MAY 2021 NEWSLETTER

DALRY TRINITY CHURCH

MAY NEWSLETTER

GOSPEL OF WEAKNESS

            One of the hardest things to do is admit your own weakness. However, at the heart of the gospel is the call to do precisely that! Other world religions tend to teach that salvation is something we accomplish by our own efforts – by doing good works, by the excellence of our moral virtue, by the fidelity of our ritual observances, by our success in attaining a transformed consciousness. In stark contrast, Christianity says that salvation is secured by God for us, by his coming to us in Jesus Christ.

            For this gift to be received we must accept that we need it. Salvation is not the prize given to the successful. It is the gift given to the needy. If you don’t think yourself needy then you will remain a stranger to the gift. Jesus calls us to repentance and faith. He calls us to an acknowledgement of our need as guilty sinners, so that we can know ourselves accepted and delighted in by God.

            Timothy Keller tells an amusing story. He describes an ageing man whose hearing was beginning to fail but who was in denial about it. He complained that other people were mumbling. His wife arranged a hearing test, the result of which confirmed the need for hearing aids. However, when the cost of these was made known, the man insisted they were not affordable. His wife’s response was ‘Buy the best ones and consider it a gift from me.’

            At this point the man must admit his weakness in order to accept the gift. By accepting it he is effectively saying ‘That is a generous gift and as I accept it I am admitting that I am getting older and I can’t hear what people are saying.’ Accepting the gift required admitting the need.

            Amusingly, Keller admits that the story is true, and is about himself!

            The gospel is exactly like this. It is the best gift of all, but requires honest and radical admission of need. This requires humility and a readiness to surrender control. When we do so, it is like entering a new and wonderful life. There is no need to strive to make yourself acceptable; you need only admit your need and trust. Then all that Jesus secured by his life and death and resurrection becomes ours. And God not only accepts us but delights in us!

            Spring time is a beautiful time of year. After the dark, lifeless days of winter, days lengthen and there is an extravagant burst of life with colour and warmth. Christina Rossetti celebrated this in a poem entitled ‘Spring’

There is no time like Spring,
When life’s alive in everything,
Before new nestlings sing,
Before cleft swallows speed their journey back
Along the trackless track –
God guides their wing,
He spreads their table that they nothing lack, –
Before the daisy grows a common flower
Before the sun has power
To scorch the world up in his noontide hour…

            When we repent and believe, admitting our weakness and receiving the spring-like gift of life in Christ, all is fresh and new. It is a spring time of life, regardless of your age.

            Your minister

            Martin

Thursday 13th May: Gift Day

            The Biggart hall will be open on Thursday 13th May from 2pm to 3pm. This is for two reasons

  1. On that day Martin, together with David Albon and others, will take part in a sponsored walk for Christian Aid. Should you wish to bring a gift towards this you may do so.
  2. We are immensely grateful to those who have found ways of bringing their offerings to keep the Church going during the pandemic. However, we realise this has not always been practical amidst the restrictions. You may wish to take advantage of the hall opening on that day to bring your offerings and gifts for the church.

            You may come on 13th May to take advantage of either or both of the above opportunities.

Easter 2021 Newsletter

DALRY TRINITY CHURCH

EASTER NEWSLETTER

 RESURRECTION HOPE:

            At Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Uniquely, Christians do not remember a dead leader, far less do we simply follow the teachings of a deceased hero. Rather, at the very heart of the Christian faith, is loving fellowship with a living Lord. Jesus is the King who is present with us, in the power of his Spirit, because he is alive. He is also the king who will one day return to fully implement the kingdom he inaugurated, the life of which is represented in his resurrection.

            Many people are familiar with the legends of king Arthur. He was an ideal king who reigned in justice, restored peace and brought prosperity. His tomb is said to bear the inscription ‘Here lies Arthur, the once and future king.’ He was once king, but will one day be king again. It is a promise that the king whose brief reign had been a time of unparalleled blessing would one day come back to make things right.

            Jesus is our once and future king. The difference is that his rule has already begun. His resurrection means that the life of the kingdom is already available. By faith we get to glimpse and taste the life and powers of the kingdom that is to come.

            Let me illustrate. In 2009 a new Star Trek movie was released, directed by JJ Abrams. In the story, an elderly Mr Spock travelled back in time and by doing so was able to provide key information to the young Starship Enterprise crew, enabling them to save planet earth. You don’t need to be a Trekkie to grasp the illustration. Something of the future was brought back to secure life in the present.

