by Claire Herbert
It has been a busy start to the year. A trip to Germany in the first week of the year with the university allowed some time to reflect on changes.
In Germany there are big celebrations for the Reformations 500th anniversary. Lots was discussed about the effect of reformation change in Germany and the peace keeping Diets which took place there. We visited the beautiful city of Speyer and enjoyed the last days of the Christmas market where the smell of Christmas trees and cream topped eggnog rounded off our week. We built good relationships with our friends in the Protestantische Landeskirche (Evangelical Church of the Palatinate) the state protestant church. The hospitality was wonderful. As a state church they are funded by taxes and have reliable income, but the Church is responsible for all schools, teachers and hospitals which offers its own challenges.
In January I had the privilege of visiting and sharing with the residents of Clarence Court Care Home who invited me to share their communion service and time of worship. It was a memorable day for those of us who shared with the residents that morning. While serving bread and wine, body and blood of Christ some of the residents would raise or stretch out a hand and we served them directly in their palm – the service acting as a reminder for us all that no matter where we are we can grasp Christ and share in his fellowship.
Being a deacon in the Church of Scotland means regular meeting for prayer and fellowship as well as twice yearly conference. This year’s January conference was held in Stirling and we spent time reflecting on the Northern (England) Saints who were influenced by the community founded on Iona. We had a good turnout for our wintery gathering and the future of the diaconate remains a ‘hot topic’ for the vision committee.
Back at Wellington we have welcomed John Barclay and enjoyed the Bruce lectures. These were themed around Gift, reciprocity and mutuality and provided a fine start to February. As we move through the Epiphany season on our journey to Lent it is helpful to pause and consider the gift of Christ and the community who share this gift of Grace.
As I write this I am preparing for a trip to Jerusalem organised by the Church of Scotland’s, World Mission team and Edinburgh University. While it has been a busy start to the year, it is important to be reminded of God’s gift and many blessings along the way. I pray that we will all be able to pause, stretch out our hands, grasp hold of the gift of Jesus and know more deeply the blessings of God as we journey towards our time of Lenten reflection and preparation.