to steer you. At least, not about the immediate issue at the heart of the referendum.

But I do want to encourage you to think more broadly. As Christians, we should be thinking about where our nation, whether independent or as part of the UK, is headed. We are already a nation. What kind of nation, society, and place do we want to be? As we consider our answers to this question I’d like to draw your attention to some of the characteristics of nations that God in scripture sets as most important. These give us a steer as to the things we ought to be thinking about. We begin by recalling that a nation, and indeed many nations, are important throughout the Bible.

Key passages worth considering are Genesis 12:1-3, Mark 11:15-18 and Revelation 5:9.

From Genesis, we see that people make a nation. The hillsides and the seashore, the natural resources and the location of some people are with respect to others all matter. Fundamentally, though, it’s people who make a nation. God would make Abram and his descendants into a great nation; territory came second. God deals, with blessing or curses, with the people who stand with, or against, Abram.

Our faith, based on ancient principles, is principally relational. It’s about how we take to do with the God who is present with and among us; and it’s about how we deal with one another: both those who are close by and our neighbours much further away.

Relationship with God mattered to Jesus. In Mark’s Gospel he shows that you can choose to put God first, and you can choose not to. It’s possible to replace a pre-eminent relationship with God with other things, and often these might be money and possessions. In a strongly combination of words and actions, Jesus shows God’s intention clearly. People should put God first; not only as individuals but as whole peoples or nations together.

In fact, the ministry of the special nation chosen by God was to make it possible for all the other nations to see and understand this one true God for themselves, so they, too, could come and worship. And an extraordinarily welcoming picture Jesus says that all nations are welcome to revere God, to come and to pray. If the Jews were special, it was for this purpose; that they were to help the whole earth see God and enable the whole world to worship God.

So nations, made up of people together, aren’t just in it for themselves. There has to be an international element to being a nation. One of the questions you may consider is whether Scotland can contribute more fully to the welfare of the world independent or as part of the union.

The picture in Revelation helps us see that nationhood isn’t about cutting ourselves off, or considering ourselves better, or holier, than those in other nations. For no-one in the world comes to God except through the price paid by the Christ who gives himself for the sins of the world. And the reconciliation Jesus achieves, he wins for people all over the place. No single nation has a special place in God’s heart; God accepts people from the north and the south, the east and the west; all whom he calls through his Son. God has made us to be together even though we have national distinctives, and the time shall be when the redeemed of all the nations across the whole earth shall cry ‘Glory!’

One thing is clear from this quick look at passages throughout scripture: the decision we are called to make in a few days’ time really matters. But the decision is not only about Scotland’s political future. The decision is about what the nation of Scotland, independent or united, will be like in ten years’ time, and for the next generation; for our children and grandchildren as they grow up and live and contribute to the welfare and betterment of the whole world.

What kind of Scotland do you want for them? If these scriptural pictures guide you, then you may want a Scotland that values everyone, one that doesn’t only accept all people but sees the part they can play. You might look for a nation that both calls people to play their part and makes it possible for them to do that. It should be a Scotland where those who are poor are not forgotten, where wealth divides less than it enables, where common wealth is taken seriously and treasured. It should be a Scotland which isn’t insular and isolated but plays its full part in addressing the challenges facing our world. These passages suggest we should have a vision of a Scotland which contributes to making the world more sustainable, less threatening, more hospitable.

I’m sure many of us think that it would be great if Scotland were a place where God was taken seriously by many, where people really were keen to know the life of Christ, to live by his teaching and be made strong by his Spirit. We can’t force that on anyone; but the call to all those who call themselves Christian has to be to take their faith seriously for their own sake, and for the good of the society in which they live. If we strengthen ourselves through faith, we strengthen our nation. That is a challenge every member of Christ’s church has to hear clearly and respond to.

The Church of Scotland has been holding conferences where people have imagined Scotland’s future, not so they can decide how to vote but so we can, together, work out where we want to go. In these meetings issues such as equality, fairness and compassion came out as some of the biggest ideas. Perhaps you can make connections between those words and the passages we’ve looked at today.

As you continue to consider the whole issue, I encourage you to take it seriously. Don’t be put off by the backbiting, the negative campaigning or the complexity of the whole thing. The question will be asked this Thursday. What’s more, though, is that we will still be in Scotland  – and we will still constitute the people of Scotland, irrespective of the vote. There may be considerable need for reconciliation in the weeks to come. That has to be founded on a recognition, in advance of the vote, that whether we are saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No thanks’ we are all Scots, and we all belong together. And isn’t it great to see that it is the Church of Scotland, principally through the Moderator, which is spearheading this ministry of reconciliation?

The biggest question, though, is not how we will get on together. The most significant question is: What will we do so that our nation may be one which follows God’s ways and knows God’s blessing in the generations to come? Your answer to that question, partly through your vote, but much more through your faithful, worshipful, servant living, in thought and in words and action, is deeply important now and long into the future.

May God enable us to live out our calling through Christ.

Photo credits: Dave Conner/Flickr; Daniel Peckham/Flickr; greensambaman/Flickr.