Letter from the Minister

From the Manse,                                                                             Kirkcudbright, October 2021


It did snow in 1st century Palestine but only occasionally on the higher mountain areas where it seldom lay for more than a few hours. The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that when Herod the Great was a younger man engaged in military conquest he was prevented from attacking Sepphoris, a town a few miles from Nazareth, because of the heavy overnight fall of snow. From the hill tops of Gallilee snow could be seen glistening on far away Mount Hermon for most of the year and from ancient times snow from there was transported great distances for refreshment in hot summer. Most of the references to snow in the Old and New Testaments refer to its whiteness as a symbol of purity hence the angel at the empty tomb whose garment was as ‘white as snow’.

There is a mediaeval Scottish poem called the Testament of Cresseid in which an evil ‘devil’ like creature is described as having teeth that ‘chatterit’ and ‘cheverit’ in his chin, a nose that ran, blue lips and ‘ice schoklis’, icicles, hanging from his hair. In the New Testament the ‘devil’ is described in terms of heat and fire because excessive summer heat was what Palestinians feared - it destroyed their crops, evaporated water and threatened sunstroke. In Gallilee they had little fear of icicles. But in mediaeval Scotland it was the opposite - they had no fear of heat at all - what they dreaded and battled most of the year was cold and so evil was described in terms of snow and ice not fire and heat.

Those of us who seek to share the good news about the Lord Jesus with the world around us must express ourselves in terms that are appropriate to our age and climate.

We have started an earlier morning service at 9.30 a.m. each Sunday in the church hall. It is quite different from our later 11.00 a.m. service with two parts of praise singing before and after a shorter address. The songs used are largely drawn from material composed in the last few years and are of a style that might appeal to a younger age group. A number of children with their parents have been coming along. This is a good example of us providing a worship experience appropriate to the younger Kirkcud-bright residents.

At our later 11.00 a.m. service I showed a video that accompanied a beautiful worship song, Creator Spirit Come, written by Keith Duke. However, the video background showed flocks of seagulls – perhaps an inappropriate video for the residents of Kirkcudbright!

James Gatherer