A View from St Kilda – March 2023

As some of you may know, through the kindness of their hearts, the Kirk Session, recognising the busyness of the Christmas season, allow me a little Sunday off in January.

That weekend we arranged to head south to see the Manchester City – Wolves football match. But how to get there is the million dollar question. The trains were (and still are, unreliable) and the last time we went down by bus it took an age, only to be compounded by being two hours late at the bus station when we were about to leave! 5 hours in a bus is not a pleasant experience. So, I chose to drive down and up, adding mileage to my car!!

I was thinking of that journey when, in Glasgow, a taxi passed me. It was the normal black cab, not one of these UBER drivers that I don’t understand. On the side of the taxi were the words – SEPARATED SANITISED SAFE.

We have now entered Lent, and it begins to become more difficult to follow Jesus, and yet our Biblical history explains how, well after Jesus had risen and ascended, the disciples’ failings were put to one side and they responded in a variety of ways around the world carrying out the mission of Christ.

Displayed high up in St Peter’s Square, in Vatican City, are the disciples of old. We are aware from the New Testament of what happened to Judas, and in Acts chapter 12, we read that James, the son of Zebedee, was killed by Herod around 44AD. Legend tells us that Peter was crucified upside down; Andrew went to the Soviet Union and we Scots know of the legend of the saltire in the blue sky; Thomas was most active in Syria and was pierced with spears; Philip went to North Africa where he converted the wife of the Roman proconsul and was put to death in retaliation.

Some say Matthew was stabbed to death, Bartholomew went to India and Armenia and was believed to have been skinned; James Son of Alpheus was rumoured to have been stoned and clubbed to death, according to the historian Josephus; Matthias, who replaced Judas, was burned to death and John, who looked after Mary, lived to an older age and was exiled to Patmos, there rumoured to have written what we know as the book of Revelation.

Now that I have cheered you up!!! I want you to think this Lenten time, about your journey in faith. I don’t expect, nor does God, for you to experience what the first disciples experienced, but the clue does lie in the adjective ‘first’ disciples, for we are disciples also.

Jesus calls the disciples. Jesus calls us.

I have been to Vatican City and looked up.

And the Glasgow cab, taking someone somewhere had the words SEPARATED, SANITISED, SAFE. Oh, I know what they are there for post-COVID, but I wonder if it describes where the Church is today, separated from the world and its problems; sanitised in the same way the Jews of Old protected themselves from being tainted, safe back on the shores tending our nets, and fishing in safe waters.

We have been called on a journey, a journey of discovery and of joy with Jesus Christ. We have been called to carry our cross. How well have we done this is the challenge for our times. Enjoy your journey through Lent, your journey inwards, leading to the Cross and beyond, into the deeper waters and new paths that Christ calls us to.

Your friend and minister

George Mackay