Help available – alcohol helpline
2020 has been a year to remember. So much has changed in such a short space of time. It is bound to have affected many of us – if not all. Health, job or mental health are all imperilled by the pandemic. Please do reach out if you would like to talk. You can find my contact details in the ‘Contact us’ section. If you are struggling with alcohol intake, there is help available too.
A recently commissioned poll that found that one in two over 50s are drinking at a level that could cause health problems now or in the future and more than four million over 50s are binge drinking at least once a week during lockdown. We also know that the factors that can lead to increased alcohol use in an older population; retirement, bereavement, isolation and loss of sense of purpose, may be exacerbated by the pandemic. The Over 50s Alcohol Helpline is supported by the National Lottery Community Fund. This is available 7 days a week; Monday to Friday at 12pm – 8pm and 10am to 4pm at weekends. The number is 0808 801 0750.
Please don’t struggle on your own – do reach out. God bless!
Today I’ve been preaching at Kirkwall East on the theme of joy. Prompted by the story of Terrence, a lonely pensioner from the BBC Breakfast show last Wednesday (https://www.express.co.uk/showbiz/tv-radio/1216178/dan-walker-bbc-breakfast-tears-terrence-christmas-tree-age-uk-loneliness-bbc-video/amp?fbclid=IwAR1z7ZBJ5cw4kvwnII5bcRdFwklge2GlsG8gwxYB06wrn9b8KELBlEa0OvA), a member of the congregation there suggested we go and visit someone who might be lonely this Christmas locally. I wonder – can we do this in Shapinsay too (and wherever else you are reading this?)? Can we be the joy for someone at this special time of the year? You can listen to the sermon here: https://soundcloud.com/julia-meason/sermon-on-joy-1. May this one be a happy Christmas indeed!
I record all my sermons, whether they are delivered in Shapinsay or Kirkwall East (once from Stronsay too!). If you’d like to hear them, you can do so either at the Kirkwall East linked with Shapinsay Facebook page or directly on my Sound Cloud profile at https://soundcloud.com/julia-meason. You can read them, if you prefer, here: http://www.orkneycommunities.co.uk/kirkwalleastchurch/index.asp?pageid=656695. Feel free to join in whatever way you wish! Blessings this day!
Mysterious works of God
Today was a bit of a surprise. I’ll tell you why. My own sermon spoke to me! Don’t get me wrong – Scripture usually does and then I fashion it into a sermon. This happened this week too. And then the sermon spoke to me anew as I was delivering it! It was uncanny! As I was speaking what I had prepared the day before, God revealed to me anew how fallen humans are (duh!) but also how we always – ALWAYS – get another chance. If we do so with God, we should with other fellow pilgrims too. Over the last few months I’ve been realising more and more that love is always the answer. If in doubt, love. In this way we can’t go wrong. God bless!
plans for 2019
Happy New Year! Hope you had a good start to the year! In Shapinsay Church we made some exciting plans for the next few months. First of all, starting this coming Sunday, we will have a Sunday Club for children during worship on the first Sunday of every month. We have lots of wonderful leaders who will lead the activities on a rota basis – so that they can take part in worship too! We are hoping to have a special all age Messy/café-style worship on the first Sunday in July which will be a picnic lunch at the same time! Everybody’s welcome. Even if we do not have any children’s activities, we do have bags of colouring pages and crafts for children to use so feel free to come and join us any time!
Our coffee afternoons continue. We will meet at the Boathouse on the 31st January, 28th February, 28th March and 11th April. After that we hope the island café will be open again so there should be no need for coffee afternoons which are designed to give folk a chance to meet, mingle and speak to one another. There are home bakes, teas, coffees, juice, and Ovaltine as well as toys and children’s activities. All welcome – church and non-church goers alike!
Due to popular demand we will celebrate Maundy Thursday (18th April) with a Passover seder – a meal Jesus shared with his friends. We will finish – as he did – with communion (Lord’s Supper). There will be activities for children too so all are welcome!
Other activities as advertised – keep an eye out for posters on the boat and in the shop!
national meadows day 2018
Join Historic Environment Scotland and RSPB Scotland to celebrate National Meadows Day 2018. We will be exploring the spectacular RSPB Brodgar reserve, deep in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, to discover wildflowers, rare bees and so much more.
As well as enjoying a guided walk, visitors will learn all about how to manage meadows for wildlife and even get a ‘bee’s-eye’ view of their surroundings.
