By Daphne Kitchin
I can’t wear the right clothes,
Speak the right words,
Fit the right mould,
Be the shape people want me to be,
Expect me to be,
Demand that I am,
But you Lord
Make it possible to be me,
In Your service,
Open for You
To transform myself
And the world around me
May the Father who created a world of vibrant diversity be with us as we embrace life in all its fullness.
May the Son who teaches us to care for the stranger be with us, that we may be good neighbours in our communities.
May the Spirit who breaks down barriers and celebrates community, be with us as we find the courage to create a place of welcome for all.
"All Aboard" is a 60ft canal boat which was launched in May at the Polwarth Pontoon. The boat was bought by Polwarth Parish Church (The Kirk on the Canal) and an Edinburgh charity, People Know How. Buying the boat was the realisation of an ambition first mooted by members of Polwarth nearly 10 years ago. The project was launched in 2019.
The boat is intended to be used for spiritual and educational pursuits. When conditions allow, it will serve as a safe place to gather, socialise and improve wellbeing and community cohesion.
The boat will also host People Know How's project supporting children, young people, families, and adults, while providing work or volunteering experience for those who support the charity to maintain the boat. The boat was built by The New and Used Boat Company in Droitwich, Worcestershire, England and craned into the Union Canal at Wester Hailes. The yellow, white and blue wide beam canal boat has been custom designed inside with a galley kitchen, toilet, flexible social space and is wheelchair accessible.
In support, MUC made a donation towards the project.
The boat can either be seen, moored next to Polwarth Parish Church gardens, or from the towpath across the canal. It really is worth a look.
As you may be aware from our Lent edition of Link Magazine, over lockdown we took the opportunity to refresh the Main Hall. It has been painted, the wood sanded on the stage, the parquet floor varnished, and any loose wooden blocks mended.
Unfortunately, over the past few weeks weather conditions and possibly other factors have made the floor move and expand causing it to pop up in various areas. It is such a shame, as a lot of work had gone into renovating the woodwork and it was looking fantastic. The outcome of this is that the Main Hall is not usable for a period of time. We have had contractors come in, but as I’m sure you are aware the trades are extremely busy now and so it could take some time for the work to be carried out.
With so many groups coming back in September, we are doing everything we can to accommodate everyone using the Small Hall, the Church, and the Vestibule. Hopefully, this will only be for a short time, but we will keep everyone informed going forward.
This year the displays have been especially lovely, maybe because of the ‘dark’ times that Covid has presented us all with. But have you also noticed the vast array of sunflowers that have greeted shoppers entering Marks and Spencers, Tesco, Waitrose or those gardens touched by warm walls and long exposure to the sun. Now sunflowers have a lovely capacity to delight the eye of adult and child alike. Better still when they are growing in a large field, standing several feet tall, the land, a sea of yellow as far as the eye can see. You will notice that growing sunflowers confidently tilt their heads to always face the sun. Once fully grown they still maintain an eastward facing position.
The Christian church is no stranger to the significance of facing eastward for prayer and worship. It is rooted in ancient tradition—the Garden of Eden planted in the East (Genesis 2:8) and a belief that the Messiah would approach Jerusalem from the East. In the 2nd century, we know that both Syrian and Romanian Orthodox Christians hung a Christian cross on the eastern wall of their house, symbolising ‘their souls facing God, talking with him, and sharing their spirituality with the Lord’.
Perhaps the sunflower models a deep truth for us, that growth into maturity comes through orientation towards the sun’s light and warmth. As Christians we are called to prayerfully orientate our lives in the direction of the Son of God, whatever the weather. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has written a recent book entitled ‘Looking East in Winter.’ It’s an evocative title. The winter of covid is not yet past, our lives may have held other ‘wintry moments’ in recent times, but let the sunflowers inspire us to keep ‘looking east’, to keep praying for the transformation of our lives and our world.
Written by an Elder
It is so good to see people able to come back to church for a service and feel safe when they know they can be assured we continue to follow procedures as required. And there is more good news as lockdown eases once more - WE CAN NOW SING!
But you know we have much more to look forward to. We are inviting the Romanian Orthodox community to base themselves at the Church from September onwards. Their priests will share the building rather like the free church from Cornerstone did prior to Covid. This is an exciting venture in ecumenism and no doubt they will bring blessings to us. In other news a new Italian assistant is coming to us in September. He is called Giovanni Bernadini and he is training in Rome for the Waldensian church - the Italian protestant church. He is 28 and very enthusiastic. Another adventure for us is the opportunity to enter into a partnership with Edinburgh Napier University to support our work with the Department of Student Wellbeing and the Chaplaincy team. The chaplaincy team will use our building for student services, counselling and meetings. In the next few weeks we will reshape the children's ministry with the help of the national youth advisor, and in terms of our work with older people, we are now invited by the care homes to resume our services at the start of September.
I know it has been a deeply frustrating time for people at many levels: we have lived with separation, isolation, anxiety and a sense of pessimism, but there are signs of new life and hope emerging as the summer progresses. As we start to see restrictions lifted, which have been in place for 16 months, there will be those among us who will welcome this move and others who won’t. This is a landscape which we will need to live well together as we all make individual choices. What we are not doing is being released to ‘go back’ to what used to be the norm; that is no longer the present and we should not think that we can simply pick up where we left off. Instead, I hope we will commit ourselves to shaping a new future; one which recognises the pain and brokenness that some are feeling, one which respects the exhaustion many are experiencing, one which acknowledges the fear and anxiety in our communities, and one which also sees the joy of those are able to live without restriction once again. Just as at the start of lockdown many people immediately thought of neighbours and those who are vulnerable and sought to offer support, so too we now need to be paying great attention to all those around us with various vulnerabilities and fears, not least in our worshipping communities and local contexts. What does it mean for us to be the body of Christ as we live the weeks ahead? Furthermore, as we saw at the beginning of lockdown, in March 2020, people respond in different ways due to their circumstances, personalities and experiences. There will be those who are longing simply to live as before with no physical distancing or face coverings and who will delight at being in a crowd once again. There will also be those who are anxious, not least those who are still not fully vaccinated, and those with particular personal and family health situations. Whilst it is true that going forward we need to enable one another to live with the realities of a virus which is not going to suddenly disappear, and not be driven by fear, we do also need to be sensible, cautious and compassionate as we continue to live this next season one step at a time. This is the ‘story’ into which we are emerging, and every thread of it is a significant one. Jesus’ focus was always on God and the Kingdom, and his activity rooted in love and prayer. This is a good model for us right now, as we discern our new normal.
With love and blessings,
The Link is a monthly publication by members and staff of Morningside United Church.