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SCOTTISH CHARITY NUMBER SC006235 THE CHARITY LEGAL NAME St Andrews Church of Scotland: Dumbarton

Church News

Friday 27th November

Thought for the Day

The English national lockdown ends next Wednesday, and yesterday local authorities and the public were told into which of the Tier areas (with tougher restrictions) they would be put. Obviously there are many very real issues about livelihoods, mental health, care for vulnerable people etc, and in no sense should anyone be sitting in judgement on anyone else’s reaction to the allocation of Tiers. It is hard for all of us (especially those of us in Scottish Tier 4 till at least 11 December), and particularly hard for some among us. But listening to the words of some MPs and headline writers, there is a temptation to consider (in a general, theoretical way) ‘how much are we all in this together, and to what extent are we more interested in ourselves, and what we can do, than the well-being of the wider community?’

Lord, help us to try to understand how other people feel, and what life is like for them, and provide support and encouragement for them

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                         St Andrews West Port     

                                                                     St. Andrew’s West Port

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Thursday 26th November

Thought for the Day

The Chancellor gave his one-year spending review yesterday, with updated forecasts on the state of the economy and employment. For many people the talk of borrowing as a percentage of GDP etc tends not to attract their interest. Most are probably more interested in matters like the level of benefits, pensions, taxes and the like – things that relate to their everyday life – but they come up in the Budget in the Spring. There are however some issues in the Spending Review that will attract comment and controversy in a number of areas: public sector pay, cuts to overseas aid, whether infrastructure projects conform to environmental impact requirements, whether the increase made to Universal Credit early this year is continued or stopped etc. Is this all a matter for politicians and ‘experts’  to deal with? Do we have opinions on any of these topics? If so, how will we make them heard?

Lord, we are glad that we do not have to take decisions about public finances, and that there are people who do have expertise and understanding to address them. But we do have a right to have our own opinions and to make them heard. Help us to reflect on what seems right for building your Kingdom of peace and justice, and to share that with the decision-makers

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                St Andrews Castle          

                                                                 St. Andrew’s Castle

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Wednesday 25th November  International Day for the elimination of violence against women

Thought for the Day


Violence against women is understood by the UN to encompass a range of actions including psychological, physical and sexual violence. It can be carried out in the home, or in the wider culture, it can be by family members or complete strangers. Essentially the special day affirms that women are not ‘property’ but people; they are not in some sense ‘inferior’ to men, but have equal value; and that violence (of whatever kind) should not be used against anyone

Lord, violence towards women probably occurs in every country and culture. Some may not realise that the way they treat women (whether strangers or family members) constitutes ‘violence’, others certainly do. Help us all to recognise when we act or speak in ways that do not fully respect another person’s humanity or worth, that they are someone made in your image and loved and valued by you. Where individuals or cultures have serious issues with regard to violence, may they be confronted and changed

 

Picture of the Day

                                                      St Andrews Hamilton Hall                                

                                                          St. Andrew’s Hamilton Hall

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Tuesday 24th November

Thought for the Day

Never mind Christmas plans, what about today, the here and now? Infection rates are much lower than they were, and appear to be part of a general downward trend  - presumably in response to the strict Tier regulations that are in place. At least that suggests there is gain from the pain. But we need to remember those suffering the pain: the economic impact on businesses and employees, the impact on mental health of not being able to see and converse with family and friends. Do we need to begin by acknowledging our own pain? Is there anything that we can do to help others (particularly for the latter group)?

Lord, thank you that infection numbers are going down. Help us to do all that we can to stop them spiking again. We remember those struggling financially because of the Tiering restrictions, and those struggling because they can’t se friends and family.

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                 St Andrews town from West Sands                      

                                                          St. Andrew’s town from West Sands

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Monday 23rd November

Thought for the Day

There is much in the media today about Christmas being ‘saved’. We know what they mean – the ‘usual’ sort of midwinter festivities. It won’t be exactly the same as in previous years, as Christmas markets were cancelled some months ago; pantomimes, concerts, school events etc won’t be happening; church services (now what have they to do with ‘Christmas’?) will still be restricted (we presume); there won’t be office parties etc etc. But some kind of family gatherings can happen. While the media waxes lyrical on ‘Christmas’ being saved, we need to remember that it doesn’t make a lot of difference for quite a number of people: some would be on their own anyway, some don’t have family, or don’t see family because of some rift, and the emphasis on ‘being with family’ only makes the sense of loneliness and isolation worse; some struggle financially, and the pressure to spend money, and be seen to spend, only makes it worse. Let’s remember them as we plan our celebrations

Lord, help us to remember those who are alone, those who are lonely, those struggling with broken relationships, those struggling financially. Help us to do what we can to support them

 

Correction

All members of the Dumbarton congregations will this week be receiving a Christmas card with details of church services in the Dumbarton Linkage between Advent Sunday (29 November) and Epiphany (6 January). The details and times are correct. However the link to the YouTube channel takes you to the Remembrance service on 8 November, rather than the main bit of the channel.

If you want the correct link it is Church Of Scotland Dumbarton - YouTube , but probably the easiest thing is to put ‘Church of Scotland Dumbarton YouTube’ into your web browser. Sorry!

 

Picture of the Day

This week we head East into the Kingdom of Fife to explore St Andrew’s

                                                           St Andrews town from Kinkell Braes     

                                                          St. Andrew’s town from Kinkell Braes

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Saturday 21st November  World Hello Day

Thought for the Day

No I hadn’t heard of it either, but it’s the 48th. It started after the Yom Kippur War in 1973, with the objective of promoting conversation to resolve differences. The idea is that you say ‘Hello’ to 10 different people today – and preferably have a conversation with each one. Given the weather and Tier 4 there may not be much opportunity to greet people outside, but what about phoning someone, or using some other electronic ‘speaking’ means of communication (so texts and e-mails don’t count)? If you don’t think you can do it all in one day, set yourself a target for the week ahead

Lord, you have always encouraged conversation and communication. Help us to speak, help us to listen, and help us to use discussion as a way of resolving conflicts (instead of letting them just go on and get worse)

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                           Loch Leven 6         

                                                                           Loch Leven 6

PS Last day of the Three Lochs Tour today. Next week we head East into the Kingdom of Fife to explore St Andrew’s

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Friday 20th November  World Children’s Day

Thought for the Day

Established by the UN 66 years ago, it was on this day in later years that it adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on Rights of the Child. Both are recognised in our education system, and in other parts of public life. It is part of the drive for all countries and cultures to recognise that everyone (particularly those in vulnerable groups) have rights to be accepted and valued for who they are, and not treated as less important. At times it is an uphill battle: some countries do not accept ‘universal human rights’, others officially recognise them but in practice don’t apply them. Children are one such ‘vulnerable’ group.  As parents, grandparents, teachers etc would say, they are fun, exhausting and challenging, with a different perspective on life. They are also vulnerable in many ways and need protection for their own safety. Let’s celebrate our children today, and express our appreciation for all who work with them to keep them safe, and who help them to achieve their potential

Lord, thank you for children, for their enthusiasm, fun, fresh outlook on life. We pray for them all, and especially the ones that we know. We pray too for all who work with children in whatever way – give them stamina, give them wisdom, help them to keep children safe and to achieve their potential

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                           Loch leven 5  

                                                                           Loch Leven 5

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Thursday 19th November  World Toilet Day