Kirkwall Council of Churches is thinking of bringing a creative journaling workshop to Orkney at the beginning of Lent 2019. A typical workshop has a relaxed atmosphere and lasts 3 hours with a refreshment break in the middle. It includes a short talk about Creative Bible Journalling, an introduction to a Bible passage and tips to get you started. Lots of art and craft materials are provided for use on the day and the participants each get a personalised kit which includes a journal, Bible notes with journalling prompts and co-ordinating craft supplies to take home. You can find out more at https://www.facebook.com/biblejournallinguk/ and https://www.facebook.com/creativelifejournalling/. If you are interested or would like to know more, please contact Catriona at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01856 741286 by the end of June.
Path of renewal
Shapinsay Church is on a pilot of the Church of Scotland called Path of Renewal. We’ve just entered our third and final year of it.
This is about ministers having the space and time to develop the next generation of leaders and to develop the work and witness of the church in new ways. It involves them committing time to those new leaders and new developments but in time they will be able to leave them in the hands of those they have trained, nurtured and developed.
It’s what Paul did with Timothy as described in Acts 16:1-5: Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
Paul saw potential in Timothy and took him along as part of his team. He supported, encouraged and challenged him. Later Timothy will become the leader of the church in Ephesus, one of the churches Paul helped to birth.
In Shapinsay we have a group of 6 potential leaders (all ladies!) in the Path of Renewal core group. We’ve developed monthly coffee afternoons at the Boathouse and are thinking of extending them in one way or another. We’ve done Bag the Bruck, community Christmas carol singing followed by refreshments and other ventures. Some of them work, some of them don’t but that’s what it’s all about – experimenting to see what will work in our particular context. We’re looking forward to what the future holds for us at Shapinsay church.
Guy Fawkes night
It always puzzles me why we celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. While some Christians object to the celebrating of Halloween, I have a much bigger problem with Guy Fawkes Night. How can I, as a Christian, commemorate a violent plot that never succeeded? A plot of desperate men who wanted no more than to peacefully practice their religion? How can I, as a Christian, commemorate the bloodshed and tortures of persecution of fellow Christians? How can I commemorate persecution knowing that many even today are persecuted for their faith? How can I commemorate violence? I realise that nowadays many don’t think about the reason for the day (the same way they don’t think of the meaning of Christmas, taking it to be a totally secular festival – sic!) and instead it has become a social gathering with fireworks and hotdogs. Even though I go every year, I struggle – this year maybe more so than ever, after having watched the BBC drama series ‘Gunpowder’ which brought to light the gruesomeness of the reality that birthed the plot in the first place. Maybe more so this year than ever as 3 days ago we commemorated 100 years since the Balfour Declaration which brought so much suffering and injustice to the Holy Land where people are tempted to use violent means of resistance as they see no other way of securing themselves basic human rights. It’s the same desperation that guided Guy Fawkes and his comrades. And while I do not support violence in any shape or form, my heart still goes out to those who are unjustly treated and persecuted. May peace finally prevail on earth…
SHOE BOX APPEAL 2017
This year, as every year, we take part in the Blythswood Trust Shoe Box Appeal (more at: https://www.blythswood.org/shoebox). Such a simple gesture as giving somebody a gift in a wrapped shoe box gives so much joy! It gives joy to the recipient (it can be a woman, man or a child of any age) as it usually is the only gift they will get in a year and certainly at Christmas time. They are so happy to receive the simplest things while we sulk at having received the wrong colour, size or quantity. Their joy at the gifts received is inspirational. It also gives a lot of joy to the giver – as you carefully choose who you want the gift to be for and what you’re going to put in the box. For a few years now we’ve been working together with the Shapinsay School and therefore the drop-off point for your boxes is the school. Please bring the shoe boxes by the end of October 2017. If you need more leaflets, please speak to Emma or Dorothy or pick them up at the coffee afternoon at the Boathouse on the 19th October between 2 and 4 pm. You can also give donations of items to be put in the boxes and/or money to Dorothy. Your kind generosity is much appreciated – both here and in the countries where the boxes will travel to before Christmas! Thank you!
Joint service at Kirkwall east
Today Shapinsay and Kirkwall East joined in a service together at Kirkwall East. It was a communion and stewardship of money service with the rededication of the Guild and a presentation from the Blythswood Trust – it’s their Shoe Box Appeal that we take part in every year. It was an action-packed service but a great pleasure to be together, worship and then share in a snack lunch provided by the Guild too.
