The theme of the Watchnight Service was “Homecoming” and the fact that the first Christmas was a story of “homecoming”. People travelling from all over the country to be registered in the towns and cities of their ancestors – as Mary and Joseph did – but also the story of God coming home to us.
We all know that 2009 is the year of homecoming, prompted by the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, and already we have seen advertisements and posters all over the place reminding us of Homecoming and encouraging exiled Scots to return to Scotland during 2009.
The Youth Group has sent a list of films with a “Home” theme to the Mission & Discipleship Council who are hoping to run a Film Festival in community halls and church halls later this year – some suggestions were “Finding Nemo”, “Home alone” and “The Railway Children”.
How can the congregation be involved in the Homecoming? Over the last couple of weeks, I have received emails from America, Australia, Bangladesh and England from people who have links with this community and who are now living overseas. It struck me that there are likely to be many more – do you know someone who is living away from Carnoustie who has family links with Carnoustie Panbride and who might want to get news of the community and congregation this year? Some thoughts I have had is for a special “Homecoming” service later in the year to which folk now living away from the parish can be invited. Those in other corners of the world could be part of this, even if they are not planning to be home, by sending us an email and we could send them a copy of a special newsletter by email (or post).
Another suggestion for the Homecoming Service would be to “link up” with people either through them sending short “video” messages which we can transfer to make PowerPoint presentations, or transfer email messages which could be running before the service, and maybe we could manage to do a “live link” with the Church of Bangladesh during the service – it would be late afternoon Bangladesh time during our morning service. Is there someone in the congregation who would be willing to help with taking these ideas forward – now is the time to start thinking about all this.
So, if you have relatives or friends with links, please give me their contact addresses (and email addresses) so that we can build up a database. And then later in the year, whether they are with us in person at the special service or linked through email or other forms of technology, we can demonstrate in a very tangible and special way that Carnoustie Panbride is part of a world wide fellowship.
P.S. The congregation should also know that I decided at the beginning of the year to stand down as Clerk to the Presbytery of Angus at the February Meeting. I had held this post since June 2006. Over almost 20 years in the Presbytery, apart from my first year, I had either been a Vice-Convener, Convener, Moderator or Clerk. The work as Clerk has been very demanding in terms of time and a number of ongoing situations made even greater demands on that time. They also were making demands on my health and I felt that my parish work was in danger of being compromised. I was missing the contact with members, and others, and as I have said on many occasions, the pastoral work is important to me. That was what I was called to do as your minister. In the last month, I have certainly enjoyed the additional visits that I have managed, particularly in the evenings when I don’t now have to travel to Forfar – and no, I won’t miss the road from Carnoustie to Forfar!