Dear Friends

Dear Friends

Written address from our Minister Revd. Dr. David Pickering.

Starting Over…

We may each remember an occasion when we started something new, possibly as a young child at primary school, more likely as an older child on our first day at secondary school or starting a first or new job. Starting something naturally evokes feelings of anticipation and excitement, coupled with nervousness – will I like the people? Will they like me? Will I be happy and fulfilled there?

Years on from such ‘first experiences’, we may find ourselves returning to a once-familiar place after an absence, and again those same feelings can well-up, coupled with wondering, will things have changed? or will I have changed?

There is much good scriptural precedent for such feelings, indeed starting over is a theme of Pentecost, which is on 23rd May this year, when we celebrate the birth of the church.

Many of the followers of Jesus who gathered for worship, including in the Temple, not long after the rising of Jesus, were the same people who’d gathered to worship God in the Temple before the events of Good Friday and Easter Day. But things were very different. Jesus was no longer with them as he formerly was, and instead they were supported, guided, and inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, it was a wholly new beginning. They were starting over.

As restrictions ease, I wonder how returning to church may feel? The reality is that however much we yearn for a return to normal, how we used to do things, many aspects of life won’t be normal as we continue to observe COVID-precautions. In church the familiarity of where we sit or any notion of ‘our pew’ has been disturbed, and we’ll continue to wear a mask, refrain from singing or won’t be able to enjoy a cuppa with friends around a table for a while longer.

Instead, we have found new ways of worshipping, of connecting, or supporting. Some adaptions have been of a technical nature, but much adaption has been made by us in heart and practice. We have also lost much, not least being able to respond to or address the grief and joys that have been experienced. We have missed much; we have lost much.

Some adaptions are widely seen as temporary; there are others that we are learning from and may continue going forward. For example, I’ve received encouragement that when/as our services become more ‘normal’ that I continue to offer shorter addresses and reflections together with meditation and continue to use images and music to aid our worship and prayer.

The classical scholar and poet, A E Houseman, wrote in his poem, A Shropshire Lad

Into my heart an air that kills from yon far country blows:
what are those blue remembered hills,
what spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain,
the happy highways where I went
and cannot come again.

I suspect that we won’t or can’t return to the old normal, life as it was pre-COVID, now a land of lost content. But there will be new patterns to develop, and some of what we have undertaken during the past year we may wish to continue. Change can be daunting, for the waters may feel uncharted. But in this month of Pentecost, we may remember God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, who has guided, comforted and challenged past generations, and is with us as we navigate a new course forward in our church and personal lives. As we start over, we are not alone, for God, Emmanuel, is with us.

May the God of justice and peace, life and well-being, be with you,


The long Easter morning

It was the longest of mornings, that began with a heavy heart and planned act of devotional love, as Mary Magdalene made her way ahead of the dawn, to the tomb. We may imagine her feelings, shock and deep sorrow, doubtless tears too. The world, which cheered the one who she followed only last week, … Continue reading The long Easter morning

Holy Saturday

Dear Friends, Growing up as a child, I experienced Christmas as a season of wonder, with lights and decorations, gatherings and festivities, celebratory meals and (if I was good), some pressies in a sack at the end of the bed and under the tree. If the weather worked well, as it seemed to more often … Continue reading Holy Saturday


I wrote in the worship Sheet for Sunday 31st January about ‘Butterflies, Books and Beginnings’, conveying that just as reading a factual or fictional book may start introducing a situation, setting and characters, before leading us on a journey, so do each of the gospels. Through reading we may gain new insights, and find our … Continue reading Reading


Dear Friends I love listening to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Disc programme, in which a guest, herein after called a ‘castaway’ selects 8 recordings which are favourite or significant for them, whilst also sharing insights into their life’s journey. The programme is 79 years old this month, and still gains good ratings. Perhaps, you … Continue reading Favourites


As I write in late October, the scene outside my Glasgow window is of gathering gloom, or as is said in these parts, evening gloaming, meaning twilight. With the clocks having retreated an hour, the northern night falls increasingly early as autumn turns into winter. Experiencing fewer hours of winter darkness and more hours of … Continue reading Gloaming?


By the time of the next edition of Emmanuel Life you will have your new minister living and serving amongst you.  What a strange year it has been with all the additional challenges which the pandemic has brought and what a strange and challenging time to be taking up a new ministry with so many … Continue reading Induction

Lockdown reflections

As we move into a new phase of restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 I have reflected on my experiences so far. When lockdown began, I thought that I would miss the variety and busyness of my life. So was surprised when I did not miss regular trips to the theatre or live music … Continue reading Lockdown reflections

From Revd. David Pickering

Dear friends already met and friends to be made, I was deeply touched to receive your call to be your new minister. Through the course of our encounters, I too, felt a genuine sense of call on my heart, and so was very glad to accept your invitation to serve as your new minister. It … Continue reading From Revd. David Pickering

Love and Good Wishes

It is traditional at this time of year for this letter to give our love and good wishes to all the young people moving up to a new year at school, or to a new college, or – particularly exciting – to university or the world of work.  But we all know that this year … Continue reading Love and Good Wishes

New Normal

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8  This is what God asks of us both during lockdown and as we look towards the future mission priorities of the church. Since the restrictions on assemblies and public worship were … Continue reading New Normal


Last month, both in his pastoral letter and secretary’s notes, Ian referred to us thinking about what might be different going forwards, rather than rushing back to what used to be normal. Now shops have reopened people are being encouraged to go out and spend just as they were before, but in church we are … Continue reading Worship