The linkage between the two congregations formally began on the 12th November 2011. We’ve since shared locum ministers and then, since December 2013, the minister. The exercise of linking and uniting congregations has become more common in recent years as there’s less and less ministers, members and resources so there is a growing need to pull what we can together. It’s not an easy linkage as there’s a stretch of water between us and we are two very different congregations but at the same time we’re probably enjoying a far better working relationship than many other linkages. Our office bearers meet annually to review the terms of the linkage and decide on Christmas arrangements and other events. Immediately after that meeting we share in elders’ nurture session where we speak about mission of the Church, pastoral care or environmental concerns. During the year I do two Sunday services in a row in Kirkwall East and then the third one in Shapinsay – so you can see me in Shapinsay every third Sunday. The rest is filled in by the Worship Team in Kirkwall East and Worship Group and visiting preachers in Shapinsay.
In the summer school holidays I do two services every Sunday – both churches change the time of their worship to accommodate my ferry journey from Kirkwall to Shapinsay. It gives me a sense of continuity in my preaching with both congregations over the course of a few weeks. An invaluable opportunity. We don’t do it throughout the year though as the weather is changeable and therefore the ferries are not very reliable. This year we already had to cancel three services because of the weather conditions. It really is dangerous to come to the Shapinsay church, which is not sheltered at all, in gale force winds!
Shapinsay and Kirkwall East have shared service in the past but it’s not been part of our calendar on a regular basis. I think now the time came for us to make it an annual event. ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!’ (Ps. 133:1)
Wave of prayer
This year marks the Jubilee since the demarcation of Israel/Palestine. Also on the 2nd November 1917 Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour sent a letter to Lord Walter Rothschild, leader of the British Jewish community, declaring support of the Crown for the establishment of a ‘national home’ for the Jewish population in Palestine. History before and since is extremely complex however the world is more and more aware of the human rights abuses on the Palestinian population.
Their plight has been very close to my heart, especially since I visited the Tent of Nations, an organic Palestinian farm close to Bethlehem (http://www.tentofnations.org/) devoted to non-violent resistance and a peaceful resolution to the existing conflict. This year’s joint report to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland called ‘Embracing Peace and Working for Justice’ (see: http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/39577/A_Joint_Report_on_the_Centenary_of_The_Balfour_Declaration.pdf) stirred in me a need to do more. We’ll therefore join with a worldwide movement of prayer.
Following the 2006 Sabeel International Conference, the Friends of Sabeel coordinators met and discussed the idea of “Waves of Prayer.” The premise is that in their respective time zones, individuals and groups around the world will pray together at 12:00 on Thursdays, in solidarity with Sabeel in Jerusalem and with Friends of Sabeel worldwide. Starting in the Pacific Islands, passing through Asia, Africa, Middle East, Europe, the Americas and on around the globe, we pray for peace with justice.
This autumn on selected Thursdays we’re going to join with this worldwide prayer. On the 21st September, 5th October, 2nd November and 7th December we’ll hold a short act of worship in Shapinsay church at 12 noon. Come along and pray with us for all those who are displaced and live under occupation.
This is room for me to introduce myself and keep you abreast with what I’m doing and what’s happening in the kirk. This page will be updated regularly.
For now, as a way of introduction, I come from Poland, from a city called Lodz in the centre of the country. I grew up in inner city Poland so you can appreciate that being in Orkney is very different! I was raised in the Evangelical Reformed Church in Poland, a minority Protestant church in a Roman Catholic Poland.
I attended a French-speaking high school in Lodz but I’m afraid I don’t remember much French now – probably if I went to France it would come flooding back but as it is, I’ll just smile politely and nod when you approach me in French!
I always felt called to ministry (since I was 6 or 7 to be precise) so I then studied at the Christian Theological Academy in Warsaw, Poland, which is a multi-denominational theological school. It was an experience in many ways – not least because most of my fellow students didn’t believe in female ministry!
Then I did my Master of Theology degree at the University of Edinburgh and proceeded to working with a number of Church of Scotland congregations in various locations (Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Rome, Kirkwall, Shapinsay, Peterculter). I was eventually ordained and duly inducted to the charge of Kirkwall East linked with Shapinsay on the 11th December 2013.
You’ll get to know me better from this blog and also, I hope, in the kirk and/or the community. If you’d to meet me or speak to me about anything, don’t hesitate to contact me.
I’m looking forward to getting to know you better!
Rev Julia Meason