Thought for the Day

Yes, today really is the UN-sponsored World Toilet Day. Snigger, snigger! Not if you are one of the 4 billion people who don’t have access to safe sanitation. That can mean women having to go into the bush after dark (with all the associated dangers), people in slums using plastic bags and throwing them away (remember the furore in the Summer when visitors to Loch Lomond etc left their detritus everywhere?), places that experience river or coastal flooding finding that sewage gets mixed up with flood-water and make its way into homes etc (and that can happen here). Not a very nice topic of conversation, but a very real experience for many people, one that contributes significantly to health issues and can contribute to educational issues as well. There are charities like https://www.wateraid.org/uk/ and https://www.toilettwinning.org/ that offer ways of sponsoring improvements in Developing Countries, but it also requires co-ordinated international government action to address climate change, flooding etc

Lord, thank you for our toilets and sanitation systems, which all too often we take for granted. We remember all those living without access to safe toilets or safe sanitation. We pray for the groups who are working to address the issues. Encourage governments to recognise the problems, and work together on solving them

PS As well as the picturesque view of Loch Leven in the sunshine, in line with today’s theme I’ve attach a photo taken at the Sma’ Shot Cottages Museum in Paisley of a 19th Century outside toilet from which ‘night waste’ was collected (‘the cludgie’)

 

Picture of the Day

                                           Loch Leven 4                     Sma Shots Cludgie                    

                                                  Loch Leven 4                            Sma’ Shot Cottages Cludgie

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Wednesday 18th November

Thought for the Day

Trying not to get ensnared in party politics, nevertheless one can’t help noticing the reaction in the media to a certain individual talking about something being a ‘disaster’, and the fallout for friends and allies. It’s so easy to say something, it’s so hard to retract it. We will all have encountered that for ourselves – maybe we were the ones who came out with the ill-judged remark. The Letter of James in the Bible likens the tongue to a flame that can start a major fire. Maybe it is a timely reminder to us all to think carefully about what we say, how it will be received, and what the consequences might be

Lord, help us to be careful with what we say

 

For Your Information

West Dunbartonshire is moving into Tier 4 restrictions on Friday 20 November, which will be in place until reviewed on 11 December. Under this arrangement the maximum number allowed in buildings for worship is 20 – including the minister, organist, welcome team and audio-visual team. That will mean a big reduction in the number of people able to attend as ‘ordinary congregation’, particularly at Riverside. For Riverside it is probably essential that attendance is booked in advance – otherwise it might be necessary (though highly regrettable) to turn people away. A booking system is not yet in place for St Andrew’s or West Kirk, but it may be necessary to introduce one.

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                              Loch Leven 3  

                                                                              Loch Leven 3

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Tuesday 17th November

Thought for the Day

All the noises off suggest that an announcement will be made today saying that we are going to move to Tier 4. Some will be worried that their business will have to close, others that their job will disappear. For some the run-up to Christmas is their main time for sales. Getting through November in Tier 3 was hard enough for many, moving to Tier 4 will create even greater stress. And yet infection rates are not going down significantly, so the government has to do something. We all like to think we could run the country better than the politicians (of whichever political hue), but aren’t we glad that we don’t have to take tough decisions affecting life and livelihoods, physical and mental health for so many people?

Lord, we pray for governments here and around the world wrestling with these competing issues, give them wisdom and understanding. We remember all whose businesses may have to close, those who may lose their jobs, and those struggling with the mental health issues associated with ‘restrictions’ and this time of the year. Help us to help those who find it hard to adhere to the guidelines

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                            Loch Leven 2

                                                                              Loch Leven 2

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Monday 16th November  St. Margaret of Scotland

Here is a photo of St Margaret’s Chapel at Edinburgh Castle         St Margaret's Chapel

Thought for the Day

Known to some as St Margaret, and others as Queen Margaret, the wife of Malcolm III Canmore, and mother of Edgar, Alexander I and David I (all Kings of Scotland), arrived in Scotland in 1067 seeking asylum.  Her brother, the Anglo-Saxon claimant to the English throne, had just been defeated by William the Conqueror. She was born in exile in Hungary, and had links with European kings. Her marriage to Malcolm may initially have been ‘political’ but genuine respect and affection grew between them. Although it was very much a ‘man’s world’ through her influence on her husband and children Margaret brought great change to Scotland (which not everyone welcomed), bringing it closer to the customs and practices of Western Europe. Was she the kind of lady that you would cross at your peril? Over 900 years later is Scotland today a place where a woman, an asylum-seeker, someone born abroad, can make a major contribution to the life of the country on their own account?

Lord, thank you for the diversity of life in our country today. Help us to cherish our heritage but also be open to the new insights that different groups and individuals can bring. May we become a country that is open, fair and respectful of other people and our planet

Picture of the Day

                                                                          Loch Leven 1       

                                                                              Loch Leven 1

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Saturday 14th November  Diabetes Day

Thought for the Day

According to Diabetes UK one in fifteen people in the UK has a form of diabetes, which means over four million people are affected – with a substantial number not being aware that they have the condition. For some, changes to diet and regular exercise can control it, others need medication and regular injections. Additionally, people with diabetes can be susceptible to other health conditions. We are all likely to know someone with it, some readers may even have it themselves.  We are very fortunate to have a healthcare system that can identify it and treat it, and charities funding research and offering support

Lord we give thanks for the work that has been done in identifying diabetes and learning how to treat it. We remember all who are involved in on-going research and support. We remember too those living with diabetes

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                               Loch Katrine Looking South    

                                                                  Loch Katrine looking South            

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Friday 13th November

Thought for the Day

Friday 13th: are you going around all day today with fingers crossed and occasionally stroking your rabbit’s paw? Are you celebrating Scotland’s defeat of Serbia last night? Or reflecting on the situation in No 10, and what it could mean? Are you planning to watch Children in Need tonight, a charity that has helped many children’s projects over the years, as well as providing entertainment on the night?

Lord, is the glass half-full or half-empty? Do we go into today fearful and apprehensive, or think ‘I’m going to sort this day out!’? We pray for the government in Westminster, that it will focus on your priorities. We pray too for Children in Need and all charities trying to raise funds in the current situation

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                             Burn 5           

                                                                               Burn 5

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Thursday 12th November

Thought for the Day

There was a special commemoration yesterday of the centenary of the interment of the remains of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey. His identity is unknown, but he symbolises all who lost their lives in the conflict, and probably by extension all who suffered loss (physical, mental, material) because of the that war and all wars. Some may look on the grave with pride for what he and those like him did for the country and community, some may perhaps feel anger, grief, regret that lives were lost through the breakdown of international co-operation and the ambition or incompetence of politicians or commanders, that people allowed themselves to be swept along. Maybe that mix of emotions comes with every event that leads to loss. Maybe it is there too in our feelings during the pandemic: we don’t have an equivalent of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to act as a focus for our feelings, but deep-down we long for such a symbol to be our focus for expressing our welled-up and mixed emotions from the whole thing.

Lord, there are times when we need a symbol or focus to help us confront and express our feelings and emotions. There are many issues in the world today which evoke strong feelings in us, in addition to the Coronavirus pandemic. Rather than bottling them up, help us to find ways of expressing them constructively, and help others to do so too

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                            Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point 7          

                                                            Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point 7

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 11th November  Armistice Day

Thought for the Day

Today, for Armistice Day, there is a short scripted service on the website http://dumbartoncofs.org/ , which can be accessed by clicking the link

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                         Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point 5         

                                                            Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point 5

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 10th November

Thought for the Day

The scientists working for the pharmaceutical company, the stock markets and most of the press are euphoric about the development of Pfizer’s vaccine. But when the Prime Minister sounds a cautious note about it (given his more usual style) then there’s reason to pause and reflect. It is good that the vaccine trials seem to have been positive, and that it is possible that a vaccination programme could begin fairly soon. There are, however, a lot of bridges still to cross, and other vaccines to consider. It would be great if many of the Covid-related restrictions on life could disappear next year, but it may be that some will have to remain in force  - even if we are all vaccinated. That may be a hard message for governments to have to put out. Let’s hope the media etc listen carefully to what is said

Lord, thank you for the skill and dedication of the scientists working on vaccine trials, and for the volunteers who have taken part in those trials. Thank you for the encouragement that we may be able to move beyond the current way of living sometime next year. But help us always to keep in mind current advice on ways to avoid catching or spreading the disease.

