A View from St Kilda – February 2024

‘It’s always been…’

A phrase common to Scotland. ‘It’s always been like that, so why should it be changed? A variation is of course, ‘ If it ‘aint broke don’t fix it’ but it suggests the similar principle of the resistance to change.

It was Thomas Carlyle who wrote the words, ‘Change is ever needful’. Thomas Carlyle was born in Ecclefechan in Dumfriesshire in 1795 and was a minister before becoming a leading writer in the Victorian era and exerting an extensive influence on 19th century art, literature and philosophy. The quote comes from his Essays where the full context of which is:

‘Today is not yesterday, we ourselves change. How can our Works and Thoughts, if they are always to be the fittest, continue always to be the same? Change, indeed, is painful, yet ever needful. Memory has its force and worth; so also has Hope.’

We often have sung, ‘change all around I see, O thou who changest not, abide with me.’

Change is all around: who would have thought that we would go to our local supermarket to see the pharmacist, or uplift a parcel from a petrol station, or having a church service in a local café? I still can’t get my head round having my football tickets on my apple wallet and there are many who pay for everything with a scan on their phone!

What would our parents have thought, when we order goods online, rather than going into a city centre; or about those who have removed their landline because their mobile phone was more useful?

I think back to my parent’s house – my father had to get off his chair to change the few channels on the TV and the phone was a party line with our next-door neighbour who would dial numbers whilst you were having a conversation!!

‘Change all around I see.’

And the Church?

Locally, and Presbytery wide, there are many changes. We have now sold the Kingsborough sanctuary and worship will continue in the Novar halls. These kinds of actions will be replicated around the country as the National Church faces massive change and in our own Kirk Session, a current topic is the need to develop our halls for the present and the future because the halls are out-of-date and are a blast from the day when we attended the Church as youngsters!

Carlyle was correct, ‘it will be painful’ but we need to take on board the very fact mentioned in the sermon on Sunday the 21st, that it is Christ we follow, not an institution, a creed, or even a religion. It is not down to what we want but to what God wants, and often they are two different things. As I mentioned that Sunday, Jonah was infuriated with God because his views were superseded by God’s because the Almighty’s vision was wider.

Our faith has always been a moving one, we are ‘Children of the Way’, and the Kirk has often made the mistake of believing that it has arrived.

‘It’s always been’…not any longer. Think about what has changed in your world – why should the Church be any different?

Your friend and minister,

George C Mackay