A View from St Kilda – September 2023

As I said in the sermon on the 20th of August, we live in a ‘cashless’ society. We pay either by card or by mobile phone and we are becoming so used to it, there are times when I don’t think we actually check the amount. The vendor holds up the machine, and we ‘tap and go’, rarely asking for a receipt either.

Sometimes, however, we can get caught out!

After a WD40 service up in Kingsborough, I thought I would nip into the local Sainsbury’s and grab some essentials and it was there that I started to pray. Not because they didn’t have the items I was looking for and not because there was a lengthy queue at the tills, but because of my experience at the self-service checkout.

I went to the ‘card only’ position, scanned the items, pressed the button that indicated I didn’t want a bag and went to ‘swipe my card and then go.’

But nothing happened.

I tried again, with the same result. I was now getting a little embarrassed, not that I was purchasing goods that needed to be hidden, but that the local parish minister was unable to pay.

I could feel the hackles rising because this was supposed to be a quick shop, an in-and-out shop, and I was turning my head looking for assistance when it dawned on me that because I had been using the card facility more often, as a security check, the checkout machine decided to ask for my pin number.

Trying to recall my number when I was so used to ‘tap and go’ was problematic, but it came to me at the end.

Yes, a prayer or two came to mind that day – as well as ‘how long do I have left for my parking’ having been already stung by the wardens at Gartnavel Hospital when I was out doing God’s work! (Nickie actually has made a laminated card that does say ‘minister on duty – no parking tickets please.’)

Do you think it will work?

Do you think John or Crawford should pay?

Back to the checkout and the prayers. Self-service prayers – I wonder if we all use them, a quick in-and-out in our busy lives, looking for an instant answer, just when it suits us, our desires, our wishes, our wants, as well as own timeframes or purposes? Like the checkout, it is fine when it works, satisfying and satiating our needs at the particular point in time but when it doesn’t work and if there is a technological theological hitch or snag and we are left unsatisfied by the answer of God’s response or the lack of it, what then?

Sunday 20th was also the day that Spain women beat the Lionesses in the World Cup final 1-0. I have often thought that when men and women cross themselves before entering the field, or looking up to the heavens when a goal is scored, whose prayer has actually been answered?

Is God Spanish?

Is God a Killie fan because they knocked Celtic out of the Cup?

Are Mat Morton’s prayers stronger than my neighbour, a Celtic fan, across the road? I have no definitive answer to these musings, but doesn’t God deserve a bit more than that? Might we profit if we abandoned the ‘tap and go’, the rushing through our words, if we stopped, listened and waited for God, deepening our relationship?

Tap and go is fine at Sainsbury’s (and other retail outlets) when it works and maybe the quick prayers and contemplations are helpful sometimes but if you find shops, queues and the paying methods burdensome because you have more to do with your time, maybe that ‘extra’ time, that free time, that waiting time, could be given to God?

Your friend and minister,
George Mackay