PS Tomorrow, for Armistice Day, there will be a short scripted service on the website http://dumbartoncofs.org/ , which can be accessed by clicking the link

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point 4             

                                                            Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point 4

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 9th November

Thought for the Day

There was a piece in the news at the weekend about the difference between the two-petal ‘English’ poppy and the ‘four-petal’ Scottish one. Looking at photos of the Queen and Duchess of Cambridge at Remembrance events yesterday, they were wearing five-petal poppies. I don’t know if they have a special significance, but it illustrates the challenges they must face constantly regarding symbols and language, trying to avoid causing unwitting offence to particular groups. (How many Scots bridle when they hear her described as ‘the Queen of England’?) The royal family are not alone in having to be careful about words and symbols. There are times when we all have to do it, because the communities we live come from different backgrounds. What are the phrases and symbols that raise our hackles? What are the ones that irritate others in our community?

Lord, help us to be conscious of things that we do or say that offend other groups in our community. Help us as communities to enter into dialogue with each other over language, symbols, behaviour that causes division and seek to find ways of creating more sensitive and inclusive communities

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point 3            

                                                            Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point 3

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 7th November

Thought for the Day

When the Vikings sacked Dumbarton it is said that it took 200 longships to carry their ‘winnings’ (aka ‘loot’) back to Dublin. How do we respond when we win something? Are we the kind of folk who stop after one raffle prize and say ‘redraw it’, or take our equivalent of 200 longships of soap, wine and potted plants home? If we score a hole in one, or win the match at the bowling green, do we buy everyone a drink, or just expect to be congratulated? Do we act all modest, or boast and brag? What about when we lose? Are we gracious, congratulating the winner, or do we have a little strop, burst into tears, and refuse to play again? Many a parent has memories of trying to help young children cope with winning and losing, success and failure. What sort of example do we show?

Lord, winning or losing involves emotions, and can come after we have invested a lot of time, effort and energy. Sometimes it can be hard to handle those emotions, and at the same time think of other people and what they are feeling. Help us to be sensitive and generous to others

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                 Sir Walter Scott                  

                                                                          Sir Walter Scott

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Friday 6th November

Thought for the Day

The world is waiting – we may have an answer today, or maybe tomorrow, or maybe… Counting millions of ballot papers takes a long time, and so can legal challenges. Because America is the richest and most powerful country in the world, the outcome of its election affects all of us. But waiting – whether for election results, or Santa, or going on holiday, or the nearly-due baby, or exam results, or details of a hospital appointment - can be hard. Sometimes we are so excited, sometimes we are worried and dread the worst. Saying things like, ‘you’ve just got to be patient’, isn’t always helpful or practical. Sometimes we need strategies to help us cope – maybe finding a distraction to occupy our minds while we wait, or being able to talk through our concerns with a sympathetic ear. We may have more pressing personal worries (or excitements) than US election results or trade-deals with the EU or America – can we help each other through them?

Lord, you have long heard cries and concerns from people struggling with waiting. Help us to have patience, but help us also to be ready to share with each other, and to help each other, when waiting is hard, and anxiety is building up

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                 Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point 2                

                                                           Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point 2

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Thursday 5th November  Bonfire Night

Thought for the Day

No trip to Levengrove Park tonight for the fireworks display (and for once it should be dry and not windy!). There may be some in local gardens (but hopefully not as late as late night!) Occasionally, when we’re fed up with the politicians playing politics, we can feel an element of sympathy for Guy Fawkes’ approach (assuming that it wasn’t all a set-up). Then we look at people in places like Belarus striving peacefully for democracy in the face of what appears to be rigged elections and a heavy-handed government crackdown, we look at places like Vienna, Nice and Lyon and see what happens when people feel they have licence to use violence to impose their views, because they are the only ones that matter. Democracy can be hijacked, it can be subverted, it does not in itself bring bitterly polarised groups together – but the other options are worse. If we do get the chance to enjoy some fireworks tonight (our own or the neighbours’) maybe we should give a wee thought to how we can both strengthen democracy and help our community, country and world accommodate differences of opinion without descending to bitterly polarised factions

Lord, we are not clones, we are all different, we have different outlooks and opinions. Sometimes it is hard to accept that someone else can hold opinions that are so different from ours, or seem so irrational. Help us to respect each other’s rights to hold different opinions, and help us to find ways of accepting difference while working together for the common good

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point                

                                                            Loch Katrine from Brenachoile Point

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 4th November  National Stress Awareness Day

Thought for the Day

Stress and pressure are a natural part of life, and learning to cope with them is part of the process of maturing into adulthood. Much as we might like the thought, life sitting around with no stress, no pressure, no obligation to do anything, would actually rapidly become boring. [Point to remember when we try to picture Paradise!] But in all sorts of situations stress can become too much, and our ability to cope buckles under the strain. The past eight months have brought a ‘perfect storm’ of situations that create excess stress: fear of catching the virus; grief at losing someone close; frustration over cancelled plans and expectations; loneliness; boredom; worry about job/livelihood/finance/food on the table; challenges over childcare or care for older/disabled relatives, or balancing family care with continuing to work; exam results, university entry and university teaching; delayed hospital appointments; coping with ever-changing regulations and restrictions; what the politicians are or are not doing etc etc. We have all had to deal with some kind of additional stress this year – and sadly some have had to cope with a lot. Many folk are struggling. What can we do? Maybe begin by acknowledging that we are stressed, and there is nothing ‘wrong’ with that. It isn’t a sign of weakness or failure. Maybe we need some fresh air, a touch of scenery or colour. Maybe we need to do something new: can we do something creative that expresses our feeling? Maybe we could open up and share with someone we trust. If need be seek professional advice. We need to acknowledge too that others are stressed – they may be reluctant, not interested, can’t be bothered; they may be rather sharp-tongued. We may need a lot of patience, but we don’t need to give up and walk away: gentle encouragement, suggesting options, inviting to join in, maybe deciding not to take offence at any sharp-tongued comments, or avoiding getting into a bitter argument. And maybe, help them to realise that they are stressed

Lord, people are struggling with stress at the moment, and some are having a really hard time. Help us to acknowledge and address our own issues with it, and to be ready to get alongside relatives, friends, neighbours who are struggling – not bossing them around, but gently encouraging them

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                     Burn 4                          

                                                                                Burn 4

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 3rd November

Thought for the Day

You may not have heard, but there is an election in America today, principally to elect a new president, but also a series of other federal and state posts. America is still the richest and most powerful country in the world, so the choices it makes have an impact on all of us. We pray that they will make choices that lead to a fairer and more peaceful world

Lord, we believe that you care about matters like injustice, abuse, neglect, poverty and corruption, that you want governments to act to address such issues, and create a world with peace and justice. We pray that we may all, citizens and governments alike, work for such a world. We pray that you will inspire the electors of America to see that vision too, and to consider it carefully as they vote

PS Did you hear that Andrex have announced that they have 100m toilet rolls in warehouses ready for the English lockdown?

