Sunday 21st June, 2020: Pentecost 3: ‘Laments and Dreams’. With the Congregational thoughts on the Reflective Questions.

This service is based around Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17 and Romans 6:1b-11.

Our Rector, Rev Nick Wills lead the service and Rev Sue Whitehouse preached.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80_4yQYw-Rk

Original Music Compositions by Neil Birse used with permission. Hymns sung by the Birse family. CCL Licence 43554 St Peter’s Church.

After the sermon on Sunday 21st June, the congregation were given six questions to consider. They were asked to send their thoughts to Kristee, who then summarised them. (The Sermon starts at 11.27 on the link above)

1. In our present situation what is my lament to God about my personal circumstances?

2. In our present situation what is my lament to God about the state of society?

3. In our present situation what is my lament to God about lock down at St Peter’s?

4. As I dream about the ‘new normal’ what are the question marks against the status quo?

5. What will I have to give up if my dreams for the world are to be realised?

6. What do I wish to add as we dream together at St Peter’s?

Summary below of the congregational responses by Kristee Boyd, Community Development:

  1. In our present situation what is my lament to God about my personal circumstances?

The heartfelt responses I received to this question were powerful and extremely moving. Most involved feelings of loss. Loss of freedom, loss of agency, loss of connection to loved ones or of regular social company. One lady articulated feeling like “a caged bird, allowed out on a string.” Others remarked on missing time with family or the opportunity to worship in church. Then there were more permanent, heart-wrenching losses, such as the death of beloved family members, which many have experienced in recent months and not all due to coronavirus.

There was also worry and uncertainty about the future, which included dreams of career change but also worry around future income and stability in terms of long-established businesses.

2. In our present situation what is my lament to God about the state of society?

– Many are mourning for loved ones

– Anxiety for our own health and the health of those we love

– Fear over economic uncertainty

– Wealth disparities and increasing poverty levels across the world

– Disruption to education

– Increasing domestic violence levels

– Brexit – no extension; negotiating deals (e.g. with the US) to import substandard food items and undercutting UK farmers

– Climate change: racing out of lockdown with no expressed policy on how we can build on the environmental benefits that lockdown has unwittingly begun

– Justice for all: The Department of International Development vanished with absolutely no future commitment to help the neediest in the world out of compassion unless it is in line with British interests

– Addressing racism – bury it in a committee/inquiry, hope the protests will die away; fail to address underlying causes

– Corporate greed: deals with Huawei despite concerns about security, China’s record on human rights, pollution; refugee crises at home and global

3. In our present situation what is my lament to God about lock down at St Peter’s?

There were a lot of interesting answers to this question. Some focussed on the buildings, that we are currently unable to use them after all the money has been spent on renewal. People expressed missing on-site worship at St Peter’s, missing the sense of community, missing singing together – particularly as there is currently no end in sight. Various people (very kindly) lamented on staff wellbeing – the increased workload for everyone, our new Rector being unable to work as he would like to, staff perhaps not feeling appreciated for their work. Others pointed out that there are still issues around St Peter’s folk not treating each other as respectfully as they could be…bullying, bad-mouthing and not listening to each other.

4. As I dream about the ‘new normal’ what are the question marks against the status quo?

  • Have we taken the time to rethink our priorities, in terms of taking care of each other and the earth? I fear we are missing the opportunities.
  • Had we really addressed properly how to use our building?  Had we addressed the economics of income and expenditure?  Did we really know who we were creating our facilities for?
  • Were we addressing the really big issues facing the whole of this precious planet: the climate and extinction emergencies?  Do we know how to scale down our consumption and our waste of non-renewable resources?
  • How can we avoid the temptation of returning to doing everything we used to? How will we create and maintain impetus to make us active in bringing about change?
  • Many have benefitted mentally and physically from a slower pace. Can we resist speeding up?
  • Social problems: homelessness in Edinburgh was tackled very quickly. Will it be sustained?
  • Environmental responsibilities. How do we source energy, where are our investments? Working from home has taught us different ways of working. Can we save printing, time, energy and transport costs with online resources?
  • We may have to introduce intrusive and unbeautiful technology (temporarily or permanently) in our traditional building, e.g. screens replacing books are often associated with music that not everyone enjoys. Can we introduce technology as a useful tool to get us through this, and not as the thin end of a wedge to change our worship traditions?
  • What can we take forward from the way we do things in lockdown? Recorded services/sermons? Keep online coffee mornings? More people have found a voice, e.g. in zoom breakout sessions. How can we keep that going: listening, encouraging, empowering?

5. What will I have to give up if my dreams for the world are to be realised?

Consumer habits were mentioned numerous times, including international and local travel. A couple of people spoke of taking more risks, of stepping out of the comfort zone more often. There were also questions raised around how to spend the years to come – should we work less, should we switch jobs, should we change our location if it were to have a positive impact on those around us?

6. What do I wish to add as we dream together at St Peter’s?

One person remarked that they wish for us to “walk ‘hand in hand’ to move forward together, with empathy and respect; not some enthusiasts dragging reluctant followers.” It was agreed by various participants that a stable foundation of healthy community at St Peter’s will allow us to further develop other areas of potential. Examples of this included work with children, students and young people, work across faiths, growing together and restoring the ‘lost sheep.’ I’ll close with the dream articulated by one member of St Peter’s … “I would love for St Peter’s to become a magnet for people seeking to change the world and themselves, to become a bright beacon of light.”

The morning Eucharist for Pentecost 3 from the Scottish Episcopal Church was prepared by the worship leaders at St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, with the Rt Rev Dr John Armes presiding. He was joined digitally by the Provost, Vice-Provost, and the Cathedral Chaplain: https://www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship/

A Joint Prayer offering hope during feelings of powerlessness, offered by churches across Scotland: http://stpetersedinburgh.org/a-joint-prayer-offering-hope-during-feelings-of-powerlessness