Duddingston Kirk, Edinburgh
Services: Sundays 10.30 am, Wednesdays 10 am
Numbers are limited – advance booking essential
Letter from the Manse
With the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine we are beginning to see restrictions slowly lifting. It has been one year since our last Sunday morning service took place with no restrictions. I am pleased that we can now recommence worship services, albeit with restrictions. Because of our layout and pews restricting where we can sit in the Kirk, we are limited to a maximum of 36 places. This plan has been approved by Edinburgh Presbytery and we hope to operate within it. At the beginning of the year we held one service with a maximum of twenty people (including duty elders, organist and Minister!) It went really well. One person there was in tears as she was so glad to be ‘back at church’. No sooner had we achieved this than we entered into another lockdown!
All of this seems rather strange to us but the whole of this past year has been rather strange. But the church stands not alone. Everyone, every trade and every profession, every adult and child have been affected by the virus. A recent sermon I preached on-line spoke of the Israelites in the Old Testament going through the years of wilderness in the desert having escaped from Egypt. They were led by Moses and found themselves, in one part of their journey, being attacked by poisonous snakes. The folk were terrified and asked Moses to pray to God for help for them.
Here were a people afraid to go out of their tents; scared even inside that a snake would come in; they were grieving the loss of loved ones, bitten by the snakes, who had died; they were desperate and looking for a way out of their situation. I began to see a great parallel between the Israelites, three and a half thousand years ago, and ourselves today in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Have not our people been afraid to go out; scared even inside our homes; many grieving for the loss of loved ones who have died; and in sheer desperation looking for a way out of this situation?
The story in the book of Numbers tells of how Moses was told by God to make a metal snake and put it on a pole so that anyone who was bitten could look at it and be healed. Note that the snakes were still there! This is a story of faith and believing in God. This story of the snake on the pole is itself imprinted on ambulances and on badges worn by nurses today as a symbol of healing.
But that snake on the pole has been replaced by Jesus on the cross, lifted up so that everyone who believes may not perish but have eternal life. This is the gospel, the Good News – even in the midst of a pandemic.
The Reverend Dr Jim Jack