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                     Loch katrine 3                      

                                                                         Loch Katrine 3

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

 

A Letter from West Dunbartonshire Council   WDC                                        

West Dunbartonshire placed in Level Three Covid-19 restrictions
The Scottish Government has announced West Dunbartonshire will be placed under Level Three restrictions to prevent the further spread of Covid-19 in the area.
During an announcement today (Thursday), the new five-level alert system for Scotland was outlined, with each authority placed in a level based on prevalence of the virus.
Under Level Three guidelines  residents will continue to be unable to visit each other’s homes and should avoid non-essential travel out of the area.
In addition, the Level Three restrictions – which come into force at 6am on November 2 – mean hospitality venues including restaurants, cafes, bars and public houses can open until 6pm, however no alcohol can be served. 

Entertainment venues, including bowling alleys and bingo halls will continue to remain closed.

Though gyms can remain open, as with previous restrictions, indoor group exercise classes cannot take place, and outdoor contact sports for adults, including amateur football, are not permitted.

People from two different households can continue to meet outdoors and in hospitality settings in groups of no more than six people, providing existing guidance on face coverings, physical distancing and hygiene is adhered to.
Schools and nurseries will remain open and informal childcare and other essential care is permitted in line with household and group size restrictions.

The guidelines state that residents should only use public transport for essential journeys, and avoid car-sharing with other households wherever possible.
While weddings and funerals can still go ahead, numbers at both of these events will be restricted to 20 people, with the same limit applied to receptions and wakes. Only 50 people will be admitted to places of worship at one time.

The Scottish Government will review the levels on a weekly basis, with the next review scheduled for  November 10, and any required changes taking affect from Friday 13 November.
If any area is placed into Level Four, the highest of the new system, non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms, public buildings and visitor attractions will all close.
If moved into Level Two, entertainment venues could reopen, as well as group exercise recommencing. Hospitality venues would be permitted to open later and serve alcohol outdoors or indoors with a main meal.
Level three restrictions have also been put in place in Clackmannanshire, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire,  North Lanarkshire,  Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling and West Lothian.
Further information on level restrictions can be found here: www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/pages/protection-levels-by-area/
Council Leader, Councillor Jonathan McColl, said: “I know that these Level Three restrictions are disruptive to our lives, but I am once again urging you all to continue to follow the guidance to protect yourself and your community from this dangerous virus. The number of people in West Dunbartonshire suffering from Covid-19 has risen into triple figures in recent weeks, and it is essential that we all play our part in bringing that number down. Please do not visit each other's homes, and only meet outdoors in groups of no more than 6 from two households. Please remember to use a face covering, avoid crowded areas and practice good hand hygiene.

“The simple truth is that if we don’t follow the guidance laid out here, we will inevitably see ourselves back under restrictions not too dissimilar from those we saw at the height of this pandemic in April. After we’ve all worked so hard for months to fight this virus, it's more important than even that we don’t give up now.

“Please do the right thing for West Dunbartonshire.”

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Monday 2nd November

Thought for the Day

We’re now in Tier 3. Not much change in practice for most folk. The challenge is not so much going into the new system as coping with restrictions the more we go into winter. Many people have real fears and anxieties about employment and the future, about putting food on the table and paying bills now, about the loneliness and boredom of not being able to meet up with family and friends. So far in Scotland we seem mainly to have held together a nationwide resolve to work together and observe the restrictions for the common good. The position in England seems a bit more fractured, with splits between and within political parties, resentment of one region against another, and doubts cast on the veracity of what the scientists and medical officers say. Simply telling people to ‘follow the rules’ isn’t enough, governments and communities need to work at building trust and understanding – in data, in why restrictions are needed, in why it is hard (impractical?) for some people to follow them – and put in place practical measures to assist people through these hard times

Lord, it looks like it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Help us to cope. Give us the inner strength we need. Help us to keep our sense of community and the ‘common good’, and not to resort to thinking just about ourselves

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        Burn. 3jpg     

                                                                                Burn 3

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Sunday 1st November

Online Memorial Service

To remember Friends and Relatives lost by Members of our Congregations

We will upload this Memorial Service to our YouTube Channel on Sunday 1 November (All Saints Day) at around 11am

If you would like to watch it log on to Memorial Service, 1st November 2020 - The Church Of Scotland In Dumbarton (dumbartoncofs.org)

Or search Church of Scotland in Dumbarton

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Saturday 31st October  Hallowe’en

Thought for the Day

Pumpkins sit at doors, windows are decorated with pictures of ghosts and suchlike. It has changed a bit since many of us were wee – gone are the turnips, the treacle scones and ‘dookin’ for apples’, and  ‘guising’ has morphed into ‘trick-or-treat’ as American influences have crept in and changed old Scottish customs and terminology. Traditionally the evening of 31 October was supposed to be a time when ‘spirits’ and ‘evil forces’ were out and about being either mischievous or malicious. Children and adults are warned not to go out tonight – not to avoid meeting ghosts, witches or other fearful creatures, but something very real, even scarier and more dangerous, the Covid virus. Centuries ago the church instituted All Saints Day (‘All Hallows Day’ in an older version of English) to encourage people that the force of ‘good’ was more powerful than the force of ‘evil’. Maybe we need to look at that message and adapt it for the world-view of 2020: the force of ‘good’  - care and concern for neighbours, and those experiencing food and fuel poverty, unemployment, mental health issues etc; appreciation of ‘key workers’; the skill and expertise of health staff and researchers; concern about the Climate Emergency – is more powerful than all the news we hear about rising infection rates, whom we can meet where, politics, war and economic hardship. And for people of faith there is the added assurance that we are not going through this alone

Lord, customs at times like Hallowe’en may have changed over the years, but people probably still have the same kind of hopes and fears that humanity has always had. There are many things to concern us, both at home and overseas. It is easy to look outside, or hear the news, and feel ‘down’. Reassure us that ‘good’ is stronger than ‘bad’, ‘hope’ than ‘despair’. Make us ready to go out and ensure that ‘good’ will triumph

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      Loch Katrine 2                  

                                                                          Loch Katrine 2

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Friday 30th October

Thought for the Day

The Job Retention Scheme (‘furlough’) comes to an end tomorrow. Already many businesses have indicated that they will be making staff unemployed. The total figures are not yet available, but each case is a personal tragedy: lost income, lost opportunities, dreams ended, maybe hardship for the individual and their family. Some may find other employment quickly, others may not. There is talk of government support for re-training, but that will take time and may not lead to new rewarding employment for everyone. We express our concern for all facing an uncertain future as furlough comes to an end, and urge governments to act quickly and decisively to support them

Lord, in many households today there will be anxiety as the furlough scheme comes to an end. What does the future hold in terms of career prospects, or how are they going to pay next week’s bills? There are already many people who have become unemployed, who have those same feelings. We remember all of them – help us to know if there is anything that we can do to help or support them. May governments be ready to act quickly and decisively in offering them support and hope

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      Glen Finglas                 

                                                                             Glen Finglas

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Thursday 29th October

Thought for the Day

We are due to hear confirmation today of the new Tier we will be in from Monday. Strong measures are being imposed in France (‘at least for the month of November’) and Germany, and there is concern in England that the infection rate is racing ahead. Not a happy picture, given that we are still – just – in October. Governments are trying to juggle the two – sometimes contradictory – objectives of saving lives and saving livelihoods. There is no easy answer, and no easily accepted answer. We hope desperately that governments will work together and try to find the best compromise; it is important that we all take appropriate care to ensure that we neither catch the virus nor pass it on; and that we pay attention to the needs of those around us – whether that means support for the food bank, giving someone a phone call, sending a wee gift or whatever

Lord, the next few weeks and months are going to be hard, coping with rising Covid numbers and increased restrictions during the winter. Help us to get through it, and to do what we can to help others through it. Give wisdom and empathy to those in positions of leadership taking decisions on saving lives and livelihoods

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                             Burn 2               