            The resurrection of Jesus brings the future kingdom of God into the present. The life of the resurrected Jesus belongs to that future kingdom to which we may now belong. When that future kingdom is fully established with the return of the king then there will be peace, prosperity and nature itself will be healed.

            Let me quote Timothy Keller:

            ‘The resurrection was indeed a miraculous display of God’s power, but we should not see it as a suspension of the natural order of the world. Rather it was the beginning of the restoration of the natural order of the world, the world as God intended it to be. Since humanity turned away from God, both the human and natural worlds have been dominated by sin and evil, disorder and disease, suffering and death. But when Jesus rose from the dead, he inaugurated the first stage of the coming of God’s kingdom power into the world to restore and heal all things.’

            Now there is hope!

Your minister,

 Martin Thomson

DECEMBER 2020 – PASTOR’S LETTER

Dalry Trinity Church

December Newsletter

 The Christmas that can never be cancelled

            A few weeks ago, a newspaper carried the headline ‘Christmas is cancelled’ in response to the realisation that covid restrictions will limit the way we gather together. At the manse we are delighted that we will see two sons and a daughter-in-law for only the second time since last Christmas, but seeing them means we hit our maximum of 3 households together. So, we won’t be seeing our family in Glasgow at Christmas, something that has never happened before. Every family in the land will be making these calculations and realising how different things will be. This Christmas will be unlike any other. Many people feel deeply disappointed that their usual festivities will be cancelled.

            But let me be clear – Christmas is NOT cancelled. However much our celebration of the festival may be curtailed, the abiding significance of the first Christmas remains. As the shortened days of December shroud us in ever-deepening gloom, the bright hope of the One who came as the Light of the World may yet shine all the brighter. Will it take the removal of what we have allowed Christmas to become to turn us afresh to the true wonder of the coming of Jesus?

            Amidst the anxieties and fears that accompany many of us towards the end of the year, there remains the true hope that is found uniquely in Christ.

            For those who refuse to recognise or acknowledge anything that they cannot see, because they are materialists, things look bleak indeed. For them the world is a place of chaos which just so happens to be the victim of a random biological and chemical process. For them, living through a global pandemic is no more than the hand dealt to us by the random dictates of blind fate.

            For Christians, the first Christmas tells us a very different story. It tells us that the Universe is not to be dismissed as no more than an impersonal stage where lifeforms are tyrannised by dictates of viral ‘luck.’ Instead, the first Christmas tells us that there is a God who made everything and that at the very core of the universe is a God of love relationships (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). He is a God of supreme kindness and mercy, a God of grace, who has a plan to rescue us from the mess of our own making, and remake the world without sickness or pain or death. The key step in that plan was Him coming as one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. The king came to inaugurate a new and perfect kingdom.

            Jesus was born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago and lived the perfect human life in order to invite us to join in that future perfect world. By his death and resurrection, the way is made open to receive forgiveness and new life whereby we can belong in that new world.

            Christmas is not cancelled, because the hope of the incarnation can never be cancelled.

            May you know the blessing and hope of Christ this Christmas,

            Martin Thomson

March 2020 – Pastoral letter – Religions

On our sixth day in India we caught the 6am train from Jaipur to Delhi. A train journey seemed less overwhelming after so much time spent in road traffic, gridlocked and noisy and colourful and relentless amidst the endless throng of people. For several days we had spent time on the roads amidst buses, cars, lorries, motorcycles, Tuk Tuks, each capable of going fast but all going slow, five or six lanes of creeping traffic on three-lane highways. Train travel seemed so much less stressful.

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February 2020 – Dependence and Vulnerability

A five year episode concerning my health has come to something of a conclusion. In 2014 I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder called sarcoidosis, which, in my case, caused inflammation in my lungs and lymph glands. The symptoms included wheeziness, an annoying cough and what I now realise was an unhealthy tiredness. Initially, the condition was monitored over a period of years before the decision was taken in April 2018 to treat the condition with some industrial strength steroids.

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December 2019 – Modesty Above Publicity

There had been a difficult confrontation. The atmosphere was getting more tense. Jesus had been engaged in an exchange with the religious teachers, the Pharisees. They were picking fault with the behaviour of both Jesus and His disciples. No doubt their antagonism had deepened as Jesus exposed their ignorance of the Bible and their careless disregard for the welfare of the people around them.

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