Dear Friends

Dear Friends

Written address from our Minister Revd. Bill Bowman


We celebrated harvest at Emmanuel a little earlier than usual this year and I am grateful to everyone for their part in making it such a joyful celebration. In early October in the Jewish community another harvest festival called the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot in Hebrew, takes place. This is a week-long festival whose origins are described in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy at chapter 16:13-17. The gospels tell us that Jesus celebrated this festival each year.

Sukkot is not only a celebration of harvest but it also helps Jewish people remember the time when their ancestors dwelt in tents during the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. Many Jewish people even today spend seven days living in a temporary tent-like structure often built in their own homes to help better identify with the experience of those who lived during that time in their history when the children of Israel wandered in the desert. It is a time to give thanks to God for his providence in a difficult situation and to look forward to better times to come.

If we stop and think about it our lives are a bit like these tents in the desert. We live for an unspecified period of time in a tent (our bodies) which is not permanent but, just like the Israelites of old, we have a Promised Land to look forward to and to which we journey with hope trusting in God’s promise. As Christians though, while our “tents” may be temporary, we are called to build a house that will endure, that is God’s eternal kingdom. So let us use the time God has given us to build his kingdom for the benefit of others until the time comes for us to move from what is temporal to what is eternal.

Let us follow the example of the Carpenter from Nazareth who came to build that eternal kingdom here on earth. As the lyrics of a Johnny Cash song, with which I am familiar, remind us:-

 “Jesus was a carpenter and he worked with a saw and a hammer.  And his hands could form a table true enough to stand forever.

And he might have spun his life out in the coolness of the mornings.
But he put aside his tools and he walked the burning highways
To build a house from folk like you and me.

And he found them as they wandered through the wild Judean mountains.
And he found them as they pulled their nets upon the Sea of Galilee.
And for a thousand evenings while the day behind him emptied
He walked among the poor and he stopped to touch the dying.
And he built his house from people just like these.”



New Year?

September is the month of beginning again. Schools return, university terms start as do all the host of church and secular activities that take a summer break. September to me always seems a more sensible time to celebrate New Year than 1st January which was the date the Romans chose and we have followed on … Continue reading New Year?

The King’s Cave

During our recent holiday on the beautiful Isle of Arran among the places of interest Marion and I visited was what is known as, “The King’s Cave.” This is a cave where it is said in the year 1306, Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce, fleeing from the wrath of England’s King Edward the first, had” … Continue reading The King’s Cave


As I write the General Election is over by less than a week and the Prime Minister is in the process of putting together an agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to secure a parliamentary majority going forward. Needless to say the two sides don’t agree on everything and a compromise will have to … Continue reading Politics?

Fake News

Dear Friends, I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that this month, on Thursday the eighth, we have a General Election and all the main parties have been, for what seems an age now, wooing us for our votes. It is certainly not for me to tell you for whom to vote … Continue reading Fake News

Remember Watergate?

In June 1972 there was a break-in at the Democratic Party’s Headquarters located in the Watergate building in Washington DC. It went virtually  un-noticed at the time but due to the investigative journalism of two Washington Post reporters, involvement in the break-in was traced back to the White House. The attempt to cover up the … Continue reading Remember Watergate?


At this time of year the snowdrops are in full bloom in the manse garden and they seem to get more and more each year. They remind me of my native, Ayrshire, as snowdrops grow in abundance there along the hedgerows and in the woods at this time of year. But the snowdrops also remind … Continue reading Snowdrops


I am writing this in the week in January when the Prime Minister has been making a major speech on the government’s Brexit strategy and the term “trade deal” has been bandied about freely. I am sure it wasn’t necessarily the intention of the PM but it is a timely reminder that “Fairtrade Fortnight” is  … Continue reading Trade

Standing on the threshold

I think this is the first time since I became your minister that I am writing my letter for the January magazine after Christmas. I thought the services over the Christmas period at both Elmers End and Emmanuel went well and it was wonderful to welcome so many who do not come to church at … Continue reading Standing on the threshold


I heard a caller say on a phone-in radio programme earlier this month  “2016 has been a frightful year.” They were referring to the uncertainty brought about by the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as the next US President. The continuing war in Syria and the terrorist attack in Nice and other … Continue reading Faith

The Russians are Coming

I am writing this on the day when the BBC news reports that the Russian Fleet (bound for Syria) is sailing through the English Channel shadowed by ships of our own Royal Navy whose job it is to monitor their progress away from British coastal waters. For some reason this news bulletin brought to mind … Continue reading The Russians are Coming