                                                                                 Burn 2

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 28th October

Thought for the Day

Once again there is a story in the news of migrants (including children and possibly a baby) trying to enter Britain but losing their lives in the Channel, when the craft they were in capsized. The flow of people trying to enter the country without the requisite paperwork and authorisation is persistent over many years. Many have lost their lives making the journey. Governments have tried various approaches, but nothing so far seems to have halted either demand to come her or the deaths en route. There are many issues involved: the flow of migrants to Britain is part of a much wider flow of migrants around the world (cf the experience of Malta and Lampedusa in the Mediterranean). Some of the movement is caused by people fleeing civil wars or oppressive regimes in the Middle East and Africa; some by economic hardship arising from climate change; some by promises of lands of wealth and opportunity beyond the sea. Authorities and communities in many countries have struggled to cope (cf the Moria camp on Lesbos), and in some quarters anti-migrant/foreigner feelings have been stirred up. This complex situation appears to be being exploited by gangs for their own financial gain – making wild promises, charging high prices, and largely leaving their ‘clients’ to their own devices (and in many cases arrest or death). Governments need to take steps to deal with the gangs, they may propose measures to discourage travel, but ultimately the only real way to end the Europe-wide ‘migrant crisis’ is to address the root causes in places like the Middle East and Africa – not something that governments anywhere may find particularly appealing

Lord, the Christmas story tells of Jesus being a migrant, fleeing abroad for safety as a small child. The whole issue of migration is much larger than the experience of one country, and its causes are complex. Help governments to recognise and address the larger picture, not just local symptoms. Help them too to deal with those who are seeking to exploit vulnerable people

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                   Burn                   

                                                                                 Burn

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 27th October

Thought for the Day

There is a major public debate going on in England at the moment about ‘holiday hunger’ and extending the provision of term-time free school meals to the school holidays. Without getting involved in the politics, or the debate about the most appropriate way to eradicate ‘holiday hunger’ (important as that is), it has been interesting to watch the response of communities, businesses, restaurants/cafes, and individuals to the issue. They know that some who don’t need free meals may take advantage of their generosity, and some who do need meals (eg the parents) won’t receive help, but still they are willing to invest time and resources into putting together meals which may be obtained with no questions asked and for no charge. In a world that has been increasingly self-focussed and cynical, it is good to see that so many care about disadvantaged people, and are prepared to do something to help

Lord, we give thanks that people are concerned about children and families who are struggling to provide meals, and are ready to act upon their concern. As with Foodbanks etc these are valuable ‘emergency’ measures, but we need long-term answers to address these issues. Inspire those in government to take appropriate measures to address the issues around poverty, and if that means we have to pay more in tax, help us to be ready to accept that

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        Loch Katrine            

                                                                          Loch Katrine

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 26th October

Thought for the Day

The media over the weekend carried stories about the impact of the pandemic on the health, particularly the mental health, of NHS staff. Although it wasn’t specifically mentioned, it seems not unreasonable to assume that the health of care workers, teachers and other ‘key workers’ has been similarly affected – through long hours and stress at work, any ‘underlying health issues’ of their own, and concern for family. The prospect of a winter of high infection cases and restrictions on what people can do with regard to socialising presumably means that many may once again (or continue to) experience an impact on their physical and mental health. We need to assure them that they are appreciated, the authorities need to assure them that they are appreciated, and if there is anything we can do to offer help and support (from a ‘wee treat’, to a listening ear, or whatever), let’s be proactive in doing it

Lord, too often we take ‘key workers’ for granted. Help us to appreciate them better, and express our appreciation in practical ways. Help the authorities to assure them that they are appreciated too

 

Picture of the Day

This week we travel from Inversnaid to Stronachdlachar, and explore Loch Katrine

                                                                        Loch Katrine Pier        

                                                                       Loch Katrine Pier

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 24th October  United Nations Day

Thought for the Day

75 years ago today the United Nations came into existence. The world was emerging from years of bitter warfare, which had also witnessed systematic genocide and cruelty. There were immediate issues about rebuilding the broken world, and establishing peace; there were longer term issues of ensuring that the ‘human rights’ of everyone on the planet were acknowledged and respected; there was a need to address ‘development’ issues of poverty, access to education etc; and in later years it has become the forum for all nations to address global issues like climate change. So alongside the main ‘political body’ designed to resolve conflict without fighting, were a number of agencies like Unesco and  Unicef. How has it fared: has it lived up to its expectations; what would the world have been like without it? There have been many wars, with millions killed, over the last 75 years; the Great Powers still posture and prevaricate in their own interest; there have been cases of proven or assumed corruption. There are politicians who are happy to criticise it, and to challenge the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, if the UN had not existed, what would the world be like? Probably much, much worse. It is not a ‘world government’ – it can only operate if it can raise consensus or create a large enough body of support among its members. It does much ‘good work’ unseen and unnoticed. Here’s to the next 75 years

Lord, there are so many issues that need to be addressed to make this the kind of world you want – from respect for human rights, to peaceful resolution of conflict, to addressing poverty and all that goes with it, to tackling the climate emergency. We give thanks for the work of the United Nations and its staff. We pray for its continued work, and that issues that give excuses for criticising it will be addressed

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        Lomond North from Rowardennan           

                                                              Lomond  North from Rowardennan

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

PS After today we travel from Inversnaid to Stronachdlachar, and explore Loch Katrine

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Friday 23rd October

Thought for the Day

Yesterday Jason Leitch said openly that Christmas this year will not be the same as we have been used to. Politicians and the media reacted vociferously. Maybe they feel they have to. But with current levels of infection, past experience of the way in which ‘spikes’ can occur, and seeing the UK government put measures in place for 6 months or so, do we really expect everything to be as it used to be at Christmas? Hope yes, but expect…? It can be painful to admit that life is not going to go back to the ‘old normal’ in a few weeks or months; to come to terms with the idea that in nine to twelve months we may still have restrictions; and that in the longer term we may never get back to that ‘old normal’. It’s good to hope, it’s good to dream, but it’s also good to be ready to face reality and begin to plan for that.
PS Glad Santa is a ‘key worker’. Three cheers for all key workers!

Lord, facing reality and unpalatable news (and not just about Covid-related restrictions) is always hard - we have an in-built ability to hope and dream. Help us to cope with the challenges of coming to terms with unpalatable news, and to help and support each other in doing so too

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Lomond Ben Lomond and Rowardennan                

                                                          Lomond  Ben Lomond and Rowardennan

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Thursday 22nd October

Thought for the Day

At the start of the pandemic in the Spring there was a definite sense that ‘we are all in this together’. Does that sense of unity across and within the nations of Britain still exist? Is there full co-operation between the different authorities within Britain and its constituent parts? Is there party politics going on? Do some people, some sectors of the population or economy, feel that they are being ignored by others? Are media headlines helping? We have to acknowledge that after seven months of restrictions we are all tired and frazzled, and perhaps less patient than we were. Are we at times more focussed on ourselves than others? If the sense of unity and community is fraying at the edges (or more?) is it something we want to address? How can we do that?

