Weekly Update - 23rd July
Dear sisters and brothers
I’m writing this letter on what has become known as “zero day” – as we all move into the Scottish Government’s “Level 0” of Covid restrictions. The restrictions we have all had to bear are being loosened just a little bit more – although not as much as in England. I’m sure if we were living down there we would have organised a church outing to a nightclub to celebrate!
Last Sunday, however, we held a morning service in the Community Centre for the first time since March 2020. The service was almost full, within the restricted numbers allowed, and without realising it, I preached on the same Bible passage that I had preached on at the last morning service 16 months ago: Ephesians 4. Those who were able to attend felt good to be there – but the fact that we are not yet properly ‘together’ was evident to all. We can’t have conversations of any length; we can’t shake hands or hug; we can’t sit quietly beside one another or pray privately for each other – all of which can be important expressions of our love and unity as the Church of Jesus Christ. And yet missing these things serves to remind us that being able to do them is not what makes us the church. Our unity and love for one another as Christians is first and foremost a gift of God in Jesus. As Paul says in Ephesians 4:16, it all comes “From him”.
Someone helped me to understand this better by comparing it to family relationships. Over the past few months many people have benefitted from seeing and speaking to grandchildren, parents, siblings etc over the internet. Then we were able to meet but not hug. Eventually we were able to hug, but still not meet in large family groups. Soon we will be able to do all these things, we hope. Hugging is better than just meeting; meeting is better than seeing each other on “Zoom” – but whatever we are able to do it doesn’t stop us being family. It’s good to be able to express our being a family– but our being family is a given.
So it is with the Church: we are the family of God by the gift of God and so we try to live that out as best we can. And so it is with your relationship with God. You are a child of God by the gift of God. There are many ways to live as a consequence of that, but there is nothing you can do to make yourself God’s child. It is entirely God’s gift to you through Jesus Christ. Never forget that your baptism is a sign of God’s gifts to you – adopting you as a child and uniting you with your brothers and sisters in the church.
On Sunday there was much that we could do together – first and foremost we lifted our voices (behind our face coverings) and lifted our hearts in praise and in prayer. You may feel restricted by all sorts of circumstances today – but never forget that you are a child of God and nothing can stop you worshiping and praying.
Information about attending the Sunday services is enclosed. Please remember that I and others in the church are available to offer any help that we can and that I and others are remembering you in prayer.
Rev. Ian Aitken
52 Ashgrove Road West
Tel. 01224 686929
Aberdeen: Stockethill Church of Scotland
Scottish Charity Number - SC030587