Lord, it is easy to moan about other people and what they are or are not doing. It isn’t always so easy to be positive and constructive. At the present time we need people to be positive and constructive – not just for the good of their own physical and mental health, but to help others who are struggling and to strengthen the sense of community. Help us to play our part in being a positive influence, and doing things to strengthen the community

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                 Lomond West from Balmaha Hill 2               

                                                              Lomond west from Balmaha Hill

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 21st October  Trafalgar Day

Thought for the Day

The anniversary of the naval battle against the combined French and Spanish navies has long been commemorated by the Royal Navy. The details may not particularly concern us now – especially as France and Spain are now allies – but it gives us a focus to think about those who serve in the Royal Navy, in all their different roles, and their families. For many there can be long spells away from home and family; there can also be challenges when they leave the Navy and try to adjust to civilian life. We are thinking of them all today

Lord, we often go about our lives not thinking about those who serve in the Armed Forces, and the work they do on our behalf. Today we remember especially those who serve in the Royal Navy and their families, particularly the time spent away from home and family, and the challenges many face when they leave to return to civilian life. We remember too the work of volunteers and charities who support those who do struggle, those who live with long-term injuries and those who have lost loved ones in the naval service

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                    Lomond North from Balmaha Hill                 

                                                              Lomond north from Balmaha Hill

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 20th October  World Statistics Day

Thought for the Day

Do you ever listen to a group of politicians, ‘experts’, ‘scientists’, campaigners or the like arguing over something (Covid-19, general health, climate change, unemployment, poverty or whatever) and as your eyes glaze over with confusion, think’ “But you aren’t comparing like with like, it’s apples versus pears.” Sometimes you feel that they are deliberately not comparing like with like, so that we, the poor punters, don’t have a chance of understanding the arguments and will therefore leave them to make any decisions. It was concern about providing the public and the decision-makers with clear, transparent information that led the UN to declare in 2010 that on the 20th of October, every five years, there would be a World Statistics Day. This year’s theme is ‘Connecting the world with data we can trust.’ That last word says a lot. We’re so used to disinformation and fake news, spin and ‘apples versus pears’. What we want is data that we can trust. Maybe we have to make that a bit clearer to those who quote statistics – ‘this is what we want to know, and we won’t be content till we get it.’

Lord, we may not be qualified mathematicians or statisticians, but we can understand numbers if they are presented to us in a clear unambiguous way. Getting us all through the pandemic, and dealing with all the other issues that our world faces, depends upon co-operation and trust. If we cannot agree on data, if we do not trust what each other says, we won’t get very far. Whether we are thinking of the ‘high-level’ information that politicians, scientists etc hold, or the everyday bits of information we have, challenge us all to be open and honest are ready to share what we know with others

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      Lomond West from Balmaha Hill            

                                                              Lomond west from Balmaha Hill

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 19th October

Thought for the Day

After a period of dry, fairly still weather, with a number of sunny days - so that we could enjoy the Autumn colours - we’re back to wind and rain. Younger people find such days great fun, when they put on their wellies and go splashing in the puddles. At some stage in life we lose the sense of fun that puddles give. Yes, at a certain age we have to be careful about being blown over by the wind, slipping on wet leaves or catching a cold by getting soaked – but are there ways in which we can recapture the excitement and fun, the love of life, of younger children?

Lord, sometimes we become too weighed down with the burdens and responsibilities of being adults. Help us to rediscover the magic and wonder of young people

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Lomond North from Balmaha Pier              

                                                              Lomond North from Balmaha Pier

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 17th October  International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Thought for the Day

Poverty is a major issue around the world: five years ago it was estimated that there were 736m people, mainly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, living on less than US$1.9/ day. That has probably increased. Poverty affects ability to access food (especially nutritional food), education, healthcare, clean water and safe sanitation, access to justice. It is often accompanied by poor housing, unsafe working conditions (when there is employment) and living in communities where violence, abuse, exploitation are common. In Britain between 4 and 5m children (about 30%) are living within the definition of poverty here. The Children’s Society reports that this year has seen a 107% increase in children receiving emergency food. We have heard the likes of Marcus Rashford, Gordon Brown and Dame Louise Casey on the need for short-term and longer term measures to support them. And that’s only the children. There was a pressing need for change before the pandemic struck – it has only made things worse. Addressing poverty isn’t just something for ‘somebody else’ to do. We may have to bear some of the cost, and we may have to push hard to get politicians to implement changes

Lord, we believe that you have a special concern for the poor, the weak and the vulnerable. We pray for change in the world. Help us to work for change, and to accept any cost to ourselves coming from it

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                            Ben & Loch near Gartocharn 2           

                                                                Ben & Loch near Gartocharn 2

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Friday 16th October  World Food Day

Thought for the Day

Organised by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Food Day calls for ‘global solidarity to help all populations, and especially the most vulnerable, to recover from the [Covid-19] crisis, and to make food systems more resilient and robust so they can withstand increasing volatility and climate shocks, deliver affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all, and decent livelihoods for food system workers.’ I imagine that most of us would be ready to sign up to that aspiration, as something that applies both on our doorstep and around the world, from foodbanks to refugee camps to struggling rural communities. The challenge comes when turning the aspiration into practice. Many around the world are struggling to provide the next meal. In many places it is increasingly difficult to get a harvest from the land or the sea. There are groups who have a vested interest, political or financial, in not effecting change. Sometimes we are more interested in a bargain or obtaining our favourite food, than thinking about the issues around it

Lord, food is basic to life, we depend upon it to live. We pray for all whose work is connected to food, for all who are hungry, for all who are working to achieve a ‘resilient…affordable and sustainable’ food system, for those who are trying to prevent it because it isn’t in their financial interest, and for ourselves – that we will think seriously about the issues and not just try to ignore them

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                            Ben & Loch near Gartocharn 1             

                                                                Ben & Loch near Gartocharn 1

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Thursday 15th October

Thought for the Day

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Most of us will know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Diagnosis and treatment have advanced considerably over the years, but being advised that you or someone close have/has breast cancer is still a shock, the treatment can have unpleasant side-effects and be exhausting, and sadly in some cases it does not stay in remission. As well as the excellent health care professionals there are a number of charities and support groups for those who are diagnosed with breast cancer and their families. It is a time to thank them for their work, to think of those living with breast cancer or the memory of having had it, and of the work being done to further refine understanding of the disease and its treatment

Lord, we pray for all who are living with breast cancer, or the memory of it, those who have lost loved ones to it, those who provide medical care, help and support, and all who are working to improve diagnosis and treatment

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                             Loch & Conic Hill from Ross Priory   

                                                             Loch & Conic Hill from Ross Priory

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 14th October

Thought for the Day

New tiered restrictions come into effect in England today, amid calls from one side for tighter restrictions, and another for relaxed restrictions. Scotland has been promised a tiered approach later in the month, with perhaps a fourth tier. Northern Ireland will be announcing new restrictions today, and Wales has threatened to close the border to folk from higher tier areas of England. What a cheerful outlook as we move into colder, wetter, darker weather! What will we do? Will we go and sit in the corner and mope our way through to the Spring? Or will we say, ‘I’m not letting this get me down!’ Can we make plans for ourselves for ways to keep occupied through restrictions: new projects, interests, hobbies? We will all have ‘wobbles’, so we need the support of each other. We need people to be there for us, to phone up, chat, cheer us up, offer to help in some way. But we also need to be ready to do that for others, to listen to their moans, to try to cheer them up, to encourage them to find something positive to do. If we have spare time after all that, there are plenty of charities and volunteer groups looking for assistance too

Lord, there are times when it is hard to cope with living with restrictions. That’s when we particularly need the help of other people. Thank you for that assistance and support. Help us too to be the assistance and support that other people need. Now especially we need to work together as a community to support each other – help us to focus on that, rather than us all drifting into thinking only of ourselves

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                    Loch Lomond Among the islands                    

                                                               Loch Lomond among the islands

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 13th October

Thought for the Day

Last Thursday was World Sight Day. Many of us here wear glasses or contact lenses, and even if you have good distance-vision there comes a point in our forties or fifties when we start needing reading glasses. Move on a few years and we may have to contend with cataracts or macular degeneration. A minority have other eyesight problems. Fortunately we have opticians close to where we live, eye tests are free, and we have hospital departments that specialise in eye care. That isn’t the case in many countries, because of lack of resources and skilled professionals, or dislocation of society. The numbers affected are huge. As we give thanks for the eye care available to us, let’s remember those who don’t have access to it, and urge governments etc to work towards addressing the need

Lord, thank you for our sight. Thank you for the people, the equipment, the facilities that help us to see better. We pray that governments and agencies will work at providing such facilities for those who currently don’t have them

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        Ben 1               

                                                                                Ben 1

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 12th October  World Arthritis Day

Thought for the Day

According to the NHS website around 10 million people in Britain live with arthritis in one of its many forms, and though we may associate it with one of the many ‘old age doesn’t come alone’ ailments, it can affect people of all ages including children (the charity Versus Arthritis Scotland says 15,000 across the UK as a whole). It can not only limit people’s ability to move about and do what they want, but can bring chronic pain. There is no cure for it, but people can be helped to live with it and to try to manage the pain and limitations. Today is an opportunity to remember those living with arthritis (including all the ‘success stories’ of carrying on with life in spite of it), professionals, volunteers, friends and family offering valuable support – and also those in parts of the world where there is no help or support.

Lord, we remember all who are living with arthritis and its challenges, and those who are there to support them. Help us to be more understanding of the challenges they face. We remember too those who have no support or pain control

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                         Ben  Loch from Ross Priory      

                                                                   Ben Loch from Ross Priory

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 10th October  World Mental Health Day

Thought for the Day

Not so long ago mental health and mental health issues were not recognised. Issues like stress or depression were often dismissed as signs of weakness and shame (cf the approach during World War I to what we now recognise as PTSD). Now (in most cases) we see mental health as being as important as physical health, and recognise that there is often a connection between the two. Some people have to live with mental health conditions throughout their lives. Others can usually cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life, but at times the ‘coping mechanism’ buckles and breaks. The last few months have reminded us of factors that put stress and strain on people: worry about work/finance, loneliness and isolation, lack of mental stimulation, claustrophobia, etc. We probably all carry some kind of mental scars from the period since March, but some individuals, families, social groups carry deep wounds. Today is a day to recognise the importance of mental health, the work that professionals and volunteers do to help those with major issues, what we can all do to help our own mental health and that of family, friends, neighbours etc

Lord, thank you for professionals and volunteers who work with those struggling with mental health issues. Help us to do what we can to care for our own mental health, and to think what we can do to help others whether they are showing symptoms of not

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                         Pond at Lorn             

                                                                          Pond at Lorn

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Friday 9th October

Thought for the Day

Extra restrictions coming into force or being talked about are creating ructions North and South of the Border. Some people will not notice much of difference to their lives, others will notice a big difference – to their ability to travel, their ability to socialise in the usual way, their ability to run their business/ be paid. It isn’t just about finding something else to do after 6pm. There are questions about impact on mental health, the risk of ‘unofficial’ parties in private houses, the impact on local economies, on the finances of individuals and families. There are questions too about what measures will work in cutting the spread of the virus, enable the economy to keep operating, and enable the Health Service to deal with non-Covid issues. There is the fear too that at some point the wider public loses faith in Government restrictions and simply starts ignoring them en masse. How do we strike a balance, how do we help people to feel that ‘we are all in this together’, how do we support those who are struggling?

Lord, the upsurge in virus cases is concerning. So are many of the issues associated with measures to tackle it. Give wisdom to those taking decisions on these measures, wisdom to those asked to observe them, and sensitivity and compassion among us all to support those who are struggling

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        View from nr Lorn 2          

                                                                    View from near Lorn 2

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

 

Harvest Thanksgiving Service this Sunday

Just a wee reminder that we are celebrating Harvest on Sunday. This year we have asked members not to bring anything to church, but have invited them to make donations in cash or kind direct to the local foodbanks. Here are contact details if you are interested in donating to them. Your donations are much appreciated as there is considerable demand in this area for the services of foodbanks

If donating foodstuffs or toilet rolls, please remember that some supermarkets have restrictions on the number of items you can purchase

Food for Thought

Contact: Jessica or Lorraine (Admin Staff)

Drop Off: Office in St Augustine's

Telephone: 01389 743908

Website:www.foodforthought3.webnode.com

Facebook: Food for Thought - West Dunbartonshire

Items most needed

Tinnned  Chopped Tomatoes/Passata; Vegetables (especially Potatoes) Curry, Beans; Soup

Porridge Sachets

Long Life Milk

Teabags

Curry Sauce

Rice

Toilet Rolls

 

West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare

Contact: Adel or Manager

Drop Off: Leven Valley Enterprise Centre, Castlehill Road G82 5BN (Main Door)

Telephone: 01389 764135

Website:www.westdunbartonshirecommunityfoodshare.co.uk

Facebook: West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare 

Items most needed

Tinned Potatoes

Curry Sauces

Cheesy Pasta

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Thursday 8th October  World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

Thought for the Day

Most, if not all, of us will know people who have been in a Hospice, or have received palliative care at home. Some may also know people who work in this sector of care – either as volunteers or as trained professionals. By its nature it is an area that impacts on emotions and requires great sensitivity in relating to patients and their families/ friends. Today is a day to express our appreciation for all the kindness, sensitivity and humanity shown by staff and volunteers as they seek to combine preserving dignity alongside person-focussed care

Lord, thank you for the work of Hospices and all involved in palliative care. We pray for those who are in need of such care, and their families and friends, and for those who work in that sector, who have to cope with the emotional strain that goes with it. May they be free from worry about future finances

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                     Inchmurrin from nr Lorn                 

                                                                  Inchmurrin view from near Lorn

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 7th October  World Smile Day

Thought for the Day

It is said that less effort is required to smile than frown, though many of us seem to prefer the extra exercise. Often when you smile at someone they will smile back, and you both feel better because of it. Under the current restrictions, with a mask over half your face, it is hard to see someone smiling – we need to learn to ‘read’ the eyes and eyebrows to spot which emotions someone is displaying. There is a line in a song (Ken Dodd?) ‘Smile, though your heart is aching’ – sometimes people put on a ‘smile’ mask to hide their real feelings. How good are we at spotting that?

Lord, help us to try to lift the mood of others by smiling. Help us to be sensitive too to their real feelings

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                 Whinney Hill beech grove 

                                                                  Whinney Hill beech grove

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 6th October  National Poetry Day

Thought for the Day

Actually last Thursday was National Poetry Day, but too many things happen in October! Can you remember any poems you learned at school? I remember discussing with a retired primary school teacher, then in a care home, the poem ‘I wish I lived in a caravan’. I can still quote some lines from Shakespeare or other poets learned at secondary school but the one that speaks most to me now is one I learned in the equivalent of S1: Shelley’s Ozymanias of Egypt:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Lord, help us to see ourselves in our true context, and to appreciate the things that endure as a legacy, and the things that do not

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        Whinney Hill Beechwood              

                                                                   Whinney Hill Beachwood

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 5th October  World Teachers Day

Thought for the Day

Over our years in school we probably encountered quite a number of teachers, teaching styles, and influences that they had on us. Some may have been scary, some really had no control over the class; some may have inspired us to learn or develop a skill or interest, some may have closed down any interest in the topic; some we remember with affection, some we didn’t like, and some we don’t really remember. They all played a part in making us who we are. Some people can speak of ‘inspirational’ teachers who helped them discover themselves and raise the horizon of their ambition. Being a teacher is not easy: coping in any one class with a great range of abilities, personalities and interests, all the ‘social work’ issues that teachers have to take on, and the ever-changing demands of government and the press/public (“They should be taught that in schools!”). Over the last 7 months they have had to cope quickly with continued face-to-face teaching for the children of ‘key workers’ and vulnerable children, develop online material for those at home, plan for blended learning, return to face-to-face physically distanced learning and combine ‘catch-up’ for missed learning/ mental health and other issues among pupils with the constant threat of having to self-isolate at short notice because someone in school has shown Covid-like symptoms. We express our appreciation and support for them all!

Lord, being a teacher is not easy. Many feel stressed and not appreciated. Help us to show our support and appreciation for them

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Whinney Hill 1                  

                                                                       Whinney Hill 1

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 3rd October  St Francis

Thought for the Day

Francis of Assisi (11181/2-1226) is often pictured preaching to the birds. Some then and now consider him as ‘away with the birds’ – but it is perhaps worth noting that Pope Innocent III (probably the most powerful pope ever in terms of political and military power) saw something special in Francis and gave him permission to carry out his work. Francis believed that his faith required him to renounce power, wealth and might, all things which church leaders at the time saw as hallmarks of their positions. Significantly, during the Fifth Crusade, Francis sought an audience with the Sultan to try to negotiate peace (unsuccessfully). Francis is usually associated with animals and pets

Lord, it is so easy to feel we need power, wealth and might to change the world, and bring in peace and justice for all. The idea of seeing strength and power in weakness, humility and service is hard to take on board. Thank you for all who do serve others graciously and generously. Help us to do that. Thanks too for our furry, feathered and fishy friends

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                 Burn of Balloch 3               

                                                                       Burn of Balloch 3

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Friday 2nd October  Black History Month

Thought for the Day

As far back as we can go in written human records peoples, tribes, countries (or maybe to be more exact their rulers or ruling elite) have tried to tell their ‘story’ in a positive way, sometimes being selective with information, sometimes presenting ‘us’ as the ‘goodies’ and anyone who opposes ‘us’ as the ‘baddies’. A more academic approach to ‘history’ tries to look at different sides to a story (being ready to challenge assumptions that ‘we’ have always been the ‘goodies’) and beyond that to the lives of ‘ordinary people’ (for which there is much less information). Many European countries have struggled to cope with stories of collaboration with Nazi Germany. Here in Britain and Scotland  we have to confront issues like the prejudice against Irish people, Gaelic speakers, Catholics, Jews, and attitudes to class and race. Britain wasn’t the only country to have a colonial empire, but it was the largest and most powerful. People all around the globe contributed to the wealth and power of the empire, but were not always treated as ‘family’. Their stories are rarely heard, their perspective on empire, and life before their land/people became part of the empire, is rarely heard, and their experience of being part of British society today is rarely heard. Black History Month is an opportunity to listen, to reflect, to acknowledge past mistakes and injustices, and to resolve to seek a more inclusive country

Lord, you see all that happens and has happened, you hear the ‘spin’ that governments and groups try to put on events and attitudes, the things that people try to ‘blot out’ because they are uncomfortable. Help us to seek out the truth, even when it is uncomfortable, and acknowledge past and present mistakes. Help us to listen to other people’s stories, and work for an inclusive community and world

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                          Burn of Balloch 2                           

                                                                       Burn of Balloch 2

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Thursday 1st October  International Day of Older Persons

Thought for the Day

When are you ‘old’? Some behave as if they are ‘old’ when they are in their 20s, others still have a ‘youthful’ outlook in the 90s. Though they may not have the energy they had as teenagers, nor do they have the angst! Many older people continue making a positive contribution to their community in their 70s, 80s and 90s, just as they did when younger. For others physical or mental health problems develop and they need additional help and support. I remember looking for a care home for my great aunt: one suggested place suggested had a five-bedded room available (she didn’t go there). Even that ‘dormitory’ would have been better than the situation many older people faced a generation or two earlier: financial worries with little or no pension, no social work department to arrange support, having to give up their home move in with family or become lodgers (which didn’t always work well). We have moved on a lot in terms of support and care for older people, but there is still more that we could do. Many can still fall through the net. Let’s affirm and celebrate an older person today, and see if we can do something to help one who needs a bit of support

Lord, you celebrate and affirm everyone from the youngest to the oldest, the most able to the most needy. Each is special to you. Help us to be like you, never patronising or dismissive of people on any grounds

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Balloch Park Autumn colour 2                   

                                                                 Balloch Park Autumn Colour 3

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 30th September

Thought for the Day

‘The big ship sails on the Ally, Ally O..’* Back in the days when I studied for Nature of Management exams and went on Management Development courses, we studied things like Maslow’s Pyramid  and Theory X and Theory Y approaches to human motivation. I was reminded of it yesterday when there was an item on the news about bosses buying up and using software to monitor work-at-home staff – tracking things like mouse movements, keystrokes etc. We probably all have experience of bosses who trusted us to get on with things, and had a ‘light management hand’, and others who tried to micro-manage us because they appeared not to credit us with any common sense. We can probably see some of the same difference in approach in the attitude of Governments to Coronavirus restrictions. To which do we more readily respond? Which approach do we adopt towards other people?

Lord, help us to think about how we treat other people, and how they perceive it - are we implying that we trust them, or don’t trust them, credit them with common sense or think they are stupid? Help us to give out positive messages to people, to motivate and inspire them. Help bosses and those in Government to do the same too

*Nursery rhyme: today is the last day of September

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                         Burn of Balloch 1               

                                                                           Burn of Balloch 1

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 29th September  World Heart Day

Thought for the Day

During the early stages of the pandemic the phrase ‘people with underlying health conditions’ was used quite often when describing people who were particularly at risk of severe complications if they caught Covid-19. One of those ‘underlying health conditions’ is cardio-vascular disease (‘heart trouble’) which presents in different ways to many people around the world. Today is an opportunity to focus globally on a set of conditions that pre-date Covid-19, and will still be there when we have eventually suppressed or learned to live with the pandemic virus. For many people genetic factors make them susceptible to heart disease, and sometimes life conditions contribute. For people here and in other Developed countries our health services can offer medication or surgery – but there are many around the world who cannot access that. There are also things we can do to try to keep our hearts healthy (exercise, diet, lifestyle)

Lord, we give thanks for the knowledge and skill that has given us access to medication and surgery for heart disease. We pray that they may become available to everyone in need. We remember all who are living with heart disease. Help us to remember our hearts and circulatory systems, and do what we can through exercise, diet etc to keep them healthy

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                             Balloch Park Autumn colour 3  

                                                                   Balloch Park  Autumn colour 2

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 28th September

Thought for the Day

Restrictions on students, pubs and restaurants closing at 10pm, fines for people not self-isolating, report your neighbour to the police if they have more than the permitted number in their house or garden, don’t impose new restrictions without allowing Parliament to debate them first. All are issues on which the Governments in Edinburgh and London (particularly the latter) are facing considerable opposition from politicians, the press and the public. Governments can and do make mistakes (sometimes with the best of intentions). Critics can be very voluble and can sometimes sound more numerous than they are. Coping with the crisis depends upon everyone ‘buying in’ to the idea that there is a crisis, that we all share in the risk, and that it can only be handled by everyone working together. If that consensus breaks down for whatever reason, it is very hard to rebuild. What do Governments need to do to keep everyone ‘on board’? What can we do to help?

Lord, restrictions introduced to contain this latest surge in infections are having a big impact on certain groups – including freedom of movement and the ability of some businesses to operate profitably. Give Governments the wisdom to know what are the appropriate measures to take, help them to be ready to admit mistakes or what they do not know, but also help us all to see the benefit and need of working together for the good of us all. Help us to remember that the latter applies to ‘us’ as well as ‘everyone else’

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                         Balloch Park Autumn colour 1           

                                                                   Balloch Park  Autumn colour 1

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

 

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